Friday, 27 March 2015

Minor League Roster Previews

[Edited to reflect Drabek loss]
[Edited again 3/29]
[Edited again after roster announcement 3/31]

It's still two weeks away from Minor league opening say, and a lot can still change, but with the increasing likelihood that one of us Blue jays bloggers will be plotting to write on a subject only to look up and see some other fine blogger has beaten them to the punch, iI choose to get out in front on this one.

Today's surprising,if not shocking, demotion of Steve Delebar illustrates what a fool's errand such prognostication is (clearly i laugh in the face of danger, right?) and if I'd finished this post last night when I started it I'd have taken less than 12 hours for it to have been rendered at least a little obsolete. Nevertheless, fools rush in and all that - I live to roster-bate.

Be advised of the predictable caveats:
a. Injuries can happen (especially those lightly reported and seldom understood minor league "injuries");
b. you can never be completely sure what the internal decision makers will decide regarding keeping or releasing marginal players(!), in that respect I'll project a roster for every player that, to my knowledge, is still in the system and projects to play for a full season team. You can bet some of them will be release within the next two weeks;
c. given the above, some rosters will have more names than will actually fit on the standard roster. The roster limit for AAA and AA is 24 at the beginning and end of the season, but 23 most of the season and there are currently 30 or more players who would seem to make sense nowhere but AAA. By the way, the limit at A ball is 25. In short season it's 30 and rookie ball allows 35.
Nothing for this overcrowding until players start getting cut, but designating projected starters among fielders will help clear the picture a bit; I'll acknowledge that in some cases a player will be one level below where he clearly ought to be once actual rosters are set.

Projected starting rotation and starters at each position bolded.
For the purposes of this exercise, the following  players are projected to be on the Blue Jays
Hutchison, Dickey, Buehrle, Sanchez, Norris / Cecil, Castro, Loup, Redmond, Estrada, Osuna, Hynes
Martin, Encarnacion, Smoak, Travis, Reyes, Donaldson, Bautista, Pompey, Pillar (Saunders, Izturus on DL)  / Navarro, Goins, Tolison, Valencia

Drabek is was a bold call here, but I choose chose to see hanging on to him as the explanation for Delebar's demotion. I am was stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the possibility they are taking Osuna north along with Castro as it's an idea I REALLY don't like - it's probably the call I'm most likely to be getting wrong here. [Yup. Took less tan a day. I'm conceding the point. I'm really frustrated about the Osuna decision. I LOOOVE the guy but I don't see the sense in it. But it is what it is]

[Edit: Alex implied today that they won't commit to the bullpen until the very last second and certain players who are currently assumed to make the team might not if the opportunity to acquire a reliever they like arises. As such Osuna might NOT make the team and, Stoeten relays from somewhere that he would open in Dunedin in respect of the winter weather at AA which is what I was thinking in the first place! Hopefully it plays out just that way. He also commented on the need to have someone who could be shuttled after long games or bow-outs.]

 Potential losses to waiver claims for out-of-options players ignored below. However, those OOO players are designated with a (*) on the AAA roster below. DL players in italics; Players on my Top 30 in Blue, Sleepers in Green.

Randy Wolf, Ricky Romero, Andrew Albers, Juan Oramas, Liam Hendricks*, Jeff Francis
Matt West, Rob Rasmussen, Chad Jenkins, Ryan Tepera, Preston Gulimet, Bo Schultz, Scott Barnes, Steve Delebar, Wilton Lopez, Bobby Korecky, John Stilson, Luis Perez
AJ Jiminez, Josh Thole, Sean Ochinko / Andy Wilkins, Daric Barton, Chris Colabello / Jon Berti, Munonari Kawasaki, Jon Diaz, Ramon Santiago / Matt Hague Chris Dickerson, Ezequiel Carrera, Caleb Gindl, Andy Dirks

Comments: Here's a good place to point out that there are too many candidates to be precise, obviously  the Bisons won't have 15 active pitchers, (along with 15 hitters no less!) comments taken with appropriate grain of salt ... As of now I'm theorizing that Drabek is only up long enough to sneak through waivers and one of these guys - likely Delebar - will be recalled in his place the first misstep he makes ... If Hendricks is claimed, Francis would start since there's too many pitchers here anyway ... Vicideo probably ought be in majors but where? ... Berti benefits from having Travis in the majors ... Hague hits well enough to start, best option for 3B ... Vicideo DH? ... all relievers on each team listed in order of age ... [Edit] Wilkins claimed from White Sox after losing Drabek. He's a fine "trade" return for the pitcher and has a solid track record in the minors, no idea why the ChiSox didn't want him. Figures to be the starting 1B in Buffalo which in turn makes me think that Barton and/or Calebello may be released. Also possible Vicedeo has an out clause if he doesn't make the Jays.

