2017 MLB Season Preview – American League Central

jose-quintana

 

Chicago White Sox

2016 Record: 78-84 • 4th AL Central

O/U on Wins: 73.5 • Under

Moving In: P Derek Holland • 2B Yoan Moncada • P Michael Kopech • P Lucas Giolito • P Reynaldo Lopez • OF Rymer Liriano • RP Giovanni Soto • OF Peter Bourjos

Moving Out: P Chris Sale • OF Adam Eaton •OF Austin Jackson • 1B Justin Morneau • C Alex Avila • P Matt Albers • P Anthony Ranaudo

Key Player(s) in 2017: Carlos Rodon. Departure of Chris Sale and potentially Jose Quintana (at some point) means that Rodon’s progression will need to continue if the White Sox hope to expedite their rebuild. The 2014 2nd overall pick still needs to improve his command, surrender less long balls (23 in 2016),and to further develop his change-up which would give him 2 complimentary pitches to his fastball.

Potential Breakout: Lucas Giolito. Centerpiece of the trade that send OF Adam Eaton to Washington. Former MLB #1 Prospect. Made MLB debut with Washington in 2016 and should start 2017 with White Sox. Projects as front end starter. 6’6 frame, electric stuff (mid 90’s heat and a big ol’ overhand curve). Needs to further develop his command. Averaged close to 3 BB/9 to go along with a K/9 well over 9. Along with Rodon, could help expedite Chicago rebuild and give them two young, controllable arms for the foreseeable future.

Top Prospect: 2B Yoan Moncada • Age: 21 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: P Lance Broadway (15th) over Jacoby Elsbury (23rd) in 2005.

Fantasy Stud: Jose Quintana • 2016 Stats: 13/3.20/1.16/181/5.1 WAR in 208 IP

Money’s Man Crush: Newly loaded farm system. Gives the Pale Hose a chance to compete sooner rather than later, as well as a something they haven’t had in a while; a budding farm system.

2017 Prediction: 5th AL Central

 

encarnacion

 

Cleveland Indians

2016 Record: 94-67 • 1st AL Central

O/U on Wins: 92.5 • Over

Moving In: 1B Edwin Encarnacion • P Boone Logan • 1B Chris Colabello • C Erik Kratz

Moving Out: 1B Mike Napoli • OF Rajai Davis • P Jeff Manship • OF Coco Crisp

Key Player(s) in 2017: OF Michael Brantley. Massive breakout year in 2014 (.327/.890/20/97/6.8 WAR in 611 AB) where he finished 3rd in the AL MVP voting. Followed that up with another solid season in 2015 (.310/.859/15/84/3.4 WAR in 529 AB). Unfortunately for both Brantley and the Indians, Brantley was sidelined with a shoulder injury for all but 11 games in 2016, including the playoffs. Even without (arguably) their best offensive player the Indians were able to make it to Game 7 of the World Series. If Brantley can come back healthy and play up to his potential, you can can pencil the Indians in as one of, if not the favourite in the American League to make it (back) to the World Series.

Potential Breakout: P Trevor Bauer. Despite related incidents and engaging in flame wars via Twitter, Bauer enjoyed a solid 2016 where he set career highs in wins (12), innings pitched (190), and WHIP (1.31). Even with those improvements, Bauer still has more to offer as far as his potential goes. He will need to continue work on his command and control in order to further his development and see more positive outcomes.

Top Prospect: OF Bradley Zimmer • Age: 24 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: 1B Beau Mills (13th) over OF Jason Heyward (14th) and C Devin Mesoroco (15) in 2007.

Fantasy Stud: Andrew Miller • 2016 Stats: 10 W/1.45/.68/123/12 S/3.9 WAR in 74.3 IP

Money’s Man Crush: Francisco Lindor. I say that despite the incessant ball washing that was heaped upon him from the MLB commentators during the 2016 ALCS; as well as his murdering of the Blue Jays during the same series. Hard not to swoon over a switch hitting SS with perennial 20/20 capability (23/19 in 2016). Not to mention that he is pretty decent with the glove too.

