Continuing our prediction of opening day rosters throughout the Blue Jays’ system with short season A Vancouver Canadians
One step further down is the only Canadian Blue Jays affiliate, but also the furthest affiliate from Toronto: the Vancouver Canadians. The Canadians play in the Northwest League which is at the lowest of the A levels. This level is referred to as short season A (or A-). Below this level are the rookie leagues. The Canadians play about half the games that Lansing does.
Vancouver begins their season after the MLB draft in June. A few of the more advanced draftees will begin their pro careers at A-, so the actual roster will look somewhat different. I’m only taking into account players the Jays already have in their system.
Only a handful of the players below have appeared in Blue Jays spring training games. Once the season begins, they, and the others, will mostly remain at extended spring training until the short season begins in June. A few may be called upon prior to fill in at Lansing in case of injury or other transactions. The active roster size of MLB teams down to low A teams are 25 men. At A- the active roster size increases to 35.
All of these factors make Vancouver quite a bit tougher to predict than the previous levels.
General notes: Larger roster size will finally help ease bullpen clogging, larger roster also allows for bigger bench, weaker rotation
Predicted opening day roster hitters:
C: Javier Hernandez — Just 20 but this will be his 5th season in the organization since he signed as a 16 year old. Played 46 games with Vancouver last year and posted a .604 OPS
1B: David Jacob — Played a handful of games with Vancouver last year in his first pro season. Over two levels posted a .866 OPS
3B: Carl Wise — Spent all of 2016 in Lansing. Posted a .620 OPS and shaky defence. Demotion is likely to make way for Guerrero Jr at low A.
LF: Lance Jones — Split time between Vancouver and Bluefield with a .799 OPS. In his short two year pro career he’s maintained a huge .432 OBP
CF J.B. Woodman — 2016 2nd round pick. Did very well last year and reached Lansing for a short stint. Is ready for A ball but will have to battle Joshua Palacios for the role there. It’ll be a stiff competition
RF Rodrigo Orozco — Had a .637 OPS with Vancouver last year. Power stroke disappeared but was still able to get on base regularly. Hasn’t played right but that’s the position that remains at this level
DH Bradley Jones —Burst onto the scene with Bluefield racking up 16 HR and a .914 OPS. Plays first and third. (Update: Jones or Jacob could move to take the recently released Atkinson’s spot. Jones or Jacob could be replaced by Levi Scott)
C Andres Sotillo — .537 OPS with the Canadians in 2016
INF Nash Knight — Plays 1B, 2B and 3B. Could challenge Barreto for regular at bats (Update: Could move a level due to Attaway (released)—Metzler (could replace Attaway) chain reaction. Knight could be replaced by Jesus Severino)
3B/2B Mattingly Romanin — The Canadian will remain with the Canadians in his age 24 season and backup 2B and 3B.
3B Bryan Lizardo — Just 19, Lizardo should be starting to develop optimally but there just isn’t room. Might have to drop down to Bluefield to get regular at bats.
OF D.J. McKnight — .719 OPS over 40 games with Vancouver last year. Can back up LF and RF
OF Jacob Anderson — Reached Lansing last year but faltered. Just a .551 OPS for 2016 (UPDATE: Released. Could be replaced by Chavez Young)
OF Edward Olivares — .757 OPS with Bluefield. Has appeared in some spring games with the Jays
C Brett Wellman — 25 year old. Just 50 ABs over 3 seasons.
SP Patrick Murphy — Could challenge for a rotation spot in Lansing but competition will be tight
SP Luis Sanchez— 4.61 ERA at A- in 2016
SP Andy Ravel — 5.12 ERA in a swingman role for the Canadians last year
SP Mike Ellenbest — Ditto but 4.45 ERA
SP Tayler Saucedo — 5.91 ERA with Lansing. Has been surpassed by others
SP Denis Diaz — Did well in Bluefield but fell apart for Canadians in 2016
RP Griffin Glaude — 2.36 ERA with Vancouver and a short stint in Lansing
RP Zach Jackson — 3.38 ERA between two levels
RP Jackson Lowery — Reached Dunedin for a cup of coffee. Effective at lower levels
RP Connor Eller — 2.60 ERA with Bluefield
RP Daniel Young — 2.70 ERA in Lansing. No room
RP Evan Smith — Ugly 7.96 ERA between Lansing and Vancouver
RP Travis Bergen — Highly regarded relief prospect but injury plagued.
RP Nick Hartman — 3.00 ERA with Canadians
RP Jackson McClelland — 3.26 ERA with Vancouver
RP Nate Abel — 3.38 ERA between Dunedin, Lansing and Vancouver (UPDATE: Released. Jon Wandling could slot in here or an older reliever from Bluefield)
Hypothetical DL: Jon Wandling — Missed all of 2016
Rookie ball predictions tomorrow!