There has been a lot of clamouring lately for the Toronto Blue Jays to call up their prospects and to let them play over established veterans down the stretch. We’ve heard calls for Teoscar Hernandez to play every day, Richard Urena to play every day, and for the Jays to call up Lourdes Gurriel, Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr. and Danny Jansen and have them pick up big league experience being trotted out regularly.
There are, of course several reasons why this isn’t happening. While Hernandez and Urena have shown themselves ready for a greater challenge in the majors, the other players mentioned have not been called up by the Blue Jays despite three of the four players named being already on the 40-man roster (Jansen is the only one who isn’t).
There are several issues that the Blue Jays are dealing with, the first of which is whether the organization believes whether a player is ready for the major leagues yet. I’ll be honest, I speculated that Gurriel would be called up (as well as Alford, whom I’ll discuss shortly) but after seeing him play, there are definitely some holes in his game that would be easily exploited by major league pitching (you’ll have to check out my scouting report, for Premium Content Subscribers to learn more specifics). Another reason why the Jays may be holding back with him is that he’s had a long season punctuated by long stretches missed due to injury. He’ll also be playing in the Arizona Fall League and perhaps the Jays want to give him a break before he heads out west.
With Alford, there are some several issues. One is that there isn’t anywhere for him to play. With Jose Bautista, Steve Pearce and Kevin Pillar all active and healthy, it’s hard to sit any of them for enough time to give Alford the reps he needs to work on his deficiencies and see how he adjusts. The other issue is that the Jays may be attempting to manage his service time. He already picked up more service time than the club would have liked him to have when he went on the big league DL with his wrist injury. Yup, when you go on the big league DL, all of your time there counts for your big league service. Those days count when looking at when a player might be eligible for arbitration and, if manipulated correctly, the club can save millions of dollars in salary down the road.
Personally, I don’t really see much reason for not calling up Dwight Smith Jr. He’s already on the 40-man roster, will likely understand that he won’t get much playing time but will still be competing for time in the field with Ezequiel Carrera and Teoscar Hernandez and would be fifth in line to play the outfield.
The issue with Danny Jansen is a little different. Here’s a guy who has had an unbelievable ride this season (if you doubt that, read what he told me just last month), coming up to Buffalo after starting his season in Dunedin and exceeding all expectations while meeting all challenges. For Jansen to get called up, he’d have to be put on the 40-man roster, which would give the Jays five catchers on the roster. That’s just way too many, even if Russell Martin is on the DL. Who would have to be removed to make room for Jansen? Also, it’s been a long season for him, and since he’s missed time due to injury every years since 2014, it’s the most he’s ever played in the pros. I think Jansen will be added to the 40-man roster come November but for now, I think it’s great that he’s able to get some rest after a long season, satisfied that he’s come a long way and vaulted himself over every other catching prospect in system.
Just because a prospect isn’t on the Blue Jays now doesn’t mean that he’s not going to be added to the 40-man to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Guys like Conner Greene, Sean Reid-Foley, Danny Jansen and others are in a position to be a part of the Jays’ future. But the future isn’t now and the fact that the Jays’ roster makeup has several high-salaried players (injured and otherwise) whose contracts are on the books for the next few years means that these players likely won’t have opportunities unless further injuries strike over the coming seasons.
We also need to temper our expectations. The Major League Baseball is the best league in the world. While the high minor leagues are pretty good, there’s usually a big learning curve going from the minors to the majors. There’s a reason why Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, while the two top prospects in the organization, are not in the major leagues. Fans calling for their immediate promotion because the Jays are out of it clearly have no understanding how these things work. Turning talent into skill takes time, effort and repetition, acclimating to each new level as teams make adjustments and adjusting one’s self in response. Having a player come up to the majors too early and without any guaranteed playing time doesn’t allow a player to adjust and acclimatize.
Let’s be patient and look forward to seeing players like Gurriel, Alford, Jansen, Greene, Urena, et al., with the Blue Jays in the coming years, whether they make the necessary adjustments or not, being a full-time major league player is more than just a one-month trial and not every player can do that. Patience.
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