Jay Blue: Projected Buffalo Bisons roster

RHP Scott Copeland who won 11 games at triple-A Buffalo (11-6, 2.95 in 20 starts) is expected to see plenty of work this season too. Photo Jay Blue. 

RHP Scott Copeland who won 11 games at triple-A Buffalo (11-6, 2.95 in 20 starts) is expected to see plenty of work this season too. Photo Jay Blue. 

Scott Copeland

Projected Rosters: Buffalo Bisons
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away

We’ve arrived at the Buffalo Bisons. It’s probably not too difficult to project the pitching staff for the Bisons, with the exceptions of a couple of spots, mainly because we’re just waiting for the Blue Jays to make their decisions on the shape of the final 2016 Opening Day Roster. That said, there are still things that are going to be fluid in the first couple of weeks of the season, depending on the health and readiness of Marco Estrada and Aaron Loup. In addition, with the retirements of Rafael Soriano and Brad Penny, there’s less worry about too many arms to go around in Buffalo.

Starting Pitchers
Scott Copeland
Scott Diamond
Chad Jenkins
Roberto Hernandez
Drew Hutchison*
*=on the 40-man roster

Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t look like Hutchison is going to make the Blue Jays out of spring training and, by virtue of having minor league options remaining, he’ll be an odd man out in Buffalo. He’s also the only one of the above pitchers on the 40-man roster.

Other Possible Starters
Joe Biagini*
Aaron Sanchez*
*=on the 40-man roster

Something weird will have to happen for either of these two pitchers to start the season in Buffalo. In Biagini’s case, he’ll have to be offered back to the San Francisco Giants and then a trade will have to be worked out. Word on the street is that, with him throwing BBs at 95 and 96 mph out of the bullpen, he could stick with the major league in a relief role. For Sanchez to be in Buffalo in the rotation, the club will have to grant him his request to remain a starter and Gavin Floyd will have to remain effective (and healthy) through the rest of spring training. Additionally, the Jays will need to have enough arms that they feel comfortable taking north in the bullpen who might otherwise be exposed to waivers (a.k.a. Steve Delabar, Biagini, Arnold Leon, Bo Schultz). If the Jays are confident that their bullpen will be strong enough without Sanchez, he may start the year in the Buffalo rotation.

David Aardsma
Randy Choate
Chad Girodo
Bobby Korecky
Wade LeBlanc
Arnold Leon*
Pat McCoy
Blake McFarland*
Ben Rowen
Ryan Tepera*
*=on the 40-man roster

Note that I only think that a couple of guys on the 40-man roster will be in Buffalo. In Leon’s case, it’s a big if he clears waivers. With the current wave of pitchers challenging for bullpen roles, I don’t think he makes it through. I also think that because Tepera has options, he gets the ride down the QEW to Buffalo. McFarland is going to be an easy guy to send down. He has three options and was never really expected to compete for a job on the club. Of course, depending on how much and whether the Blue Jays decide to play waiver-wire chicken, Steve Delabar and/or Bo Schultz could conceivably start the season in Buffalo.

Now we are looking at the position players for the Bisons. I have to admit that the additional depth that the Blue Jays have recently added at catcher, the middle infield and the outfield has given Buffalo a pretty decent offensive outlook for 2016.

A note for the Buffalo Bisons rosters. For these projections, I’m being fairly optimistic about the Jays keeping guys in the system. I’m speculating that the out-of-options players will not be traded or lost on waivers, although the likelihood that at least one of them is not in the Jays’ organization on Opening Day is fairly high.

A.J. Jimenez**
Humberto Quintero
Tony Sanchez
** - On 40-man roster, out of options

There are a ton of catchers in the high minors for the Blue Jays and so the big question will be who will get playing time. Will A.J. Jimenez get through waivers (assuming he isn’t traded)? Will Quintero be more than a backup? Will Tony Sanchez split time with Jimenez if they’re both on the team?

Other questions like whether Robinzon Diaz and Wilkin Castillo will be on the Fisher Cats or Bisons abound. If Jimenez gets lost or traded, I believe that Castillo would be the man to take his roster spot.

First Base
Casey Kotchman
At this point, I think that Kotchman is the only true first baseman to grace the Bisons. With a hot start, K.C. Hobson could arrive a little later in the year but for now, Kotchman is the guy.

Second Base
David Adams
Andy Burns
Alexi Casilla

This is the “ABC” of second base for the Bisons. None of these three are on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster but, of the three, Burns has the best shot of making the club after an impressive spring training. He’ll still be in the minors for most of the season though. Playing time at second is going to be hard to come by, however, as the veterans Adams and Casilla will likely duke it out to man the keystone position with the more versatile Burns getting playing time all over the field.

Third Base
Andy Burns
Matt Dominguez*
*=on 40-man roster

Dominguez will get the full season in Buffalo, using his final option year, for one reason only: insurance against anything happening to the AL MVP, Josh Donaldson. Dominguez has played everyday in the big leagues and while he’s never developed into the kind of hitter scouts had hoped, he is a polished defensive third baseman. Burns will also soak up some playing time here and there at third base, spelling Dominguez (or allowing him to DH).

Jiovanni Mier
Alexi Casilla

Mier will probably get a chance to play everyday with the Bisons at short but Casilla’s experience at the position will probably enable manager Gary Allenson to be a little more flexible at the position. Yes, Andy Burns can play shortstop too.

Other Possible Infielders
Jon Berti
Jorge Flores

Both of these guys are probably headed for New Hampshire but could see time in Buffalo this year. I really think that the Bisons will have enough infielders with both Burns and Casilla able to play multiple positions but Berti, like Burns, could be a valuable utility man, replacing what Ryan Schimpf was able to do last year.

Domonic Brown
Darrell Ceciliani*
Melky Mesa
Dalton Pompey*
*=on 40-man roster

Yes, I’m kind of hedging my bets here. I had Melky Mesa on New Hampshire and, while he’s technically listed on the Buffalo roster right now, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll stay there. However, if the Blue Jays keep two extra outfielders on the big league squad, they’re going to need him around (unless Jon Berti makes the roster). Why? Because even if the Blue Jays try to get Junior Lake and/or Ezequiel Carrera through waivers, they won’t be eligible to play until they’ve cleared, so the Bisons could, potentially, start the season shorthanded in the outfield.

Ceciliani would be the obvious choice to be sent down, mainly because he has options remaining. His play in spring training has been excellent but I have a feeling that it won’t be quite enough, particularly considering how well Carrera played in the major league lineup last year. If another outfielder stays on the Blue Jays, it may well be Lake, at least until the Blue Jays try to get him through waivers.

We all know that Pompey has already been optioned to the minors and will get everyday reps in the outfield in Buffalo.

Needless to say that while there are a lot of certainties to the Bisons’ Opening Day roster, there are also a lot of moving parts in the weeks before the season opens.

If you like us here, like us on Facebook!

The 2016 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is coming April 3! Visit the Handbook page for more information!

All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2016) and may not be used without permission.