By: Jay Blue
Blue Jays From Away
The rosters are in, the fields are prepared and the minor league season is about to get under way! Minor league action starts on Thursday, April 6 and we’re going to get you ready for the minor league season by giving you two under-the-radar names–one pitcher and one hitter– for each minor league team to keep an eye on.
It’s hard to find an “under-the-radar” player on the Bisons, mostly because most of the players have some major league experience already or have progressed beyond the “prospect” age (usually 25 and under). Still, Wil Browning hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity and, while I think the side-arming righty is much lower on the depth chart when it comes to big league call ups than some of his Buffalo teammates, he’s done nothing but dominate in his professional career (except for small sample sizes).
Keep an eye on Christian Lopes who recovered some of his prospect shine last year mostly in New Hampshire. Christian was a doubles machine, hitting 30 in 108 games with the Fisher Cats while posting a .295/.357/.401 slash line.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats
On a team loaded with prospects, names like Sean Reid-Foley, Conner Greene, Jon Harris and Tim Mayza are going to get the attention. I’m going to suggest that you watch out for Jose Fernandez. The lefty reliever looked mighty impressive in spring training (if you’re a premium subscriber, keep on the lookout for the “Quick Hit” Scouting post coming soon) and, while Mayza gets all the attention, Fernandez could break out a bit this year.
While he shouldn’t still be under the radar, Jonathan Davis is going to melt into the background with Anthony Alford, Harold Ramirez, Richard Urena and Reese McGuire on this team. Davis was the most well-rounded Dunedin Blue Jay last year and I’m excited to see what he can do in a league and a ballpark that has traditionally favoured hitters much more than the Florida State League. Davis’s combination of speed, power and plate discipline are going to be exciting for New Hampshire Fisher Cats fans who get to watch him as he looks to adapt to a new level.
Dunedin Blue Jays
I think Jordan Romano is going to have a good year for Dunedin. The Markham, Ontario native had a spring to remember (keep looking out for our interview with him about the WBC, coming soon) and will be in his first full season following his Tommy John surgery that got him off to a late start last year. Still, he was excellent in Lansing and I think he can really do well this year.
I’m going to defer to the Blue Jays’ Director of Player Development, Gil Kim, for this one. While in Florida, Kim mentioned Danny Jansen as a player to watch. Jansen is a catcher who impresses the Blue Jays’ staff with his leadership and maturity, combined with his defensive abilities. If his bat can come around and be more productive this year, his stock could rise quickly.
My guy to keep an eye on will be Osman Gutierrez. He’s posted strong strikeout numbers in the lower minor leagues and he looked fairly strong in spring training. While I think there will be other pitchers who come out of the gate stronger, I think Gutierrez will finish strongly.
The position players for the Lugnuts are very well known with Vlad, Bo Bichette and J.B. Woodman all having a lot of shine on their prospect statuses. I’m going to tell you to watch Edward Olivares. I’ve liked him since he came out of nowhere in 2014 to hit over .300 in the DSL. He struggled in 2015 but had a solid year last year in Bluefield and his long but strong body is ready for the rigours of everyday baseball for a full season.