Blue Jays: The All Time Drafted and Developed Team
Third Base: Ed Sprague
When you look back at third basemen over the years, names that come to mind would be Kelly Gruber and Josh Donaldson, maybe Troy Glaus, Scott Rolen, or even Tony Batista. All of those players were acquired by the Blue Jays after the draft. A name that sometimes gets forgotten is the club’s starting third basemen for more than half a decade in the mid-1990s in Ed Sprague.
In 1988, Toronto used their first-round pick to select the big corner infielder out of Stanford University and while he spent a few years brewing in the minors, he jumped to AAA very quickly. After being drafted, Sprague would go and play for Team USA in the 1988 summer games instead of immediately going professional in the Blue Jays Organization. Sprague would help Team USA win the tournament, collecting a gold medal (although it was a demonstration sport that did not count to the countries totals).
The following season Sprague would split the season between Dunedin (A) and Syracuse (AAA) where he showed he would have some power but a high tenancy to strikeout. Sprague would finish with 38 extra-base hits and an almost 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Sprague would play his entire 1990 season in Syracuse where he cut down on strikeouts and added more power, as his strikeout to walk ratio dropped to almost 3:1, while almost doubling his home runs. The next two seasons, Sprague would split time between Toronto and Syracuse; and he would make a huge impact in the 1992 World Series
During the 1992 season, Sprague would be part of what Derek Bell called “The Trenches” which was a very good group of bench players in Toronto. During the 1992 World Series, Sprague would get just three plate appearances but he would make his at-bat in Game 2 count.
In the ninth inning, the Toronto Blue Jays were trailing 4-3 in the game and 1-0 in the series with Atlanta Braves closing pitcher Jeff Reardon on the mound and tying run Derek Bell on first base after a walk. Ed Sprague was brought into the game to pinch-hit for the pitcher and he would take a 1-0 Reardon pitch over the left-field fence for a home run and a late-game lead for the Blue Jays. Tom Henke would come on to close out the game and tie up the series, which the Blue Jays would end up winning their first WS Championship.
It appeared that the franchise had the confidence to go with Sprague as their starting third basemen as they moved on from longtime Blue Jay Kelly Gruber in favour of the younger Sprague. Sprague would play with the Blue Jays through 1998, which included being their starting third basemen for their World Series in 1993. Sprague would break out in 1996 with 36 home runs and 101 RBI.
During the 1998 season, the Blue Jays had Tony Fernandez, Ed Sprague, and Alex Gonzalez all on the line-up. They decided to move Fernandez to third base and traded Sprague to the Oakland Athletics for prospect Scott Rivette. Rivette would never get past AA while in Toronto, while Sprague would become an All-Star in 1999.
Sprague finished his Blue Jays career with 113 home runs and a .245 batting average. His home runs currently sit 17th all-time in Toronto.
Honorable Mention: None