With MLB spring training fast approaching in less than a month for the Toronto Blue Jays, it comes that time of year again where the players battle it out for potential spots on the 26-man Opening Day roster. Among the competition for various roles and positions on the ballclub will include established veterans, as well as inspiring rookie prospects.
In the case for the Jays’ top prospects, who could be in for a surprising spring that could force the Jays’ hand? Here, we will take a closer examination of four players that will do their best to impress this spring training. (Current prospect rankings based on Jays Journal’s updated 2024 top prospects list.)
Hagen Danner (No. 23 Prospect)
Selected by the Jays in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Hagen Danner was originally a catcher by trade, but has been converted into a pitcher in recent years. It was quite the season last year for the right-handed reliever when he pitched to a solid 3.66 ERA and 1.04 WHIP across three minor league levels. More impressively, he held his own during his time with the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons, as he posted a 3.81 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 35 strikeouts in 28.1 innings of work.
In doing so, Danner earned a promotion to the major leagues in August and had an unforgettable debut in more ways than one. In the ninth inning of a game against the Cubs on Aug. 11, he retired the first batter he faced and collected the commemorative game ball for his personal historical feat. However, immediately after, he had to leave the game due to a left oblique strain, promptly ending his debut outing. To make matters worse, it turned into a season-ending injury, and essentially wiped out the rest of his 2023 year.
There’s no doubt Danner will want some redemption, as he will be hungry to show the Jays’ brass once again that he can be a solid option in the bullpen for the 2024 season. As a result, look for Danner to be at his absolute best right out of the gate in spring training to regain his opportunity that he mercifully lost last season due to unforeseen circumstances.