Blue Jays: Where will the 2017 September call-ups start 2018?

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Teoscar Hernandez
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Teoscar Hernandez /

The Toronto Blue Jays called-up 5 players from the minor leagues to join the team for September. Two of them are veterans and three of them were some of the Blue Jays more intriguing and top prospects in the organization.

There have been some welcome contributions from the younger prospects, which has people questioning where they may end up to start 2018. Let’s take a look and where I think all 5 call-ups will end up.

Michael Saunders

Blue Jays fans are well aware of what Michael Saunders accomplished in 2016. He had a fantastic first half in 2016 and a disappointing second half. Surprisingly, he was quite productive in the post-season, but the Blue Jays opted to not bring Saunders back. Instead, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and after not accomplishing much, Saunders was DFA’d.

The Blue Jays picked Saunders back up on a MiLB deal and he was decent with the Bisons before his call up. Saunders has only 8 at-bats since his call-up, which suggests to me that he will not be back with the Blue Jays again in 2018 unless they sign him to a minor league deal. Saunders with the Phillies, Bisons, and brief 2017 stint with the Blue Jays has been pretty fruitless. With younger, more intriguing options in the system, this is likely Saunders last go ’round with the team.

2018 Prediction: Not in the Blue Jays organization

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Luke Maile

Luke Maile was claimed by the Blue Jays when he was DFA’d by the Tampa Bay Rays back in late-April. Maile was just one of the many backup catchers who were on the backup catcher carousel that has been going on during the 2017 Blue Jays season.

Maile can’t hit a lick as evidenced by his -4 wRC+ and .174 wOBA. However, Maile is known for his defense and was a popular catching option amongst many of the Blue Jays pitchers when Russell Martin went down with an injury. Maile himself was injured for the majority of the season, but he is a defense first catcher that likely has the inside track at the backup job for 2018 barring a free-agent signing or trade. He also has to fend off guys in the organization like Danny Jansen or Reese McGuire, both of whom may challenge for a roster spot in 2018, but as of now, Maile remains a favourite for the backup job.

2018 Prediction: Opens the season as backup to Russell Martin

Richard Urena

Richard Urena was the biggest surprise in terms of September call-ups but Urena has been fantastic since his call up. Urena was playing all season in AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and was struggling with the bat. His wRC+ was 73 and a less than impressive .286 OBP. It’s been a different story at the majors.

Urena has had 38 at bats in his Blue Jays tenure and they’ve been productive. He has 1 home run, 4 RBI, 1 stolen base, a slash line of .324/.395/.471 and wRC+ of 133. He even had the walk off hit last night (September 12th) against the Baltimore Orioles. Many have brought up the idea of Urena starting in the MLB next season behind Troy Tulowitzki. While he’s been fantastic, he’s only a few weeks removed from a subpar AA season. With Tulowitzki returning, and perhaps Ryan Goins or a free agent signing, Urena will likely not start in the majors and perhaps not even in AAA unless he finishes strong like he’s done so far.

2018 Prediction: Starts the season in AA and has a quick call-up to AAA

Carlos Ramirez

Carlos Ramirez has likely been the best story of all the Blue Jays call-ups due to how dominating he has been. Ramirez has yet to allow a run and has a K/9 of 7.88. Ramirez is strictly a fastball-slider pitcher, and both are great pitches from him. He can get his fastball as high as 95 MPH and his slider between 86-87 MPH.

Ramirez has been dominant all season long and dominated at all levels of the minor leagues as he has yet to allow a SINGLE run all season long. That’s no typo. He hasn’t allowed a single run all season long and has proven he can be a back of the bullpen arm, which is likely where he will end up for 2018, especially if Joe Biagini is starting.

2018 Prediction: Blue Jays bullpen as a 7th-8th inning arm

Next: Blue Jays: 5 Positive Takeaways from the 2017 Season

Teoscar Hernandez

Teoscar Hernandez was the big piece that came to the Blue Jays in the deal that sent Francisco Liriano to the Houston Astros. Hernandez was the 9th ranked prospect in the Astros organization. His first major league home run came in Toronto last season off of Liriano. He’s been quite impressive since getting to the Blue Jays. He’s hit 2 home runs, driven in 5, has a slash line of .313/.324/.594 in 34 at bats.

Hernandez has the ability to steal bases, go 1st to 3rd on a single, and is young. All of that is what the Blue Jays have desperately missed in 2017. However, it’s not a given that Hernandez opens the season with the Blue Jays. When the Blue Jays acquired Hernandez, Ross Atkins offered a statement along the lines of Hernandez being a 4th outfielder at least. That isn’t much praise for a guy who many are pegging as a starting outfielder for 2018. Hernandez was never a blue chip prospect, but a solid one. Depending on what the Blue Jays do in the off-season, it is possible he starts the season with the big club. However, I do think he starts in AAA with the Bisons but gets a quick call up to the big club.

2018 Prediction: Starts the season in AAA and gets called up quickly