In the past several days, the Toronto Blue Jays organization has released three minor leaguers: Pitchers Miguel Batista and Fernando Hernandez and first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor.
Most Blue Jays fans out there should know the first name, Miguel Batista. Batista, now 42 years old, was signed as an international free agent out of the Domincan Republic way back in 1988 by the Montreal Expos. He made his major league debut for Pittsburgh in 1992 (after being taken in the Rule V draft by the Pirates) but had to wait another four years to really sink his hooks into the major leagues, coming up with the Marlins this time. Over the years, Batista has played for 12 major league teams, including the Blue Jays between 2004 and 2005. He was traded after the 2005 season (along with Orlando Hudson) to Arizona for Troy Glaus and Sergio Santos (the first time).
Batista has had a solid career, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and earning 14.3 rWAR (Baseball Reference) and 16 fWAR (Fangraphs). This season with the Buffalo Bisons, he had an 8.36 ERA and a 5.56 FIP in 28 innings striking out under 6 per 9 innings and walking over 5.
Fernando Hernandez is a 28-year-old right-handed pitcher from Miami who was drafted by the White Sox out of high school in 2002. He is a career minor leaguer who only got a brief cup of coffee for the Oakland A’s in 2008, pitching 3 innings, giving up 6 runs and walking 5. Hernandez was also selected in the Rule V draft (by the A’s) but then returned to the White Sox after his three appearances.
Hernandez’s best season was 2009 where he put up sub-2.00 ERAs for the White Sox AA and AAA teams. Signed to a minor league free agent contract with the Blue Jays in 2012, he pitched with the Fisher Cats and was fairly effective posting a career low BB% (6.3%) in 105 2/3 innings working part of the year out of the bullpen. This year, he wasn’t all that bad, having a 1.17 ERA with 5 walks and 5 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings and a 1.43 WHIP but as a 28-year-old non-prospect, there just wasn’t any room for him in the Jays system with several AA pitchers coming off the DL.
1B Balbino Fuenmayor signed with the Blue Jays as an international free agent out of Venezuela in August of 2006. Since 2007, he has spent seven seasons in the Jays’ minor league organization without rising higher than Low-A Lansing, where he was released from this season. If you’ve been following my minor league reports on Jays Journal, you’ll know that Fuenmayor’s career has been of interest to me. I’ve seen “The Great Balbino” take batting practice (as well as play in games) and there’s no denying that the 23 year old has incredible power. When I saw him take batting practice, he put balls past the fence more often than anyone else on the Lugnuts, but he has massive holes in his swing, as evidenced by his typically high strikeout rates. This season, his K% is slightly over 30%. Seeing Fuenmayor in game situations, I think he was coming around, starting to use the whole field more and strike out less (I saw him hit an opposite field home run in one game in Lansing). With Kevin Patterson demoted to Lansing, the team clearly needed the roster spot.
Fuenmayor (owner of one of the best names in baseball) offers the most potential of the three released players, and at only 23, another team will probably think they can fix him. I can see Hernandez finding a minor league contract somewhere but I’m not sure if Batista is ready to hang them up yet. I saw Batista pitch in Buffalo early in the season and he was still hitting the low-90s on the radar gun. If he thinks he still has life left in his arm, he may well look for another place to catch on in the minors.