April In Review: Top performances from Blue Jays prospects to start the year
The Toronto Blue Jays are amid a hot stretch that has their fanbase dreaming of a deep playoff run.
As exciting as that is, it’s also an important year of development for teams and players at the various levels of the minor leagues.
From the prospects in A-ball looking to jumpstart their careers to the ones in Triple-A eager to get to the big leagues, here is one candidate at each level who has had a solid first month.
Adrian Pinto, Single-A, Dunedin Blue Jays
The fact that Pinto is off to a good start at the lowest minor-league level must relieve the Blue Jays' front office. He was part of the Randal Grichuk trade that was consummated shortly before the 2022 season but has yet to progress past Dunedin.
Pinto is hitting .292 (14-for-48) with five RBI and seven steals in 14 games. All his hits so far have been singles, so showing an ability to drive the ball more would go a long way toward the diminutive Pinto (5-foot-6, 156 lbs) graduating to the next level.
Cade Doughty, 2B, High-A – Vancouver Canadians
Doughty has impressed since being a second-round pick out of LSU in 2022. He hit .272 with six home runs, 24 RBI, and 21 runs scored in 26 games played for Dunedin last year.
This season Doughty has continued to flash extra-base power, with six of his ten hits being either doubles or homers. Overall, he’s slashed .256/.362/.926 with eight runs scored in 12 games played. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Doughty move up at least one level before the season’s end.
Steward Berroa, CF, Double-A – New Hampshire Fisher-Cats
Berroa's strong start at the Double-A level is a welcome sign for the organization, considering he’s currently outside the club's top 30 prospects. He looked good in limited action in Spring Training and is an ascending ballplayer.
In 17 games with New Hampshire, Berroa is hitting .235 (12-for-51), with four doubles, two homers, and 6 RBI. He’s also flashed lightning-quick speed and has nine steals while only getting caught once. After ranking 20th in team prospect rankings before the start of the season, a big year from a relatively unknown guy like Berroa could help the Jays move up those rankings,
Hayden Juenger, P, Triple- A – Buffalo Bisons
Juenger has been brought up as a multi-inning relief option and has continued this season in Buffalo. Despite making all his appearances out of the bullpen, the 22-yard-old is third on the Bisons in innings pitched, with 15.1.
He’s struck out 24 batters over those frames, which equates to a robust 14.11 Ks per nine innings, and he’s only issued three walks. He has a respectable ERA of 4.11, and it wouldn’t be too surprising if we see Juenger in the majors at some point this season.