Blue Jays Book Review: MiLB Handbook by Jay Blue
One of the more difficult aspects of following the Toronto Blue Jays organization is obtaining information about their minor league affiliates. Often, you have to visit several different websites to gather your info. And, when you do find info, it can be even more challenging to find more than just box scores and basic stats. One of my most trusted ‘go to’ sources for insight into the Blue Jays minor league system is Jay Blue at BlueJaysFromAway. Part of the reason I enjoy Jay’s work so much is that he travels on his own dime to the stadiums, watching and talking to the players; he really has dedicated himself to bringing the minor leagues to the masses. I often find myself living vicariously through his travels to the different stadiums and games. His 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook serves as a great reference for all fans.
In an attempt to offer Blue Jays fans a one-stop shop for insight into the Blue Jays system, Jay Blue has published the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook. This is a follow up to the uber-useful 2014 version that he put together with Charlie Caskey (Your Van C’s) and Jared MacDonald. This year’s edition is a solo effort on Jay’s part. It features a foreward by Gerry McDonald of Batter’s Box, a source for Blue Jays minor league coverage, one who Jay calls the “pioneer of Blue Jays’ minor league coverage”.
The Minor League Handbook offers an abundance of useful information for those wishing to explore the minor league side of the Toronto Blue Jays. You will find background info on each of the affiliates, their stadiums, coverage, coaching staff and more. As well, Jay offers a detailed list and write up for 250+ players in the system. To add more bang for your buck, at his website (www.bluejaysfromaway.com), Jay offers premium content; an enhanced version of the content that includes player profiles, scouting reports, pictures, video and more. You can purchase the Handbook by itself, the premium content by itself or the full package.
"“The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available at the Blue Jays from Away Shop for $10 (CDN) in epub and pdf formats and will also be available in a number of other formats at Smashwords.com for $9.99 (US). The e-book will also be available on iTunes, Amazon and other retailers. For just $1.99 (CDN) per month, the access to the Premium Content section can be yours and for a low price of just $15 (CDN), you can get an one-year subscription AND a downloadable copy of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook.”"
Firstly, I will say that the ability to purchase the Handbook in electronic form is one of the key features. By going to the website and following the links to the Shop, you can have the e-book in your possession instantly. I quickly transferred it to my Kindle so that I could transport it anywhere. It sure beats having to carry around a thick paper version.
Jay starts his Handbook off with an essay describing the life he leads while covering the minor leagues. It is not one of glamour, but it certainly is one of dedication. Essentially, his time is spent travelling to and from games, interviewing, watching, photographing and writing about his experiences and the players he’s seen. Very little of his time is spent in a seat watching the games as a casual fan. What comes through in this essay is the passion and dedication that drives the work Jay does. It is not an experience that many would undertake, but Jay does so with energy and a commitment to giving Blue Jays fans the full picture of minor league baseball.
Toronto Blue Jays
New this year is a run down of the Blue Jays’ 2014 Draft results. Jay provides a little bit of info on each of the picks in last year’s draft. From Jeff Hoffman through International Free Agents, it is great to get the full reminder of the infusion of talent into the Blue Jays system.
Then, Jay takes us to each of the minor league stadiums. He provides a history of each team to give us a frame of reference. Did you know that Buffalo, while only a Blue Jays affiliate since 2013 has an extensive history of baseball that dates back to 1877?! At each stop of the circuit, Jay provides great information to those of us who may be travelling there for the first time. He offers basic tips that serve as a guide (or a handbook) to attending games and getting around. For me, this information is great. My ability to travel to the stadiums is limited, so this introduction to the teams and areas provides an insight and frame of reference I otherwise wouldn’t have. Along with this “tourist” type rundown, Jay also provides the schedule for each team along with a description of the stadiums themselves as well as tips on how to get the most out of your ballpark experience.
Then the real fun begins. The meat of the Minor League Handbook is the alphabetical index of the more than 250 players in the Blue Jays system. Players from Andrew Albers through Randy Wolf are introduced to us in a neat little format that serves as a nice reference as we navigate the 2015 season. The format consists of the usual player info: position, handedness, height, weight, etc. But, Jay also adds “3 Things” about each player, which are basic facts, and then goes to town filling us in on each farm hand. The info provided shows great insight. In some cases, there is simply more information available form which to draw. Regardless, Jay does a great job of introducing them to us. He wraps it up with a 2015 Prognosis and a MLB ETA.
The Appendices include a system wide positional depth chart, which must have been an exhausting job to undertake. Although, after the leg work for all of the above, this would have been easy. There is also a glossary of terms, and Top Prospects List from various sources.
It is very clear that Jay Blue put a great deal of effort into compiling the ultimate guide to the Blue Jays minor league system. The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is just that: a complete guide. It provides the reader with everything they need to know to call themselves “informed” for a very reasonable price. At first, one may wonder how this handbook could remain useful once the season starts, a month in or mid-summer. Well, for me, this highlights the importance of the premium content that is updated constantly. Start the season with the Handbook and keep checking the premium content for updated info!
I highly recommend the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook.