8. Will McAffer – North Vancouver, British Columbia
The 24-year old North Vancouver product was selected in the 25th Round of the 2018 MLB Draft and bounced back and forth between Vancouver and New Hampshire pitching out of the bullpen during the 2021 season.
Will McAffer started the season in Vancouver and after seven appearances, in which he surrendered seven earned runs over 7.2 innings and walked 12 batters, he was called up to New Hampshire. McAffer looked like he was taking a jump forward on July 9 when he threw three no-hit innings to collect his first win at the Double-A level, however, over his next three appearances, he tossed a combined 1.2 innings and surrendered eight runs (seven earned) and was reassigned back to Vancouver where he finished out the season.
McAffer struggled on his return to Vancouver as he allowed multiple runs in seven of his final 14 appearances, including five runs on two occasions. He did finish the season off with three consecutive shutout performances in September.
McAffer is currently still part of the Blue Jays organization and I assume they will give him another season to see if he can rebound.
7. Alex Nolan – Burlington, Ontario
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Alex Nolan in 2019 after watching him in the Northwoods League, a summer league dedicated to collegiate players. Nolan was pitching for the Kalamazoo Growlers and had struck out 13 batters over 11.1 innings while walking just three and posting a 3.18 ERA.
In 2021, Nolan started the season in Low-A Dunedin pitching out of the bullpen and was called up to Vancouver near the end of June. After making nine appearances out of the pen and posting a 5.50 ERA, which was ballooned by one appearance where he surrendered five runs over 3.1 innings, he was moved to the starting rotation. Nolan struggled through August as he made five starts and went 0-4 with a 12.10 ERA; however, was able to turn things around in September. During his final three appearances (two starts), Nolan posted a 1-1 record with a 2.31 ERA over 11.2 innings.
Nolan will be 26-years old at the start of the 2022 season, so he’ll need to show September was more than just a couple of good outings.
6. John Axford – Simcoe, Ontario
The 38-year old started the season in the Blue Jays broadcast booth analyzing games, but when he was called upon to represent Canada at the Olympic Qualifiers, he found the urge to give another run at a major league career.
John Axford and the Blue Jays came to an agreement on a minor league deal in June and after making one appearance for Toronto’s Rookie team in the Florida Complex League, he was assigned to the Buffalo Bisons. Axford was dominant in Triple-A where he struck out 14 batters over 10.2 innings while surrendering just two hits and one run.
The Blue Jays had no room to add him to the 26-man roster but did not want to squash his chance at the Major Leagues this year so they traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers for $1. Axford made just one appearance with the Brewers before having his season shut down with an elbow injury.