February has given way to March, and while the possibility of the MLB brand of baseball still seems remote, the MiLB version is alive and well, and taking place at various locations across Florida and Arizona.
The Blue Jays have limited access to their minor league complex this spring (which is somewhat understandable), so we have to make do with secondary reports, but luckily there are plenty to choose from. And from those, several Blue Jays prospects seem set to bust out, including:
1. Jordan Groshans
Ok, on the surface, it seems a bit ludicrous that an organization’s #3 prospect is a breakout candidate, but we really haven’t seen the absolute best of the team’s 2018 1st rounder other than his first six weeks of 2019 at Lansing. Groshans was making remarkable progress on both side of the ball before being felled by the pain in the foot that is plantar fasciitis.
When minor league play resumed last April after a Covid-induced hiatus, Groshans’ playing time was carefully managed. A bout of Covid brought a premature end to this 2021 season, and while there was plenty to be positive about, his .291/.367/.450 line in 75 games seemed to fall short of expectations.
Groshans has come into camp with a focus on the mental side of the game, and while it’s still early, that can only be a positive. While his draft report tabbed Groshans as a power-over-hit player, he’s shown almost the opposite as a pro. The tools are there, and perhaps the hitter-friendly dimensions of Sahlen Field in Buffalo will help Groshans begin to tap into that power.
2. Ricky Tiedemann
The 3rd round pick in last June’s draft did not throw a pro pitch at all last summer, but he showed enough promise as high schooler for Fangraphs to rank him as Toronto’s 7th prospect.
Tiedemann was eligible for the 2020 draft, but his bonus demands scared off teams, and he went unselected in the five round lottery. Tiedemann went the Juco route in order to be eligible for 2021.
Tiedemann has been something of a polarizing prospect, but the Blue Jays obviously put some of that off due to his age. He attended Instructs last fall, and was regularly hitting 96. Combine that fastball with a plus (potentially plus-plus) change and solid average slider along with a low arm slot, and you have an intriguing arm. Tiedemann likely makes his debut with Low A Dunedin at some point this spring.
Tiedemann gives Groshans all he can handle in a BP session:
3. Irv Carter, RHP
Like Tiedemann, Carter was drafted (5th round) by the Jays last year, but didn’t throw a competitive pitch after draft day.
Fast forward to this month, and the power-armed Carter is the talk of the Blue Jays minor league camp. Carter was considered by some to be the 2nd-best FL prep pitcher heading into the draft last year.
The Blue Jays have already tinkered with Carter’s delivery, moving him from three-quarters to more of an over-the-top, downhill motion. He can touch mid 90s with his fastball, and pairs that with a high-spin slider that he added last summer, and a change that’s still a work in progress.
Perhaps a little bit less refined than Tiedemann at this point, Carter should make his pro debut a little later this spring with Dunedin.
4. Yosver Zulueta
There was plenty of buzz about Zulu at last year’s camp, and he seemed poised for a 2021 breakout with his high 90s fastball. And then on this third pitch of the season, the Cuban tore his ACL covering 1st, and was was done for the year.
Zulueta appears right on track to break camp with one of the four full season teams, most likely Dunedin for a few starts. He may move quickly through the system this year.
5. Victor Mesia
It’s been a long time coming for the catching prospect who Blue Jays VP and head of international ops Andrew Tinnish called a “poor man’s Francisco Alvarez in 2019.
Mesia’s 2021 season was limited to 97 plate appearances due to a recurring hamstring injury. He appears healthy and set to go from the spring training video we’ve seen. Mesia may not be a high-profile prospect, but his receiving skills are said to be superior, and his development as a full time player would be welcomed by an organization that is accumulating some depth at that position.