2017 Prediction: 1st AL Central

 

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers

 

Detroit Tigers

2016 Record: 86-75 • 2nd AL Central

O/U on Wins: 85.5 • Under

Moving In: C Alex Avila • IF Omar Infante • IF Brendan Ryan • P Edward Mujica • P Daniel Stumpf

Moving Out: C Jared Saltalamacchia • SS Erick Aybar • IF Casey McGehee

Key Player(s) in 2017: P Justin Verlander. The Detroit ace enjoyed a huge “comeback” season in 2016 after posting two straight sub par campaigns. Verlander went 16-8 with a 3.04 ERA in 227.2 innings and added 254 strikeouts, which was good enough for 2nd in Cy Young voting. Verlander’s renaissance season came on the heels of rebuild rumblings in the Motor City and he will need to continue to pitch like the Verlander of old if the Tigers are going to compete in the Central and stave off any rebuild rumours for (at least) another season.

Potential Breakout: Daniel Norris. At this point, people know more about Daniel Norris, the surfing/photographer that lives and travels in a VW Bus during the offseason than they do about Daniel Norris, the southpaw that has shown glimpses of brilliance in a mere 32 MLB starts. While it’s no secret that Norris has the dynamite stuff and smooth mechanics that should enable him to stay in an MLB rotation for years to come, it’s his durability concerns that have caused him to miss out on reaching both his potential as well as making 30 starts in a season. A full, healthy season in 2017 could see Norris set new career highs across the board, not to mention help an aging Tigers team compete against the likes of the Indians and the Royals in the Central.

Top Prospect: Matt Manning • Age: 19 • MLB ETA: 2020

First Round Draft Miss: Kyle Sleeth (5th) over Nick Markakis (7th) in 2003

Fantasy Stud:1B Miguel Cabrera  2016 Stats: .316/.956/38/108/4.9 WAR in 595 AB

Money’s Man Crush: Daniel Norris. Definition of stud both on and off the field. As much as I loved the Blue Jay’s 2015 trade acquisition of David Price, the loss of Norris to Detroit hurt in more than one way. Not only did we lose a young lefty with huge upside but we also lost him to an American League team, and a historic rival of Toronto. For further reading, search “1987 Blue Jays season.”

2017 Prediction: 3rd AL Central

 

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians

 

Kansas City Royals

2016 Record: 81-81 • 3rd AL Central

O/U on Wins: 80.5 • Over

Moving In: OF Jorge Solar •P Travis Wood • P Jason Hammel • 1B/OF Brandon Moss • P Bobby Parnell

Moving Out: P Wade Davis • DH Kendrys Morales • P Edison Volquez

Key Player(s) in 2017: OF Lorenzo Cain. If it wasn’t for injuries, Lorenzo Cain would’ve (most likely) put up another spectacular season like he had in 2015 when he finished 3rd in AL MVP voting. The Royals will need a big bounce back season from Cain in order to give them a legit shot at competing against the Indians for top spot in the Central. Cain will also want to put up a strong season as he is a free agent at seasons end and could look for a big deal from somebody other than the Royals.

Potential Breakout: OF Jorge Solar. The Royals acquired Solar from the Cubs in exchange for closer Wade Davis. The hope is for Solar to open the season as the everyday RF but that will be up to the play of Solar. During his time in Chicago, Solar showed both moments of brilliance as well as moments of sheer frustration. A breakout year from Solar could make the (possible/eventual) loss of Lorenzo Cain a bit more easier of a pill to swallow.

Top Prospect: Matt Strahm • Age: 25 • MLB ETA: 2017

First Round Draft Miss: Bubba Starling (5th) over everyone else (Rendon, Lindor, Baez, Springer, J. Fernandez, S. Gray) in 2011.

