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Young Blue Jays pitchers see opportunity ahead

Recently added hurlers participate in Player Development Program; Pearson progressing in recovery
Special to MLB.com

TORONTO -- As the Blue Jays transitioned into their ongoing rebuild, general manager Ross Atkins made it clear that young and controllable pitching would need to be a cornerstone of the club's next phase.

Looking around the locker room at the Blue Jays' Prospect Development Program in Toronto on Friday, it's clear that Atkins followed through. Five young pitchers in attendance had been added to the organization since July, and all five have already pitched in Double-A or higher.

TORONTO -- As the Blue Jays transitioned into their ongoing rebuild, general manager Ross Atkins made it clear that young and controllable pitching would need to be a cornerstone of the club's next phase.

Looking around the locker room at the Blue Jays' Prospect Development Program in Toronto on Friday, it's clear that Atkins followed through. Five young pitchers in attendance had been added to the organization since July, and all five have already pitched in Double-A or higher.

Julian Merryweather, Hector Perez, Andrew Sopko, Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack suddenly have an opportunity in front of them. They've also got some high expectations.

When you're the trade return for franchise icon Josh Donaldson, all eyes are on you.

"It's MVP or bust this year," Merryweather said, laughing. "That's kind of the motto I'm going with this year. It's obviously big shoes to fill, but I'm just happy to be in the room with these guys here and be part of the future."

Sopko finds himself in a similar situation, coming over from the Dodgers for fan favorite Russell Martin.

To these young pitchers, Toronto could represent a quicker path to the Majors. The recent additions of Clayton Richard and Matt Shoemaker should help to solidify the back end of Toronto's rotation, but plenty more arms will be needed both in 2019 and beyond.

"It's just extra motivation for us," Sopko said. "Obviously, the ultimate goal is to be right here. The fact that there's opportunity, it gives you motivation."

Waguespack, the towering right-hander who came over from Philadelphia for Aaron Loup, is another name that Atkins brings up often when discussing rotation depth.

Instead of bringing in veteran arms to steady their rotations in the upper Minors, the Blue Jays may be able to survive on prospects alone. That's a new reality for the club, but one that was consciously chased.

"There is a good opportunity here," Waguespack said. "Obviously we have a lot of young guys here, or we will in the clubhouse, but it's just about going out and competing."

Pearson expecting workload limit
Toronto's top pitching prospect, Nate Pearson, missed nearly all of 2018 after a comeback liner broke his arm in May. The hard-throwing righty is back to full health and threw 20 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League, but still needs to be monitored in 2019.

"They're going to have an inning limit on me," Pearson said. "I'm not sure what it is and we haven't decided what it is, but there will be some sort of limit on me because I haven't built up to throw 150 innings yet."

Video: EAST@WEST: Pearson flashes 101 mph+ with regularity

Jackson thinking north-south
Relief prospect Zach Jackson racks up strikeouts and owns one of the organization's best curveballs, but walks have been a serious issue, as he allowed 51 over 62 innings in 2018. If he can find the zone more consistently, his fastball and curveball combination could really play up.

"We started looking a lot on the analytical side, being able to attack the top of the zone," Jackson said. "Especially the trend in baseball with high fastballs and curveballs, it really plays in my favour."

Keegan Matheson is a contributor to MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays, Julian Merryweather, Hector Perez, Andrew Sopko, Trent Thornton, Jacob Waguespack

Vlad Jr. not shying away from leadership role

'I'm excited to see all of the young talent coming up together,' he says
Special to MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays gathered their brightest young stars in Toronto this week for their annual Development Program, which the organization believes will advance the talent and leadership of its highly anticipated top prospects.

In what Blue Jays fans will hope is a sign of things to come, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stood in the middle of it all with a sparkling championship ring on his finger. Baseball's top prospect was one of several players in the room who starred on the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats' championship run in the Eastern League, and despite the endless accolades he's collecting as an individual player, the 19-year-old was eager to shift the focus.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays gathered their brightest young stars in Toronto this week for their annual Development Program, which the organization believes will advance the talent and leadership of its highly anticipated top prospects.

In what Blue Jays fans will hope is a sign of things to come, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stood in the middle of it all with a sparkling championship ring on his finger. Baseball's top prospect was one of several players in the room who starred on the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats' championship run in the Eastern League, and despite the endless accolades he's collecting as an individual player, the 19-year-old was eager to shift the focus.

