The Blue Jays added 5 prospects to their 40 man roster today to prevent the possibility of losing them at next month’s Rule 5 draft.
Catchers Reese McGuire and Danny Jansen, 1B Rowdy Tellez, and Pitchers Thomas Pannone and Conner Greene were added. Left unprotect included C/1B/DH Max Pentecost, OF Jonathan Davis, and Ps Andrew Case, Jordan Romano, Francisco Rios, and Angel Perdomo.
The team began clearing space earlier this month by outrighting Bo Schultz, Cesar Valdez, and Darren Ceciliani from the 40. Last week, Leonel Campos, Taylor Cole, Luis Santos, and Raffy Lopez met the same fate. Letting Rob Refsnyder go on waivers today and designating Harold Ramirez and Chris Rowley cleared additional space. In between, Deck McGuire was signed as an MiLB free agent, and Taylor Guerreri was claimed on waivers from the Rays. Acquiring SS Gift Ngoepe from the Pirates for futures brought the roster to 34 as the day progressed.
The 5 who were protected were not much of a surprise. Jansen had a breakout year at three levels, and while McGuire missed a good chunk of the season due to knee surgery, could likely fit into any MLB roster as at least a back up, and showed promise with the bat upon his return. Neither may be quite ready for an MLB job, but both would have likely been claimed.
Greene had his struggles at AA this year, but topped 100 with his fastball on multiple occasions. It will be interesting if the team continues to let him develop as a starter, or if he moves to the bullpen. Pannone, acquired in the Joe Smith deadline deal, was among the league leaders in many Eastern League pitching categories.
Tellez struggled mightily at the plate in AAA this year, and given his bat-first profile, he may have gone through the Rule 5 draft unclaimed. The Blue Jays, obviously, did not want to take that risk, and the promotion of the 40-man has to be seen as a reward to Tellez, as well as a vote of confidence.
If there was a player who may have been protected, it might have been New Brunswick native Case. After capping off as strong season by providing excellent set-up relief for Peoria en route to their Arizona Fall League title, there was talk that he might be protected. Case does not profile as a big strikeout guy, which probably is why he was left off the 40. Similarly, Davis had a strong fall for Peoria, and boosted his stock as a speedy, versatile fourth outfielder. He might be a good fit for a team in need of that commodity. Pentecost did not do much to show that he would be worth stashing on a 25-man for a year. At this point, he has yet to prove he can Catch every day, and he struggled against AFL pitching. It would be a surprise to see him selected.
With the roster now at 39, the Blue Jays have a chance to add a player at the Rule 5.