Toronto Blue Jays rookies aren’t just along for the ride


The Toronto Blue Jays roster is gaining clarity as April 6th nears, with the starting rotation and positional players locking in.  The bullpen could remain in a fluid state as rosters churn over the coming days, but the Blue Jays appear set to begin the 2015 MLB season with six rookies on their roster.  For these six, there is no time for development.  It’s time to be a big leaguer.

Six rookies is a big number for any roster to support, especially one that is expected to compete in the AL East.  The situation in Toronto is even more unique, too, because each one of these rookies will play a pivotal role on a consistent basis for this ball club.

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The Blue Jays starting rotation, which is lacking depth following the injury to Marcus Stroman, will rely on rookies Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris in the 4 and 5 spots.  The two high-ceiling prospects will not have the luxury of inconsistent outings if Toronto hopes to compete deep into September, and there is a great deal of risk involved here.  At what level will Norris and Sanchez pitch, and more importantly, how deep into the season will they be able to go?

With two rookies on the mound, Miguel Castro and potentially Roberto Osuna could be busy men in the Blue Jays bullpen.  Castro has electrified the ‘pen through spring training with 9 strikeouts over 10.0 innings, pairing a dangerous changeup with an MLB-ready heater.

Looking to the lineup, the holes at centre field and second base will also be manned by youngsters in Dalton Pompey and Devon Travis.  Pompey completed his meteoric ascension in Toronto at the tail end of last season, and has the potential to flirt with a .250+ average in his rookie season while contributing with plus defense and speed on the bases.  Towards the bottom of the lineup, his success will be critical to sustaining the offense when the big three aren’t clicking.

Devon Travis arrived in the Anthony Gose trade, and has caught on quickly with a .352 average over 54 spring at-bats.  Questions surrounded his defense when he came over from the Tigers, but everything has checked out over the past month and he will be given an opportunity to run away with the position long-term.

The Blue Jays have long been plagued by a top-heavy roster that struggles to produce when the stars are unable to carry the team.  The success of Pompey and Travis at the bottom of the order could make or break this season, just as the performance of Norris and Sanchez could.

Having as many as six rookies brings great excitement into a baseball season, but such a great amount of youth rarely means guaranteed production.  The most important factor in all of this, however, is that these spots were earned.  Toronto was heavy on competition this spring, and these spots were not handed to the rookies on a silver platter.  In 6 days, the kids are on deck.

Next: Blue Jays announce 25-man roster

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