Blue Jays re-sign Berti and Smith
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
In addition to adding outfielder Curtis Granderson to their big league roster, the Toronto Blue Jays have made a trio of moves at the minor league levels to add some depth, re-signing long-time Blue Jays farmhands Jon Berti and Murphy Smith and giving released Tigers' minor leaguer Will Savage another shot.
Jon Berti, a 2011 18th-round Blue Jays draftee, returns to the fold after testing the free agent market. Berti has always been a guy who could get on base, steal a boat load of bases and provide excellent defence at multiple positions.
Starting off as a second baseman, he has played second, third, shortstop, left field and centre field in his pro career. Missing about half the year in 2017 due to injury and then rehabbing, he struggled to find his groove with triple-A Buffalo for the remainder of the year. Still, Berti is a two-time Webster Award winner with a career .253/.336/.344 slash line and has stolen 236 bases over seven minor league seasons including 24 last year with an excellent success rate. Berti will be 28 next week and the Blue Jays are the only organization he's known
Also returning to the fold is 30-year-old righty Murphy Smith who has done everything asked of him since signing with the Blue Jays in 2015. He started his career with the Oakland A's organization, getting drafted in the 13th round in 2009. He was released after the 2014 season and the Blue Jays signed him for 2015. He pitched in class-A Advanced Dunedin and double-A New Hamsphire, working mostly as a starter but transitioned to the bullpen full time in 2016, having a dominant season mostly in New Hampshire with a little taste of Buffalo. In 2017, Smith made two appearances in New Hampshire before joining the Bisons' bullpen in mid-April. There, he had a 3.50 ERA with an excellent 1.19 WHIP over 82 1/3 innings, walking 18 and striking out 53. While he won't strike out as many as a guy with a "power arm" will, Smith gets outs by changing speeds and disrupting hitters' rhythms. He's been a workhorse for the Jays' minor league system and will no doubt be one again.
Born in London, England and raised in the Bronx, Will Savage, 23 (although he looks 13 in some of his photos), is a rare draftee out of the Ivy League's Columbia University in New York City. Drafted in the 16th round and signing with the Tigers for $75,000, Savage hit .367/.463/.487 in his junior year in college, popping 11 doubles, a triple and two home runs.
Since turning pro, Savage has struggled with A-ball pitching, recording a .300 OBP in his first year and actually hitting better in Class-A West Michigan (.215/.292/.278) than he did back in Short-Season-A Connecticut (.222/.280/.232) last year. He'll likely play in low-A Lansing for the Jays.
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Check out the Handbook page for more information!