Toronto Blue Jays: 3 Minor Leaguers Who Will See Time in the Majors This Year
It’s not exactly a secret that the Toronto Blue Jays have decided to go with a veteran roster built to compete now rather than waiting on prospects to come up and make an impact.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos set that plan in motion last year when he traded some of his top prospects in exchange for proven veterans.
As a result of those moves, the team’s pool of minor league players ready to make the jump to the majors has shrunk considerably.
With the Blue Jays off to a decent start in the 2014 season and veterans making up most of the 25-man roster, there doesn’t appear to be much room on the team for minor leaguers at the moment.
But, as we all know, the Opening Day roster almost never makes it intact through the whole season. Trades, injuries and underperformances can often end up opening doors for unheralded players in the minors to come up and contribute at the major league level.
Let’s take a look at three possible candidates in Toronto’s system that will likely see some time in the majors this year.
All stats are from baseball-reference.com.
Marcus Stroman, RHP
But the Blue Jays felt that Stroman, who was a closer in college, could amount to be more than a reliever and opted to shift him into a starting pitcher role.
Since then, the 22-year-old has continued his steady rise in the minor leagues and is currently the No. 2 prospect in Toronto’s system, according to MLB.com.
While Stroman is definitely undersized at 5’9”, his stuff doesn’t reflect his height.
The right-hander already possesses a plus fastball that he can throw in the mid-90s. His slider is also considered to be a plus pitch.
In four starts for Triple-A Buffalo this season, Stroman has posted a 2.18 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 20.2 innings pitched.
With the Blue Jays already having issues in the back end of their rotation this season, Stroman’s name should certainly be in the mix if the team decides to make a change.
Anthony Gose, Outfielder
Anthony Gose cannot really be called a prospect anymore after spending the last two seasons bouncing between Triple-A and the majors.
Once viewed as the future leadoff hitter for the Blue Jays because of his elite speed, the 23-year old simply hasn’t developed enough as a hitter.
In 315 at-bats at the major league level spread out between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Gose has hit .238/.298/.359 with 97 strikeouts.
Those underwhelming numbers aren’t just a result of Gose struggling to hit major league pitching; he’s had his problems hitting in the minors, too.
In his seven minor league seasons since turning pro, the left-hander has hit just .259/.337/.382.
After losing a battle to make the big league team out of spring training, Gose started the 2014 season in Triple-A Buffalo and has just 12 hits in 49 at-bats.
The lack of success at the plate is all the more disappointing when you consider Gose’s strengths in the other areas of the game. He has game-changing speed on the basepaths and is sound defensively in centre field.
Those other assets should eventually guarantee Gose a spot on the team’s bench later this season. Especially considering that Toronto’s current fourth outfielder, Moises Sierra, has really struggled early in the 2014 season, hitting just .091/.130/.091 in 22 at-bats.
Sean Nolin, LHP
Besides Stroman, Sean Nolin is probably the only other starting pitcher in Toronto’s system who figures to see some time in the major leagues this season.
Ranked as the Blue Jays’ No. 6 pitching prospect by MLB.com, the 24-year old actually made his major league debut last season, when the team called him up briefly to make a spot start.
Unlike Stroman, Nolin doesn’t have overpowering stuff and relies more on control and pitch placement in order to get hitters out.
Pitching in Triple-A Buffalo this season, the left-hander has posted 1-0 record in three starts along with a 2.70 ERA in 16.2 innings. He also has 21 strikeouts during that span.
If something drastic happens and the Blue Jays decide to promote a minor league pitcher, Nolin’s name would likely be near the top of the list.
While projected as a starting pitcher throughout his minor league career, Nolin could find his niche as a long man out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays in the future if there isn’t a place for him in the rotation.