The mystery of the beards has been solved! Speaking to a player today, I was informed that the players were told in the Fall Instructional League that the Shapiro/Atkins regime has relaxed the personal grooming requirements. While it wasn’t a collective decision to sport the man-fur, it seems that quite a number of players decided to exercise their newly found freedom.
Once again, we’ll mention that this daily column is generally reserved for notes about injuries, some gossip I’ve gotten from players as well as general information about the day. If you’re looking for scouting reports, you’ll have to subscribe to our Premium Content section (just click the photo above for more info). With the 2017 Yearly subscription ($17.99), you’ll get a free, downloadable copy of the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook and access to all of our scouting reports and player pages online for a full year. For a $1.99 per-month monthly subscription, you’ll get all of our online content and scouting reports as long as your membership is active.
After heading to the Blue Jays office and picking up their pitching schedule for the day, I knew sacrifices would have to be made. Simultaneous with the Blue Jays’ two minor league games at the Bobby Mattick Facility (with the “Dunedin Blue Jays” and “Lansing Lugnuts” working groups in action against the Yankees A-ball clubs) there was going to be a game on a back diamond with the youngest group of players facing off against each other. Looking over the pitching schedule, I wanted to see some of the pitchers who had come over from the Dominican complex this year and would have to miss some of the other two games to be able to see them (stay tuned for the scouting report coming soon for subscribers!).
I went over to watch Denis Diaz throw a bullpen session and was talking to Mattingly Romanin. Mattingly is catching this year and was talking about the transition but I hadn’t seen him donning the “tools of ignorance” at all yet and presume he’s hurt.
Some of the players were also doing sliding drills and it was interesting to watch how the instructors were teaching sliding, which was a very different way that I had been taught when I was a youngster, playing ball in Thornhill.
One player who was standing around during the sliding drills but was not taking part was Joshua Palacios who told me later on that he’s got a bit of tendinitis in his knee and is day-to-day.
I watched the final rounds of BP while getting a chance to see Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Bichette in the field. After BP was over I went over to do my interviews with Bichette and Palacios (look out for the Blue Jays from Away Podcasts coming next week!). Both young men were very personable and well spoken. I think Bichette was a little quieter and reserved but Palacios was a very gregarious, open and forthcoming (as you’ll hear).
After lunch, it was back out to watch the games. Both Bichette and Guerrero were playing on the “Lansing” squad and the scouts definitely took notice. While the pitchers on that game might not have been big names, I got to see Yennsy Diaz, Jared Carkuff, and Jake Fishman for the first time.
On the “Dunedin” side, Andy Ravel started and was relieved by Zach Jackson (whom I interviewed on Saturday), Geno Encina and Miguel Burgos. Note that I left out pitchers on both sides, mainly because I was over at the far diamond to watch the youngsters. I had heard about Zach Jackson’s crazy mechanics but I was finally able to see them for myself (see photos)!
I also spied Tim Raines around the ballpark and congratulated him on his election to the Hall of Fame! He’s always been a friendly guy around the Jays’ minor league teams, so if you’re ever around and see him, say hello!
There, I saw Maximo Castillo who won’t be 18 until May and made his GCL debut last year. I also saw Alvaro Galindo and Yonardo Herdenez. A long-limbed Alvery De Los Santos (whose name stretches all the way from arm to arm on the back of his uniform) made a big impression. Still just 17, he could be a name that pops up on fans’ radars next year. I also got to see Joseph Reyes, D.J. Daniels, McGregory Contreras, Yhordegny Kelly and Sterling Guzman.
Kelly is another fellow to watch as he oozes power. He also did something pretty impressive, fouling a ball off and sending his bat flying over the ballfield fence, over the fence for the park and off a tree lining Solon Ave., and the bat was still probably about 15 feet up when it collided with the tree. Of course, Kelly had a sheepish smile on his face the whole time.
After my interlude on the back field, I went back to the main diamonds to see the “Dunedin” game wrap up. There were still a couple of innings left to go in the “Lansing” game and noted that Matt Morgan had gotten in to the game behind the plate. I watched one last at bat each from Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Bichette before heading back to process the 1300+ photos I had taken and copious notes.
Today, it’ll be back at the Mattick to take in the “Buffalo” and “New Hampshire” groups again (unless there’s a pitching schedule that absolutely compels me to take the trip to Tampa to see the younger teams again). Stay tuned Blue Jays fans!
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