With the brunt of their work done prior to the Winter Meetings, the Toronto Blue Jays essentially took an all-expense paid vacation to Nashville, Tennessee while the rest of baseball hustled around while trying to make a fraction of the dent that Alex Anthopoulos has already made this winter.
That’s what happens when you resolve most of your off-season needs in one fell swoop.
Still, there was one last piece of business to attend to on Thursday; the Rule 5 Draft. With a full 40-man roster, the Blue Jays (again) sat out the major league portion of the draft, which Toronto was also fortunate enough to not lose anyone either. However, the Blue Jays did make three selections in the minor league portion of the draft, continuing on their quest to improve their organizational depth.
26-year-old outfielder Sawyer Carroll spent the 2012 season with the San Diego Padres’ triple-A affiliate in Tuscon. In 112 games, Sawyer posted a .737 OPS while hitting 8 home runs and driving in 56. Despite playing in the hitter friendly PCL, Sawyer actually saw a 10 home run drop off from his 2011 performance in Double-A San Antonio.
Alvido Jimenez, a 21-year-old right-hander, was selected from the Cubs where he just spent his third consecutive season at their rookie-level affiliate in Arizona. Jimenez posted a 3-4 record with a 2.64 ERA and 4.29 K/BB ratio. He has posted solid strike-out numbers, averaging 8.3 K/9. He could be a solid diamond in the rough as a reliever and the Blue Jays may start him at either short-season Vancouver or make the jump to Lansing.
Efrain Nieves continues the Blue Jays quest to add high-ceiling relief arms to the lower minors. The 23-year-old lefty was selected from the Tigers’ system, where he spent 2012 at Low-A Connecticut. However, 2012 may have been the point where Nieves began turning the corner, posting his best single season to date with a 4-1 record and 2.79 ERA across 42 innings and 21 appearances. He also averaged a strike-out an inning to couple with his 5.25 K/BB ratio. He’ll likely see time at Single-A Lansing to begin the season, but at 23, he’ll have to make a splash and some serious advancement if he wants to avoid the Rule 5 draft again next season.
Needless to say, the Blue Jays did not come away completely empty handed. They get a couple of quality project players to work on, and hopefully, something will pan out from the gamble.