MLB Pipeline: Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects

Guerrero is familiar with leading in offensive stat categories, but now, the prodigious power hitter is becoming more comfortable with being a leader off the field.

"I know this is a very talented team," Guerrero said through the club's mental performance coach and translator, Tanya Bialostozky. "I'm excited to see all of the young talent coming up together and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together."

Video: Atkins having fun watching Guerrero Jr., Bichette

With the stars of the Blue Jays' 2015 and '16 playoff runs nearly all departed and the club in a clear rebuilding phase, all eyes are on Guerrero. It's been that way since he first stepped onto a baseball diamond, but he's finally reached the point that Toronto has been waiting for.

The next time that Guerrero sets foot in that locker room, it will be for his home debut.

"I'm very happy and very excited because I've played with a lot of them, so I know them," Guerrero said. "We are focused on putting up good numbers, doing a good job, and as a team coming up together, being successful."

Guerrero's shadow was hard to escape in 2018, but infielder Cavan Biggio's 26 home runs and 99 RBIs certainly made some noise. Biggio and Guerrero share famous MLB bloodlines and are now pushing one another toward the Majors.

"Vladdy is a very special player," said Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. "His mix of power and contact, his makeup, he's going to be a good fit right here in this locker room. A lot of guys are going to get along with him. He's going to listen. He's going to be very mature and humble about it, and I think that's what combines everything for him."

Guerrero's leadership was brought up unprompted by several teammates. Players like Biggio and Toronto's top shortstop prospect, Bo Bichette, say that Guerrero can lead in different ways, too.

Sometimes, he's the joker, laughing along like any 19-year-old would. Earlier this week, a group of Blue Jays prospects and coaches went to a curling club in Toronto and gave one of Canada's favourite pastimes a try, which led to plenty of banter in the clubhouse.

Video: Bo Bichette discusses his goals for 2019, Vlad Jr.

Other times, especially when he's in the batter's box, Guerrero leads by example. He's humble, like Biggio says, but he also knows that pitchers are wary of starring in the next viral Vlad Jr. home run video.

"When I'm up there, I know that I have to be patient and pick the pitch that I want," Guerrero said. "When I step in, my mindset is that I'm the best guy in the world and that it's the other guy who has to try hard."

Keegan Matheson is a contributor to MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays

Around the Horn: Vlad Jr. highlights 2019 infield

After promotion, top prospect expected to take over third in talented Toronto diamond
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays lost one of the biggest names in all of baseball on Aug. 31 last year, when they traded away Josh Donaldson. But the good news is that his soon-to-be replacement might become an even bigger star.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. arguably is already considered Toronto's "Face of the Franchise" and he has yet to appear in a Major League game. That will change by late April, and once it does, the future will become the present for a rebuilding Blue Jays organization that features plenty of young talent.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays lost one of the biggest names in all of baseball on Aug. 31 last year, when they traded away Josh Donaldson. But the good news is that his soon-to-be replacement might become an even bigger star.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. arguably is already considered Toronto's "Face of the Franchise" and he has yet to appear in a Major League game. That will change by late April, and once it does, the future will become the present for a rebuilding Blue Jays organization that features plenty of young talent.

As MLB.com continues its annual Around the Horn series, it's time to take a closer look at the Blue Jays' infield, where one name in particular looms large above all the others.

Video: Montoyo excited by Guerrero Jr.'s potential

Third base: Guerrero
Guerrero will likely start the season at Triple-A Buffalo, but he won't be there for long. If Toronto waits approximately three weeks into the season before adding Guerrero to the active roster, it will gain an extra year of control as the Dominican native would not be eligible for free agency until at least after the 2025 season.

Prospects normally should be treated with caution, but Guerrero defies all of the game's norms. The question doesn't seem to be if he will become a successful Major Leaguer, but whether he will become one of the game's greats. Hype meets reality this April and Blue Jays fans should enjoy the ride.

Shortstop: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
One of the reasons the Blue Jays released Troy Tulowitzki in December was to clear the way for Gurriel. Bo Bichette still seems to be the shortstop of the future, but he is not expected to arrive until late 2019 at the earliest, which gives Gurriel an early crack at securing the long-term job.

