The Blue Jays added four players from their minor league system to the 40-man roster in advance of next month’s (maybe) Rule 5 draft, and a fifth player from another organization.
It was of no surprise that LHP Zach Logue and SS Leo Jimenez were added. A numbers game forced Logue to start 2021 in AA, where he clearly overmatched hitters, but he continued to get good results when promoted to AAA part way through the season. Logue has most definitely earned this spot. Baseball America’s take on Logue:
Logue saw his velocity jump by a couple of miles per hour in 2021, which helped all of his stuff play up. That induced the Blue Jays to protect him from the Rule 5 draft this year after leaving him unprotected last season.
Jimenez, who spent a total of six weeks on the IL this season still put together a line of .315/.517.381 in his first year of full season ball at Dunedin. A highly regarded 2017 IFA, Jimenez’ bat has not come around in terms of pop, but he’s made strides in terms of his exit velo, and given his MLB-ready skills at SS, he likely would have been grabbed by a team on the rebuild.
Also added were RHP Bowden Francis and Hagen Danner. Francis came over from Milwaukee in the Rowdy Tellez trade, and quietly pitched well for Buffalo, and despite not owning a blazing FB, struck out nearly a batter per inning through 13 starts for the Bisons. Danner was the biggest surprise – the former two-way star, drafted as a backstop in 2017, converted back to pitching this year after compiling a .197 average in his first three years as a position player. Danner’s stats as a reliever were decent for Vancouver, especially considering he hadn’t pitched in almost four seasons. But his high 90s velo and spin on his slider might make him attractive to teams, so the Jays opted to protect Danner. His stint on the IL from early June to late July seemed to coincide with a decline in the C’s fortunes this season.
Blue Jays pitching development coordinator Cory Popham said Danner had a very successful transition to pitching:
Hagen had a set back during the season and worked incredibly hard and came back throwing harder. He’s refined his slider a bit, throwing it harder and it’s a big league pitch. Between his plus FB and plus slider, he’s incredibly impressive. He also pounds the strike zone. I’m really excited for him.
Not added to the 40, but likely strongly considered, were UT Samad Taylor, RHP Joey Murray, and LHP Graham Spraker. Taylor had a breakout season at AA, but a logjam of players ahead of him likely dissuaded Toronto from adding him. Murray’s health status is up in the air, so other teams likely would shy away from selecting him as a result. Spraker seemed to have a decent shot at earning a 40 spot after a good year at AA and solid work in the Arizona Fall League, but the Jays must feel that he hasn’t missed enough barrels. The team did add RHP Shaun Anderson from the Padres. A 2016 4th round pick of the Red Sox, Anderson is now with his fifth organization, but again, there must be something in his profile that caught the scouting and analytics departments eye.