The clock is ticking down on the Minor League season, leaving only a few weeks for the Blue Jays’ top prospects to finish writing the stories of their 2023 seasons.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for many of MLB Pipeline's top 30, with injuries or slow starts turning into late-season surges. There’s so much on the line in 2024 and beyond, particularly for the more advanced prospects in Double-A and Triple-A, and all of this will impact how the Blue Jays approach the offseason.
These five questions remain:
How has Ricky Tiedemann set himself up for 2024?
Tiedemann’s season was derailed by a biceps injury in early May, but the Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect has built himself back up and is coming off one of his best outings. On Aug. 29, Tiedemann pitched 3 2/3 innings in Double-A New Hampshire (1 ER) and recorded all 11 outs via strikeout.
With just 30 1/3 innings in 2023, though, workload is a major factor here. That’s why Tiedemann could be a candidate to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, setting him up for a big spring in ‘24. As Toronto’s rotation is currently set up, it might be lofty to expect Tiedemann to compete for the No. 5 job out of camp, but he can put himself in position to be the next man up from Triple-A.
This season hasn’t gone as planned, but Tiedemann’s potential remains ridiculous.
Who is genuinely competing for a roster spot next spring, and where?
How do Davis Schneider, Addison Barger, Orelvis Martinez, Spencer Horwitz and others fit into the 2024 picture? With some spots opening up, how the Blue Jays view these prospects long term will have a major impact on how they approach free agency and the trade market.
Second and third base work as the best examples here. Schneider has already done his part to cement himself as part of the Blue Jays’ plans, but would it make sense for the Blue Jays to bring in a veteran infielder to compete with Barger and Martinez? Barger’s arm is better suited for third base and Martinez has played plenty of second this season.
Does Horwitz’s success and MLB-ready profile make him the natural replacement for Brandon Belt? If you bet on prospects, you’ll miss sometimes, but the ones that hit can be so valuable when it comes to roster construction. Next spring already looks very interesting.
What’s left of Yosver Zulueta’s upside?
Zulueta was assigned to the Florida Coast League on Aug. 15 to work on things and just returned to the Triple-A Bisons. That’s not a positive sign for the prospect who has fallen to No. 10 on our list and could keep falling.
The hard-throwing Cuban has a 4.47 ERA this season in Buffalo, but has walked 41 batters in 52 1/3 innings and has been working strictly as a reliever. If you’re going to be a reliever as a prospect, you’ll need to dominate. Zulueta hasn’t done that much, and the time for his results to match his upside has passed.
How soon can Alan Roden be a factor?
Roden skyrocketed up our rankings to No. 7 and is suddenly the top outfield prospect in the system. An on-base machine, Roden has posted a .433 OBP this season and is rolling in Double-A, putting him close enough to have a shot in 2024.
The likeliest path from here is that Roden opens next season with Triple-A Buffalo and has an opportunity to play his way onto the roster. Roden can handle the outfield defensively and is starting to show more power than expected, so his profile fits exactly what the Blue Jays are trying to do.
Is there any internal rotation depth for 2024?
There was … until Sem Robberse and Adam Kloffenstein were traded to the Cardinals for Jordan Hicks.
Tiedemann could represent that next level of rotation depth right out of the gates in 2024, but the Blue Jays need more. A year ago, Ross Stripling saved them from a thin depth group. This season, they’ve barely touched that group at all. This run of luck won’t last forever, though, and they’ll need to be prepared.
No. 14 prospect Chad Dallas could be in Triple-A to open next season, but beyond that, the Blue Jays would be looking at bulk relievers, such as Bowden Francis, to piece it together. This is a spot the Blue Jays will need to address over the winter.
Thirty-three years ago Saturday, Dave Stieb threw the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history against Cleveland. Who homered for Toronto in that game?
A) Fred McGriff
B) Pat Borders
C) Manuel Lee
D) Junior Felix
LIFE WITHOUT DANNY JANSEN
Jansen’s fractured middle finger brought another blow to a club already missing Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman. It’s difficult to overstate just how important Jansen is to this team, too, but bad-luck injuries keep getting in the way.
The Blue Jays expect to know more by next week in Toronto after Jansen seeks another opinion, but let’s look back to his fractured finger in 2022. That one, on his pinky, kept him on the IL for 35 days, which was a relatively quick return. He was on a rehab assignment after 27 days, so it’s possible Jansen can make a run at being ready for the very end of the regular season or the beginning of the postseason.
Jansen’s comment to John Schneider on Friday night in Denver? Maybe he’ll be the World Series MVP.
Twice. McGriff’s 30th and 31st home runs of the season were more than enough on the day that Stieb finally grabbed the moment that had eluded him.
The great right-hander threw 123 pitches that game before getting Jerry Browne to fly out right field for the final out.
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