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-)