Blue Jays MiLB System Season Preview!
By Craig Borden
Triple-A – International League – Buffalo Bisons
The Fisher Cats may be holding a ton of the prospect talent but the Buffalo Bisons had a treasure chest full of MLB ready talent. Last year was a long one with the Bisons as they were pretty much picked clean by the big club, and did not have enough talent to slide in and help keep the ship afloat.
This season the team has more depth than anyone could have ever imagined as 2017 came to a close. The free agent market was good for the Blue Jays’ depth and the Bisons reaped all of the benefits. Talented vets like Al Alburquerque and Danny Espinosa joined the club, and represent the depth the Jays were looking to add this offseason as MLB ready players that could jump right into the fold with the Jays when called upon. Both Alburquerque and Espinosa had solid Springs with the club and are great additions to any roster as depth.
Joining them is a slew of top-end talent that should lead the Bisons to a nice early season charge. On the offensive side of the ball Teoscar Hernandez, Roemon Fields, and Dwight Smith Jr. roam the outfield. This group is crazy athletic and would more than likely be MLB players on other teams that do not have the amount of depth that the Jays do. Hernandez was the Blue Jays Spring Training MVP by many accounts, but was assigned to the Bisons to start off the season. Roemon Fields was the Bisons organization MVP last season where he batted near .300 and drove pitchers crazy on the bases with his legs. Dwight Smith Jr. continues to be a solid performer and is just waiting for a full-time shot.
Around the diamond, the offense is also looking pretty good as well. Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire are going to be battling for playing time at the backstop, but both have great lumber to go along with their high upside at catcher. At first, the powerful Rowdy Tellez will look to bounce back after a season of adjustments at the plate. Tim Lopes is a very underrated player that will man second base. Espinosa will man short and Jason Leblebijian will hold down the hot corner. Leblebijian had a great Spring and had got plenty of reps with the MLB regulars. He is a very versatile player that has some sneaky power. Leblebijian was also the Bisons’ only All-Star last season.
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Just when you thought the offense would be enough to carry this team, you get to see this crazy pitching staff that is going to win many ball games. Joe Biagini is going to remain a starter after a decent Spring in the role. He will look to stay stretched out and be ready for spot starts with the Jays if needed. Ryan Borucki will look to pick up where he left off last season as well. He made a rapid ascension through the system last year by showing some crazy stuff and getting better even when the challenges grew. Deck McGuire pitched in the Majors last season with the Reds and had a great MiLB season as well. He is now back with the team that drafted him and looking to prove something. The newly acquired Sam Gaviglio, and a returning Chris Rowley will round out the talented rotation.
The bullpen will be throwing some gas to start the season. Tim Mayza and Matt Dermody were in the bullpen conversation all Spring, and just missed out on a chance because of a couple late signings. Carlos Ramirez was in that same conversation until he got banged up and had to be shut down. Ramirez was incredible last season and did not allow a run throughout his entire MiLB season. He will look to continue that streak! Taylor Guerrieri, Luis Santos, Sam Moll, and Chad Girodo complete the group of talented arms.
The Buffalo Bisons have everything going for them on this roster. They have all the main tools to be successful this season. The amount of talent that is ready to play in the Majors is slightly obscene and will hopefully dominate the International League out of the gate.