As the annual migration of the Toronto Blue Jays to sunny Florida gets closer, there are plenty of youngsters that are looking to impress. A few players have the potential to come out swinging this Spring and could be dark horse candidates to make the big club roster.
The Blue Jays are in a odd position heading into the 2018 season as they try to rebuild on the fly. The MLB team is aging, but still very dangerous, and the big talents in the Minor Leagues need some more seasoning. There are a few players that are tipping on the edge of becoming big league regulars. Some of the talent is reaching the higher levels of the Blue Jays organization. These guys might not be ranked as their top prospects currently, but are ready to contribute in a big way. Expect the players in this article to get an extended look during Spring Training.
Ryan Borucki – LHP
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Borucki had an incredible year after getting off to a slow start in Single A Dunedin. He was able to build on the success and continued to sky rocket through the Blue Jays system. He was promoted to the Double A affiliate and absolutely crushed it. The jump to a more difficult level only fed Borucki, as he posted a 2.14 ERA in 46.1 innings. The biggest show was that he posted a 0.842 WHIP in those innings.
He was nearly untouchable with these numbers. He kept runners off the bases, locates his pitches, and averages just under a strikeout an inning. If he impresses this Spring he could be a dark horse candidate for the 5th starter spot. He had one start in Buffalo to end the season and held Triple A hitters to six hits over six shutout innings.
T.J. Zeuch – RHP
Like Borucki, Zeuch is riding high. He just had solid debut with the Dunedin Blue Jays in Single A where he compiled 58.2 innings with a nice 3.38 ERA. He did not stop there however, as he was the talk of the town during the Arizona Fall League. He is 2.5 years younger than the average player in the league and had a terrific showing.
He threw 18.1 innings allowing a 3.34 ERA. He also walked just four batters and struck out fifteen. His great approach and excellent movement complement an explosive fastball that has great sinking action to it. He could be on a similar path to Roberto Osuna after he excelled in the Arizona Fall League prior to dominating in his big league debut.
Danny Jansen – C
Jansen was the biggest success story of the 2017 Minor League system not named Bo or Vlad. Jansen did nothing but punish pitchers across all three main levels of the Minor Leagues. After coming hot out of the gate in the Spring with the D-Jays he continued to rake at the plate. Through all three levels he batted .323 in 104 games. He also had 25 doubles and 10 home runs, and five of those home runs came in Triple A with the Buffalo Bisons.
He has an advanced approach at the plate that should carry him to the show. While the Blue Jays are desperately looking for a back up catcher to compliment Russell Martin, a player like Jansen is sounding better every day looking at the free agent market. Jansen would also benefit greatly from apprenticing with Martin.
Lourdes Gurriel – 2B/SS
Gurriel might be one of the most interesting players to watch as Spring Training opens. The Blue Jays are looking to build solid depth and Gurriel can play both positions around the keystone with plus defense. His first season in the Jays system was slowed by injuries, but we saw plenty of flashes of what kind of player he can be.
Gurriel got a chance to show his skills off during the Arizona Fall League as he batted .291 in 21 games. This included seven doubles and three big flys while driving in eleven. Gurriel has tons of tools that will play well in the American League East. He hits the ball hard, he can run, and he has the leather to make plays many can not. If Devon Travis or Troy Tulowitzki have issues with health Gurriel will be in the conversation and is already on the 40 man roster.
Tim Mayza – LHP
Mayza might get the job as the dominant lefty in the Blue Jays bullpen by default, but he has the talent to cement in the role if he is given the opportunity. The hard throwing lefty has an smooth delivery that allows him to easily generate mid 90’s on his fastball. He has a great compliment of secondary pitches that are highlighted by a plus slider. The movement on his will keep many MLB hitters guessing as they dart in and out of the zone.
He was able to pitch 17 innings with the Jays this past season but had a rough 6.88 ERA. A few of those outings he was left out to dry in blowout games, but he had moments of brilliance and finished strong. He did not allow a base runner in his last four outings in which he threw 3.2 innings. He has gotten a taste of the big leagues and will want to come into the Spring showing what he did in the Minors. He threw 51.2 innings and allowed just 19 earned runs while striking out 58.
These are a few players that have a chance to come into Spring Training and earn a chance with the Blue Jays. There solid players in a very talented Minor League system. If they do not make the team out of Spring Training they will more than likely be in Triple A Buffalo where they are just a quick bus ride away from joining the team. If I had to guess I expect to see at least one of these guys in a Jays uniform on opening day.