The Bluefield Blue Jays, Toronto’s short season Appalachian affiliate, released their roster today. The vast majority of the players on the list are far away, but they hold tremendous promise.
Conspicuous by his absence on the list is Dennis Holmberg, the Blue Jays lifer who has Managed for 40 years in the Blue Jays system. After piloting the Bluefield Jays since their move into the Toronto organization in 2011, Holmberg had his request granted for a posting closer to his home in Dunedin, and will guide the GCL Jays this season.
The pitching staff is led by power arms like Roither Hernandez, who hit 100 several times last season. Elixon Caballero is a Marcus Stroman-sized Pitcher who features a wipeout slider. Jol Concepcion and Naswell Paulino both showed promise in the Dominican Summer League in 2017, but sat out all of last year due to positive PED tests. Alejandro Melean is another power arm with a plus curveball.
As far as position players are concerned, Miguel Hiraldo was the top-ranked IFA bat two years ago, and is likely looking at a move off of SS. Leo Jimenez turned 18 a month ago, but is a sparkplug type of player. Blue Jays VP Andrew Tinnish told us about eighteen months ago that if he was to predict one player from the 2017 IFA class would stick as an MLB SS, it was the Panamanian Jimenez.
Steward Berroa was a player Blue Jays minor league hitting coordinator Hunter Mense singled out for praise after Instructs last fall.
The Appy League does not stream their games on milb.tv, but tune in sometime to Bluefield broadcaster Zach Helton, who does a fine job of calling games from the heart of Appalachia.