Questions Answered #3: We Answer Your Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Questions!

Eric Pardinho

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Our first question comes from Jeff via email:


Good question. The easiest answer I can give is no, he won’t play in Vancouver this year, but don’t rule out a 2019 appearance. Just 17 years old, Pardinho is one of the youngest players who the Blue Jays plan to have play in the US (as opposed to the Dominican Republic). He’s gotten a lot of buzz as one of the more advanced young players whom the Blue Jays have signed out of the international free agency pool but that doesn’t mean that he’s going to make it Vancouver in year one.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was so advanced at the same age, he played in Bluefield for all of 2016. But the Blue Jays have always been very careful managing teenage pitchers’ arms so I think we’re looking at a very carefully managed season in the GCL for Pardinho. In fact, he hadn’t even started pitching in the bullpen from what I could tell when I was in Florida, leaving on March 20 (I think he was scheduled to throw on March 21). While some of the older pitchers who ended up staying in Florida for extended spring training were throwing two or three innings in games at that point, Pardinho hadn’t even gotten on the mound.

Again, we’re talking about a 17 year old who throws up to 95 with a short stature which means that the Jays are going to be extra vigilant in managing his workload. Look for about 35-40 innings in the GCL this year (don’t forget he’ll throw a fair bit in extended spring training and in the fall instructional league) and then moving to start in Bluefield or Vancouver in 2019 with an innings limit in the 50-70 range before he’s ready for full-season baseball at the age of 19. But don’t expect him to throw 150 innings in Lansing at that age either.



Our next question comes from Mrschiefmac on Twitter:



I think we’ve got a bit of a wait for the first shuffle. I know that you’re particularly interested in when Jackson McClelland gets to Double-A so we’ll just get that on the table so we don’t have to beat around the bush. From what I can tell, Jackson’s been fantastic so far but it’s still early and there are two primary reasons for promotions, particularly this early.

The first is injuries. We never wish injuries on anyone but they do create opportunities for players further down the line waiting for a spot to open up. Injuries happen, especially to pitchers so we’re probably going to have one sooner or later. But then the issue is that the right player has to get injured. There has to be some lining up of the injured player’s position and role and the replacement’s.

Murphy Smith

The injury doesn’t have to be at the level directly above the player. A pitcher on the Blue Jays could get hurt with someone on Buffalo getting a call up and that sends ripples down the line. In fact we had our first reliever called up by the Blue Jays when Kendrys Morales went on the DL and Tim Mayza got the call. But because there hadn’t been enough room on the Buffalo roster for Murphy Smith when the season opened, Smith was inserted into Buffalo’s roster (he was probably with the team and working out the whole time), stopping the chain of promotions.

The other reason for a promotion is that the player is ready for it. Now, from what I’ve been told about Jackson’s particular case is that he’s working on refining another pitch in Dunedin and, no matter how well he does in his appearances, the staff is probably going to err on the side of caution in letting him work on things. Looking over the pitchers in Dunedin, I think he’s the first reliever who gets the call to New Hampshire but again, it’s up to the staff who are looking for very specific things and not just great numbers.

To answer your question about Double-A players getting the call up to Buffalo (I don’t see anyone going straight to the majors at this point in the year, except for maybe Lourdes Gurriel who’s already on the 40-man roster), there are several players repeating the level who could go to Buffalo if a space has opened up. Jonathan Davis is a key guy who has probably more than earned a roster spot in Buffalo but the imminent return of Anthony Alford and the signing of Darnell Sweeney closed the door for him. Andrew Case could get the call at any time, having already pitched at the level last year. If you’re looking for a lefty to go to Buffalo, Craig Breslow is a guy with several years of big league experience.

Again, the problem is space on Buffalo’s roster. There’s not a lot of “filler” on Buffalo’s roster. Most of the players are home-grown and there aren’t a lot of players with opt outs. Danny Espinosa has one for sure (as Shi Davidi had reported) and that could create space for either Gurriel or Richard Urena, who’s on the DL. Al Alburquerque may have one and that could create a spot in early June.

There are a lot of puzzle pieces moving but we know that Jackson is going to get his shot at Double-A at some point this year!


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