The Blue Jays had two rookies make their debut on Monday night, and the timing of their promotion makes complete sense as the franchise embarks on a rebuild.
While neither is at the top of the list for the Blue Jays’ top prospects, both players offer a potentially exciting future in the big leagues. That future began on Monday evening, and the timing of their respective promotions made complete sense to me, especially as I considered it more.
First and foremost, their debut came against the Kansas City Royals, a team that has been very tough in recent years, but has been anything but in 2018. The win on Monday pushes them to just 36-82, and they have a realistic shot at being the worst team in baseball this year. If you’re going to give a pair of young players a “soft” opening to the highest level, the Royals are sure a lot less intimidating than the Yankees or the Red Sox would have been. Call it a comfortable way to get your feet wet, if you will.
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Secondly, the injuries to Brandon Drury and Yangervis Solarte created a need for extra infield depth, and the Blue Jays have chosen to go with Russell Martin as one of the first options. While I’ve been somewhat critical of utilizing Martin like this in the past, I actually think it’s a great use of the roster at this time, and it allows the Blue Jays to give Jansen an opportunity to play pretty regularly.
I also love that the Blue Jays promoted these two players together, especially for Reid-Foley’s sake. He’s long been an exciting arm in the Blue Jays’ system since he was selected in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, but his performance failed to keep up with the hype prior to this season. At the time of his promotion he had pitched to a 2.98 ERA across 126.2 innings in Double and Triple-A, leaving with a total record of 12-4. He struck out 146 batters and walked just 47 as well, improving in both areas.
The right-hander obviously found some things that are working for him this season, and there’s comfort in familiarity. Reid-Foley didn’t get a tremendously long time to throw to Jansen in Buffalo, but the opportunity to work with a familiar catcher certainly had to help as he got his first taste of facing off against big league hitters. The exciting day was something the battery mates could share, and the pressure of the moment was reduced because they were going through it together.
Finally, some would argue that the Blue Jays should be calling up some of their other prospects right now, especially the red-hot Vladimir Guerrero Jr. While it’s tempting to bring up the young slugger as well, contract control is very important with each young asset, even if executives don’t like to talk about it too much in the public. You could make an argumentment that the Blue Jays could have exercised the same patience with Reid-Foley and Jansen, but they are in a different scenario.
While all due respect to both players, neither is guaranteed a big league future (and neither is Guerrero… I guess), and they’ll have to take their opportunities to earn the playing time that they receive this season and into the future. The last 40-odd games the Blue Jays have left is the perfect opportunity for the two of them to gain experience against big leaguers, and show the organization what they’re made of. Their entire careers aren’t necessarily at stake here, but their place on the 2019 roster could very much depend on what they show us over the last seven weeks of the season.
The duo became the first battery to debut together in the American League since 1967 the Red Sox debuted Billy Rohr and Russ Gibson. They also each had a respectable first game, with Jansen going 2-3 and picking up a single in his first big league at bat, and Foley allowing three earned runs over five innings, including six hits and three walks.
Chances are we’ll see the duo several more times before the end of the season, and that’s definitely a good thing for the long term growth of the franchise, While it’s disappointing to face a potential rebuild, the Blue Jays won’t be waiting around 20 years before they make the playoffs again, and young assets like Jansen and Reid-Foley are just two more of the talented pieces on the way.
For the pair, Monday was the perfect way to introduce them to the highest level, and from the look of things, they’re going to be just fine.