Little by little, the Toronto Blue Jays spring roster is starting to pare down and as a result, the Buffalo Bisons roster is starting to take shape. On Monday night, the Blue Jays made a pair of camp cuts, optioning reliever Ryan Tepera and first baseman Matt Hague to Triple-A Buffalo and sending them over to the minor league camp, per an official transaction on the team’s website.
Originally drafted in the 19th round of the 2009 draft, Ryan Tepera has made a slow, but steady climb through the Blue Jays farm system. Now 27-years-old, the career minor leaguer opened eyes in the Blue Jays organization in 2014, when a conversion to a full-time reliever led to the right-hander having his best season to date. Making 51 appearances for the Bisons last season, Tepera posted a 3.66 ERA and a full-season career-best 9.4 K/9 ratio.
That performance led to a surprise during the offseason, when the Blue Jays opted to protect Tepera from the Rule 5 draft and added him to the 40-man roster. With an invitation to Major League camp this spring, Tepera had an outside chance of impressing the team and getting a look in the open bullpen competition. However, he made just 3 appearances this spring, surrendering 4 hits and an earned run while walking a pair and striking out 4. He’ll join Juan Pablo Oramas, Rob Rasmussen, Matt West, and Preston Guilmet in minor league camp before heading back to Buffalo in April.
Also receiving their ticket to the other side of the spring training facility was Matt Hague. Picked up off waivers in August from the Pirates, the 29-year-old Hague actually looked pretty good this spring, contributing 4 hits in 10 at-bats with a double and two RBI. However, his case to make the roster was likely for naught, as the Blue Jays have both Justin Smoak and Daric Barton competing for the first base job this spring, with Danny Valencia in the mix as a right-handed platoon partner.
Hague played well for the Bisons after being added in August, posting a .377/.411/.566 batting line with 1 home run and 10 RBI in 13 games with Buffalo. He’ll return there this season and will likely share time at first and DH with whichever player gets demoted between Barton and Smoak. Chris Collabello and Jake Fox will also be in the mix for the Bisons as well, with the former also having some flexibility to play in the outfield.
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