Blue Jays: Triple-A Buffalo Bisons have their set 2023 roster
By Edward Eng
With the season home opener for the Buffalo Bisons, the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, pushed back to Friday due to poor field conditions from ongoing inclement weather, let’s take a closer look at their current active roster for the 2023 season. Last season, they finished tied for fourth with a record of 76-72 in the East Division of the International League.
The Bisons’ roster consists of a mixture of veteran players, along with some highly regarded prospects in the Jays’ system. Among them are six players that are ranked in the Jays’ Top 30 prospect pool, and of significance are 11 players on the roster that are also on the 40-man roster (highlighted in Italics below), meaning they could be on hand to be called up directly to the big leagues when needed.
The Buffalo Bisons have released their 2023 roster
Pitchers: Luke Bard, Brandon Eisert, Junior Fernández, Julian Fernández, Bowden Francis, Paul Fry, Thomas Hatch, Jay Jackson, Kyle Johnston, Hayden Juenger, Casey Lawrence, Matt Peacock, Nate Pearson, Jackson Rees, Fitz Stadler, Zach Thompson, Trent Thornton, Yosver Zulueta
Both the performances of Thomas Hatch and Trent Thornton had been up and down for pretty much the past three to four seasons. This may be the last go-around for them to make an impression to secure a big league spot on the Jays’ roster, so look for them to try to be at their best coming out of the gate. Nate Pearson is basically just one injury or bad performance away by the Jays’ bullpen from being called up, so he will be just using his time with the Bisons to gear up and get ready. All three have given up zero earned runs thus far to start the season.
Hayden Juenger is the highest-ranked top prospect in the Jays’ system that is not on their current 40-man roster. His unique delivery and variety of secondary pitches will enable him to become an effective big league reliever when he earns a promotion. Another intriguing prospect is Yosver Zulueta, who had made great strides in his development on his way up through three minor league levels this past year. He is projected to be a potential impact player on the Jays’ roster later this year, whether as a starter or in the bullpen, with his plus fastball and strikeout ability.
Catchers: Stevie Berman, Rob Brantly, Jamie Ritchie
Rob Brantly was signed to a minor league deal by the Jays this past offseason to provide catching depth behind Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk, now that Gabriel Moreno is gone. During Spring Training, Brantly performed admirably, hitting at a clip of .438 with four doubles, a triple and three RBIs. Currently, he is hitting .500 with two RBIs to start the season. He should provide some stability for the Bisons with his veteran presence, and can serve as a decent backup catcher in the event Jansen, Kirk, or even Varsho is unable to do so.
Infielders: Addison Barger, Ernie Clement, Spencer Horwitz, Otto Lopez, Tanner Morris, Davis Schneider, LJ Talley
Addison Barger, Spencer Horwitz, and Otto Lopez are all top prospects in the Jays’ system and they all just had great Spring Training camp performances with the big league squad. They also represent the next wave of Blue Jays’ prospects that have the ability to play multiple positions, giving them greater opportunities to make the major leagues this coming year.
With potentially both an outfield spot and the third base position available following the 2023 season, look for at least one of them to make the leap to the majors sooner than later. In the meantime, they are expected to have breakout seasons with the Bisons this year. Barger has started the season off strong with four hits, including a home run and two RBI over three games. Both Horwitz and Lopez have also had a decent start as well, hitting close to .300 and demonstrating good plate discipline with a more or less equal walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Outfielders: Wynton Bernard, Vinny Capra, Cam Eden, Rafael Lantigua, Jordan Luplow
Before Wednesday, the most notable Bisons’ outfielder would be Wynton Bernard, who signed a minor league deal with the Jays back in January 2023. He had finally got the opportunity to play at the major league level with the Rockies last year, after spending over a decade in the minors. He batted .286 with three stolen bases and three RBI in his brief stint. With the Bisons, he has started the season on a good note with three runs driven in over two games.
But with the recent claim of Jordan Luplow off waivers on Wednesday, Luplow now becomes the player to be on the lookout for. From his major league experience thus far, Luplow has displayed some power potential, hitting 45 home runs and accumulating 120 RBI in a part-time role over six seasons. He will provide outfield experience, as well as insurance for the Jays in event any of the Jays’ outfield starters are unavailable and that their outfield prospects in the minors are not ready yet.
Be sure to be on the lookout for a few of these names to appear on the Jays’ big league roster some time during the course of the 2023 season, and hopefully they will be able to make significant contributions to the big club as a result of it.
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