Blue Jays: Pitching prospects who could crack the Opening Day roster
One of the older “prospects” on this list at 28 years old, this was Hobie Harris’s first season with the Blue Jays organization and he did not dissapoint down in AAA Buffalo.
The right-hander would appear in 42 games for the Bisons and would finish the season with a 3.92 ERA with 51 strikeouts, a 1.17 WHIP, and a 10.51 strikeouts per nine innings stat that also saw the Texas product wrack up eight saves in 11 opportunities.
Harris should see some reps this Spring Training and could be a contender for the Blue Jays this season if he can start out strong and attack hitters in the zone. His biggest hurdle could be finding a spot on the 40-man roster for Opening Day but stranger things have happened, and the best thing he can do is pitch well early.
A name Blue Jays fans may be familiar with from a few years ago.
Drafted by the Washington Nationals back in 2017, the Blue Jays acquired right-hander Kyle Johnston back in 2019 in exchange for veteran reliever and eventual World Series closer Daniel Hudson. This was a time when the Blue Jays were still rebuilding and the club was well on their way to a 67-95 record given the young talent on the roster and most of the veteran players from the 2015/2016 seasons nowhere to be seen.
With a few pitchers heading to free agency, there is a possibility that a few Blue Jays pitching prospects could crack the roster for Opening Day.
Johnston has now worked his way up the ranks and finds himself in AAA, where this past season was a breakout of sorts, not only seeing him post his best numbers since turning pro but also taking on a new role in the bullpen versus being a starter. He did start out the season in AA as a starter but once promoted to AAA began to work more as a reliever, finishing the year with 35 appearances (nine starts) and a miniscule 1.57 ERA through 69.0 innings pitched with 55 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP.
A bit of a long shot to make the roster for Opening Day, if injury troubles plague the Blue Jays again in the bullpen next season, fans could see Johnston on the major league roster sooner rather than later, once he is added to the 40-man roster.
Acquired as part of the Trevor Richards – Rowdy Tellez deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in early July, right-hander Bowden Francis is another player to keep an eye on next season.
A starter since joining the organization and for most of his pro career, he would pitch in 14 games for the Bisons and would throw to a 4.19 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 73.0 innings of work. He too is a bit of a long shot to make the Opening Day roster but could find himself in the big leagues sometime next season if he can find a groove down in AAA.