Minor Leagues 2023, What I Will be Looking At

Thursday, March 23 2023 @ 07:37 AM EDT

Contributed by: Gerry

The minor league season starts next week, in Buffalo. The other teams wait a week. We will all be looking at who hits the ground running in 2023. Who pitches or hits well in April. But there are some other things that I will be looking at.

Addison Barger

There has been some talk in spring training about turning Barger into a more positionally flexible player. Last year he split his time in the field pretty evenly between shortstop and third base. Scouts opinion is that Barger will not be a major league quality shortstop. That suggests he is likely to be a third baseman in the major leagues. For 2023 the Jays are set at shortstop and third base so if Barger was to play well enough to earn a call up, where would he play? In 2024, assuming Chapman leaves, Barger and Orelvis Martinez could be in line to take his place.

So where will Barger play in Buffalo? Will they continue to give him reps at short? Will he get chances to play the outfield? Or will it just be third base?

Ricky Tiedemann

Tiedemann threw 78 innings last season, although he was in the pitching lab for a while where he would have added to that total. Lets call it 90 innings. I don't know what Tiedemann's limit will be this year, although the Jays would tell you its not just innings based, they have a workload metric. But for this discussion lets call it 120 innings. Tiedemann has already had some soreness in spring. So how will the Jays handle Tiedemann's workload/innings in 2023?

The Jays hope to be in a playoff position come August or September and they probably would like to have Tiedemann as an option for at least some bullpen innings at the end of the season. So how will they manage his innings to get him there? In 2022 he had a lot of three inning starts. They could easily to go four inning starts in 2023 which would put him in line for a 120 inning season, but will they go beyond that? Will they have Tiedemann start and go say five innings in the first half, and then put him in the bullpen for the second half? The Jays will have a master plan, we will have to see what it is.

Nate Pearson

Similar to Tiedemann, Pearson has workload issues. With his injuries over the last few years Pearson has not thrown many innings. Will the Jays just put him in the Buffalo bullpen and give him 50 to 70 innings and hope he can pitch his way onto the big team? I assume starting is off the menu for now, even in Buffalo.

Orelvis Martinez

We all know this one. Will Orelvis walk more? Will he look for better pitches to hit?

Zach Britton

Britton hit well in the AFL, although that has a low predictive value. But did you know he did not catch in the AFL? All his games were in the outfield. In Vancouver and New Hampshire last season he also split time between catching and the outfield. If a player is expected to be a major league catcher you would expect to see him behind the plate at all times. This suggests that the Jays do not think Britton will be a major league catcher. I will be looking to see where he plays in the field this season.

Hagen Danner

Hagen Danner has 39 innings of pro pitching in his career. Danner missed most of 2022 due to injury and has had some injury issues already in the spring. He just needs to be healthy. I will be watching to see how much time he spends available to pitch.

2022 College Draftees

The Jays drafted eight college players in the first ten picks of the 2022 draft. Brandon Barriera and Tucker Toman were the exceptions. Five of the eight college picks were hitters and they were generally players with a good hit tool. They helped Dunedin get to the playoffs last season. So where will they start 2023? They had two to three months experience in Dunedin. Have they shown enough to be assigned to Vancouver or do they need more time? Will the "draft the hit tool" approach pay off for the Jays when those guys see the better pitching in the Northwest League?

International signings

In coming up with the Jays 2022 top prospects it was noted that several international signings did not have good seasons in 2022. Keith Law has suggested that the reduction in minor league levels has hurt those players more than others. So I will be looking at Manuel Beltre, Victor Mesia, Rikelbin De Castro, Estiven Machado, Luis Meza and the newer promotions from the DSL to see if they can reestablish their prospect credentials.

Bowden Francis

Bowden Francis moved to the bullpen in the second half of 2022. It seemed like his chance to be a major league regular had faded. But then he went to the Puerto Rico winter league and pitched really well as a starter. Now the Puerto Rico league is not a high standard. So it will be interesting to see if he starts in Buffalo or if he is back in the bullpen and if his performance levels have been raised up.

Is there anything else, not performance linked, that you will be looking at?