2006 Dunedin Blue Jays Preview

Sunday, April 02 2006 @ 09:00 PM EDT

Contributed by: Jonny German

The Dunedin Blue Jays are Toronto’s affiliate in the High-A Florida State League. They kick off their 2006 season on Thursday the same way they closed out the 2005 regular season; with a game against the Clearwater Threshers.

The rotation will be led by 2006 first round pick Ricky Romero. The Jays selected Romero #6 overall in last June’s draft, and he made 3 starts for Dunedin after a cameo at short season Auburn. Along with the nice signing bonus, being drafted as high as Ricky was comes with weighty expectations. Among them, he’ll be expected to earn a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire by mid-season.

Following the lefty Romero will be righties Robert Ray, Orlando Trias, and Jesse Litsch, as well as portsider Eric Fowler. Ray (62 IP, 2.77 ERA), Trias (81, 3.89), and Fowler (57, 3.02) were stalwarts of the short-season Auburn Doubleday rotation in 2005. Litsch was the undisputed ace of the rookie level Pulaski Blue Jays, posting a 2.74 ERA in 66 innings before a successful 10-inning stint with Auburn. The Blue Jay bullpen will be led by veterans Justin James, Danny Core, and Milton Tavarez.

The outfield is headlined by Ryan Patterson, the 2005 4th-rounder out of LSU who tore up the New York – Penn league to the tune of .339/.386/.595 in 274 at-bats. Patterson turns 23 on May 2, so a promotion to AA before the season is out will be a requirement for him to make it into Blue Jay top prospect lists next winter.

Covering the outfield corners will be Dustin Majewski, obtained from Oakland in the trade that sent Chad Gaudin west this winter, and second-year D-Jay Eric Nielsen. Aaron Mathews is also back for another tour of Dunedin, and he’ll back up at all three outfield positions.

The infield features Robinzon Diaz again handling the bulk of the catching duties for Dunedin. Chances are good that he’ll be moved up to New Hampshire mid-season, in conjunction with Curtis Thigpen moving on to Syracuse. He’ll be capably backed up by David Corrente. The corners will likely be manned by veterans Christian Snavely and Josh Kreuzer, while different combinations of Ryan Klosterman, Jason Armstrong, and Juan Peralta will form the double-play combo.

In-season, look for the Blue Jay roster to be bolstered by promotions from Lansing including lefty Chi-Hung Cheng, righty Paul Phillips, first baseman Joey Metropoulos, and outfielders Brian Pettway and Cory Patton.

Here’s a breakdown of the opening day roster. Ages are as of July 1, 2006.

Pitchers	Age	Acquired	2005 team
Danny Core	24	7th round '03	Dunedin (A+)
C. Falkenbach	24	43rd round '05	Lansing (A)
Eric Fowler	23	5th round '05	Auburn (A-)
TJ Gornati	23	Minor FA '06	Azl Giants (R )
Daryl Harang	23	23rd round '04	Lansing (A)
Justin James	24	5th round '03	Dunedin (A+)
Jesse Litsch	21	24th round '04	Pulaski (R )
Brad Mumma	25	32nd round '03	New Hamp (AA)
Robert Ray	22	7th round '05	Auburn (A-)
Ricky Romero	21	1st round '05	Dunedin (A+)
Milton Tavarez	24	Rule 5 '04	Dunedin (A+)
Orlando Trias	22	Amateur FA '02	Auburn (A-)
Brian Wolfe	25	Trade Mil '06	Hunstville (AA)
Catchers	Age	Acquired	2005 team
David Corrente	22	4th round '01	Lansing (A)
Robinzon Diaz	22	Amateur FA '00	Dunedin (A+)
Infielders	Age	Acquired	2005 team
Jason Armstrong	24	25th round '04	Lansing (A)
S. Dragicevich	26	36th round '02	Dunedin (A+)
Ryan Klosterman	24	5th round '04	Lansing (A)
Josh Kreuzer	23	Minor FA '06	Bakersfield (A+)
Juan Peralta	23	Amateur FA '00	Lansing (A)
Chris Snavely	24	6th round '03	Lansing (A)
Outfielders	Age	Acquired	2005 team
Dustin Majewski	24	Trade Oak '05	Stockton (A+)
Aaron Mathews	24	19th round '04	Lansing (A)
Eric Nielsen	24	12th round '04	Lansing (A)
Ryan Patterson	23	4th round '05	Auburn (A-)