Blue Jays: The next prospect in line for a big league promotion
The Toronto Blue Jays are 5-5 in their last ten games and currently hold the first spot in the AL Wild Card race with three other teams also in the mix. The Seattle Mariners sit just half a game back of the Jays while both Baltimore and Tampa occupy the third spot with their 58-52 records, which is 1.5 games back of Seattle.
We knew the Wild Card race was going to be a fight to the bitter end but it becomes more complicated when almost the entire AL East is in the mix for a postseason run, especially the Orioles who were not projected to be contending and even traded away some key assets from their current roster at the deadline. With a schedule still packed with 35 games of 50 to be played against AL East rivals, the Blue Jays cannot afford any sort of slump as the season continues on.
Last night the club did not play because of the rainout in Baltimore and now find themselves with an off day today, which actually helps the team when it comes to resting both the bullpen and the players for their upcoming home series against Cleveland. The Jays are coming off an eight-game road trip (not including rainout) and heavily used their bullpen, with a few members having some rough outings towards the end of the road trip.
Luckily for the Blue Jays, if the club is needing some bullpen help in the future or a player in the relief corps finds themselves on the IL, the next prospect in line for an MLB debut this season might be just the solution.
The Blue Jays may need some bullpen help later this season and Hayden Juenger is currently setting himself up for a potential big league promotion this year
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB Draft, right-hander Hayden Juenger has skyrocketed through the organization.
He finished out last season in High-A Vancouver with a 2.70 ERA through 20.0 innings and started the 2022 campaign in AA New Hampshire. Through 20 outings, Juenger posted a 4.02 ERA through 56.0 innings of work with a 3.4 BB/9 and a 10.8 K/9 to boot while being used in short stints out of the rotation for 17 of those appearances. The club’s #26 ranked prospect was promoted to AAA Buffalo on July 23rd and has moved to the bullpen to finish out the year, sporting solid results through a small sample size (1.74 ERA through 10.1 innings with nine hits, two earned runs, and 11 strikeouts).
With a fastball in the mid-90s and a slider and changeup to boot, looking at other prospects in the organization, Juenger seems likely to be the next one to be promoted to the big league stage before the season’s end. This could also mean a September call-up for the right-hander if he continues throwing well in AAA, as teams can add an additional pitcher for a max of 14.
However, while Juenger may be pitching well right now, there are some hurdles in his way to the big leagues.
He will need to be added to the 40-man roster before any promotion and the Jays are currently full, with multiple players on the 60-day IL likely returning soon who also may need a spot like Nate Pearson, Julian Merryweather, and Tayler Saucedo. There are also a handful of pitchers who might be higher on the depth charts than Juenger as well, although they are not considered prospects or have made their MLB debuts already like Pearson, Merryweather, Matt Gage, Anthony Kay, Casey Lawerence, and the newly acquired Foster Griffin, all of whom are already on the 40-man roster (or returning once healthy).
Whatever the case may be, Juenger is off to a roaring start in AAA and if he can continue to pitch well and be effective over the next month, he could put himself into promotion consideration before the season’s end, especially with Yosver Zulueta, another potential MLB debut prospect this year, just recently landing on the IL down in AA.