If you’re anything like me (and you probably are, if you’re reading this), the return of minor league baseball is a welcome sight. Usually we get notification of the Opening Day minor league rosters a little earlier than the day before the season starts, but at this point, after close to two years without minor league baseball, I’ll take it!
So here we go with our annual preview of the Opening Day rosters for our Toronto Blue Jays minor league affiliates, continuing with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Whew, you got all that? Lots of these pitchers haven’t even seen a Blue Jays’ uniform. Relievers James Dykstra, who was signed before the 2020 season and re-signed this offseason, and Curtis Taylor, who was traded for at the end of the 2019 season, both will be set to make their debuts in the Blue Jays’ organization. The Fisher Cats get their first look at one of the Jays’ top pitching prospects in Simeon Woods Richardson who will spearhead the rotation and make his Double-A debut. Likely joining him in the rotation will be Zach Logue (who returns to New Hampshire) and former first-round pick Jon Harris. Maximo Castillo moves up from Dunedin after a strong year in 2019 and Kyle Johnston also moves up from Dunedin at the end of 2019. Will the Blue Jays continue to use Elvis Luciano in the rotation? That’s definitely also a possibility.
In the bullpen you’ll see oft-injured Mike Ellenbest while Cre Finfrock jumps to Double-A after a strong season in Lansing in 2019 (though he did make one appearance in Dunedin that year). Hard-throwing former infielder Emerson Jimenez pitched fairly well in Dunedin in 2019, as did Connor Law while Sean Rackoski comes off a strong 2019 in A-ball. Lefty Brody Rodning had a solid year in Lansing in 2019 Fitz Stadler rounds out the group after a season in which he was used mostly as a starter in Lansing in 2019.
The Blue Jays have another top prospect at the catching position with Gabriel Moreno, who played in Lansing in 2019, impressing his teammates and the staff with his prowess. Bec is a mid-round draft pick who was the Dunedin Blue Jays’ backup catcher in 2019.
Exciting players galore populate the Fisher Cats’ infield. Last year’s #1 draftee Austin Martin is on the roster to make his (public) professional debut while another top prospect on the left side of the infield, Jordan Groshans, will get his first chance to play in a public professional game since the end of April in 2019. Both offer Blue Jays’ fans a ton of prospecty deliciousness as both are gaining strong reputations for their hitting abilities. Otto Lopez is another solid hitter who led the Midwest League in batting average in 2019 and can be a versatile infielder while Taylor had a down year in 2019 but has a ton of potential and is still just 22. Podkul, 24, had a decent year in Lansing and Dunedin in 2019 while Capra, 24, struggled with the bat in New Hampshire in 2019 and this will be his second go-round at the level. Vicuna, 23, spent most of 2019 in New Hampshire and didn’t hit a ton but he is known for his great glove at shortstop.
While there are a couple of under-the-radar names here, there is a lot for a prospect hound to get excited about in the outfield. Bahamian Chavez Young is one of the best defensive outfielders I’ve seen in the Jays’ system and while he didn’t hit a ton in 2019, he has a great combination of speed, defense and potential hitting that could translate into a sleeper prospect. Pruitt is a guy I love but it’s going to be interesting how he reacts to the Double-A level. He’s produced less that what people have hoped for despite playing outstanding defense and being blessed with blazing speed. Demi Orimoloye is a Nigerian-born, Canadian-raised outfielder who brings a ton of raw power that needs polish. A .677 OPS in Dunedin in 2019 will definitely have to improve as he moves to Double-A. Finally, Brock Lundquist’s forearms and moustache (when he had one) are both a sight to behold. While he’s probably the lowest-ranked outfielder in terms of tools, he does have innate power and will get a second chance to show that (after posting a .659 OPS in 2019 in NH) at the Double-A Level.
Let us know who you’re excited about on the 2021 Opening Day roster for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats!
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