The Toronto Blue Jays will be sending seven players to the Arizona Fall League this season, six of whom were named as part of Wednesday’s roster announcement.
This fall the Blue Jays will share the Mesa Solar Sox with the Chicago Clubs, Cleveland Indians, Miami Marlins, and Oakland Athletics. Toronto was last affiliated with the Solar Sox in 2014, but had sent players to the Salt River Rafters in 2012, 2013, and 2015.
Along with Toronto’s seven players, the Jays will be represented on the coaching staff by pitching coach Vince Horsman (New Hampshire Fisher Cats). They’ll also be joined by Franklin Barreto, who just debuted at triple-A for the Athletics and carries the weight of the “return” value in the Josh Donaldson deal.
RHP Conner Greene, 21 years old, double-A New Hampshire
Greene entered the year considered by many as the Blue Jays’ number one pitching prospect. The 2013 seventh round pick has battled inconsistencies this season after earning a promotion to the Fisher Cats where he’s made his last 11 starts. What makes Greene’s assignment interesting is that he has already pitched 139.1 innings, up from 132.1 in 2015. Extending his year into the Arizona Fall League will allow him to stretch out even further, continue to hone his craft with Horsman, and set him up for a 2017 season that could move well beyond 150 innings.
CF Anthony Alford, 22 years old, advanced-A Dunedin
A gifted athlete, Alford used the 2015 season to catapult him into the conversation of Toronto’s number one prospect despite his shallow professional profile. With just 222 minor league games under his belt and some missed time due to injury this past season, Alford can benefit from all available reps he can get. It took him a while to find his groove this year, but since the first of July, Alford holds a slash line of .266 / .372 / .452 (.824 OPS).
, 24 years old, double-A New Hampshire
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Mayza was an arm that I’d highlighted prior to the season as a reliever to watch, and despite his absence from many top prospect lists, the left-hander has become a legitimately valuable piece this year. A successful start with the Dunedin Blue Jays (1.52 ERA over 47.1 IP) showed that Mayza was capable of pitching multiple innings at a high level, but he’s struggled since his promotion to double-A. With the Fisher Cats, Mayza has walked 15 batters in 15.1 innings, so he’ll look to straighten out his season before a pivotal 2017.
LHP Matt Dermody, 26 years old, triple-A Buffalo
After a difficult 2014 in Lansing as a starter, Dermody struggled again in 2015 as a reliever with the Dunedin Blue Jays. It’s been a different story this year as he’s jumped all the way to triple-A. Dermody dominated in Dunedin and New Hampshire, but has struggled to find his strikeout pitch with the Bisons (6 K in 15.2 IP). Like Mayza, Dermody is looking to set himself up for a 2017 season where Toronto’s left-handed depth chart is ripe with opportunity. He will be part of the Blue Jays’ September roster expansion.
1B Ryan McBroom, 24 years old, advanced-A Dunedin
McBroom has developed into a very strong organizational bat for the Blue Jays and currently sits at 22 home runs (85 RBI) on the season. Strikeouts have been an issue with 113 in 126 games, but the power numbers alone should put McBroom back at the double-A level next season. The West Virginia alumnus snuck in nine games with the Fisher Cats in late July, but is now back in Dunedin. Filling out his contact and defensive game will help McBroom to push himself up the ladder.
C Danny Jansen, 21 years old, advanced-A Dunedin
Jansen fits a similar Fall League profile to Alford: someone who needs the bonus reps. Some unlucky injuries have caught Jansen since he was drafted out of high school in 2013 (Round 16), including a broken hamate bone in his left hand earlier this year. Now in his fourth professional season, Jansen has appeared in just 182 minor league games but has plenty of room to develop into a very talented catcher. He’s hitting .223 with Dunedin this season, but his contact tool and plate approach should allow him to step forward this fall with some added work. Keep an eye on Jansen as a quiet breakout candidate over the next couple of seasons as he climbs the ladder towards the middle and upper-minors.
Note: The Blue Jays will be sending a seventh player to the Solar Sox, currently listed as ‘TBA’. All statistics as of Wednesday, August 31st, prior to play.