Blue Jays Add Minor League Depth
By Jay Blue
Jays Blue from Away
The Blue Jays had a flurry of signings helping the club flesh out its pitching staff in the upper minor leagues, with most of the players likely tabbed for the Buffalo Bisons.
The Blue Jays gave minor league deals to Roberto Hernandez, Brad Penny, Scott Copeland, Wade LeBlanc and Pat McCoy while also claiming outfielder Junior Lake on waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays had previously signed Canadian Scott Diamond while reports are also out there about another minor league pitching signing, of Bobby Doran.
#BlueJays are also signing RHP Bobby Doran to minor lg deal. Former 4th rounder will be in minor lg camp. Rotation option for minors.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) Dec. 18, 2015
While much is being made of the lack of pitchers on the Buffalo Bisons’ staff, these signings will go a long way to filling things out (combined with those pitchers who fail to make the Blue Jays’ opening day 25-man roster).
Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, pitched decently with the Houston Astros last year, going 3-5 with a 4.36 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, garnering 2.55 ground outs for every air out. The 35-year-old Hernandez was probably best known for using the identity of another person, Fausto Carmona, to make him look younger than he actually was and getting himself signed (likely with a better bonus) out of the Dominican Republic. He was “outed” as Roberto Hernandez in 2012 when he was arrested in the DR. Still, Hernandez has been a productive big league pitcher since about 2007 (when he went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA) despite having some ups and downs.
Ben Nicholson-Smith reports the details of Hernandez’s contract: Roberto Hernandez would earn $1.25 M base salary if he makes #BlueJays per source. Bonuses could pay him $750k more. Player opt-out March 28
Brad Penny will be 38 in May and also signs on to a minor league deal, likely with an opt out similar to Hernandez. Penny is a 14-year MLB veteran who has two All-Star appearances to his name. He’s spent most of his career in the minor leagues, with a 4.29 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 1925 innings. Penny had his best year in 2007 with the LA Dodgers, going 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA and finishing third in Cy Young award voting. Penny has also had a short stint in Japan (2012) and spent 2015 in Triple-A Charlotte with the White Sox organization.
The Jays also re-signed Copeland who made his big league debut with the Jays last year. The 28-year-old righty had a very strong year in Buffalo in 2015, throwing 125 innings with a 2.95 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, getting a ton of ground balls. He wasn’t as successful in Toronto, putting up a 6.46 ERA and 1.70 WHIP over 15 1/3 innings.
Lefty Wade LeBlanc, 31, comes to the Jays after putting up solid numbers in Japan with Seibu, throwing 44 2/3 innings with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. LeBlanc was a second-round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2006 out of the University Alabama and has played in parts of seven seasons in the majors with a 4.47 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over 446 2/3 innings.
The final pitching signing who is getting an invite to major league camp is lefty Pat McCoy. McCoy, 27, got his feet wet in the majors in 2014 with the Detroit Tigers, and had a 3.86 ERA over 14 innings with 13 walks and 11 strikeouts. McCoy was in the Baltimore organization last year putting up decent, if not great, numbers in the upper levels of the Baltimore organization.
Lake will be 26 when the 2016 season starts and has played in the big leagues in parts of the last three seasons with varying degrees of success. He had a .284/.332/.428 slash line in his rookie year in 2013 but hit just .200/.238/.325 over 84 plate appearances with the Cubs and the Orioles in 2015. Still, Lake hit over .300 in Triple-A last year with an OBP over .400 in about 250 plate appearances. Signed as an infielder, the Dominican has exclusively played the outfield since 2014 (with the exception of five games at first base last year) but has been known to have an outstanding arm. Praised for his tools, he’s also been maligned as one those players who has never figured things out enough to capitalize on them.
Finally, Doran will be a minor league depth signing for the Jays. The 6-foot-6 righty will be 27 when the 2016 season starts and hasn’t had much success at the high minor leagues after being a fourth-round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2010. Released by the White Sox at the end of spring training last year, Doran caught on with Kansas City in the independent American Association and started 20 games with a 4.43 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over 113 2/3 innings, walking four batters per nine innings and striking out only 5.6.
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