Blue Jays Likely to Start 2015 with 6 Rookies
The fact that the 2015 season is just around the corner for the Blue Jays has me more excited than a kid in a candy shop. Or, should I say, more excited than a kid at big league spring training? Given the way the spring is shaping up for this team, that may be a more apt statement. See, the talk of the town is all of the young talent that the Blue Jays could be bringing to Yankee Stadium on April 6th to begin their march toward their first post season in 22 years.
In his recent profile of Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro and their push to crack the opening day roster, Steve Simmons of The Sun points out that these two 20 year olds are just the tip of the ice berg for Toronto’s youth movement. In total, the Blue Jays could start 2015 with a total of 6, SIX!, rookies. Now, Simmons actually says 7, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Toronto Blue Jays
They are as follows:
CF, Dalton Pompey,
2B, Devon Travis,
LHP, Daniel Norris
RHP, Aaron Sanchez
RHP Miguel Castro
RHP, Roberto Osuna
OF, Kevin Pillar
Now, Simmons throws Pillar in that list, but he wouldn’t actually qualify as a rookie according to MLB rules. In order for a player to be considered a rookie, he must not have accumulated more than 130 at bats in the big leagues during a previous season or seasons. Pillar has totaled 232 AB over the last 2 years (110 in 2013 and 122 in 2014). So, technically, we have to remove him from this conversation. And, that’s OK.
This list is still long…and exciting. When this past winter started, we could have realistically expected 2 or 3 from this list to start the year in Toronto. Now, it is a much different story. Daniel Norris has continued his development (even adding a pitch) to the point where his spot in the rotation is all but guaranteed. Same with Aaron Sanchez. Miguel Castro is making GM, Alex Anthopoulos look like a genius (Castro was signed for $43K). Likewise, Roberto Osuna is doing the same for AGM, Tony LaCava. Blue Jays brass may actually be breathing fairly easy at this point. Breathing easy enough to send Steve Delabar down, anyway.
In fact, all of the names on this list have performed so well this spring that fans should be quite comfortable with them in the lineup. Where questions and doubt once loomed, hope and optimism now reign.
Here’s the interesting thing, though. The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays are built to win NOW. With moves to bring in Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Michael Saunders to compliment Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, it is clear the Blue Jays are not in any kind of rebuilding mode. Yet, they look to be going with a roster that is made up of nearly 25% rookies.
When a team is making a serious bid to win the division and make a playoff run, you would think that veteran experience would be in demand. How many times have we heard of a team going out and getting guys who “know how to win”? But, the Blue Jays appear to be bucking that trend. Or, are they? They currently have a wealth of veteran leadership in tow. We’ve already heard about the value of having Mark Buehrle mentor the youngsters. Perhaps, the Blue Jays have the right mix of veterans and youngsters to do something special this year.
Perhaps the difference between the Blue Jays youth movement and regular “rebuild” infusion of rookies is that this group is big league ready. They are ready to perform at this level. The Blue Jays are not just bringing them up to let them ‘learn at the big league level’. When you have “freaks of the system” (as AA refers to Castro and Osuna) who force your hand, you have to consider what will make your team better.
“There’s no template for putting a roster together. You have to do what you think is right. We open up against the AL East. This is going to be a dogfight. For them to be here the last week is very telling. They’re firmly in the mix for a spot on the roster. Anthopoulos said.
“If they’re the best guys and it’s not close (to anyone else) they’re on the team. If it’s close, maybe someone with experience, someone who is out of options, then we have to think about it. If there’s no tie to break, and they stand alone, that takes care of itself.”
Right now, it appears that it is not close. The Blue Jays may not be bringing the oldest dogs to the fight, but they are certainly bringing some good ones. Buckle up!