Fantasy Stud: 1B Eric Hosmer • 2016 Stats:

Money’s Man Crush: 1B Eric Hosmer

2017 Prediction: 2nd AL Central

 

Miguel Sano, Brian McCann

 

Minnesota Twins

2016 Record: 59-103 • 5th AL Central

O/U on Wins: 70.5 • Over

Moving In: C Jason Castro • 1B Ben Paulsen • OF JB Schuck

Moving Out: C Kurt Suzuki • UT Trevor Plouffe

Key Player(s) in 2017: OF Byron Buxton. The legend of Bux was already being written long before the Twins took him with the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Buxton’s tool set is off the charts. In the field, he’s a plus defender with plus range and a cannon for an arm. At the plate, he has shown some of his power potential but has yet to hit at a consistent clip. His inability to get on base has also rendered his plus speed and base stealing capability essentially moot. While it is sure to be a long year in the Twin Cities, a breakout year from Bux could give the fans at Target something to cheer about. However, another down year could see Buxton starting to look more and more like an Aaron Hicks 2.0 (all glove, no bat) instead of the legendary baseball figure that was being etched out back in his Georgia hometown.

Potential Breakout: P Jose Berrios. Berrios enters the season in competition for the fifth spot in the rotation against Trevor May. While Berrios has the higher ceiling of the two, his dismal debut (3-7/8.02 ERA in 58.1 innings) could give May the inside edge, at least on paper. Berrios will need to drastically improve his command and cut down on the free passes (5.4 BB/9 in 2016). Now I am not trying to be negative in regards to Berrios. I believe that his debut could be a mere bump in what could be a promising career. That promising career could begin as early as this season, it will all depend on Berrios’ approach throughout the season. He should have a rather lengthy leash with the Twins not expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2017.

Top Prospect: Nick Gordon • Age: 21 • MLB ETA: 2018

First Round Draft Miss: 1B Chris Parmelee (20th) over P Ian Kennedy (21st)

Fantasy Stud: 2B Brian Dozier

Money’s Man Crush: 3B Miguel Sano

2017 Prediction: 4th AL Central

– $

Advertisements

The Pulse on the Blue Jays: Futures Market – Top 5 Pitching Prospects

draft1

Believe it or not, but despite the Blue Jays opening the 2015 season with six rookies – Devin Travis, Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Miguel Castro, Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez – on their 25 man roster, it hardly made a dent in the depth of their farm system.

Even with their less than stellar track record in ACTUALLY signing their first round picks (Tyler Beede and Phil Beckford, anyone?) and recent history of mortgaging the future in trades (Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Jake Marisnick etc…),  the Blue Jays front office has done a near spectacular job in restocking the farm system year in and year out.

It doesn’t matter how they go about it, whether it be in the MLB Amateur Draft or signing international free agents, General Manager Alex Anthopolous and the Blue Jays brain trust have been able to acquire an abundant amount of prospects that will be able to help the organization in the future. Only time will tell whether that impact will be felt on the actual field or via the trade market, but it is good knowing that you have that deep of a farm system at your disposal.

With the MLB Amateur draft right around the corner, we will be taking a look at the Blue Jays Top 5 pitching and positional prospects. With apologies to current Buffalo Bison teammates, Miguel Castro, Dalton Pompey and Daniel Norris, these “future reports” are only focusing on those Blue Jays prospects who HAVE NOT made their MLB debut.

Up first, we will look at the Top 5 Pitching Prospects currently in the Blue Jays organization.

hoffman

Jeff Hoffman · RHP · 22 years old · 6’4 · 185lbs

Acquired: 1st round (9th overall) 2014 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #3

What You Need to Know:

  • Report from ESPN prior to the draft: While Hoffman doesn’t have the track record of [White Sox No. 3 overall pick Carlos] Rodon, the stuff is very comparable, and if he can pitch for East Carolina like he pitched over the summer, he is a legit contender to be the first player taken in June.”
  • His college pitching coach at East Carolina, who also coached Chris Sale while he was at Florida Gulf Coast, said that Hoffman has the stuff to be an MLB ace: “Big leaguers are easy to spot at that level, and Hoffman’s unbelievable work ethic, discipline, and 99 mph fastball give him ace potential.”
  • Baseball America: “At his best, Hoffman’s athletic body, electric fastball and ability to maintain his velocity evoke Justin Verlander.”
  • Hoffman on his strike zone approach: “I’m going to pound the fastball in there until the other team proves they can hit it.”
  • Even with having to recover from TJ, Hoffman should be considered an advanced pitcher and could climb through the minors quickly.

