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Welcome to our preview of the Opening Day games for the 2018 Toronto Blue Jays minor league season!
We’ll start with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a club that everyone is excited to see in 2018. They released their Opening Day lineup as they face the Colorado-affiliated Hartford Yard Goats (on the road) and most of us are a little surprised by some of the names on the lineup and where they’re playing.
Look out Hartford…there’s a storm coming. Our Opening Day lineup: pic.twitter.com/LbZeDDztyd
— NH Fisher Cats (@FisherCats) April 5, 2018
So what’s weird about this lineup? Well, first of all, we have Cavan Biggio playing first base (for the first time as a professional) while Lourdes Gurriel plays second and hits cleanup. I was somewhat surprised to have Bo Bichette hitting first but it’s a solid 1-2-3 combination with Bichette, Jonathan Davis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As expected, Connor Panas plays left field and Harold Ramirez (hitting fifth) plays right. Patrick Cantwell gets the Opening Day start behind the plate over Max Pentecost. Is the club already sending out big question marks regarding the oft-injured receiver? Finally, I was very surprised to see Andrew Guillotte at DH. Not that having his bat in the lineup isn’t great (which it is, especially when the four outfielders on the roster all merit playing time) but I was hoping to see Juan Kelly at first base or, with Biggio at first, then at DH.
This is a fearsome lineup. How many home runs will Bo Bichette hit in the leadoff position? Guerrero is to be feared and Panas can clobber from the left side while Gurriel can certainly hit mistakes out of the park from the right side. And this is the lineup without Max Pentecost or Juan Kelly.
Moving down a level, the Dunedin Blue Jays haven’t released their Opening Day lineup just yet but we do know that righty T.J. Zeuch takes on righty Connor Seabold in Clearwater to face the Phillies Advanced-A club. Looking up and down the lineup, I’d probably put this team on the field to open the season:
Or something like (or unlike) that. We’ll see how accurate that is when the club takes the field. I really don’t know how the D-Jays intend to use guys like Knight, Castillo, La Prise and Yeltsin Gudino, but you can bet, on the infield, that Warmoth and Jones are going to play every day.
In the outfield, the club has three left-handed hitters and a switch hitter (Orozco), so this team may be a bit vulnerable to left-handed pitching.
Offensively, this is not a fearsome roster. The only real “power hitter” on this club is Brad Jones. Although Warmoth and Adams have some power potential, I don’t think that either of them will hit more than 10 home runs this year. D.J. Davis also has a ton of pop in batting practice but that hasn’t translated into home runs over the past couple of years. The D-Jays are going to have to get on base and run, focusing on grouping together singles, doubles, triples and the occasional stolen base.
The Lansing Lugnuts open their season on the road in nearby Midland, Michigan, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers-affiliated Great Lakes Loons. Righty Yennsy Diaz returns to Lansing to start off Opening Day for the Lugnuts in a rotation that also features Maximo Castillo, Zach Logue, Graham Spraker and Maverik Buffo.
Less than two hours from 1st pitch… of the season! #LugLife
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) April 5, 2018
I just want to go on the record with how wrong the starting lineup that I tried to come up with was. I had Kevin Vicuna on the bench with Cullen Large playing third base and Kevin Smith at short while Reggie Pruitt and Chavez Young were at the top of my lineup. I also had Matt Morgan catching instead of Ridge Smith. I also had Noda lower in the order. If you’ll notice, there’s the potential for more power in this lineup than there is Dunedin. Clemens, Noda, Williams, Young and Kevin Smith all have the potential to hit 12-15 home runs although I think Young’s power will manifest itself more in doubles and triples, particularly at the Lugnuts’ home stadium.
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