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Toronto Blue Jays look to fill the minor system at this weekend’s MLB Draft

Toronto Blue Jays look to fill the minor system at this weekend’s MLB Draft

It’s time for the Toronto Blue Jays to breathe new life into their minor league system.

It’s time for the Toronto Blue Jays to breathe new life into their minor league system.

Amateur scouting director Shane Farrell spoke to the media on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s Major League Baseball draft and said the Blue Jays’ minor league system, particularly at the double- and triple-A level, needs to be revamped with new prospects.

“I think that’s a byproduct of some of the steps we’ve taken to make our Major League team as competitive as possible and to make the playoffs,” said Farrell, who cited the deal that saw pitching prospects Adam Kloffenstein and Sem Robberse go to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Major League reliever Jordan Hicks as an example.

“There is clearly a need and a desire to continue to supplement with internal prospects. I think this design allows us to do that and we look forward to that opportunity.”

Injuries and the decision to draft several veterans have resulted in a handful of Toronto’s Triple-A prospects being called up to the Blue Jays’ major league roster, including infielders Ernie Clement, Spencer Horwitz and Leo Jimenez.

Outfielder Steward Berroa also started the year in the minors, and second baseman/left fielder Davis Schneider was a surprise when he started the season in the bigs and not with the minor league Buffalo Bisons. Outfielder Addison Barger also played 20 games with Toronto, but was sent back to Buffalo when veteran designated hitter Justin Turner returned from the paternity list on Saturday.

“We have to make sure that once the players get to the big leagues, they can stay in the big leagues,” Farrell said in a video call. “I think it’s the responsibility of the organization to make sure that those players are ready physically, fundamentally and mentally to not only get to the big leagues, but to stay and have a long career.”

Left-handed pitcher Ricky Tiedemann, the top prospect on Toronto’s depth chart, started for the Bisons on Wednesday against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The 21-year-old is recovering from an ulnar nerve infection that put him on the injured list in mid-April after three starts with Buffalo.

Although Tiedemann is the No. 1 prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, he is ranked No. 45 in MLB’s prospect rankings.

Second baseman Orelvis Martinez, No. 2 on the Blue Jays’ prospect depth chart, was suspended 80 games by MLB after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Shortstop Arjun Nimmala and left-handed pitcher Brandon Barriera, ranked Nos. 3 and 4 in the minor leagues, both play at the Single-A level.

According to MLB, Jimenez and Barger are the fourth- and fifth-highest-ranked prospects in the Blue Jays’ system.

“We’re constantly thinking about how we can get better every day,” Farrell said. “We’re constantly following the organized professional baseball world, whether it’s the Blue Jays or other teams.

“We continuously reflect on our own process as scouts and if we extend that more broadly, we also continuously reflect on the department.”

Toronto has the 20th pick in this year’s draft, which begins Sunday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana, Georgia outfielder/third baseman Charlie Condon and Florida first baseman/left-handed pitcher Jac Caglianone are the top three prospects in consideration.

The Blue Jays’ selections include Oklahoma State outfielder Carson Benge, who is ranked No. 18, high school right-handed pitcher Ryan Sloan (No. 19), Louisiana State third baseman Tommy White (No. 20) and Iowa right-handed pitcher Brody Brecht (No. 21).

“I think we’re seeing a lot of strength at the top of the draft, particularly in the college position players,” Farrell said. “I think we’re seeing a little bit of a drop in length from last year, maybe in the high school position players, and even some of the high school pitching that could potentially go into the first round.

“Overall, this is another strong draft and we are excited about our potential options at pick 20.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press