 

Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a5cGLTvn9w

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Throws two fastballs (four seam and two seam). Four seam is a heavy fastball that sits in the mid to high 90’s and regularly touches 97-98. His two seam sits in the low to mid 90’s and features above average sink and runs inside to right handed hitters.
  • Curveball: Viewed as a plus to plus-plus pitch and as dominant as his fastball. The curve has good depth and biting action and sits in the 78 to 81 mph range.
  • Changeup: Not as good as his curveball, but he has shown to have a more consistent feel for it. The changeup is viewed as above average to plus and could continue to develop into another filthy weapon at his disposal. It sits in the mid to upper 80’s and has good, late movement down and in to right handed hitters.
  • Hoffman has also shown the ability to throw an average slider, but has seemed to put it in his back pocket for the time being.

MLB ETA: 2017

Sean-Reid-Foley

Sean Reid-Foley · RHP · 19 · 6’3” · 220lbs

Acquired: Supplemental First Round (49th) 2014 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Lansing Lugnuts (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #6

What You Need To Know:

  • Considered to be one of the best prep school pitchers available in the draft, the jays landed him in the supplemental draft and signed him at slot value.
  • Could be considered a steal as he shad potential to be among first 30 names called, not to mention having signed a college commitment letter.
  • Tall and athletic frame which could allow for more velocity as he ages. His athleticism also allows him to repeat his delivery with relative ease; even if it isn’t the most fluid of deliveries.
  • One cause for concern is in his pitching mechanics. Tends to throw across his body with a high arm slot and pitching elbow. The Blue Jays have been rumoured to potentially tweak his delivery as it could result in an elbow or shoulder injury.
  • If everything clicks, he projects as a mid rotation pitcher at MLB level.

 

Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uNZSBRahBY

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Sits between the 92 and 95 mph range and can hit 97 on the radar gun. His fastball also has above average movement inside to right handed hitters due to him throwing it with his two fingers held in close proximity to one another.
  • Slider: Viewed as his second best pitch, the slider sits in the mid 80’s and has lots of spin with late biting action. ESPN wrote that: “his breaking ball is inconsistent and there’s some noticeable arm angle changes, but at its best it offers plus spin and late bite, and he has a good feel for the pitch.”
  • Changeup: Viewed as a work in progress and would currently rank as an average pitch at its best. Biggest issue with the changeup is his inability to throw it from the same arm slot as his fastball. This “tipping” of the pitch allow hitters to know that it’s coming and adjust accordingly. Until he gets a better feel for the changeup, he will be viewed as a predominant two pitch pitcher.

 

MLB ETA: 2018

Jairo

Jairo Labourt · LHP · 21 · 6’4 · 205lbs

Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent in 2011

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #10

What You Need to Know:

  • The Blue Jays have found great success on the international free agent scene and Labourt is one of many big arm high ceiling arms that they have managed to stockpile.
  • The big Dominican southpaw has an effortless delivery with clean arm action. Should bode well for his durability in the long run.
  • Struggled with his control in his first few seasons but a change to his pitching mechanics has resulted in better control and an elevated groundball %.
  • The biggest knock against the big lefty has been his inconsistent command of his pitches. He will need to continue to improve his control and hit the strike zone in order to continue advancing through the minor leagues.
  • Development of change-up could be the difference between him starting or relieving. Has projected as a “workhorse” starter due to his large frame.

 

Scouting Video: https://youtu.be/rMAWCMrNQ8U

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Heavy with good sinking motion – aided further by Labourt’s downhill pitching delivery – that routinely sits in the 89 to 93 mph range and has hit 95 mph on the radar gun.
  • Slider: Considered the better offering of his two secondary pitches. He will throw his slider between 83 to 86 mph and it is prone to diving out of the strike zone and into the dirt as it approaches home. Definitely has the potential develop into a “wipeout” slider.
  • Changeup: Currently a work in progress and forces him to rely more on his slider as an off speed offering. Labourt’s changeup will sit between 77 and 79 mph but is rarely used in comparison to his other pitches. He will need to further develop this in order to stay as a starting pitcher at the major league level.

