For the Toronto Blue Jays, their season may be officially over, but for some of their promising prospects in their system, their time to shine may have just begun. The Jays currently have eight of their young prospects playing in the 2023 Arizona Fall League (AFL), and to date, there have been three players whose exceptional play has made them stand out above the rest.
CJ Van Eyk
Selected in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft and once ranked among the Blue Jays’ top 10 prospects at one point in time just last season, pitcher CJ Van Eyk has definitely had a rocky start to his professional baseball career thus far. In his minor league debut with the Jays’ High-A affiliate Vancouver Canadians in 2021, he posted a underwhelming season by going 4-6 with a 5.83 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. To make matters worse, he would undergo Tommy John surgery in September that year on his injured right elbow, causing him to miss the entire 2022 season as well. As a result of his absence, he would eventually fall outside the top 30 in the Jays’ top prospects rankings.
Van Eyk would finally make his return in 2023 with a decent bounce back season. In total, he posted a 3.67 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 33 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched across three minor league levels. His impressive work would allow him to reach Double-A New Hampshire by the end of the season and he has now continued that success in his participation in the 2023 AFL. In three appearances so far, he has gone 2-0 with a sparkling 0.79 ERA, giving up only one earned run with nine strikeouts in 11.1 innings of work. Van Eyk is hoping to build upon his solid 2023 season as he looks to work his way back up in the Jays’ system in the coming years.
For someone drafted late in the 14th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, Damiano Palmegiani has definitely made a name for himself in the past couple of seasons in the Jays’ organization. His growth and development within the past two years has been surprisingly exceptional as he had moved from Rookie-ball all the way to Triple-A in just that short time span. For 2023, he amassed a solid .255 batting average, .842 OPS with 70 runs scored, 33 doubles, 23 home runs, 93 RBI, and seven stolen bases split between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo, with his stats even going up a notch once he reached Buffalo, with a strong .284 average and .981 OPS.
Palmegiani has further increased his stock with his current play in the AFL. In 14 games, he has batted .286 with a .940 OPS, to go along with a whopping 15 runs scored, three home runs and 10 RBI. Currently ranked 18th on the Jays’ top prospects list, Palmegiani is looking to take charge and move further up the rankings with a strong showing this fall, with high hopes that he could challenge for a potential roster spot on the Blue Jays in 2024.
Finally, there’s the Jays’ top prospect in the system in left-handed pitcher Ricky Tiedemann. After missing a fair chunk of the 2023 season as a result of a biceps injury back in early May, Tiedemann came back at the end of July and finished off strong during the month of September in which he posted a tidy 1.98 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, giving up only three earned runs with 21 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched. He was even promoted to Triple-A Buffalo for a start at the end of the season in which his pitched four innings, giving up only two hits, one unearned run, with six strikeouts in the process.
Looking to get more work in after missing almost half the season, Tiedemann has impressed and continued his dominance so far in the AFL, as in four starts, he has accumulated a 2-1 winning record with a 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, with eight walks and 23 punchouts in just 18 innings of work. With the status of Alek Manoah unknown for 2024, along with Hyun Jin Ryu heading towards free agency at the conclusion of the 2023 MLB season, Tiedemann could have an inside shot of making the big league club in 2024 if everything goes to plan for the former third round pick from the 2021 MLB Draft.