Video: TB@TOR: Gurriel smashes 2 solo homers against Rays

Gurriel clearly has the arm to handle the position, but his footwork still needs to improve. The 25-year-old Cuban is a candidate to eventually shift to second or corner outfield, but for now he's a shortstop, and he will look to build on a strong rookie season, when he posted a .755 OPS over 249 at-bats.

Second base: Devon Travis
Travis should open the year as Toronto's starting second baseman, but he might not be long for the job. Brandon Drury likely will shift from third to second once Guerrero receives his long-awaited promotion, and what that means for Travis' future in the organization is anyone's guess. The 27-year-old had his first healthy season in 2018, but it coincided with a drop in production at the plate. Travis' offense is his biggest asset, but he'll need a strong Spring Training and early April to secure long-term at-bats.

Video: TOR@BAL: Travis smacks a home run to left field

First base: Justin Smoak
Smoak returns for another year after the Blue Jays decided to pick up his $8 million option for 2019. The 32-year-old wasn't quite able to replicate his breakout 2017 season, but he still led the Blue Jays with 25 home runs and 77 RBIs last season en route to being named the team's top player by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Video: TB@TOR: Smoak caps comeback with walk-off HR in 9th

Smoak, who is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season, will be a midseason trade candidate with prospect Rowdy Tellez waiting in the wings.

Utility: Richard Urena
Urena will compete against veteran Eric Sogard for the final spot on Toronto's bench. The 22-year-old Urena was once considered one of the organization's top prospects, but his stock has fallen after a pair of subpar years in Triple-A.

Video: HOU@TOR: Urena corrals a comebacker to get the out

However, Urena's performance in the Majors has been better than his performance in the Minors, and a utility role appears to be in his future. The only question is whether that begins on Opening Day or whether the club would prefer Sogard's veteran influence. There won't be room for both players on the roster unless one of the other infielders goes down with an injury.

Infield: Drury
Drury might be the biggest wild card on this list. The 26-year-old has made it known that he wants to be a third baseman, but the Blue Jays can only offer him that job for a few weeks in early April before handing it over to Guerrero. That's why most people expect Drury to eventually become Toronto's everyday second baseman, but another alternative is using him all over the field in a super-utility role. Drury has played six positions during his career -- so he has the versatility required for a flexible role, but he also wants to find a permanent home.

Video: TOR@SEA: Drury pulls RBI double down the line in 9th

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Brandon Drury, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Justin Smoak, Devon Travis, Richard Urena

In surprise move, Blue Jays take teen in Rule 5

Blue Jays confident in 18-year-old, who has never pitched above Rookie level
MLB.com

LAS VEGAS -- The Blue Jays gained one prospect, but they lost two others as the annual Winter Meetings came to a close Thursday morning with an eventful Rule 5 Draft.

Toronto picked right-hander Elvis Luciano from the Royals with the 10th overall pick, despite the fact that he is 18 years old and has never pitched above Rookie ball. The Blue Jays also lost a pair of promising pitchers, as Jordan Romano went to the White Sox and Travis Bergen went to the Giants.

LAS VEGAS -- The Blue Jays gained one prospect, but they lost two others as the annual Winter Meetings came to a close Thursday morning with an eventful Rule 5 Draft.

Toronto picked right-hander Elvis Luciano from the Royals with the 10th overall pick, despite the fact that he is 18 years old and has never pitched above Rookie ball. The Blue Jays also lost a pair of promising pitchers, as Jordan Romano went to the White Sox and Travis Bergen went to the Giants.

The Blue Jays will pay the Royals $100,000 for Luciano, and he must remain on Toronto's 25-man roster for the entire 2019 season, or else he'll be offered back to Kansas City for $50,000. That might seem like a stretch for a guy who has never pitched a full professional season, but the Blue Jays have gone with a high-risk, high-reward approach.

"Elvis is an exciting young arm that we've done a lot of work on and feel that any time you can acquire someone who has the chance to be a Major League starting pitcher, or a significant chance to be that, based on our projections, based on our scout looks," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said.

"The work that we did on him, these types of attributes are hard to acquire. The age, there are pluses and minuses to that. The pluses are the upside, the very high ceiling. The minuses are the risk and the unknown in how little he has pitched."