MLB ETA: 2017

Matt-Smoral

Matt Smoral · LHP · 21 · 6’8 · 220lbs

Acquired: Supplemental First Round (50th overall) 2012 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #11

What You Need to Know:

  • Due to his enormous height, similar pitch arsenal and deceptive left-handed delivery, Smoral has (unfairly) been compared to both Randy Johnson and Madison Bumgarner.
  • Originally projected to be a first round draft selection but fell to the Supplemental 1st round due to a broken foot he suffered in High School. The injury could be a blessing in disguise as if he even remotely reaches his potential he could be a big time steal.
  • After dealing with an assortment of injuries in his first two seasons, Smoral made big strides in 2014 by appearing in 52.1 innings.
  • Despite this minor success, Smoral is still considered to be a work in progress. The main reason for this, aside from the injuries, has been his struggle to repeat his delivery and throw his pitches for strike.
  • Unfortunately for the 6’8 lefty, the primary culprit for his command and delivery issues is his enormous stature.  Since their size forces them to be releasing the ball practically on top of the batter, young pitchers with immense height tend to have more problems learning to hone their mechanics than their shorter peers.

Scouting Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjL2H_W2uTA

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Sits in the low 90’s but has been known to hit as high as 95 mph on occasion. His fastball is graded as an above average pitch that could eventually develop into a plus pitch as he continues to progress. Smoral’s low ¾ arm slot and smooth delivery of the pitch also helps it to appear even faster to opposing batters.
  • Slider: When he has a good feel for it, the slider will appear more as a plus pitch than an average to above average one. Throws it in the mid 80’s, but does tend to struggle with his control and command which causes it to flatten out and appear more hittable. When it is on though, it has the makings of a true “wipeout” slider.
  • Changeup: Still a work in progress compared to his slider. Will sit in the high 70’s to low 80’s range and has good late sinking and fading action as it nears the plate. His changeup comes from a similar arm slot as his fastball which allows it to be more deceiving to batters. Despite it still being a pitch in development, he has shown to have a good feel for the changeup.

MLB ETA: 2018

ryan borucki

Ryan Borucki · LHP · 21 · 6’4 · 175lbs

Acquired: Selectied in the 15th round (475th overall) in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Vancouver Canadians (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #12

What You Need to Know:

  • Slipped to the 15th round due to an elbow injury which would eventually require Tommy John surgery. Missed the entire 2013 season, but came back to pitch 57 innings between two levels of Single A in 2014
  • Since being drafted and undergoing surgery, has worked to “smooth out” any mechanical issues with his delivery which has allowed for better control and command of his pitches
  • Even with his career being delayed due to injury and rehabilitation, Borucki has shown an advance level of polish and a high baseball IQ. This should only continue to advance and develop as he moves throughout the minor leagues
  • His tall and athletic frame could allow for more size to be added, which in turn would result in an added boost in velocity
  • Has drawn comparisons to former Blue Jays and current Miami Marlins pitching prospect, Justin Nicolino, due to their similar build

 

Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9utr39N8Z4

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Mainly sits in the low 90’s but has hit as high as 94 mph on the radar gun. His fastball has shown to have good life to it and tends to run inside to left handed hitters. As mentioned above, he could add more velocity if he adds some more size to his frame.
  • Curveball: Not as polished as his changeup but has a pretty decent feel for the pitch. Curveball will sit in the mid 70’s and may have more of a “slurve” movement depending on how he grips it.
  • Changeup: The better offering of his two secondary pitches, Borucki’s change, like his curveball, will sit in the mid 70’s range. He has shown a better feel for the pitch and seems more comfortable throwing it in high leverage situations than his breaking ball.

MLB ETA: 2018

Honourable Mention: RHP Alberto Tirado

Coming up next… the Top 5 Toronto Blue Jay positional prospects.

