Blue Jays Ryan Goins has proven to be a valuable bench piece for Toronto. Is it time to go in a different direction?
In the midst of spring training games, Blue Jay fans have gotten a look at several of Toronto’s minor league players. I choose to call them players and not prospects because the guys that I’ll touch on should no longer be considered as prospects.
Watching Darwin Barney, Jake Elmore, Jonathan Berti, Jonathan Diaz, and Ryan Goins play this spring has caused me to re-evaluate who should be the Blue Jays bench infielder in 2017? You can read about Goins’ poor spring in our 3 Up, 3 Down, where he is listed as seeing his stock fall.
Obviously, Darwin Barney will be the Blue Jays bench infielder. He’s got parts of 7 major league seasons under his belt. He performed well in 2016 with a .269 BA, 4 HR, 22 walks and 48 strikeouts, and was a 1.8 WAR. Barney is mostly a glove man that can chip in with the bat from time to time.
Ryan Goins is a product of the Blue Jays farm system which makes him a favorite of mine. I’ve followed Goins since being a Blue Jays 4th round pick in 2009 and making his MLB debut in 2013. Unfortunately, Goins has not been able to produce at the major league level. He struggles to make contact, striking out too much and doesn’t walk enough. Essentially making him a glove man, albeit a very good glove man.
Josh Donaldson and Devon Travis are nursing injuries which could result in one or both players not being ready for Opening Day. If this happens the likelihood is very good that Goins will start the season in Toronto.
What if there is a better option than going with Ryan Goins?
There are better options.
Jake Elmore has struggled to grab a full-time major league gig as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays, and Milwaukee Brewers. Elmore has experience at every infield position, including one game at catcher, and 29 games in LF. He has proven himself to be a very good Triple-A player with a .300+ batting average and more walks than strikeouts in over 360 games. Unfortunately, he’s not been able to make the transition to the major leagues.
Looking at Elmore stats makes me think he would be a better option than Goins. His OBP and K% are better than Goins; however, Goins is better with the glove. Neither utility infielder offers much in the speed department.
My next opinion is Jon Berti. The super-utility Berti has played 6 seasons as a member of the Blue Jays farm system. He has earned a pair of Minor League MVP awards with Dunedin and New Hampshire. Berti can play 2nd, 3rd, LF, CF and could fill in at short in a pinch.
Berti puts the bat on the ball with solid BB/K numbers throughout his career. Jon Berti offers something that Goins, Elmore, Diaz, and even Darwin Barney can’t…..speed. The 5-foot-10 Berti swiped 212 bases with 56, 40, 23, and 36 the past 4 seasons. Berti’s speed would add another dimension to the Blue Jays bench, a dimension that’s been missing for far too long.
Jon Berti has seen his progress stall in Double-A, playing just 47 games at Triple-A the past two seasons. It looked like he might get a chance in Triple-A last season but was limited to just 86 games overcoming concussion symptoms. Berti’s limited time above Double-A and zero time at the major league level is a concern; however, his speed, his ability to play the outfield and his superior BB/K rate make him a better option for Toronto’s bench than Ryan Goins.
This spring Jon Berti has 28 at-bats, hitting .286 with 3 doubles, 4 BB, 5K and 2 SB while Ryan Goins has 32 at-bats, hitting .188 with a double, 2 triples, 2 BB, 2K and zero SB.
Maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe it time for Toronto to take a chance on Jon Berti and stop playing it safe.
Who do think will back up Darwin Barney?
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: C Stem- JFtC
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