Luciano was available in this year's draft because of an odd loophole. Atkins didn't get into many specifics, but he said that Luciano's contract was voided earlier in his career because of a health issue. The Blue Jays did not disclose what the issue was, but it made Luciano available a lot sooner than other Rule 5 candidates.

The issue here is that Luciano doesn't even turn 19 until after the start of Spring Training. If he cracks the Opening Day roster, he would become the youngest pitcher in franchise history. In most cases, there would be concern that rushing this type of pitcher to the big leagues would cause serious damage to his overall development, but the Blue Jays seem to think that he is up for the challenge.

When the Blue Jays announced the pick, there was some initial speculation that a side deal might be in the works to keep Luciano in Toronto's system without having to place him on the 25-man roster. That does not appear to be the case.

"We wouldn't have taken him if we didn't think he had the stuff to [pitch in the Majors right away]," Atkins said.

"The stuff projects very well objectively and subjectively, so it will be a good opportunity for him. Our hope is that he is facing Aaron Judge and facing some of the better hitters in the game, and what an incredible challenge that will be. And we'd love to see that happen."

Romano was ranked Toronto's No. 28 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He spent most of last season with Double-A New Hampshire, where the 25-year-old went 11-8 with a 4.13 ERA over 137 1/3 innings. Romano projects as a starter long term, but the White Sox will likely slot him into the bullpen as a possible long reliever, similar to what the Blue Jays did with Joe Biagini in 2016.

Bergen wasn't ranked on Toronto's list of top prospects, but he was certainly trending in that direction. The 25-year-old lefty split last season with Class A Advanced Dunedin and New Hampshire, and he allowed just 12 runs (six earned) over 56 2/3 innings. The product of Kennesaw State likely will compete for a job out of the Giants' bullpen as a lefty reliever, which is something the Blue Jays severely lack.

"Not surprised," Atkins said. "Jordan cleared last year through the Draft. I think with Travis Bergen, the year that he had, from a performance standpoint, both guys are exceptional teammates, exceptionally hardworking, and teams did a great job in scouting them.

"We do a lot of second-, third- and fourth-guessing before we get to today. We were aware of the risks not protecting and ultimately prepared for that."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays

Perez among 5 prospects added to Jays' 40-man

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays made their final preparations for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday night by adding five Minor League prospects to the 40-man roster.

Toronto selected the contracts of right-handers Hector Perez, Yennsy Diaz, Patrick Murphy, Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack. Right-handers Jordan Romano and Jackson McClelland, left-hander Travis Bergen and outfielder Forrest Wall were among the notable omissions.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays made their final preparations for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft on Tuesday night by adding five Minor League prospects to the 40-man roster.

Toronto selected the contracts of right-handers Hector Perez, Yennsy Diaz, Patrick Murphy, Trent Thornton and Jacob Waguespack. Right-handers Jordan Romano and Jackson McClelland, left-hander Travis Bergen and outfielder Forrest Wall were among the notable omissions.

Teams had until 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night to add Rule-5 eligible players to the 40-man roster, which was the only way to guarantee their safety before next month's Rule 5 Draft at the annual Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

Perez is the Blue Jays' No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and was a lock to be protected. Murphy's 2.64 ERA over 26 starts at Class A Advanced Dunedin made for an easy decision, while Thornton (No. 22) was essentially guaranteed a spot after he was acquired in Saturday's trade for infielder Aledmys Diaz.

Waguespack, who was acquired in July's trade of Aaron Loup, also made the final cut. At age 25, and with a full season under his belt at Triple-A, the Blue Jays clearly determined he was ready to contribute in the near term and could not be left exposed. Yennsy Diaz earned the other spot after going 10-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts) between Class A Advanced and low Class A.

Tuesday's deadline exposed the roster crunch the Blue Jays have been preparing for the last several months. Toronto used its remaining five spots on the 40-man roster and yet, some promising prospects had to be left exposed simply because there wasn't enough space.

The Rule 5 Draft includes players who have been in the Minors for at least four or five years, depending on when they signed. Teams pay $100,000 per pick, and the player must remain on the Major League roster for the entire season barring injury. If he doesn't, the prospect has to be offered back to the original club for $50,000.

