Future Blue Jays Newsletter

Vol. XII no. III

Time for a weekly review of the Blue Jays minor league system…which was pretty easy, considering only one team was in action. The weekend after next, I’m excited about providing some eyes-on views of prospects in action for the Vancouver Canadians.

The Bisons kicked off their International League season on Good Friday, the first time professional baseball has been played in Buffalo in March in that city’s lengthy history - and for good reason, as it turns out.

A chilly day with northwest winds blowing in off Lake Erie made things tough for pitchers, as evidenced by the 12-9 final score in favour of the Yankees’ visiting Scranton/Wilkes-Barrie affiliate. Game time temperature was a chilly 5C (41F), with a wind chill factor that made it feel a couple of degrees colder. Prized Toronto prospect Ricky Tiedemann lasted only 2.2 innings before reaching his pitch limit of 65 pitches, and while he gave up an earned run on three hits and a pair of walks, the ball was tough for him (and those pitchers who followed) to grip, and that should factor heavily into any evaluations you might want to make of his performance.

Spencer Horwitz went deep in his first AB, a 9-pitch professional plate appearance.

The Bisons dropped a 4-3 decision on Saturday to SWB before getting into the win column for the first time this season on Sunday by an identical score. Standout performers over the weekend included:

-Chad Dallas, who cruised through the first four innings of his Triple A debut giving up only one unearned run before giving up some third-time-through-the-order contact in the 5th. Still, it was an impressive performance for the second-best starting prospect (at the moment) in the system.

-After spending much of the final weeks of last season in RF, Addison Barger played all 3 games of the opening series at 3rd Base. That may be due to the four outfielders on the roster (plus Rafael Lantigua, who can play LF), but Barger did not look out of place at the hot corner at all. He definitely has the arm strength for the position, and could provide some interesting decisions for the front office to make down the line.

-Lefty reliever Mason Fluharty in his sole inning of work for the series on Saturday, striking out the side in the 8th.

-Paxton Schultz, who had been predominantly a starter during his first 3+ pro seasons, was moved to the bullpen mid way through 2023, and was dominant through 2 innings in his only appearance on Sunday, striking out four, walking one, and allowing one hit. Schultz is a big dude (6’3”, generously listed at 205), and looked like a middle relief innings eater in that outing.

How About Another Book Review?

Mickey Mantle represented the promise of America. His career, while still Hall of Fame worthy, fell short of what it could have been, felled by injuries, alcohol, promiscuity, childhood trauma, and just outright poor decision-making, represents the reality.

Author Jane Leavy, best known for her bios of Sandy Koufax and Babe Ruth, penned a warts-and-all look at one of her greatest heroes in a cautionary tale about meeting them. I listened to this book, in which a narrator provides a chronological summary of Mantle’s career, interspersed by Leavy herself relating the sometimes harrowing meetings she had with the Mick.

Mick was something of a victim of American celebrity culture from a young age, an insular bubble in which he never had to grow up - he claims he got through high school by “screwing the teachers.” After he retired and left the cocoon of the clubhouse, Mantle wandered the desert of life for decades, often in a drunken haze. By the time he had gotten hold of his life, it was too late, his liver damaged by excess. He was a five-tool player before anyone heard of the term. There is little doubt that he had the potential to become the greatest player of all time.

For a baseball fan, it’s a must read. Or listen.

MiLB Roster Limits

With the flurry of roster moves that have been made already today, as full season play begins on all fronts tomorrow, it’s worth noting that organizations can only carry 165 players on active rosters during the season, and 175 in the offseason, down from 185 and 195 under the terms of MLB’s new Collective Agreement.

The Blue Jays have released a number of lower-level players over the past ten days as they work to get down to that number. Toronto will field four full-season clubs, as well as a Florida Complex League team that will start play now in early May, and a Dominican Summer League club as well.