The first day of the Winter Meetings saw some action but aside from pretty pictures of San Diego posted by Blue Jays writers/radio people, there wasn’t much going on in the Blue Jays’ camp.
The one on-field move that the Blue Jays made yesterday was claiming OF/1B Chris Colabello from the Minnesota Twins. A right-handed hitter who still has a minor league option and will make around the league minimum with just one year and four days of ML service time, Colabello has a back story that is the epitome of persistence. Colabello was undrafted and played for seven years in independent baseball in New England, basically hitting the crap out of the ball before the Minnesota Twins came knocking.
Colabello made the adjustment to affiliated ball at the age of 28 at the Double-A level and hit .284/.358/.478 for New Britain in 2012, adding 19 home runs in 134 games. Splitting 2013 and 2014 between the Twins and Triple-A Rochester, Colabello had a great season in 2013, hitting over .350 with 24 home runs in only 89 games in Rochester and adding another seven for the Twins despite hitting only .194 over 181 plate appearances.
In 2014, Colabello got off to a great start, hitting ..346/.386/.577 up until April 23 but a thumb injury after getting jammed on a pitch led to his hitting .157/.219/.260 the rest of the way although his Triple-A numbers indicate a little better results.
Overall, Colabello is an interesting player who could be of use on the major league team next year. While his splits aren’t all that far apart in the average and OBP categories, Colabello has generally shown more power against righties despite being a right-handed hitter. I would suggest that if Colabello can consistently hit major league pitching, he’ll be a very useful guy who could take over a regular role if either Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey or Justin Smoak fail to hit. That, however, is a big if and relies on two things: one, that Colabello’s injury is completely healed and two, that the Colabello who came out of the game slamming the ball in 2014 is the “real” Chris Colabello as opposed to the guy who has hit under .200 the rest of the time he’s been in the major leagues. The move doesn’t cost the Jays anything and the waiver claim brings them to 37 players on the 40-man roster.
In other news from yesterday, the Blue Jays announced that Dane Johnson, the club’s minor league pitching coordinator, will be the new bullpen coach. Johnson is considered to be one of the pitching gurus in the Blue Jays’ organization and has helped many pitchers coming through the pipeline. Minor Leaguer over at Bluebird Banter suggests that he was responsible for Aaron Sanchez‘s changeup and Daniel Norris‘s turnaround.
With Johnson replacing Bob Stanley on John Gibbons‘ staff, the question opens up as to who is going to replace Johnson who, in my opinion, had one of the most important minor league coaching positions in the organization, particularly considering how many pitching prospects the Blue Jays have.
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