– $

2015 MLB Season Preview · AL East · Toronto Blue Jays

Skydome Panorama

Toronto Blue Jays

Home Ballpark: Skydome… Does ANYONE seriously call it the Rogers Centre?

2014 Finish: 83 – 79 · 3rd AL East

Over/Under Wins in 2015: 83.5 · Over

What We Love:

  • Offseason Additions: Hard not to be (real) excited about the trio of players that the Blue Jays brought in during the offseason. First, the Jays landed one of the biggest fish in the free agent market when they signed Russell Martin to a 5 year deal. Although 2014 backstop (Dioner Navarro) did a more than admirable job, in Martin, the Jays receive one of the game’s premier defenders, a proven winner and a clubhouse leader. As big of a signing as the Martin deal was, it (nearly) took a backseat to the move that followed. In late November, the Blue Jays and Athletics pulled off a blockbuster of a trade that saw the Athletics receive oft-injured, but highly athletic 3B, Brett Lawrie; along with a trio of minor league prospects (Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman and Franklin Barretto). The Blue Jays, on the other hand, received one of the game’s premier players and elite 3B in Josh Donaldson. Even though Donaldson is only entering his third full MLB season, he has already finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in back to back years; as well as getting his first All Star nomination last season. Donaldson already draws rave reviews for his durability, leadership and defensive capabilities, but you have to figure that his offensive stats will also get a boost as he leaves the cavernous Oakland Coliseum, for the more HR friendly confines of the Rogers Centre. Not to be left out of the shuffle was the acquisition of OF Michael Saunders from the Mariners, in exchange for LHP J.A Happ. Saunders has already endeared himself to the Blue Jays and their fans, when he opted to have his meniscus removed, opposed to surgery, after tearing it early on in Spring Training. Although the decision will leave him more open to long term injury, it’s a move that will allow him to return by mid-April rather than after the All Star break.

martin

  • Youthful Starting Rotation: Losing Marcus Stroman was a HUGE blow, but thanks to a well stocked farm system, that blow should be softened. Stepping up in the place of the “Stro Show” will be a pair of the Blue Jays top prospects, Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris. Sanchez, who thrived out of the bullpen a year ago, was originally looked at as a candidate to reprise his role and help solidify a (weak) bullpen. Instead he will get the chance to take the mound every 5th day and show off his deadly arsenal of a high 90’s sinking fastball and a devastating, 12 to 6, curveball, that we refer to as; “the Dirty Sanchez.” He has also been working on a cutter and a slider in the offseason so he can become a more rounded starter. Daniel Norris, whom has been garnering more offseason attention for his living arrangements than for his pitching capability, was originally slated to open the year in Buffalo (AAA), but a combination of Stro’s injury and an impressive spring has made it near impossible to send him down. Norris also offers a lot more upside than the other pitcher in the running, Marco Estrada (who is more cut out for the ‘pen), and has more experience/polish than the duo of impressive youngsters; Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna. Not to be outshone by Norris and Sanchez, Drew Hutchison will be leaned on (heavily) to help shoulder the workload. Record aside (8-11), Hutch had a solid, first season back from Tommy John surgery; making 32 starts and averaging a strikeout an inning over 184.1 innings. Not to count chickens before they hatch, but Blue Jays beat writer, Jeff Blair, believes that this particular crop of pitching prospects rivals the days when the Jays had Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar as pitching prospects. It really is hard not to get excited about the prospects of these young arms.

Aaron-Sanchez-Daniel-Norris 

        Honourable Mention:

  • The 1 thru 5 in the batting order: Reyes, Martin, Joey Bats, Edwing and Donaldson.
  • Daniel Norris’ claim to being the Most Interesting Man in Baseball.
  • The Argos signing a lease with BMO field = One small step closer grass in the dome.
  • Having TWO young, high ceiling, Latino, power arms: Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro.
  • Three Canadians on the 25 man roster (Martin, Saunders and Pompey).

