Blue Jays: The benefit of fall leagues… like trade value
This year we saw several young Blue Jays take part in Fall League baseball, which is great for their development, and their exposure as prospects.
Even though we haven’t had a Toronto Blue Jays game to watch since October 1st, there has been a little bit of baseball going on with players in the organization, if you’re willing to look a little harder for it that is.
For example, there were four Blue Jays’ prospects on the championship team for the Arizona Fall League, which concluded earlier this week. Among them were Lourdes Gurriel, Andrew Case, Jonathan Davis and T.J. Zeuch. The latter got to start the AFL championship game for the Peoria Javelinas, throwing 5.2 innings in the deciding game.
Zeuch and Davis were both honoured on Wednesday as well as “Breakout Prospects” for the Fall League, and there’s no denying that the extra season was a great opportunity to strut their stuff, and to improve their stock in their young baseball careers.
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The primary reason for involvement in the fall leagues is to give young players a chance to further develop their craft at a young age. Players are often there if they are at an early stage in their development, played in a regular season with a shorter schedule, or sometimes to make up for lost playing time due to injury.
Whatever the reason may be for the player, the organization is generally supportive of playing in these extra games, and sometimes encourages and even pushes players into it. And while it’s not really the point of the whole exercise, there is one additional benefit to the club as well, in addition to further seasoning for their players.
Their organizational assets get more eyes on them.
Hands up if you’d heard of Zeuch before the AFL season started? For many of us, our hands would be by our sides, and that’s more than okay in a baseball prospects world where things change all the time, and there are a half dozen or more teams to keep tabs on. That said, Zeuch made the kind of impression at a time when things are relatively quiet around baseball circles, and his name sticks out for Blue Jays fans who are hungry for any kind of news on the offseason hot stove.
For rival GMs, the AFL may be the player showcase that gets Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins fielding calls asking about Zeuch, Davis, or others. We know guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr, who played in the Dominican Winter league this fall, won’t be going anywhere, but it’s hard to predict what the front office is thinking otherwise, especially with designs on contending in 2018.
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It’s not to say that Zeuch, Davis, Case, Guerriel, or any other prospect was being showcased for trade purposes, but most of their stocks went up with the extra time this fall, and that’s never a bad thing for the organization, or the player.