A few days back we took a look at the non-roster pitchers who got an invite to the major league camp. We better get to looking at the batters that have been invited to the major league camp before they start cutting them.
Jack Murphy: Teams always need a few extra catchers, in spring training, especially early on, when there 30 odd pitchers hanging around, looking for someone to throw to. Murphy is a perfectly fine minor league catcher. And he showed some power last season, hitting 12 home runs for Dunedin. He was 24 so old for the level but then he was drafted out of university, so he got a later start. He hit .223/.312/.385 for Dunedin and threw out 38% of base runners. Not much of a prospect, but then you don't need to be a great prospect to be a backup catcher.
Mike Nickeas: Nick came over in the R.A. Dickey trade. He's 30 and has played a total of 73 major league games, 47 of them last year, and owns a .180/.241/.238 line. He's had 9 minor league seasons, and has played parts of the last 3 seasons in Buffalo, so he knows his way around the city, which is good, he'll be there again. He's Canada. I'd imagine he's number four on the catcher's depth chart. Could move up to three if Henry Blanco doesn't make the major league roster.
Sean Ochinko: We drafted Sean in the 11th round of the 2009 draft. He had a really good spring a couple of years back, showing really well in the Jay's spring games, and getting on everyone's radar. That happens, pitchers in spring tend to throw a lot of fastballs, some guys are good at hitting them . Young guys go hard, play hard, want to be noticed. Sean started last year in Dunedin and hit great, .306/.370/.444 in 28 games and then moved up to New Hampshire, didn't do quite as well there, .264/.304/.435, but not terrible for his first look at Double-A. In 2011, the Jays had him playing some third and some first, with some vague idea he could be a utility player. Last year he went back to just playing catcher. He hasn't shown a great arm in the minors, throwing out 23% of base stealers in his 4 seasons. He's 25. He could be like number 6 or 7 on the team depth chart at catcher.
Luis Jimenez: Jays signed Luis as a free agent this winter. He's 30 and has had 17 at bats in the majors, 1 hit. Jimenez played in Tacoma last year, the Mariners Triple-A team. He had a good season, hitting .310/.371/.514, with 20 home runs, and 81 RBI (it's was the PCL). He mostly DHed, with a few games at first. A lefty bat with some power, he also played a season in Japan. He's a big guys, listed at 280, likely really 300 lb. He's one of likely hundreds of guys that likely could have had a major league career had he got the right break. A lefty hitting Randy Ruiz.
Andy LaRoche: We signed Andy as a free agent back in January. He has played 403 games in the majors, mostly at third base, owns an underwhelming .226/.320/.333 line. A right-handed bat, there is like a non-zero chance that he ends up platooning with Adam Lind at some point this season, but it is very close to zero. I had a short argument on Twitter with someone that though he was most likely to get the 25th man sport than Mark DeRosa. He has played 97 major league innings at 2B and 44 at short, but we won't want to see him there. He's 29. Spent last year hitting .264/.338/.462 with 7 home runs in 182 at bats for Pawtucket, the Red Sox Triple-A team.
Adam Loewen: Everyone's favorite pitcher-turned-outfielder (well I'm sure there are a couple of Rick Ankiel fans out there). He was in the Jays system for 3 seasons, and actually got 32 at bats with Toronto at the end of the 2011 season. He signed as a free agent with the Mets before last season. He might have made the major league roster to start the season, if he hadn't been injured during spring training. He hit .227/.328/.391 in 59 games for Buffalo. He'll be back there. There was some hope that he would make it as a major league outfielder at one point. He hit .306/.377/.508 in 2011, which had us excited, until we remembered that this was in Vegas.
Mike McCoy: With the Jays moving their Triple-A team to Buffalo, 3 airlines are going to go out of business, just because of the loss of revenue from flying McCoy back and forth from Toronto to Vegas. Time to sell your Air Canada stock. McCoy is just fine as a 25th man/utility man. He can pinch run, play any position, steal the odd base, bunt (if you really wanted someone to bunt). I doubt he'd be any worse that Mark DeRosa, but then, with Mark's injury history, I'm sure we'll see McCoy at some point this year.
Jim Negrych: Ok. I'll admit I have no idea who this guys is. Jim is 27, he's played in the minors for 7 seasons, mostly in the Pirates system, but, last year he played Triple-A for the Nationals. He's played mostly at second base (372 games) and some third (145 games). He's a lefty batter. His career minor league batting numbers are .298/.376/.403 in 688 games. I guess he'd do fine in Buffalo in the middle infield.
Ryan Schimpf: Ryan just missed being on our top 40 prospect list. He started last season in Dunedin, hitting .263/.353/.479 in 96 games, got moved up to New Hampshire and hit even better there, .279/.412/.568 with 8 home runs in just 33 games. A second baseman with a little pop and gets on base, really he sounds like someone that should have made our list. He'll be 25 in early April, so he was a little old for Dunedin last year. Another lefty batter, he'll likely start at Double-A this year, but maybe could get a utility infield job in the next couple of years.
Eugenio Velez: Eugenio has played 259 games in the majors, mostly for the Giants. He owns a .241/.287/.367 line. He played 116 games at second base and 91 in the outfield. I guess we had to pick up all the switch-hitting middle infielders. Last year he played 136 games for Memphis, the Cardinals Triple-A team, hitting .280/.358/.449 (PCL warning). Another guy that can help out Buffalo and spend a couple of weeks on our bench if (God forbid) we have another epidemic of injuries.
Lance Zawadzki: He's soon going to be my favorite 'doesn't have a chance to make the team' Blue Jay. He's had 7 at bats, and has 5 hits, 1 grand slam, 1 double, a walk and a stolen base. He's a switch-hitting middle infielder. In the minors, he's played 321 games at short, 103 games at second and 39 games at third, with a .258/.328/.390 line with 77 total stolen bases. He did play 20 game in the majors, if you consider the Padres a major league team, in 2010. At 27, he's past the prospect stage.
Ryan Langerhans: Ryan was a 3rd round draft pick, way back in 1998, by the Braves. He's 33 now. He has played 593 major league games, but the .226/.332/.372 batting line doesn't make him seem like someone we'd like to see playing in Toronto. Guys don't normally suddenly learn to hit at age 33. Last year he played for the Angel's Triple-A team in Salt Lake, where he hit .250/.369/.446 with 11 home runs, numbers helped out by playing in the PCL. He's played 516 Triple-A games, posting a .288/.394/.494 line. He should be able to help Buffalo.
Ricardo Nanita: A 31 year, who has never played in the majors. He hit .306/.353/.465 in Vegas for us last year. Everyone hits .300 in Vegas. I think he'll be a fourth outfielder in Buffalo this year. He has played all three outfield spots.
So which ones do you figure we'll see with the Jays at some point this year?