With the offseason just beginning, the Blue Jays have roughly three months to fill the holes in their currently constructed roster. Having only lost three players to free agency, the roster is more or less the same as it was after the Wild Card Round defeat except for the recent news of the Teoscar Hernández trade.
With that being said, the same problems apply from then as they do now, and look to shape the trajectory of the offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays. At the very least, the Jays must acquire a starting pitcher. Help in the bullpen would be a big bonus, which is trending in the right direction with the Erik Swanson acquisition, as well as a new-looking offensive piece to plug into the outfield/DH picture, especially after the recent trade news.
While many options remain on the free agent and trade front, the Blue Jays have talent within the organization that appears capable of plugging into these roles.
A handful of top prospects in the Blue Jays farm system are budding talents, with seven of their top thirty projected to make their MLB debut next season. While it’s perfectly conceivable to have someone like Addison Barger or Orelvis Martinez to make an appearance next season should they be performing well in AAA, it’s those who are capable of breaking camp with the team that are most interesting.
Yosver Zulueta - RHP
Zulueta is one of the most high-potential arms in the organization. He went through four levels of the minor leagues this past season, concluding with 4.2 innings in Buffalo as a reliever.
His high strikeout numbers and profile of being a starting pitcher bring both the pedigree and skillset the Jays are looking for. This reminds me of what we saw from Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna in 2015, as both of them got extended looks in Spring Training due to their makeup and projections.
Blue Jays prospects to watch in Spring Training next season
Expect the hard-throwing Cuban native to get looks like spring, and possibly make the team out of training camp to pitch out of the pen. Zulueta was recently added to the 40-man roster, so he won’t require the removal of another player nor will he be subject to the Rule 5 Draft.
Adrian Hernandez - RHP
I believe this to be a similar situation to Zulueta’s. Hernandez appears to be an advanced arm with plus stuff, who’s knocking on the door to the majors. Although a 4.96 ERA in AAA across 32.2 innings isn’t all that impressive, looking into Hernandez’s notes a bit more will shed light on his talent.
At 22 years old, a 12.4 K/9 cumulatively in the minors this past season is something to be aware of. For what it’s worth, he’s also pitched 7.2 innings of scoreless ball in the Mexican Winter League thus far as well. Hernandez does this with a fastball in the low 90s and a plus changeup. Further development of his breaking ball will be something to watch next year, and with a good spring, there’s a possibility we’ll see Hernandez in St. Louis on Opening Day in 2023. Hernandez had a strong 2022 campaign for the first half of the season before an injury put him on the sidelines and he finished with some rough outings
Hernandez was left off of the 40-man and will be exposed to the Rule 5 draft, so let’s hope he’ll still be here come February.
Spencer Horwitz - 1B/OF
Horwitz is seemingly what the Blue Jays were looking for last season, just a bit behind on the development side. A left-handed swinger with discipline and power capable of manning the outfield, Horwitz will be an interesting player to keep an eye on this spring given his skillset.
With a career minor league OBP of .390 combined with an absence of left-handed talent on the major league roster, Horwitz fits the bill to possibly break camp with the team. He’ll be 25 next season and has passed all levels of the minor leagues. Horwitz was recently added to the 40-man roster, so he won’t require the removal of another player.
After examination of minor league rosters and numerous prospect lists, these were the most likely names I found. Given their age, development and skill sets, along with the expected roster needs of the Blue Jays for 2023, these three men represent the best chances to break camp with the team out of the available prospects.
There is still a lot of time for additions to the roster to be made, and there’s a possibility these names could even be involved in trades moving forward, but for now they could be on the shortlist of major league hopefuls come Spring Training. Even if they don’t break camp, still expect to see these three at some point in 2023.