 

 What We Hate:

  • Marcus Stroman’s ACL: I honestly still cannot bear to think or talk about this. Stro’s blown ACL was an absolute gut punch of an injury. Even though he was only about to enter his sophomore season, Stroman had the stuff and confidence of someone far beyond his years. In fact, there were some (myself included) who believed that Stro would end the season as the teams de facto ace. What makes the matter worse, if that was possible, was seeing such a severe, freak injury befall someone with so much charisma and “swag,” as the Stro Show exudes. Silver lining time:

 

  • At least it wasn’t Tommy John (knocks on wood).
  • Stro’s work ethic, tenacity and drive, will pay HUGE dividends while he rehabs.
  • Stro is young enough that it shouldn’t impact his long term future (knocks on wood.)
  • You know he will be the Jays biggest cheerleader all season; especially if/when the post season comes around.

I look forward to tuning into the Stro Show when it returns in 2016. Best of luck in rehab!

Stro

  • Lack of Depth: Who is our Opening Day 2B? Are we really planning on a full season of Kevin Pillar in LF? What happens if Dalton Pompey falters? Who is our back up 1B? Are we really entertaining the thought of carrying Daric Barton on the 25 man roster? Will Brett Cecil be our closer all season? Are we looking at carrying three LHP in the bullpen? Is Todd Redmond and Chad Jenkins really set for a big workload? These are questions that you have to face/ask when you’re team lacks depth. Unfortunately all of these questions and scenarios could be ones that the Blue Jays face in 2015. You know what would have been really nice? Having Melky Cabrera to be our opening day LF. The Melkman would have allowed Pillar and Pompey to platoon in CF and would’ve been a perfect bat for the two-hole in the lineup. The Blue Jays would love for Justin Smoak to find his bat and be able to allow Edwing to focus more on DH, but he would have to hit consistently in order to do that. As for the 2B situation, as of right now it looks like its Devon Travis’ job to lose. Travis, who was acquired from the Tigers in exchange for Anthony “the Chain” Gose, has enjoyed a great Spring Training with both the bat and the glove, yet he has never played a Major League game. The other candidates to take that job are: “all glove-no bat,” Ryan Goins and the 35 year old Macier Izturis, who is coming off a blown out knee. The biggest head shaking decision was why no one was brought in to help fortify the bullpen. In fact, the closest they came was the deal with Ronald Belisario that fell apart at the last minute. How have they not called Rafael Soriano? Dude, has pitched in the AL East and would give the Jays a RHP out of the bullpen. Don’t you find it odd that GM Alex Anthopolous went out and made the big trades and big signings, but neglected to address his team’s depth? Seems like the guy who buys an expensive car, but neglects to splurge for power windows and locks.

        Honourable Mention:

  • The rest of the lineup (2B, LF, CF and DH) will be comprised of some combo of: Dioner Navarro, Justin Smoak, Daric Barton, Macier Izturis, Devon Travis, Ryan Goins, Dayan Viciedo, Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey.
  • Imagining what Melky Cabrera could have brought to this lineup: legit two hitter and starting LF/occasional DH.
  • That whole Duquette saga: imagine we traded Hoffman, Pentecost AND Mitch Nay for an executive?!
  • That ridiculous looking Ted Rogers statue. 

 

Player to Watch: SP Drew Hutchison. Sure there are a lot of candidates for us to pay attention to on the Blue Jays this upcoming season, but none may be as important as Hutch. In Hutchison, the Blue Jays have a young, battle tested starter, whom put up impressive numbers in his first season back from Tommy John: 184 strikeouts in 184.1 innings and a 1.26 WHIP. The main knock against Hutch is that he can struggle with his location, which can leave him prone to getting hit and hit hard (23 HR in 2014). Despite having command issues, Hutch does not issue a whole lot of free passes (60 BB in 2014) but in failing to consistently hit his target, he leaves himself open for batters to put a good swing on his mistakes. Personally, I see Hutch pitching 200+ innings and maybe winning 13 or more games.

 

hutch1

Top Pitching Prospect: Daniel Norris · LHP · MLB ETA: 2015

daniel-norris 

Top Positional Prospect: Dalton Pompey · OF · MLB ETA: 2015

 

Dalton Pompey

Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=tor

 

Final Prediction: 2nd AL East

– $