[Edit: Vicideo didn't have an out-clause but apparently they had a handshake deal so he's moved on, which helps a bit with some of the crowding at Buffal]

New Hampshire: 
Matt Boyd, Taylor Cole, Scott Copeland, Casey Lawrence, Austin Bibens-Dirks, Michael Lee
Dustin Antolin, John Anderson, Arik Sikula, Will Browning, Brad McFarland, Cory Burns, Greg Infante, Tiago Da Silva, Rafael Cova, Greg Burke
Derrik Chung, Jack Murphy / KC Hobson / Dwight Smith, Jr. Jorge Flores, Andy Fermin, Kevin Nolan / Andy Burns,  Ryan Scimpf / Matt Newman, Melky Mesa, Brad Glenn,  Jake Fox

I had projected Osuna for Dunedin as recently as a month ago, as I said, I'm going to put him on the farm as a starter until the officially say different ... another overcrowded 'pen ... no word contradicts the previous reports DSJ would be converted to 2B, Travis in the majors clears the way for him to get full time work at the position for the Fisher Cats ... Fox and Schimpf have no business in AA but the roster is light otherwise and neither are prospects so org players can be moved about to serve the organizational needs.

Jeff Hoffman, Chase De Jong, Shane Dawson, Starlyn Suriel, Brad Allen, Ben White
Jeremy Gabryzwski, Brady Dragmire, Jayson Aquino, Francisco Gracesqui, Jimmy Cordero, Chad Girodo, Griffin Murphy, Danny Barnes
Jorge Saez, Peirce Rankin, Chris Schafer / Matt Dean, LB Danzler / Christian Lopes, Emilio Guerrero, Shane Opitiz / Mitch Nay / Marcus Knecht, Anthony Alford, Derrik Loveless, Ian Parmley

Osuna and Castro no longer here breaks up what might have been crazy-good rotation ... AA mentioned Vancouver for Hoffman but I suspect he'll be game ready before mid-June ... more crowded 'pen ... Guerrero may be outgrowing SS, could end up in OF but won't supersede the top prospects  and he'd need to hit like an outfielder ... aggressive placement for Alford, but his length of time in big league camp suggests he's on special track, plus avoids collusion with Davis over who plays CF in Lansing

Jario Labourt, Matt Smoral,  Ryan Borucki, Adonys Cardona, Tom Robson
Yefry DelRosario, Jose Fernandez, Andrew Case, Justin Schaffer, Alonzo Gonzalez, Chase Wellbrock, Matt Dermody, Scott Silverstien
Dan Jansen, Justin Atkinson / Rowdy Tellez Ryan McBroom / DJ Thon, Dewel Lugo, Gunner Heidt / Jason Leblebijian / Roemon Fields DJ Davis, David Harris, Chaz Frank

If Cardona stays healthy and Robson recovers well, this will potentially be the strongest rotation top-to-bottom of these 4 teams ...Jansen leapfrogs Max Pentacost because of the latter's injury - Pentacost won't be ready before the short-season teams start ... McBroom might stay in Vancouver just because there's no obvious replacement for him there ... I picked Heidt to promote over Locastro but the organization could make the opposite choice ... interesting how they will handle Fields, whom Mel Dider calls the best CF in the organization, and DJ Davis, who can't afford the distraction of changing positions, in the same outfield - but you can bet few fly balls will get down.

It's too early to project short-season rosters, but here's a guess at where some of the more prominent guys will probably end up:

Vancouver - Max Pentacost, Sean Reid-Foley, Alberto Tirado, Clint Hollon, Lane Thomas, Richard Urena ... this should be, as usual, a helluva team if someone fills the gap left by McBroom

Bluefield - Jesus Tinoco, Evan Smith, Nick Wells, Jacob Brentz, Patrick Murphy, Angel Perdomo, Matt Morgan, Yeltsin Gudino, Freddy Rodriguez ... I highlighted Perdomo who's actually my #31 because it's crazy the system is so deep he didn't make the top 30, but by mid-season potentially five guys (or six?) will graduate off the top of the list so I cheated a bit there. In similar fashion, it's not that the team here is so thin it's just that by the tie you get this deep there's not room YET for too many of these guys.

 Now, I'll sit back and wait for the Blue Jays make dozens of choices I didn't anticipate.

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