The Triple-A Buffalo Bisons will feature a pair of the Blue Jays top prospects. Will it be enough to post a winning record in 2019?
The Buffalo Bisons joined the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2013, ending a 4-year marriage with the New York Mets. Toronto promised the Bisons franchise a competitive team to help increase Buffalo’s sagging numbers at the gate. The Herd saw their record improve from 67-76 in 2012 (6th place) to 74-70 in 2013 (3rd place). The Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate would finish 3rd in 2014 and 2015 for three straight 3rd place finishes.
So far so good, right?
Unfortunately, Buffalo record below .500 the past four seasons, seeing their win total dip from 68 in 2015 down to 61 in 2018 (6th place). Despite the recent losing record, the Herd and the Blue Jays appear happy together. The two franchises agreed on their second two-year extension which takes their partnership to end of the 2020 season.
The good news for the Buffalo Bisons is that the Toronto Blue Jays farm system, specifically the upper minors, has some extremely fascinating prospects and the system as hold is considered strong. The Bisons’ faithful got a taste of the hype surrounding Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who joined the club for a few weeks in 2018. This influx of premium prospects won’t stop with Vladdy as the club is set to welcome two more.
Some More History
The last time the Buffalo Bisons made the playoffs they were Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate back in 2005, winning the Divison title with a 1st place finish. They won a league title the previous year in 2004. If you are counting that marks 13 seasons without a playoff berth.
The Bisons’ Opening Day roster was announced on April 1st. It looks good. The Herd faithful will get to watch Vladdy for a few weeks while he recovers from an oblique strain. They will welcome back top prospects Anthony Alford and Reese McGuire. Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio move up a level after taking home the Eastern League Championship in 2018 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
The Bisons welcome Andy Burns back, after spending two seasons in the KBO (Korea). He last wore a Bisons uniform in 2016, batting .230 with 8 HR, 38 RBI, 25 doubles, and the ability to play multiple positions. He owns a .263/.320/.363 slash in 237 games with the Bisons.
The Bisons’ 2017 MVP, speedy outfielder Roemon Fields, returns for his third tour in Buffalo. He will look to improve on his base stealing in 2019 after swiping a disappointing 25 for 41 in 2018. That marks the first season which Fields failed to steal more than 40 bases. He will also look to improve on his .238 batting average while providing Bobby Meacham a premium outfielder who can play all three positions. The outfield will be rounded out by Jordan Patterson (26HR in AAA in ’17 and ’18) and Andrew Guillotte. Once healthy, Jonathan Davis will join the team and Dalton Pompey will likely see some rehab time before????? whatever the future holds for him.
The rotation may take some time to develop. Currently, the Herd will have Jacob Waguespack taking the bump in the season Opener. But with Clayton Richard and Ryan Borucki on the IL in Toronto, and Clay Buchholtz still getting ready, the Bisons may need to get creative to fill the void left by Trent Thornton, Thomas Pannone, and maybe Sean Reid-Foley (if not returned by then) to start the season. The rotation is likely to consist of Jordan Romano, Shawn Morimando, David Paulino, and a fifth (SRF or Conor Fisk). April tends to be filled with weather-related postponements so it is unlikely the Bisons will need a full 5-man rotation until May.
The talent is there to compete for a Division title but there are questions which will need to be answered as the season progresses.
How will Biggio and Bichette handle Triple-A?
Can Anthony Alford stay healthy and take the next step?
How active with the Blue Jays Front Office be at this year’s Trade Deadline?
and many more.
Much of Buffalo’s success will be determined by the health and success of Toronto. We have already seen how two or three injuries messed with the Herd’s rotation. Playoffs. Division Title. League Title. It doesn’t really matter. The 2019 Buffalo Bisons will be fun to watch.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of JFtC Wade Black
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