The Blue Jays released their version of the 60*-man roster yesterday, and word came that an airlift of Toronto players and staff from Florida is planned for Wednesday, leaving us all with far more questions than answers in this pandemic-induced season that may or may not get off the ground.
The clear winners in this situation are the top Blue Jays prospects who were included in the 60*, a group that includes Jordan Groshans, Alek Manoah, Alejandro Kirk, and possibly top draft pick Austin Martin, who presumably is one of the two spots being kept open for. Toss in Simeon Woods Richardson and Joey Murray, too. Catcher Riley Adams is probably last on the depth chart at that position, but his defensive play has made tremendous strides over the past two seasons, and this is no doubt a reward for that improvement. Kevin Smith had a sideways 2019, but the organization still believes enough in the 2018 breakout player that he’ll be plying his trade at Sahlen Field for the next little while.
These players are likely part of a largely group which will head to the Niagara Frontier after the Blue Jay airlift touches down at Pearson, to the home of Toronto’s AAA affiliate Buffalo. The season would have to go incredibly south (think Antarctica, or Tierra del Fuego at least) before any of these players would see MLB action, even in an abbreviated 60-game schedule where teams will likely burn through Pitchers like a duffer goes through Pro V1’s during the first round of the golf season. But with many of the top coaches in the system likely to be headed to Buffalo as well, it’s an opportunity for the brightest lights in the organization to receive top-notch instruction, as well as a chance to learn to live and play together, an experience most organizations highly value.
Who is missing out in this scenario? Younger players like Gaby Moreno, Otto Lopez, Miguel Hiraldo, Adam Kloffenstein, and Orelvis Martinez, who likely merited consideration. You have to feel for some of the guys who would’ve toiled in Buffalo’s deep bullpen like Bryan Baker, Jackson McClelland, and Zach Jackson. These are live arms, but the Blue Jays appeared to prefer several recycled MLB arms to any of that trio.
It is exciting to have such a core of young prospects all together and so close to home, but of course the catch is that we won’t get to see them.