As they do every year, MiLB.com released their list of the Blue Jays’ Organization All-Stars, highlighted the best of the Jays’ system at each position on the diamond.
We’ll give you a rundown on MiLB’s list but we’ll also let you know what we thought as well. One of the general things that MiLB was impressed by was the Jays’ depth in their system despite the graduation to the majors of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.
MiLB.com starts behind the plate, naming Alejandro Kirk their All-Star. I don’t really dispute it that much but I could be convinced that their honourable mention, Gabriel Moreno was also deserving. Both have exceptional bat-to-ball skills and are developing into very well-rounded players, especially Moreno who is relatively new to catching. I’d also mention Riley Adams who had a very solid season, mostly in Double-A and who is putting himself on the map as a potential guy to have a role in Toronto should the Jays follow up with rumours and trade one of their catchers. Another sleeper is Ryan Sloniger who slugged in the lower levels of the minors. As a college draftee in 2019, however, we’ll have to see how he does at higher levels before we get too excited.
At first base, the All-Star is Yorman Rodriguez, for good reason. Few of the other guys higher up in the system really produced at an elite level the way Rodriguez did. That said, I would definitely give some consideration to P.K. Morris, the first baseman for the Bluefield Blue Jays who was also very good and tied for second on the team in home runs with eight.
Santiago Espinal got raves for his solid offense through the season (particularly in his late-season call up to Buffalo) as well as his defense and earned the nod for secondbasemen. You could consider Miguel Hiraldo a second baseman as he played more of his games at 2B than at shortstop (playing on the same team as the better-defensively Leonardo Jimenez), but otherwise, Espinal is as solid a choice as there is in the organization.
At third base it was a no-brainer with the MiLB folks going with Patrick Kivlehan, the slugging third baseman for the Buffalo Bisons, who led the Jays’ organization in home runs despite starting the year with the Pirates’ system. For Lansing, I could give Johnny Aiello an honourable mention.
At shortstop, however, we have some controversy, at least in my mind. MiLB chose Otto Lopez, a worthy candidate, particularly for winning the Midwest League batting title. However, I believe that Orelvis Martinez should have been the All-Star, mainly due to the power and overall game he showed in his first professional season with the GCL Blue Jays.
In the outfield, the folks at MiLB selected Griffin Conine for his power and the excitement he generated in Lansing, leading the league in home runs despite missing 50 games due to a suspension. I completely agree here.
They also selected Socrates Brito and Reggie Pruitt. Pruitt for his defense and speed on the bases is a solid choice although he struggled to get on base as much after his promotion to Dunedin. Socrates Brito was very good for Buffalo but it’s hard to see that success as anything other than a let down after his rough time in Toronto. I also like the choice of honourable mention Cal Stevenson who was traded away at the deadline and seems to be the one player in the Derek Fisher/Aaron Sanchez/Joe Biagini deal who the Jays might regret dealing.
I might suggest Will Robertson for another selection. In his draft year, Robertson was one of the few real standouts (aside from Yorman Rodriguez) for the Vancouver Canadians, particularly after he found his stride late in the season.
I’d also submit both Joshua Palacios and Forrest Wall for consideration, both of whom had solid seasons in Double-A where they didn’t benefit from the use of the livelier major league baseball (like they did in Triple-A, where Brito played).
The utility player All-Star was Andy Burns who had a very good year in his return to North America from two years in Korea. I do like this selection.
The All-Star for lefthanded pitchers was Nick Allgeyer who had a tremendous start for the Dunedin Blue Jays. Although he fell back to earth as the season wore on, he was very solid and impressed me when I saw him in spring training. I might make a case for Anthony Kay or Thomas Pannone, neither of whom logged considerable innings in the minors for the Jays. Zach Logue was also solid for the Fisher Cats in Double-A but injuries kept him from throwing as many innings as Allgeyer (who actually threw fewer than I thought, just 118 1/3 in his first full season).
There are a lot of choices for righthanded pitchers, but MiLB.com went with Joey Murray who rose from Lansing all the way to New Hampshire and kept striking batters out. But their honourable mention of Nate Pearson could easily have taken the award, particularly after rising from Dunedin to Buffalo a year after missing almost the entire season. In terms of sheer domination we could also mention Alek Manoah who shoved in Vancouver in his draft year despite having his innings tightly controlled by the Jays. For consistency and just excellent work overall without being spectacular, we could also consider Maximo Castillo who spent the whole year in Dunedin as well as Josh Winckowski who was excellent in Lansing and then very solid in Dunedin after his promotion.
Finally, the All-Star at reliever was Jackson Rees who, with his miniscule ERA and incredible strikeout rates at two levels, definitely earned his prize. I’d give an honourable mention to Dany Jimenez who was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the Rule 5 draft. Several others like Ty Tice, Kirby Snead, Sean Rackoski, Brad Wilson and Jake Fishman also deserve some recognition.
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