Toronto's lack of space on the 40-man roster is a good problem to have, but it also comes with clear downfalls. Opposing teams likely will take a long look at Bergen, who was left exposed after posting a 0.95 ERA over 43 appearances in the Minors. The 25-year-old opened the year at Dunedin and later advanced to Double-A New Hampshire, where he struck out 43 over 35 2/3 innings.

Romano and catcher Max Pentecost were left off the Blue Jays' 40-man roster a year ago and experienced the same fate again on Tuesday. Pentecost, a former first-round pick, appeared in a career-high 89 games this year for New Hampshire, but also struggled at the plate with a .684 OPS. Romano posted a 4.13 ERA for New Hampshire and will be viewed as a reliever in the Rule 5 Draft.

Wall, Toronto's No. 24 prospect, was acquired in the deal for Seunghwan Oh. He has a lot of potential, and the Blue Jays don't want to lose him, but he's also still only 22 and has yet to complete a full season at Double-A. It's probably a stretch to think he will be ready for the Majors by the end of March.

Other Blue Jays prospects left exposed include right-handers Corey Copping (acquired in July for John Axford), Jon Harris (first-round pick in 2012) and McClelland (a 15th rounder in 2015), who has reached triple digits with his fastball out of the bullpen.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Hector Perez, Jacob Waguespack

Prospect Conine receives 50-game suspension

Son of former Major Leaguer violates Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Blue Jays prospect Griffin Conine has been hit with a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Major League Baseball announced on Monday afternoon that Conine tested positive for ritalinic acid, which is a banned stimulant under the drug prevention program. Conine will not receive any pay for the duration of his suspension.

TORONTO -- Blue Jays prospect Griffin Conine has been hit with a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Major League Baseball announced on Monday afternoon that Conine tested positive for ritalinic acid, which is a banned stimulant under the drug prevention program. Conine will not receive any pay for the duration of his suspension.

The Blue Jays selected Conine in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft. The son of former Major Leaguer Jeff Conine is ranked Toronto's No. 16 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and he has been considered one of the club's top power hitters in the Minor Leagues.

"Today it was announced that I tested positive for a banned stimulant in a test that was conducted during the 2018 season, and will be serving a 50-game suspension as a result," Conine wrote in a statement shared on social media. "I have spoken with the Toronto Blue Jays organization and my family, and I conveyed my utmost embarrassment for the careless decision that led to my suspension.

"I fully respect and support the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and I will not challenge the specific findings in my case. I will accept the consequences and do everything in my power to earn back the respect of the Blue Jays organization."

The 21-year-old outfielder appeared in 55 games for Class A Vancouver in 2018, and he slashed .238/.309/.427 with seven home runs, 14 doubles and two triples. Prior to that, Conine spent three years at Duke University, where he became the first Blue Devil since 2009 to hit 15 or more home runs.

"We are disappointed to learn of Griffin's suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Drug Prevention and Testing Program and believe it continues to help the game of baseball," Blue Jays director of player development Gil Kim wrote in a statement. "We've spoken to Griffin, and he understands the mistake he made. We are confident that he has learned from this experience. We will continue to support him in his development and work together to maximize his potential going forward."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays

Where does Blue Jays' infield stand after trade?

Toronto determining Vlad's readiness, Drury's status, Tulo's role
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' crowded infield received a little bit more clarity following Saturday's trade of Aledmys Diaz, but make no mistake about it, this group is still in a state of flux.

More changes should be expected in the weeks ahead as the Blue Jays figure out a role for Brandon Drury, contemplate Troy Tulowitzki's future and determine whether a former All-Star first baseman should be made available through trade.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' crowded infield received a little bit more clarity following Saturday's trade of Aledmys Diaz, but make no mistake about it, this group is still in a state of flux.

More changes should be expected in the weeks ahead as the Blue Jays figure out a role for Brandon Drury, contemplate Troy Tulowitzki's future and determine whether a former All-Star first baseman should be made available through trade.

General manager Ross Atkins began his offseason by flipping Diaz to the Astros for right-hander Trent Thornton. Even after the move, Toronto has infield depth to spare and could make a similar deal in the not-so-distant future. Here's a closer look at where things stand in the wake of Toronto's recent trade:

If the season started today
The Blue Jays would have a projected starting infield of Justin Smoak at first, Devon Travis at second, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. at short, Drury at third and Richard Urena in a backup infielder role. Prospects Rowdy Tellez, Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio would then offer the first line of defense for injuries as they continue their development in the Minor Leagues.

