Your Newest Blue Jay

Tuesday, December 17 2002 @ 09:39 AM EST

Contributed by: Jordan

For those interested in learning more about the guy acquired for Felipe Lopez, here's an interesting little article from MLB's Website. Arnold comes across as intelligent, collected and focused, three of my favourite traits in a major-league pitcher. Seems like a pretty good guy, too.

He's also clearly happy to be in Toronto, and why not? A year ago this time, he was looking at Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and David Wells blocking his path to the majors. Four months ago, it was Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Today it's Mark Hendrickson and Justin Miller, and you can understand Arnold's enthusiasm. There's also a certain degree of buzz that Arnold is closer to the majors than you might expect of a guy with 13 AA starts under his belt -- a lot closer.

Ricciardi apparently plans to start him at AAA this year -- assuming he doesn't try to overdo it at spring training and flame out -- and then, if all goes well, to bring him to the majors before year's end. That's entirely speculative, so don't go drafting this guy in roto leagues next March on my say-so. But he's clearly a polished prospect, and he's mature enough that the bigs shouldn't freak him out. Of course, there's no need to rush him, since it's not like the Jays will be contending next year, and he should develop at his own pace. But I'm starting to think his pace may be quicker than many of us thought.

There are really only three must-watch players in Toronto's system next year: Russ Adams, Gabe Gross and Jason Arnold. If JP's plan unfolds as hoped, these guys will be the keys to the Blue Jays' first seriously contending team, no later than 2005.