The minor league season got under way last night (for one Blue Jays affiliate whose geographic location avoided the bad weather in the north) and I’ll offer a few thoughts on the composition of some of the Jays’ full-season minor league rosters as well as some last minute roster adjustments made.
The Bisons have a veteran roster, consisting mostly of players brought in from outside the system, as the Blue Jays have tended to do over the past several seasons. The additions of veterans David Adams, Tony Sanchez, Humberto Castillo, Junior Lake, Darrell Ceciliani, Alexi Casilla, Matt Dominguez, and others, give the Bisons a solid chance of competing in the International League while also providing depth for the major league squad.
Only pitchers Dustin Antolin, Chad Girodo, Drew Hutchison, Chad Jenkins, Blake McFarland, and Ryan Tepera, catcher A.J. Jimenez, infielder Andy Burns and outfielder Dalton Pompey are homegrown players, drafted or signed initially by the Blue Jays. This is probably due to the fact that the Jays traded so many prospects last year but it’s also because of how difficult it is for any player to reach the Triple-A level.
Many of the newest additions to the organizations are former first-round picks including Sanchez, Dominguez, Casey Kotchman, David Aardsma, Jio Mier (Wade LeBlanc was a second round pick). These players haven’t been able to establish themselves (or, in some cases, re-establish themselves) in the major leagues on a permanent basis despite being highly-thought-of prospects.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats
The Fisher Cats have a much larger concentration of homegrown talent with players like Jeremy Gabryszwski, Rowdy Tellez, Shane Dawson, and Casey Lawrence on the mound. While Buffalo had very few homegrown hitters, the Bisons only have two position players who aren’t homegrown, catcher Wilkin Castillo and outfielder Melky Mesa. First-round pick Dwight Smith, Jr. is the only first rounder on the roster (Gabryszwski was a second rounder in 2011).
Dunedin Blue Jays
The Dunedin roster hosts the Blue Jays’ top two prospects, Anthony Alford and Coner Greene. Former first-round pick D.J. Davis is in the outfield while also hanging around are a former second-round pick (Mitch Nay, on the DL) fourth-round pick (Tom Robson) and a couple of high-priced international free agent (Adonys Cardona and Richard Urena). In terms of overall talent level, I’d say the D-Jays come out on top to start the year, although I have a feeling that Alford, Greene and Urena may not be in Dunedin for the entire year.
The Lugnuts, being the Jays’ lowest-level full-season club, is the one with the most homegrown talent. The Jays also have a couple of tantalizing pitching prospects in Jon Harris and Sean Reid-Foley (who I don’t think will be around for long). There are also several 2015 draftees and signees like Ryan Cook, Josh DeGraaf, Tayler Saucedo, Ryan Hissey, Connor Panas, Carl Wise, J.C. Cardenas and Andrew Guillotte. Lane Thomas is another talented player who is trying to rebound from an injury-plagued year and is back at a position (center field) where his more comfortable than second base where he played last year.
There are also a number of familiar faces. Conor Fisk, Dusty Isaacs, Starlyn Suriel, Colton Turner, Justin Atkinson, Gunnar Heidt and Josh Almonte all spent a lot of time in Lansing last year while Jacob Anderson has been in the Jays’ organization for five years already and is also trying to rebound from injuries.
The Blue Jays tweaked the rosters a little bit heading into the season. A.J. Jimenez cleared waivers and joined the Buffalo Bisons’ roster while Travis Bergen was sent back to extended spring training and Evan Smith joined the Lansing Lugnuts.
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