The Jays have announced their non-roster invitees to spring training:
•OF Zach Britton
•LHP Jimmy Burnette
•C Phil Clarke
•LHP Brandon Eisert
•RHP Junior Fernández
•RHP Bowden Francis
•RHP Adrian Hernandez
•RHP Hayden Juenger
•RHP Matt Peacock
•RHP Jackson Rees
•RHP Sem Robberse
•LHP Jimmy Robbins
•INF Andres Sosa
•LHP Ricky Tiedemann
•C Stevie Berman
•INF Vinny Capra
OF Wynton Bernard’s name isn’t on the list, but I’d imagine he’ll get an invite too. He’d be battling Nathan Lukes for the first outfield call-up if someone were to go on the IL.
Bets on the one most likely to make the team.
One of my favourite relievers is retiring (and has written his entire autobiography in this tweet, but he manages not to mention Jose Bautista):
It’s been a wild ride that I never thought I’d get to experience, but it’s finally time to hang ‘em up. pic.twitter.com/CewsXhgBYz— Darren O'Day (@DODay56) January 30, 2023
Richard Griffin has started a newsletter “Griff’s The Pitch” now that he is no longer the PR guy for the Jays (I haven’t seen who is taking that job, if it is one of you, let me know). His first offering has an MLB Power Ranking, with the Astros at the top, A’s at the bottom and Blue Jays fifth:
Social media creates a critical path in which fans insist every role MUST be filled heading into spring, otherwise the team’s FO has failed. Rest assured, fifth starter will work itself out.
True, but it won’t necessarily work itself out in a way that will please us.
Sportsnet has a post talking about the friendship between former MLB slugger Jim Thome and new Blue Jays outfielder Daulton Varsho.
“He has great talent,” says Thome of Varsho, who clubbed 27 home runs in 2022 for the Diamondbacks during his first full MLB season and brings a much-needed left-handed power presence to the Blue Jays’ lineup.
“He’s got great bat-to-ball skills. I think the one thing the fans of Toronto are going to realize is this kid can really hit. And he’s kind of an old-school player who really plays the game hard.”
Keith Law has just one Blue Jays player on his Top 100 Prospects list. You won’t be surprised that it is Ricky Tiedemann. He is in the 47th slot.
Tiedemann went undrafted out of high school in 2020, then went to junior college and ended up a third-round pick of the Jays in 2021. His velocity started to creep up as soon as instructional league. He topped out at 97-98 mph in 2022, although he tapered off over the course of the season and was sitting 93-94 when I saw him in September at Double-A Somerset, when the Jays had him on a strict three-inning limit to manage his workload. When fully healthy, he’s got power stuff, with big horizontal break to the slider that makes it a weapon against left- and right-handed batters, and an above-average changeup that he will need more as he gets to Triple A and the majors. He has a tough delivery to repeat, starting on the extreme first-base end of the rubber and never quite getting online, so locating to his glove side is a challenge. If he can develop his command and control — which might mean getting him more online to the plate — he has front-line starter potential. There’s also reliever risk here, although in that role he’d probably be an elite, 35-40 percent strikeout rate pitcher.
I’d rather not think that he might be a reliever.