By: Jay Blue
Jays From Away
I’m writing to you today from home in rainy Toronto, after taking Friday to recover from the travel and six solid days of baseball, sunshine, writing and photo editing. My final day in Florida began with writing my report on Day 5 and was followed by packing! I got down to the minor league complex a little later than normal but timed it to get in a couple of interviews before the trip was over.
Once again, I’ll mention that this daily column is generally reserved for notes about injuries, some gossip I’ve gotten from players as well as general information about the day. If you’re looking for scouting reports, you’ll have to subscribe to our Premium Content section (just click the photo above for more info). With the 2017 Yearly subscription ($17.99), you’ll get a free, downloadable copy of the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook and access to all of our scouting reports and player pages online for a full year. For a $1.99 per-month monthly subscription, you’ll get all of our online content and scouting reports as long as your membership is active.
I arrived at the complex just as batting practice was wrapping up; the catchers were taking their swings now, telling me that this would be the last round before the players broke for lunch. One thing I had noticed this time around was that, instead of the catchers hitting first and then going to catch bullpen sessions, now, they were doing their catching before BP and hitting at the end.
I headed into the office and waited to get one of the players that I had asked to interview before I flew down to Florida. Unfortunately, none were available and I ended up talking to Jordan Romano, with whom I had previously arranged to chat, to talk about his experience at the World Baseball Classic pitching for Team Italy (stay tuned for a podcast coming this week).
Once we were done chatting, it was time for the games. The Double-A and Triple-A groups from the Pirates were up from Bradenton and, since it was my sixth day in camp, I would be seeing the same two starters who would have gone on Saturday had J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna not bumped them from starting the game. I was actually glad to see Conner Greene and Ryan Borucki again and was able to see a couple of differences between this outing and the one previous.
Another bonus was that Lourdes Gurriel was playing with the Jays’ Double-A group and I was able to watch him in game action for the second time (he hit a home run in his first at-bat). I also saw Rowdy (a.k.a. “Randy”) Tellez hit a long shot the other way that was legitimately robbed from leaving the park.
One pitcher whom I had not had a chance to see previously was Chris Rowley and, after having interviewed him last year and followed his return from army service over the course of the season, it was great to see him working on the mound. Another pitcher whom I had not seen live in a couple of years was Matt Dermody who was making his first (I think) outing in minor league camp since being optioned. Another pitcher, Brad Allen, was showing me more velocity than I had seen before, making it a pleasant surprise.
Several other pitchers got in some work including Justin Shafer, John Stilson and Kender Villegas, a minor-league free agent. I also saw Jose Fernandez and Luis Santos, a couple of pitchers who could be moving up quickly in 2017.
Once the games were over, I went to Panera Bread for dinner (and WiFi) and worked through the photos I had taken that day and then to the airport for my flight home. Overall, I think I was lucky for the spectacular weather that I had in Florida every day except Thursday was sunny and at least warm (with a few days getting pretty hot). I took over 5600 photos over the six days and interviewed six players. I also got plenty of video for our subscribers to take a look at in the coming weeks (once it gets edited and uploaded). It was a busy six days of the most fun “work” there is but it’s still work (hence the day off of writing yesterday).
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to get ready for the season! Before we get there, though, we’ll have the release of the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook in digital and print forms and, of course, the massive annual update we do of the website! For all of you who have been reading these posts, thanks, and keep tuning in!