With Opening Day against Tampa Bay just around the corner on Monday, Opening Day for Minor League Baseball's full season leagues is not much further away either. With the Blue Jays seemingly having set their 25-man roster (at least barring injuries, signings, waiver wire pickups, or last-minute changes of mind), they will shortly be setting minor league rosters as well.
So I thought I'd take a crack at guessing/predicting how the rosters of Buffalo (AAA), New Hampshire (AA), Dunedin (high-A), and Lansing (low-A) will look for Opening Day, and maybe provoke a little discussion as well. In large measure, this is fool's errand since it's basically a lot of guesswork and one change can have a big domino effect that cascades through lower levels. I'm basically just trying to lay things out, with my placements being basically on a combination of what I think the Jays will do, and what I think they should do with precedence on placing top prospects first and filling in around them. With that said, for the most part I have not bothered to order within the projected rotation and within the bullpen.
Below the "projected" rosters are two groups - other and inactive. At this point, there are more players in the organization who would figure to be on a full season team than there are roster spots. Some of this will be resolved by injuries, some via releases before camp breaks, some being sent to extended spring training. Players in the "other" group could easily make rosters over players listed on the projected rosters, especially in a reserve capacity. In a lot of cases, it depends on how they're going to be used, but for some (Romero), it's just not clear where they'll be assigned. Inactive includes players who are known to be injured (will be grow quite a bit soon) as well as suspensions or those on a restricted list.
With that said, the projected rosters and some brief commentary below:
|C||Dioner Navarro||Erik Kratz||A.J. Jimenez||Derrick Chung||Santiago Nessy|
|1B||Edwin Encarnacion||Dan Johnson||Gabe Jacobo||K.C. Hobson||Matt Dean|
|2B||Ryan Goins||Chris Getz||Jon Berti||Jorge Flores||Christian Lopes|
|3B||Brett Lawrie||Andy LaRoche||Andy Burns||Gustavo Pierre||Mitch Nay|
|SS||Jose Reyes||Munenori Kawasaki||Shane Opitz||Emilio Guerrero||Dawel Lugo|
|LF||Melky Cabrera||Kevin Pillar||Marcus Knecht||Dwight Smith||Brenden Kalfus|
|CF||Colby Rasmus||Anthony Gose||Kenny Wilson||Dalton Pompey||Chaz Frank|
|RF||Jose Bautista||Brad Glenn||Michael Crouse||Carlos Ramirez||Ian Parmley|
|DH||Adam Lind||Mike McDade||Matt Newman||Kevin Patterson||L.B. Dantzler|
|SP1||R.A. Dickey||Marcus Stroman||Aaron Sanchez||Daniel Norris||Shane Dawson|
|SP2||Mark Buerhle||Chad Jenkins||Marcus Walden||Matt Boyd||Chase DeJong|
|SP3||Brandon Morrow||Deck McGuire||Shawn Hill||Taylor Cole||Alberto Tirado|
|SP4||Drew Hutchison||Sean Nolin||Austin Bibens-Dirkx||Kendall Graveman||Jairo Labourt|
|SP5||Dustin McGowan||Kyle Drabek||Scott Copeland||Happ/Romero||Tom Robson|
|C||Josh Thole||Mike Nickeas||Jack Murphy||Dan Klein||Mike Reeves|
|OF||Moises Sierra||Ricardo Nanita||Nick Baligod||Jonathan Jones||Melvin Garcia|
|IF||Maicer Izturis||Jonathan Diaz||Kevin Nolan||Jason Leblebijian||Dickie Thon|
|Util/P||Jeremy Jeffress||Jared Goedert||Peter Mooney||Chris Hawkins||Andy Fermin|
|P||Casey Janssen||Liam Hendriks||Matt Wright||Chad Girodo||Jeremy Gabryszwski|
|P||Sergio Santos||John Stilson||Tyler Ybarra||John Anderson||Adonys Cardona|
|P||Steve Delabar||Neil Wagner||Danny Barnes||Kramer Champlin||Matt Dermody|
|P||Brett Cecil||Mickey Storey||Ajay Meyer||Wil Browning||Scott Silverstein|
|P||Aaron Loup||Ryan Tepera||Casey Lawrence||Justin Jackson||Eric Brown|
|P||Todd Redmond||Bobby Korecky||Richard Bleier||Arik Sikula||Alonzo Gonzalez|
|P||Esmil Rogers||Rob Rasmussen||Scott Shuman||Efrain Nieves||Ben White|
|Other||Ricky Romero||Scott Gracey||Kellen Sweeney||Frank Viola III|
|Other||Ryan Schimpf||Dustin Antolin||Pierce Rankin||Jordan Leyland|
|Other||Greg Infante||Dayton Marze||Tucker Donahue||Seth Conner|
|Other||Brett Carroll||Randy Boone||Chris Schaeffer||Zak Wasilewski|
|Other||Steve Tolleson||Tony Davis||Griffin Murphy||Brady Dragmire|
|Other||Blake McFarland||Aaron Munoz||D.J. Davis|
|Other||Jesse Hernandez||Jake Anderson|
|Inact.||J.A. Happ||Sean Ochinko||Roberto Osuna||Anthony Alford|
|Inact.||Matt Tuiasosopo||Brian Van Kirk||Egan Smith||Colton Turner|
Buffalo: One big question is how the middle infield situation shakes out, there's too many players for too many roster spots. Some of those guys might be assigned to lower levels, but there's a risk of creating roadblocks for younger prospects. The other thing will be how the rotation shakes out, with seven or eight candidates, including Happ potentially rehabbing soon. But these are nice problems to have, and it should be a strong team.
New Hampshire: The rotation here looks somewhat unsettled, and I think there's a good chance that some of the surplus ends up here. There's at least a dozen realistic candidates for the bullpen. Position player wise, the only part I'd really expect is unsettled is the middle infield depending on who doesn't land jobs in Buffalo and how aggressive they want to be with Berti and Opitz.
Dunedin: Here too there's probably only one or two rotation spots set in stone, depending on how things shake out above. I'd expect that position-wise, things are pretty stable, but if Opitz and/or Berti repeat, that will necessitate pushing others out. Likewise, the bullpen is pure guesswork.
Lansing: This team should be loaded. Pitching-wise, I expect a piggy-backing system similar to what has been seen in the past involving six or seven pitchers, some of whom are nominally listed in the bullpen. On the position side, there's some players like D.J. Davis and Barreto who could get promotions to full season, but the Jays aren't very aggressive and I don't think they'll start the season there.
Edits/Notes (Minor Leaguer)
- Swapped Erik Kratz and Josh Thole's placement
- Removed Ian Kadish as he recently announced his release
- Tomo Ohka was reported to have been released by Gideon Turk of Blue Jays Plus. I'm just waiting on a confirmation.
Further Edits/Updates (MjwW)
- Tomo Ohka's release confirmed by Matt Eddy of Baseball America (h/t ClintB)
- Javier Avendano and Alvido Jimenez were released on 3/21 per various MiLB league transactions (though not updated until today, I checked last night). I'm slotting in Romero/Happ for that rotation spot in Dunedin for now.
- Removed Chuck Ghysels as he too announced his release