George Springer’s Toronto Blue Jays debut is near.
The $150 million man will play centre field in an intrasquad game at the Blue Jays’ Alternate Training Site in Dunedin on Friday afternoon. If all goes well, we could feasibly see Springer activated from the Injured List to join the team down the road in Tampa Bay on Saturday or Sunday, but I would still bet on the team waiting until Tuesday when they’re back in Dunedin to play the Nationals.
That intrasquad game will also feature Nate Pearson tossing two or three innings. Springer vs Pearson?! That should be televised!
Pearson, of course, is still a ways away from being ready to make his 2021 debut as he’s building himself up to a starter’s load all the way from scratch after missing virtually all of spring training with a groin injury. I would guess he’s back with the team in mid-May, barring some kind of setback.
Also, according to Ross Atkins, there’s a good chance that Tyler Chatwood is activated from the Injured List on Friday and that Jordan Romano follows him on Saturday. Ross Stripling threw off a mound on Thursday and apparently he isn’t too far off either. The Blue Jays patch-work bullpen has been excellent the past week, but getting all of these arms back will be nice.
Teoscar Hernandez is also eligible to re-join the team following his isolation, he just needs to complete a negative COVID test. The word is that if Hernandez gets the green light, the team will assess where he’s at, he’ll ramp up baseball activity, and he’ll be able to join the team shortly after.
Speaking of the Alt Site and Intrasquad games… Boy, it would be nice to hear something, anything that’s going on over there.
— bk (@_bkuh_) April 23, 2021
The Seattle Mariners are one of the teams who hands their fans a nugget by posting box scores about their various minor-league games going on right now in Arizona, but we haven’t heard a peep about names like Jordan Groshans, Alek Manoah, or Austin Martin since the big-league season started. I would love to have some pitch and exit velocity numbers to obsess over.
Speaking of prospects, Baseball America released an updated Top 100 prospects list, which features six Blue Jays. The last list they put out in January had Pearson at 14, Martin at 19, Groshans at 34, Woods Richardson at 69, Kirk at 70, and Martinez at 96. It’s the same six guys this time, but with some slight shuffling.
BA updated their top 100 prospects, 6 Jays on the list: 15 Martin, 16 Pearson, 30 Groshans, 63 SWR, 64 Kirk, 89 Martinez
— Clint (@_ClintB_) April 23, 2021
Pearson has slipped from 14 to 16, likely due to his inability to stay healthy, but everyone else on the list has been bumped up. It’s a bit surprising that Alek Manoah isn’t on this list given how good he was in spring but I would guess that has to do with the fact he only has 17 professional innings. I would expect Manoah to be on the list come mid-season rankings time.
Over at the Buffalo News, Mike Harrington says that the Blue Jays are soon going to release their timeline for heading up north to play at Sahlen Field in Buffalo…
“We can’t get to Toronto soon enough and remain as hopeful as we can to get there as soon as possible,” Atkins said. “Sometime in the next week we’ll sit down with our players. We’ve been doing that. We’ll do that again on this homestand and look to finalize that timeline on when those decisions will be made for the next move.”
The Blue Jays have not officially announced they’re coming to Buffalo and there have thus been no tickets put on sale for any games. But the expectation is they will start their second straight summer of games here either on June 1 vs. the Miami Marlins or June 15 vs. the New York Yankees.
The Bisons, as we know, are going to be playing their home games in Trenton as the Thunder Bisons, which makes it very clear that the Blue Jays are expecting to go to Buffalo, even though this hasn’t been formally announced.
Elsewhere, veteran pitcher Anibal Sanchez threw for a handful of teams on Friday in Flordia, and the Blue Jays were among the teams in the mix…
Anibal Sanchez threw today for select teams at FIU. NY, PHI, MIA, TOR, DET, AZ. Nearly ready. Pitched at 90 hit 92. pic.twitter.com/u9tLt7Xl5z
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 23, 2021
Sanchez had a late-career renaissance in 2019 as a member of the Washington Nationals and was effective for them during their World Series run. He posted a 3.85 ERA over 30 starts in 2019 but fell off a cliff in 2020 and put up a 6.62 ERA over 11 starts. That said, Sanchez had very similar underlying numbers both seasons (3.1 BB/9, 7.3 K./9) so there’s some reason to believe he can still be effective.
Finally, here’s some love for Vlad Jr. from Major League Baseball dot com in a ‘here are MLB’s 10 best players so far’ post. Vlad ranks seventh in baseball in terms of WAR and the baseball world is thrilled to see him finally arrive…
Now this is more like it. Guerrero Jr. has been counted on to be a superstar for so long that we forget how young he truly is. (He’s younger than Orioles pending phenom Adley Rutschman.) Now, that temporary ballpark certainly isn’t hurting him any, but it’s clear that offseason training program to get in better shape is working splendidly. Vlad has truly arrived.
Likely to stay in top 10? That .383 average is going to fall, but will it be offset by more power? It’ll have to for him to remain at these heights. But my goodness how fun it is to see him emerging like this.