It's rather late, so please look past the corny title (as well as that ill-timed pun).
The minor league season is underway, so I'd like to take some time to discuss the Blue Jays' minor league affiliates, each of whom will be discussed throughout the season. For now, I won't go in depth, but will instead post each team's roster and highlight some key players.
Syracuse SkyChiefs (AAA) Roster:
James Baldwin, RP Kevin Barker, 1B
Josh Banks, SP Rob Cosby, 1B/3B
Adrian Burnside, RP Luis Figueroa, SS
Matt Duff, RP John-Ford Griffin, LF
Lee Gronkiewicz, RP John Hattig, 3B/DH
Casey Janssen, SP Wayne Lydon, CF
Brandon League, RP Mike Mahoney, C
Shaun Marcum, RP Chad Mottola, RF
Dustin McGowan, RP Ryan Roberts, 2B
David Purcey, SP Sergio Santos, SS
Francisco Rosario, SP John Schneider, C
Ty Taubenheim, SP Justin Singleton, CF
Ben Weber, RP Danny Solano, SS
The starting rotation is strong, but it doesn't include many incumbents from last year. Banks, Janssen, Purcey, and Taubenheim have no experience above AA, while the experienced Rosario will not be heavily relied upon.
To my surprise, and almost disbelief, McGowan finds himself in the bullpen. If he continues to pitch well (two scoreless innings thus far), he should displace one of the pitchers on the MLB roster.
On the hitting side, no one seems poised to become a regular in the majors anytime soon. I'm pulling for Santos to improve upon last season's poor performance in order to replace Adams at shortstop. However, the odds are against its occurrence, I'm afraid.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) Roster:
Jason Arnold, RP Eric Arnold, 3B
Jim Bullard, RP Chip Cannon, 1B
Danny Hill, RP Vito Chiaravalloti, 1B
Ryan Houston, RP Carlo Cota, 2B
Kurt Isenberg, RP Ron Davenport, LF
Mike MacDonald, SP Brad Hassey, SS
Rodney Ormond, RP Maikel Jova, RF
Ismael Ramirez, SP Erik Kratz, C
Davis Romero, SP Adam Lind, OF
Tracy Thorpe, RP Manny Mayorson, SS
Jamie Vermilyea, RP Miguel Negron, OF
Kyle Yates, SP David Smith, OF
Raul Tablado, SS
The star of the team is Adam Lind. He's shown good line-drive skills thus far, but they have yet to produce great power totals. He made his way onto various top 100 prospects lists past offseason, so his future is widely considered to be rather bright.
Davis Romero is an interesting prospect who has yielded a lot of support from the writers at Batter's Box. He's maintained good walk and strikeout rates throughout his different stops in the minors. However, his stuff isn't overwhelming and he isn't that young anymore (he was 23 on opening day), so there's some doubt about his future.
Jason Arnold, who was acquired as part of the 4-way trade involving Felipe Lopez, seems to be a failed prospect at some point. He's a living reminder of one of J.P.'s all-time worst trades.
Dunedin Blue Jays (A) Roster:
A.J. Burnett, SP Jason Armstrong, IF
Daniel Core, RP David Corrente, C
Connor Falkenbach, RP Robinzon Diaz, C
Eric Fowler, SP Soctt Dragicevich, 3B
Tom Gornati, RP Ryan Klosterman, SS
Daryl Harang, RP Josh Kreuzer, IF
Justin James, RP Dustin Majewski, OF
Jesse Litsch, SP Aaron Mathews, OF
Brad Mumma, RP Eric Nielson, OF
Robert Ray, RP Juan Peralta, SS
Ricky Romero, SP Ryan Patterson, OF
Derek Tate, RP Christian Snavely, SS
Milton Tavarez, RP Tim Whittaker, C
Orlando Trias, SP
Brian Wolfe, SP
A.J. Burnett is only on the roster as part of his DL stint.
The one player to keep an eye on is Romero, who'll likely breeze through the minors. He was drafted out of college, and all reports indicate he's not that far from the majors. Barring injury, expect to see him with the Blue Jays by 2007.
Lansing Lugnuts (A) Roster:
Kristian Bell, SP Joshua Bell, C
Yesson Berroa, RP Brian Bormaster, C
Billy Carnline, RP Jacob Butler, OF
Chi-Hung Cheng, SP Anthony Garibaldi, 3B
Po-Hsuan Keng, RP Jesus Gonzalez, 3B
Adrian Martin, SP Chris Gutierrez, IF
Paul Phillips, RP David Hicks, 1B
Edward Rodriguez, RP Joey Metropoulos, 1B
Russell Savickas, SP Cory Patton, LF
Jordan Timm, RP Brian Pettway, OF
Aaron Tressler, RP Yuber Rodriguez, OF
Aaron Wideman, SP Emmanuel Sena, IF
Cheng is undoubtedly the Lugnuts' ace. Last season, the twenty year old posted a 3.15 ERA and a 9.33 K/9 ratio in 137 IP. He had control problems that resulted in seven wild pitches and more than a walk every two innings. He's not a great prospect, of course, but he should move up the system.
As for the Blue Jays' other two minor league affiliates, the Auburn Doubledays (A) and the Pulaski Blue Jays (R), they begin their shortened regular seasons on June 20th and June 21st, respectively.