The Blue Jays couldn’t find room for standout lefty Travis Bergen, Markham’s Jordan Romano, and triple-digit Jackson McClelland on the 40-man roster
The deadline for major league clubs to finalize their 40-man roster leading up to next month’s Rule 5 Draft has finally come and gone. Across the Major Leagues, fans are left questioning their team’s selections. Why protect player-x and not player-z? Why is player-x still on the 40-man? The Toronto Blue Jays are not excluded from its fans scrutiny.
By now I am sure you’ve read/heard Toronto added five pitchers: Trent Thornton, Jacob Waguespack, Hector Perez, Patrick Murphy, and Yennsy Diaz.
Most fans are surprised that Waguespack (Jeff’s article) was included, even Yennsy Diaz was a bit of a surprise. Ross Atkins mentioned Waguespack a couple times this offseason, so we should’ve expected that move. On top of Atkins’ comments, Waguespack has Triple-A experience which makes him more attractive to teams as they look to add pitching depth at the Rule 5 Draft.
The problem I have with the Waguespack ‘Add’ is how badly I whiffed with my prediction (see my predictions). I joke. Seriously though, my issue with the addition with Waguespack is not with the individual, rather, it’s within the numbers. The Blue Jays have 13 starting pitchers on the roster, that’s including Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Ryan Borucki who are a lock for the rotation.
Granted, David Paulino development is leaning more towards the bullpen than the rotation. Many feel the same way about Hector Perez. Julian Merryweather could also be a bullpen candidate depending on how he recovers from Tommy John. That is still 10 starters competing for 2 spots and we can all agree a veteran free agent starter is expected to signed before prior to Opening Day; therefore, we can conclude 10 pitchers will be competing for one rotation spot. #Depth
Yennsy Diaz just finished 3/4 of a season at Advanced-A with the Dunedin Blue Jays. While he possesses an above average fastball, his secondary offerings are still developing. I’m sure the Front Office was worried other teams would view Diaz as a bullpen stash for 2019 with visions of having him compete for a rotation spot in 2020. Or maybe, teams view Diaz as a longterm solution as a bullpen piece.
The loss of Yennsy would suck; however, his chances of being selected next month, given that he has zero AA or AAA experience, are much lower than Travis Bergen, Jackson McClelland, and Jordan Romano who are more developed and/or already in the bullpen (not Romano).
No Room For….
In the prediction piece linked above, I had Bergen in the Add section with McClelland and Romano in the 50/50 section.
Travis Bergen is a lefty reliever. You have to protect your lefties (see my recent article on the lefty situation in the Blue Jays system). The 25-yr-old out of McDonough, GA was lights out in 2018. In 27 games with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Bergen struck out 10.85/9IP and walked just 2.27/9IP. He stranded 85.2% and finished with a 2.66 FIP while converting 7 saves. Oh ya, he is a left-handed reliever.
Jackson McClelland, in my opinion, has a great chance of being scooped up than Diaz. McClelland is an imposing figure on the mound (6’5″, 220) with a triple-digit fastball. The 24-yr-old had a few hiccups last season but the stuff is there. It is possible other teams will focus primarily on his heater with visions of a power reliever they can develop at the backend of their bullpen. I’m hoping that McClelland’s limited AA experience (6.1IP) will be enough to detour clubs. I’d gamble.
Jordan Romano. Another 50/50 guy. Romano spent the entire year at AA (one start at AAA). He was lights out in April and May (8-0, 1.99 ERA) and July (2-0, 1.04 ERA) which would be enough for a club looking for starting pitching to grab him. However, Romano struggled mightily in June (0-4, 7.52 ERA) and August (1-4, 7.27 ERA) which might be enough for teams to look elsewhere for a starter. While Romano is being developed as a starter, many scouts still feel he will end up in the bullpen. Romano could provide teams with Joe Biagini type value if selected.
Life is good.
This conversation is happening because the Blue Jays farm system is healthy. Let’s consider this health when/if the Blue Jays loss any prospect next month. This health will allow the farm to fill the void left by the departing prospect.
If any of the prospects left unprotected are selected, instead of being upset, remember they will 100% be fulfilling their dream of playing the in Major Leagues in 2019.
In hindsight, I would’ve cut bait on Mark Leiter Jr., Sam Gavigilo, Dalton Pompey, and Yangervis Solarte or rolling the dice by outrighting Danny Barnes, Richard Urena, Dwight Smith Jr., and/or Jonathan Davis to clear more spots.
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.