Everyday we’re shufflin’
The poets at LMFAO and their mindless hit diddy “Party Rock Anthem” were completely describing the Toronto Blue Jays’ roster moves in late April and early May. The Blue Jays followed up last night’s loss to the Cleveland Indians with more moves that have trickled down.
The biggest move of the bunch was the demotion of Dalton Pompey after a first month full of struggle for the 22-year-old Canadian. While there are actually indications of potential (a lower strikeout rate than in his audition last September), his low BABIP of .237 has led to a .193/.264/.337 line. With the return of Michael Saunders and the coming return of Jose Bautista to the outfield, the Blue Jays clearly want Pompey to play every day and, if he continues to scuffle, he’s not going to get that opportunity in the majors.
The Blue Jays also demoted Andrew Albers after his one outing last night. While he wasn’t bad, he did give up a home run. Albers was generally considered to be up for just a game or two and since Mark Buehrle didn’t get very far, the Blue Jays wanted to bring up another pitcher for long relief duties, possibly until the starting rotation stabilizes.
Coming up to the major league team are two players who were not on the 40-man roster. Ezequiel Carrera has started to heat up in Buffalo, playing center field for the Bisons. Carrera is actually having a very typical Triple-A season so far, hitting .325/.407/.400 with six stolen bases and a 10.5% walk rate and 10.5% strikeout rate through 95 plate appearances. Carrera played last year with the Tigers and has ML experience dating back to 2011. Last year, he was an International League Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star while also earning a Player of the Week award with Toledo.
The other player coming up is none other than 27-year-old Scott Copeland who has been dominant for the Bisons so far this season. Copeland was originally drafted by the Orioles and released in 2012 when he was signed by the Blue Jays and has been one of the club’s most reliable starters in the minor leagues since. Steadily making his way up through the organization, Copeland was a free agent at the end of last year but re-signed with the Jays and obviously impressed some people along the way, starting the season with a 1.44 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 25 innings with Buffalo. While he doesn’t strike out a lot of batters (13.5%) and walks an average number (8.3%), he is a ground ball machine and should be very effective in the Rogers Centre with its new, slow turf.
Making room for Copeland and Carrera, the Blue Jays have designated Matt West and Andy Wilkins for assignment. West was picked up on waivers from Texas this offseason and has been pitching very well in the Double-A Eastern League. West hasn’t given up an earned run in 12 1/3 innings and has 17 strikeouts and just four walks. Scouts and writers have been reporting very positive things about West, who is relatively new to pitching, and I have a feeling that someone out there will claim West before he clears waivers.
Wilkins was claimed on waivers when the Chicago White Sox designated him for assignment to make room for Kyle Drabek. Wilkins had a fantastic 2014 with the Charlotte Knights, leading the International League in home runs (30). He has been off to a slower start this year with Buffalo, hitting .264/.353/.319 in 85 plate appearances without a home run. With Matt Hague, Chris Colabello and Jake Fox in the organization, Wilkins is probably more expendable than West.
Finally, moving up to the Buffalo Bisons to fill the gap are infielder/outfielder Ryan Schimpf and pitcher Casey Lawrence. Schimpf has continued to tear up Double-A this season (after hitting 15 home runs in just 50 games last year). The 27-year-old Louisianan is hitting .279/.347/.603 with seven doubles and five home runs in 75 plate appearances in New Hampshire and will look to improve on his .189/.290/.358 slash line in 67 games with the Bisons in 2014.
Lawrence was one of the best pitchers in New Hampshire last year and, while he doesn’t throw hard (topping out around 89 mph), his pinpoint control has allowed him to succeed in his minor league career after being signed as a non-drafted free agent. So far, Lawrence has a 3.75 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in New Hampshire with an uncharacteristically high 8.3% walk rate and a strong (for him) 15.7% strikeout rate.
Keep an eye out for more moves as the Blue Jays look to fill an empty spot in the New Hampshire rotation and a hole on their infield.
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