Continuing our prediction of opening day rosters throughout the Blue Jays’ system with AA New Hampshire
Today we continue down the Blue Jays’ organizational levels to double A, the top development-focussed league. Unlike the AAA level, almost all players here do not have major league experience. These are generally a club’s most advanced prospects and the focus is on applying finishing touches.
Most of the Blue Jays’ most polished top prospects will play here. My list has 7 of the team’s top 10 prospects (according mlb.com) at AA.
General notes: The effect of the reliever logjam continues to felt here with New Hampshire’s bullpen full with AAA ready relievers, which of course means many AA ready relievers get pushed back to A+; an abundance of catching options pushes a few players back to Dunedin or Lansing; tough decisions were also made on outfielders.
Predicted opening day roster hitters:
1B: Ryan McBroom — McBroom hasn’t yet played a game here but without any top level first base prospects to compete with in AA, this was an easy choice
2B: Tim Lopes — The younger Lopes brother is the club’s next most advanced second base prospect
3B: Jason Leblebijian — Jason is ready for AAA, but the Bisons already have 3 or 4 guys who can play the hot corner
SS: Richard Urena — Jays’ #4 prospect
LF: Harold Ramirez — Also ready for a new challenge but the Jays should see what they have in the older Smith Jr at AAA first
CF Anthony Alford — Jays’ #3 prospect
RF Roemon Fields — At 26, Roemon’s time as a prospect should be drawing to an end but his offensive struggles last year indicate he’s not yet ready for AAA
DH Max Pentecost — This is tough one to predict. The Jays haven’t been terribly forthcoming about their intentions with Max. Some commentators believe the club still views him as a catcher while others think that ship has sailed. For now I’ll side with the ‘ship has sailed’ side and have him play first and DH at AA. If they see him primarily as a catcher still, Dunedin is the place for him to begin 2017. If Max is in Dunedin, it’ll create an opportunity for Matt Dean in AA.
INF/OF Emilio Guerrero — Emilio’s primarily been a third baseman but with Leblebijian occupying the role here it creates a bit a conundrum for Guerrero’s progression. Sending him back to Dunedin doesn’t seem beneficial. He has been playing some other positions (OF and a little 1B), so he might be able to get enough at bats in a more irregular role
INF Shane Opitz — A bench utility role suits Opitz best
OF Ian Parmley — A capable right fielder but doesn’t crack the starting outfield roles
SP Taylor Cole — At 27 he’s not really a prospect anymore and is ready for AAA but doesn’t have the experience of those already there
SP Sean Reid-Foley — Jays’ top pitching prospect
SP Jeremy Gabryszwski — Needs to repeat AA after a 5.23 ERA last year
SP Shane Dawson — Ditto, unusually high walk rate for the Canuck in 2016
SP Conner Greene — One of the Jays’ top 5 pitching prospects. Has been hitting 100 mph
RP Wil Browning — Dominated AA in 2016 but there just isn’t room at AAA
RP Jeff Beliveau — MLB experience, but another victim of the logjam
RP Blake McFarland — Didn’t throw a pitch in 2016 but reached AAA in 2015. No room there this year.
RP Tim Mayza — Excelled in Dunedin last year but didn’t transition as effectively to AA
RP Murphy Smith — 1.50 ERA with New Hampshire last year but again, no room in Buffalo
RP Chris Smith — 1.93 ERA between AAA/AA in 2016 but…you guessed it
RP Luis Santos — Effective swingman for New Hampshire last year. Could challenge Gabryszwski and Dawson for starts
DL: John Stilson — I’ll tag Stilson with a hypothetical DL stint mostly to ease the bullpen congestion (Again, I’ll feel bad if this actually happens!). Stilson should be at AA but it’s full already.
A+ roster predictions soon!