Video: TOR@BOS: Travis starts an inning-ending double play

The Vlad factor
The Blue Jays will gain an extra year of control if they leave top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the Minors until the end of April. At least publicly, Toronto has not ruled out the possibility that Guerrero will break camp with the team, but based on the financial ramifications, it's essentially a foregone conclusion that he will start the year at Triple-A Buffalo.

Guerrero's eventual arrival is where things get complicated. Toronto knows Drury wants to play third, but that starting job will belong to the top-ranked prospect in baseball. That means Drury will have to shift to second base or settle into a part-time utility role, with starts all over the field. Guerrero's arrival also would push one of the aforementioned infielders -- Travis or Urena -- off the roster.

What could change?
The crop of free-agent first basemen is pretty weak. Daniel Murphy is the headliner, and the group lacks depth with Logan Morrison, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Adams representing some of the reclamation projects. What does this have to do with the Blue Jays? Well, they just happen to have a reliable first baseman on an affordable $8 million expiring contract.

Video: Chisholm on Smoak's return, Solarte being odd-man out

Toronto isn't expected to deal Smoak this winter, but if approached with the right offer, the club has to listen. Tellez has spent the past two years at Buffalo, and a strong run as a September callup means the rebuilding Blue Jays have a ready-made replacement at first. A midseason deal still seems more likely, but one phone call could change all of that.

If the plan is for Drury to receive at-bats at second when Guerrero makes his debut, Travis becomes expendable. The Blue Jays could look to deal the 27-year-old, but it's worth noting that Travis has options remaining and the club could just as easily stash him at Buffalo. Yangervis Solarte has yet to be mentioned in this piece, and that's because he's expected to be non-tendered and won't factor into the club's plans for 2019.

What about Tulo?
Tulowitzki is the Blue Jays' highest-paid player, yet his future role is unknown. The 34-year-old hasn't appeared in a Major League uniform since July 28, 2017, thanks to a series of ankle and foot injuries, but all indications are he intends to make a comeback next spring.

Video: PHI@TOR: Tulowitzki ruled out for remainder of 2018

There's not much Toronto can do about the $38 million remaining on Tulowitzki's contract, but even finding a spot for him on the roster may prove challenging. In an ideal world, the Blue Jays would use this season to see whether Gurriel can handle everyday duties at shortstop or whether Bichette is a better long-term fit. The issue is that Tulowitzki has previously stated multiple times -- and as recently as late August -- that he won't switch positions.

All of this could lead to a standoff in Spring Training. If Tulowitzki isn't ready for Opening Day, Toronto can push the decision to a later date. But if he wants to play, the Blue Jays will have to decide whether they want to accommodate him at short, pay out the remainder of his contract or move him into another role and see if he really is prepared to walk away.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Brandon Drury, Troy Tulowitzki

Blue Jays swap Diaz to Astros for righty prospect

Thornton expected to compete for Toronto rotation spot
MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays added more depth to their pitching staff on Saturday morning by acquiring right-hander Trent Thornton in a deal with the Astros for shortstop Aledmys Diaz.

Thornton was ranked Houston's No. 24 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and he's coming off a season in which he went 9-8 with a 4.42 ERA at Triple-A Fresno. The 25-year-old typically hits 93-95 mph and tops out at around 97. His repertoire also includes a curveball and an improved slider.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays added more depth to their pitching staff on Saturday morning by acquiring right-hander Trent Thornton in a deal with the Astros for shortstop Aledmys Diaz.

Thornton was ranked Houston's No. 24 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and he's coming off a season in which he went 9-8 with a 4.42 ERA at Triple-A Fresno. The 25-year-old typically hits 93-95 mph and tops out at around 97. His repertoire also includes a curveball and an improved slider.

Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects list

The early expectation is that Thornton will have a chance to compete for one of the final two spots in Toronto's rotation. The Blue Jays need to plug a couple of starter holes, and they are expected to add more depth in the near future, but the current candidates include Sam Gaviglio, Thomas Pannone, Sean Reid-Foley, Julian Merryweather and now Thornton.

"Trent is someone that we've targeted for some time and are confident that his deep repertoire and strike-throwing ability allows him to be a factor for our Major League rotation in the near term," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins wrote in a text message to local reporters.

