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The Toronto Blue Jays announced a few minor league signings a couple of days ago, giving the club some infield depth with Tyler White and former Blue Jay Richard Urena while bringing back outfielder Forrest Wall, who was a minor league free agent. All three deals include an invite to major league spring training.
Urena, 24, is the most interesting of the bunch. Originally signed by the Blue Jays in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic, Urena was considered one of the better infield prospects the Jays had out of a group that placed Dawel Lugo and Franklin Barreto ahead of him. Both were traded away and left Urena as the best up-and-coming shortstop. Known primarily for his defense, he hit well in short-season ball in 2014 (mostly in Bluefield) and held his own, showing somewhat surprising power in A-ball in 2015, with a combined .262/.284/.407 slash line.
Urena kept moving up the line, putting up improved numbers between Advanced-A and Double-A in 2016 and spent most of 2017 in Double-A New Hampshire and got a cup of coffee in the major leagues, hitting .206/.270/.309 in 21 games with the Blue Jays.
Urena played 40 games in the majors in 2018, doing his best work there, hitting .293/.340/.364 and had another 30 games in Toronto in 2019, hitting .243/.273/.324 although he hit a respectable .274/.314/.393 in Buffalo.
Urena was selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles in January of 2020, was sent outright to the minors in February and didn’t play particularly well in spring training, hitting .143/.143/.357 in 14 at bats and he became a free agent after the season without playing in the major leagues.
Forrest Wall, 25, was originally drafted 35th overall by the Colorado Rockies in 2014 and, after struggling as an infielder, was converted to being an outfielder. In 2018, Wall was traded to Toronto from Colorado in the deal that sent Seung-hwan Oh to the Rockies and he hit respectably well in New Hampshire after struggling with Colorado’s Double-A affiliate in Hartford.
Wall followed up his transitional 2018 with a 2019 that was spent mostly back in New Hampshire, hitting a solid .270/.353/.419 and had a decent 14-game audition in Buffalo at the end of the season but he wasn’t put on the 40-man roster. He spent 2020 at the Toronto Blue Jays’ alternate training site in Rochester and became a minor league free agent following the season.
Tyler White, 30, is the only true “veteran” signing that the Blue Jays have made so far to bolster their minor league depth. White was drafted in the 33rd round by the Houston Astros in 2013 and became known quickly for putting up incredible OBPs, combining for a .290/.410/.501 slash line between two A-ball levels in 2014. In 2015, he hit .325/.442/.496, almost evenly split between Double-A and Triple-A and made the major leagues in 2016, playing 86 games for Houston and seeing some regression to a .217/.286/.378 slash line hitting 16 doubles and eight home runs. He played a lot of first base and DH but also had time at third and second base.
In 2017, he hit .279/.328/.525 but only played 22 games while he hit a comparable, .276/.354/.533 in 2018, playing in 66 games and hitting 12 doubles, three triples and 12 more home runs. He hit .225/.320/.330 in 71 games with Houston before he was traded near the deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers, struggling in 12 games and 26 plate appearances for them. He was released by the Dodgers just before the 2020 season began and caught on with SK Wyverns in the Korean League, getting into nine games, hitting just .136.
With these three signings, the Blue Jays will deepen the Buffalo Bisons’ roster, particularly with the ability to get Wall back in the system. The Blue Jays had lost a couple of minor league outfielders on waivers like Anthony Alford and Billy McKinney and keeping Wall in the system allows them to go into Buffalo with a little more experience at that level. For Urena, the Jays bring back a proven defender who has hit at the Triple-A level (but not consistently at the major league level) to give them some depth while the Jays also will have some more infield depth with the signing of White, who, like Urena, has had some moments of performance at the big league level.
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