The clock is ticking down on the Minor League season, leaving only a few weeks for the Blue Jays’ top prospects to finish writing the stories of their 2023 seasons.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for many of MLB Pipeline's top 30, with injuries or slow starts turning into late-season surges. There’s so much on the line in 2024 and beyond, particularly for the more advanced prospects in Double-A and Triple-A, and all of this will impact how the Blue Jays approach the offseason.
These five questions remain:
How has Ricky Tiedemann set himself up for 2024?
Tiedemann’s season was derailed by a biceps injury in early May, but the Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect has built himself back up and is coming off one of his best outings. On Aug. 29, Tiedemann pitched 3 2/3 innings in Double-A New Hampshire (1 ER) and recorded all 11 outs via strikeout.
With just 30 1/3 innings in 2023, though, workload is a major factor here. That’s why Tiedemann could be a candidate to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, setting him up for a big spring in ‘24. As Toronto’s rotation is currently set up, it might be lofty to expect Tiedemann to compete for the No. 5 job out of camp, but he can put himself in position to be the next man up from Triple-A.
This season hasn’t gone as planned, but Tiedemann’s potential remains ridiculous.
Who is genuinely competing for a roster spot next spring, and where?
Second and third base work as the best examples here. Schneider has already done his part to cement himself as part of the Blue Jays’ plans, but would it make sense for the Blue Jays to bring in a veteran infielder to compete with Barger and Martinez? Barger’s arm is better suited for third base and Martinez has played plenty of second this season.
Does Horwitz’s success and MLB-ready profile make him the natural replacement for Brandon Belt? If you bet on prospects, you’ll miss sometimes, but the ones that hit can be so valuable when it comes to roster construction. Next spring already looks very interesting.
What’s left of Yosver Zulueta’s upside?
Zulueta was assigned to the Florida Coast League on Aug. 15 to work on things and just returned to the Triple-A Bisons. That’s not a positive sign for the prospect who has fallen to No. 10 on our list and could keep falling.
The hard-throwing Cuban has a 4.47 ERA this season in Buffalo, but has walked 41 batters in 52 1/3 innings and has been working strictly as a reliever. If you’re going to be a reliever as a prospect, you’ll need to dominate. Zulueta hasn’t done that much, and the time for his results to match his upside has passed.
How soon can Alan Roden be a factor?
Roden skyrocketed up our rankings to No. 7 and is suddenly the top outfield prospect in the system. An on-base machine, Roden has posted a .433 OBP this season and is rolling in Double-A, putting him close enough to have a shot in 2024.
The likeliest path from here is that Roden opens next season with Triple-A Buffalo and has an opportunity to play his way onto the roster. Roden can handle the outfield defensively and is starting to show more power than expected, so his profile fits exactly what the Blue Jays are trying to do.
Is there any internal rotation depth for 2024?
There was … until Sem Robberse and Adam Kloffenstein were traded to the Cardinals for Jordan Hicks.
Tiedemann could represent that next level of rotation depth right out of the gates in 2024, but the Blue Jays need more. A year ago, Ross Stripling saved them from a thin depth group. This season, they’ve barely touched that group at all. This run of luck won’t last forever, though, and they’ll need to be prepared.
No. 14 prospect Chad Dallas could be in Triple-A to open next season, but beyond that, the Blue Jays would be looking at bulk relievers, such as Bowden Francis, to piece it together. This is a spot the Blue Jays will need to address over the winter.