The Toronto Blue Jays have released the Buffalo Bisons Opening Day roster, and I must say that I am pretty excited.
Let’s get right to it.
With veterans Roberto Hernandez opting out of his contract and Brad Penny retiring, the Buffalo went from being very old to only slightly old. The average age of the Bisons five starters on Opening Day will be 26.2 yr-old. At 31-yrs-old, Wade (don’t call me Matt) LeBlanc is the grey beard of the bunch and Drew Hutchison is the baby of the bunch starting the season at 25-yrs-old.
None of Buffalo’s starters are overpowering pitchers, choosing to pitch to contact rather than strike out 10 a game. The defense behind them will be tested often and should be up the task.
RHP Drew Hutchison
After a disappointing 2015 campaign Hutch will begin the year in Triple-A anchoring the staff. Hutch had a good spring, but Toronto has more starting pitching depth this year than in years past. Look for Hutch to have good year and get himself back to the majors in 2017.
RHP Scott Copeland
The 28-yr-old Copeland returns to Buffalo after dominating the International League in 2015, which led to his major league debut in May. Scott is a groundball machine and knows how to pitch. With the aforementioned pitching depth, Copeland will be hard pressed to see Toronto in 2016.
LHP Scott Diamond
The 29-yr-old from Guelph comes to the Herd from Durham where he posted an 11-6 record and 3.71ERA in 28 games (25 starts). Scott Copeland and Scott Diamond are similar pitchers in that they both give up a lot of hits and walk few, which allows them to post solid WHIP’s. Diamond hasn’t tasted the majors since 2013, and will likely not taste it again in 2016.
LHP Wade LeBlanc
Wade will led all starters in strike outs, if he stays healthy and with in the rotation. He struck out 119 in 128IP with the Salt Lake Bees in the Pacific Coast League in 2014. Wade spent last year in Japan.
RHP Chadwich Jenkins
The 28-yr-old former 1st round pick was removed from the 40-man roster which means it’s unlikely that he will spending much time driving the QEW in 2016. Chad Jenkins appears the logical choice to occupy the 5th spot in the rotation and will likely be the first guy bounded to the bullpen when promotions start.
RHP Bobby Korecky
It’s good to see Bobby Korecky return for another season with the Herd, although he will start the year on the 7-day DL. The 36-yr-old Korecky has saved 29 games for the Herd since 2013 and should get a few opportunities this year as Buffalo’s setup man.
RHP David Aardsma
The 35-yr-old Aardsma brings 69 big leagues saves and 73 minor league saves to the Herd’s bullpen, as he’s stands to assume the closer role. He was 15-for-15 in save opportunities in 2015 in Oklahoma, but was 0-for-3 in 33 games with the Atlanta Braves.
RHP Dustin Antolin
I’ve praised the efforts of the 26-yr-old Hawaiian since arriving in New Hampshire in 2013….well maybe not 2013 exactly. Dustin is entering his 9th season in the Blue Jays organization and has a 27-26 record with a 4.48ERA. The 6’2″ right-hander has strike out 9.5/9IP and walked 4.2/9IP in 3 season at Double-A. He walked 2.9/9IP in 2015 and held opponents to a .276BA.
LHP Chad Girodo
The 25-yr-old 9th round pick of the 2013 draft stands a good chance of being the Blue Jays LOOGEY in in 2017. Chad started 2015 with the D-Jays in the FSL where he held LHB to a .038BA in 8.2IP. In his next stop with the Fisher Cats he continued his dominance against LHB with .098BA in 13IP, which led to a Triple-A promotion. He didn’t fair well in his 4 innings with Buffalo, but don’t expect the same results in 2016. After a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, Girodo has a chance at earning a spot on Toronto’s 40-man roster in 2016.
LHP Pat McCoy
The 27-yr-old lefty comes to the Bisons from Norfolk Tides, the Detroit Tigers Triple-A affiliate, where posted a 2-3 record and 4.18ERA. He held LHB to a .219BA in 18.1IP while allowing RHB opponents to hit .321 in 33.1IP.
RHP Blake McFarland
The artistic McFarland made his Triple-A debut in 2015 posting a 3.38 ERA in 102IP, striking out 10 batters. Blake could get some save opportunities with the Bisons after registering 40 saves in 52 opportunities over his 5 year career. The 6’5″ 28-yr-old improved his control in 2015 walking 1.6 batters per 9IP while maintaining his high K rate (11.2K/9IP). He will start the year on the 7-day DL.
RHP Ben Rowen
All you need to know about Rowen is he is hard to hit. The submarine pitcher posted a 4-1 record with an ERA of 1.95 while playing on 3 Triple-A and a Double-A team in 2015.
RHP Ryan Tepera
The 28-yr-old Tepera was a last minute addition to the Bison bullpen after the Blue Jays signed veteran LHP Franklin Morales, falling victim to the numbers game. Tepera posted a 10-4 record with a 2.76ERA in 2 seasons with Buffalo.
SHP Pat Venditte
Not just a sideshow, Venditte can pitch. He posted a 2-2 record with a 4.40ERA in 26 games with the Oakland A’s and 1-0 with 1.55ERA for the Nashville Sounds.
I really really hope that A.J. Jimenez clears waivers, but it’s unlikely so the Bisons will have veteran Humberto Quintero (36-yr-old) and 27-yr-old Tony Sanchez. Tony looks to earn the lions share of the playing time. Sanchez can handle the bat with a solid BB/K ratio of 0.69 with Pittsburg’s Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.
Casey Kotchman and Matt Dominguez will give Manager Gary Allenson a veteran presence and superior defense. Casey has played in 939 major league games while the 26-yr-old Dominguez has 357 games in the bigs.
Jesus Montero will see some time at 1st, but will be the Herd’s everyday DH. The 26-yr-old hit .355 with 18 bombs in Tacoma for the Rainiers. I’m excited to watch Montero.
Andy Burns returns to Buffalo after hitting .293 with 26 doubles and 4 home runs in 2015. Burns will be taking over the keystone and could see time at the 6 (not Drake’s 6). Burns will also fill in at 3rd and SS.
Jio Mier joins the Herd from the Houston Astros organization where he hit .239 with 35 home runs in 680 games over 7 minor league seasons. He should hit more than Jonathan Diaz but his glove is not as good.
I’m very very excited to watch this group of outfielders, as they have a chance to hit a bunch of home runs and provide some excitement.
Domonic Brown will head to Buffalo with a lot to prove. At 28-yrs-old and plus power potential, Brown is a low risk high reward signing. He’s struggled to stay healthy and his power has suffered. Could 2016 be the year his health and power returns?
Junior Lake, like Brown, is a low risk high reward pick up. Lake has speed on the bases, good defense, and the chance to hit for power. The former Chicago Cub needs to walk more if he hopes to return the majors.
Dalton Pompey will be the Bisons everyday CF and should be the first outfielder called up in case of an injury. The 23-yr-old has a chance to be a special player who could one day be a 20-20 guy in the majors. Pompey will be backed up by Darrell Ceciliani.
Opening Day is on April 7th against the Pawtucket Paw Sox.
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