Running with the Herd – Who is in the outfield
By Craig Borden
Spring training is coming to the close and the Toronto Blue Jays’ opening day 25 man roster is taking shape. Now that the big club is coming together we are also getting a picture of what could be landing in Triple-A Buffalo.
The final decisions will come down to who has options and who sneaks through waivers as the Jays make their final moves. The Bisons outfield could have an exciting plethora of talent, so lets talk the possibilities they could be seeing to start the season.
First, lets talk the guys that will more than likely slip to the Bisons because they have options. Darrell Ceciliani has been one of the more fun players to watch this spring, but the unfortunate thing for him is the fact he has minor league options unlike most of his competition. This spring, Ceciliani has played in 16 games and performed very impressively.
He has posted a .414 batting average with 3 doubles, 2 homers, and 7 RBI. These numbers have earned him all sorts of praise from manager John Gibbons but that may not be enough to keep him on the roster. He is likely destined to start the season with the Bisons and will hopefully continue to perform and press the issue for the Jays management. It will be hard to keep him with the Herd if he is playing like he is this spring.
Dalton Pompey started last season as the Blue Jays opening day centre fielder. The audition did not go as planned and Pompey was sent back to the minors to continue to mature. Things eventually turned around for Pompey and he was brought back up to the to the Jays after posting a .307 batting average between double-A and triple-A.
Back with the Jays he was brought onto the playoff roster as a speed threat. That threat was made apparent in game 6 of the ALCS when two steals from Pompey nearly tied the game up in the 9th inning. Pompey has the tools to be an exciting player for the Blue Jays future but he is more than likely ready for a full season in a Bisons uniform unless injuries to the Major League club make his recall necessary.
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The Blue Jays also have Domonic Brown in the fold on a Minor League deal as he looks to rebuild his value. Brown was once top prospect in the Phillies organization and was an All-Star in 2013. During his breakout season in 2013 Brown collected a .272 batting average with 21 doubles, 27 homers, and 83 RBIs.
The following season, Brown regressed in a Philly lineup that failed to score many runs. Brown still collected 63 RBIs but watched his batting average and power numbers plummet. In 2015 Brown only played in 63 Major League games with 52 at the triple-A level. The Jays are hoping he can bounce back to form and be a force in the hitter friendly Rogers Centre, but for now, Coca Cola Field in Buffalo will be his proving grounds.
Moving into the Blue Jays outfielders that are out of options we start with Junior Lake, who is in a good position to make the big team as the 4th outfielder because he is the only right handed batter among the out-of-options players. If he gets beaten out for the position by Ezequiel Carrera, however, it would be nice to see him land in Buffalo.
Lake has not had an overly impressive spring as he is hitting .257 with 4 doubles and 2 RBI’s. Another thing that makes him an attractive MLB option is that he has stole 4 bases this spring. Lake is still a talented player with a high ceiling which may be attractive to other teams if he slips onto the waiver wire. He has a unique blend of speed with some pop. With all the small ballparks in the AL East he could be destined to be a doubles machine. If he makes it to the Bisons his speed will play well in the Bisons outfield.
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Looking at these options makes you think it will be hard for opposing hitters to get a ball into the gap for extra bases against the Bisons. All of these options have plenty of speed which will reduce the number of extra base hits for any Bisons pitcher.
Let’s also hope that any out-of-options players slip through waivers when the time comes and get a chance to play for the Bisons. This depth in Buffalo will only help the Jays as they make the big push to the 2016 playoffs.