With not a whole lot going on in Blue Jays-land, I thought that I’d start a series that I’ve been planning for a little while now and take a look at what my projected 2014 roster for the Lansing Lugnuts will be.
My rosters are a little on the big side mainly because there are some key positional areas that I can’t see how the competition is going to shake out this year. I’m also trying to fill all of the full-season rosters (which I’ll be posting here soon enough) so if a player isn’t listed here, I either think he’s going to be held back in Extended Spring Training or he’s going to be in Dunedin (for the most part).
It’s a larger group than you might think of starting pitchers, mainly because I really think that the Blue Jays are going to return to the piggy-backing philosophy that they used in Lansing in 2012 with Sanchez, Syndergaard, Nicolino and DeSclafani. This time, I think that the Jays have three pair and two of Anderson, Silverstein and Gonzalez piggybacking. The other one of those three will likely end up on another team or in the bullpen.
I do have a few “extra” pitchers listed mainly because I’m not entirely sure who I’d put where. Turner might jump up to Dunedin and Del Rosario and Kelly may not make it to Lansing and stay back in Extended Spring Training. I could also see Dermody moving up to Dunedin.
This position is really one where the Jays need to make some hard decisions. As you can see, I’d be in trouble if I had to actually cut down the roster to just two catchers. The reason that I’m having such a hard time with this is that I feel that the Jays have the catchers at the higher levels pretty much figured out already. I won’t go into details just yet, but there’s going to be a real bunch-up around the Vancouver/Lansing level with several guys who have been backups in A-ball but haven’t made it any higher and may not make it higher.
The real no-brainer for me is Nessy. He needs a do-over year and he’s only 21 which is not old for the age level at all. The big question will be who backs him up. I’ve heard that scouts really like Conner but he just hasn’t hit much. I liked what I saw out of Klein when I saw him in Lansing but he’s not going to play full-time behind the plate anywhere and I can see Saez, a real leader on the diamond who’s already had two years of short-season ball, moving up with many of the pitchers he caught in Bluefield last year.
While I didn’t put his name on this list, I think Timothy Locastro could easily end up on the Lansing squad in 2014. Thon, if he can stay healthy could very well get a positional shift this year and get a chance at full-season ball. He was hitting very well towards the end of the season last year before spraining his ankle.
Like the catchers, I think the outfield is going to be very crowded with some tough decisions coming at the end of Spring Training. Not listed is Chris Hawkins who have a very poor season but has already played in Lansing for two years. Ramirez is still very raw but has huge tools and has started to show his potential with some borderline acceptable numbers. Jonathan Davis is a guy who I think would do well in the Midwest League. He’s a college player who has a great approach at the plate which will serve him well against better pitching. Three outfielders from Vancouver (Frank, Parmley, Kalfus) should also move up and all three have a similar profile: fast, good contact, good defense but no power.
The final decisions are, of course, beyond my pay grade and there are always some surprises when the actual rosters are released. Who do you think makes it to Lansing in 2014?