Projecting the 2020 New Hampshire Fisher Cats Opening Day roster is a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Pieces from Dunedin, New Hampshire, and even Buffalo may go into assembling the final roster picture, as the Blue Jays face a bit of a roster crunch at the upper levels of the system.
Murray was easily the best Pitcher in the organization not named Nate Pearson in 2019. He began the year in Lansing, and finished in New Hampshire, with a stop in Dunedin along the way. He should spent at least another half season in AA, as there’s a bit of a logjam of starters ahead of him, but it may be only a matter of time. Castillo was one of the youngest regulars in the Florida State League, but he was among the league leaders in Innings, K’s, and ERA. Allgeyer will give the Cats their lone southpaw in the rotation at the start, while Johnston, who came over from the Nats in the Daniel Hudson deal, adds to the rotation’s depth.. A shoulder issue pretty much washed out 2019 for Harris, a 2015 1st round pick who will be looking to get his career back on track. Dillon has pitched up and down throughout the system in a swingman role.
Here’s where things start to get crowded, and there are bound to be more names under consideration as spring training progresses. Rees came out of nowhere to become an All-Star Closer, and he forms a nasty one-two punch with Wilson. Spraker and Larkins started in about half of their outings last year, but it’s hard to see room for them in the rotation. Fishman may be the only southpaw in the bullpen, but there are a lot of strikeouts in that list above, so the surplus of righties may not be a problem.
There is some top prospect talent here with the likes of Kirk, former 1st round pick Warmoth, Smith, and Young. The latter trio all had strong finishes to the season to help overcome disappointing first halves. Much was expected of Smith, who had a breakout 2018, but he struggled for much of the season with the more advanced Pitching of the Eastern League, so it would not be a surprise to see him start in New Hampshire, depending on what happens above him. Warmoth has largely underwhelmed as a pro, but is hoping to build on a solid Arizona Fall League showing. Young made adjustments mid-season with his approach, and had a strong second half. Kirk’s bat was as advertised, and he showed surprisingly good defensive skills.
The strength of the 2020 edition of the Fisher Cats will likely lie with its Pitching staff.