Continuing our prediction of opening day rosters throughout the Blue Jays’ system with AAA Buffalo
It is the destiny of most predictions to be confounded and already one of my predictions from yesterday’s major league opening day roster piece has taken a hit. It’s seeming much more likely that Devon Travis will not be ready for opening day which means the scenarios I outlined regarding Ryan Goins will probably be moot for now (when Travis returns to the lineup, this issue will rise again of course).
But it only gets harder to predict accurately as we move down the organizational levels. There are a lot fewer question marks for the big league team than its affiliates. Publicly available information gets sparser, especially regarding the club intentions with prospects outside their top 30. Injury reports and contract details get murkier. Who has what opt outs, etc.
All of this info would be extremely beneficial in making more accurate predictions. But without that insider knowledge, we press on with what we have. In a way it makes it more entertaining.
Some big picture notes about the Bisons: keep in mind it’s more of a MLB depth league than a development league; there’s a massive pitching logjam, especially amongst relievers; there’s an abundance of catching and middle infield options; no natural third basemen.
Predicted opening day roster hitters:
C: Juan Graterol — Yes, you won’t find Reese McGuire on my projected AAA lineup. It’s not that he isn’t ready for AAA, it’s that there are three other AAA catchers (Graterol, Ohlman and Lopez) and if he remains at AA, he can build up a rapport with the Blue Jays’ pitchers of the future. The Bisons’ rotation is all journeymen. The future is Reid-Foley, Greene, Borucki, etc. Reese would be able to grow alongside them.
I could certainly see him moving up as the season progresses, possibly even to the big leagues in September.
1B: Rowdy Tellez — There’s no veteran first baseman standing in his way and he appears pretty much done with development, especially offensively. Time for MLB’s waiting room. Continue to improve fielding and gain experience.
2B: Christian Lopes — The Lopes brothers are both ready for AAA but both are second baseman. Christian is the elder and has more experience.
SS: Gregorio Petit — Suffered a minor injury yesterday but is only listed as day-to-day. Has parts of 5 MLB seasons under his belt including 223 PA in 2016. One of several middle infield depth options.
3B: Jon Berti — It might be 3B by committee this season but we’ll pencil Berti in here for now. He has primarily been a second baseman but has experience at third and the Jays have slotted him there more often than any one else this spring (very early of course). Diaz and Elmore will get reps here as well.
CF: Dalton Pompey — Like most, I anxiously await Dalton making a permanent jump to the bigs. If all goes well, Pompey won’t spend much time with the Bisons this season.
RF: Darrell Ceciliani — At 27, not really a prospect anymore. Biding time until a major league opportunity knocks.
DH: Mike Ohlman — Appears to be transitioning more to first base duties rather than catching. He can backup Tellez at first, mop up some catching innings and DH.
IF: Jonathan Diaz — 2B, 3B, SS, occasional OF. Handy defensive tool.
UT: Jake Elmore — Put him anywhere. He’s played all nine positions. Another middle infield option. The Bisons have 5 players on this roster who could competently play second.
OF: Jose Tabata — The former top prospect can play all three outfield positions. Raked in Winter League. Yet to make spring debut
C: Rafael Lopez — Could face some competition from Alex Monsalve but Raffy has AAA experience. Hasn’t yet appeared in a spring game or in the Blue Jays official transactions but the signing has been reported by Baseball America and Sportsnet.
SP: Casey Lawrence — 28 year old Jays lifer. Waiting for his chance
SP: Jarrett Grube — Like Buschmann and Lawrence, has options which would make him useful as a spot starter for the Jays
SP: Lucas Harrell — Plenty of MLB experience
SP: Matt Buschmann — Baseball America reported his signing yesterday
SP: TJ House — Lefty for the Bisons rotation and…Cleveland connection storylines…
RP Aaron Loup — I still believe in the Wolfman (Loup in French is…).
Could be recalled shortly after season begins but his options count against his opening day roster chances.
RP Ryan Tepera — Ditto. Tepera must endure one more year of ferrying up and down the QEW
RP Danny Barnes — On 40 man and like all relievers on this list, has options
RP Matt Dermody — 25 year old lefty. The names listed here are what I consider the first tier of relief depth. A number of other relievers deserve to be in AAA too but will be pushed to AA due to a huge relief logjam. E.g, Jeff Beliveau, Chris Smith, Wil Browning.
RP Chad Girodo — Lefty, 26, outrighted but remained with Jays’ organization
Released/Opt out: Brett Oberholtzer. Some, out of Toronto’s plethora of relievers, will have to be issued their walking papers. As it stands, both Buffalo’s and New Hampshire’s bullpens would be totally composed of depth relievers, with no room for relief prospects.
The domino effect of this would be felt all the way down to lowest level of the club. Prospects might be pushed down one or two levels below where they could be. Depth is important but so is development. Injuries will do some of the paring down (one already with Sparkman), but probably a couple will need to be released (perhaps some choose other opportunities). Oberholtzer could be one to feel the crunch.
AA roster predictions tomorrow!