The Blue Jays aren’t the only Toronto team with huge holes to fill in the outfield. The Bisons are also in need of outfielders
Keegan Matheson over at Jays Journal wrote a piece highlighting Dwight Smith Jr. (full article) and his fall from and potential rise back to prospect status. In this piece Keegan made reference to the state of the Buffalo Bisons outfield situation, stating:
Last season, the Blue Jays rolled the dice on the upside of Junior Lake and former No. 1 prospect Domonic Brown. Given the in-house talent they’ve grown or acquired, it seems that those types of moves may not be as necessary entering the spring of 2017.
Since I completely agree with this statement, I thought it would be a good idea to build off it with a look who should fill the Bisons outfield in 2017.
Before I begin, I am not suggesting that Toronto’s front office won’t sign any MiLB veterans between now and opening day, far from it. Rather, my aim is to highlight some interesting, maybe not jaw dropping, outfield prospects that should be given a shot at starting the year in Triple-A.
If you shuffle over to the Buffalo Bisons website and take a peek at their outfielders listed, you’ll notice there aren’t any.
Junior Lake has signed on in Boston (good luck getting playing time), Melky Mesa and Dominic Brown remain on the free-agent market, while Ceciliani and Pompey remain on the Blue Jays 40-man roster. With the state of the Blue Jays outfield, it’s possible that either Pompey and/or Ceciliani could make the Blue Jays in 2017.
Let’s assume Pompey is the one to stick with Toronto, which would result in Ceciliani heading to Buffalo to start the year. The Herd would still need three outfielders to fill out their roster.
Dwight Smith Jr.
In two seasons Smith Jr has hit .265/.333/.405 with a .738 OPS while hitting 50 doubles, 7 triples, and 22 HR. At 24-yr-olds, Smith Jr. needs to be given a new challenge. He has hit Double-A pitchers, not entirely well mind you. The left-fielder performed well in August, hitting .273 with 4 HR and 14:16 BB:K ratio.
Another new Hampshire Fisher Cats outfielder with lots of Double-A experience. After 130 games with the Fisher Cats in 2016, Fields now has 179 games plus 6 games with Buffalo in 2015, played above Single-A. He owns a slash of .236/.302/.295 with a .597 OPS. Forget about his low batting average or his complete lack of power. Fields knows his game and why he is on the diamond. SPEED. In 3 seasons in Toronto’s system, Roemon Fields has stolen 48, 46, and 44 bases.
The 5’10” Ramirez only played one game with the Fisher Cats after being part of a package that saw Toronto send Drew Hutchison to Pittsburgh in exchange for Francisco Liriano and Reese McGuire. I think that Ramirez could open some eyes this spring and could even push for a roster spot with the big club. The native of Colombia can hit for average, has good at-bats with low K numbers, speed, and gap power potential. The 22-yrs-old is a thick bodied 220 lbs and is expected to transform that ‘gap power’ into ‘home run power’.
Minor League veterans are good to have on the team. They teach the young guys how to prepare, how to be professional, and maybe they could offer that one piece of advice that make all other puzzle pieces fall into place. However, if we breakdown Buffalo’s potential 2017 outfield with the 2016 version of Buffalo’s outfield, it becomes clear that Fields, Smith and Ramirez would be an upgrade.
Roemon Fields would take over for Pompey as the Herd’s primary CF and speed threat. Although Fields won’t replicate Pompey’s .270/.349/.353 batting average. The speedy Fields should easily surpass Pompey’s 18 stolen bases.
Dwight Smith Jr would challenge Darrell Ceciliani for playing time in LF, as they a similar in many ways. Both players do everything ‘well’ but don’t do anything well enough to separate them from the pack. Ceciliani is 2 yrs older than Smith, but has 52 games of MLB experience under his belt. Ceciliani has never hit over 10 HR, which he did in 2016, while Smith Jr. hit a career high 15 HR in 2016.
Harold Ramirez should be able to hit for a better average than either Junior Lake (.231/.314/.352) and Dominic Brown (.239/.303/.336), while could surprise and surpass the combined 13 HR hit by Lake and Brown. Add in the fact that he is considered a strong prospect, and you can’t deny that Ramirez should be the Bisons everyday right fielder.
With these four young outfielders the Blue Jays Front Office can turn their attention to more pressing matters, like the Buffalo Bisons starting rotation. It would also get three young outfielders one step closer to major leagues.
As for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, their outfield will be just fine. Top Prospect Anthony Alford, 2016 Breakout Jonathan Davis, and the unknown Lourdes Gurriel will more than likely join Ian Parmely and Derrick Loveless to form a solid outfield rotation.
*Featured Image Credit: slgckgc- UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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