Blue Jays bolster depth with minor-league pickups

By: Andrew Hendriks

Canadian Baseball Network

TORONTO - 'Tis the season to tweak your 40-man roster, and having claimed outfielder Junior Lake off waivers from Baltimore on Friday, the Blue Jays have done exactly that.

A product of San Pedro Demacoris, Lake joins the organization having spent parts of the last nine seasons in affiliated ball. At 25, the once highly-touted prospect is known as a versatile outfielder who has demonstrated flashes of power at the dish.

Breaking into the majors as a 23 year-old with the Cubs in 2013, the former amateur free agent impressed at the dish slashing .284/.332/.428 over 64 games during his rookie campaign with the Northsiders. Since then, he's struggled with his consistency at the big league level, accumulating only 326 plate appearances and posting an OPS of .590 over 137 MLB contests.

With an outfield currently patrolled by established MLB players in Ben Revere, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista, not to mention the fact that intriguing figures such as Dalton Pompey and Michael Saunders looking to state a case for themselves this spring, Lake is likely ticketed for a spot at triple-A Buffalo.

In parts of three seasons at the triple-A level, Lake has posted a line of .299/.374/.447 with 13 home runs and an OPS north of .800.

The pickup now puts Toronto's 40-man roster at 38.

In addition to Lake, the Blue Jays added depth pieces in RHP's Brad Penny, Scott Copeland and Roberto Hernandez, while also inking southpaws Wade Leblanc and Pat McCoy to MiLB deals.

Penny, 37, has appeared in 349 major league games and spent all of 2015 with triple-A Charlotte (CHW) where the former All-Star hurler went 7-10 with an ERA of 4.46. His counterpart veteran, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, made 11 starts with Houston last season, posting a 4.36 marker over 84 and two thirds innings of work for the eventual American League Wild Card 'Stros.

Returning to the Jays as a minor-league free agent, Copeland is back in the fold following a season in which the 28 year old sinkerballer made his MLB debut en route to picking up three spot starts for Toronto down the stretch. In all, the former Orioles prospect dominated at the triple-A level in 2015, going 11-6 while ranking second in both ERA (2.95) and starts (20) for the pitching-heavy Bisons.

Leblanc, 31, last pitched in the majors back in 2014 and played all of last season in the Japan Pacific League. McCoy, 27, spent the majority of 2015 jockeying between double-A Bowie and triple-A Norfolk (BAL), making 41 appearances and pitching to an ERA of 4.02.

All four of the aforementioned hurlers come with invites to spring training.

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Andrew Hendriks

Born in southern Ontario during the late 1980's, Hendriks had a front row seat to watch the Blue Jays reach the pinnacle in '92/'93 as a child, an experience that only bolstered this Canadian's love for the "American Game." Having played since before his memory allows access too, his passion for Baseball grew over years of emulating his heroes on the local sandlots, memorizing the backs of chewing gum scented cards and travelling across North America to experience as many aspects of the game as possible. In 2009, Hendriks began volunteering at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as a Weekend Tour Guide. By 2010, he was hired on to help curate for the museum & Instruct the fundamentals of the game along side such legends as Tony Fernandez, Roberto Alomar and Jim Fanning during the Hall's annual Kids On Deck program. Following the 2011 season, Hendriks began blogging and co-hosting a weekly podcast for www.BackInBlue.ca, a Blue Jays themed website ran by fans, for fans. Looking to continue connecting with baseball fans across the country, Hendriks is excited to join such a strong team at the Canadian Baseball Network and looks forward to chipping in.