It should come as no surprise that Diaz was flipped to another team, because the Blue Jays had been openly talking about swapping an excess infielder or two for help on the mound. Toronto had too many infielders for too few spots, and a move was required to help alleviate the logjam.

Even after dealing Diaz, the Blue Jays still have Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Devon Travis, Brandon Drury, Richard Urena and the injured Troy Tulowitzki to consider for three infield spots. Add in prospects like Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, and Toronto has plenty of infield depth.

Video: Justice breaks down Blue Jays sending Diaz to Astros

Diaz was initially acquired last offseason in a deal with the Cardinals for Minor League oufielder J.B. Woodman. Diaz was expected to be a utility infielder for the Blue Jays, but long-term injuries to Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson changed all of that. Diaz essentially became an everyday player, and he responded with one of his best years at the plate.

The 28-year-old Diaz hit .263/.303/.453 with a career-high 18 home runs and 55 RBIs over 130 games. That helped re-establish his value following a 2017 season in which he posted a .682 OPS. Diaz remains under club control through the 2022 season, while Thornton has yet to make his Major League debut.

"He's got some versatility, got some power and can do a lot of things," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "It seems like it's an opportunity for us to improve our team. We're dipping into prospect depth, but one area we probably have some surplus, it's in the upper-level pitching area."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Aledmys Diaz

Blue Jays facing tough calls before Rule 5 Draft

MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have some difficult decisions to make in advance of Tuesday's deadline to protect players from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

Toronto has until Tuesday to add Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man roster, which is the only way to guarantee their safety on Dec. 13, the day of the Draft. With too many prospects for too few spots, the Blue Jays are at risk of losing someone for the first time since 2011.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have some difficult decisions to make in advance of Tuesday's deadline to protect players from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

Toronto has until Tuesday to add Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man roster, which is the only way to guarantee their safety on Dec. 13, the day of the Draft. With too many prospects for too few spots, the Blue Jays are at risk of losing someone for the first time since 2011.

The Rule 5 Draft involves players who have been in the Minors for at least four or five years, depending on when they signed. Teams pay $100,000 per pick and the player must remain on the Major League roster for the entire season. If he doesn't, the prospect is offered back to the original club for $50,000.

The Blue Jays currently have four spots available on the 40-man. Additional space could be created by parting ways with players such as Yangervis Solarte, Dalton Pompey or Mark Leiter Jr., but Toronto also needs room for free agents and trade targets. The roster crunch is a good problem to have, but it also creates a dilemma.

Here's a closer look at the Rule 5 candidates:

RHP Hector Perez: Perez is the Blue Jays' top-ranked prospect on this list, coming in at No. 11, according to MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old was a key part of the Roberto Osuna trade and it's pretty much a lock that he'll be added to the 40-man. Last season, Perez posted a 3.76 ERA with 133 strikeouts over 115 innings in the Minors. Command remains a concern, but he possesses an electric arm with upper-90s velocity, so he's probably not going anywhere.

RHP Patrick Murphy: The Blue Jays are looking to acquire young, controllable pitching -- not subtract -- so losing Murphy would sting. The 23-year-old took a big step forward last season by going 10-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 26 starts for Class A Advanced Dunedin. Toronto could leave Murphy exposed because of his inexperience above Class A, like it did with Jordan Romano a year ago, but odds are Murphy makes the 40-man roster.

LHP Travis Bergen: The 25-year-old put himself on the Blue Jays' radar in 2018 by posting a 0.95 ERA over 56 2/3 innings for Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. Bergen has yet to pitch in Triple-A, but there's always room for lefties, and if Bergen is exposed, there's a good chance he goes to another team. Toronto recently parted ways with Jose Fernandez, which could be one indication that it will protect Bergen.

RHP Jordan Romano: Romano was left exposed in 2017, but with no experience above Class A, he went unclaimed. Romano has since made 25 starts with New Hampshire, but a 4.13 ERA caused his stock to drop just a bit. It seems unlikely another team would take a chance on him as a starter, but he's the type of arm a lot of teams would consider stashing in their bullpen. At age 25, a jump to the big leagues is realistic, and leaving him exposed would be a risk.

RHP Jon Harris: Harris is a former first-rounder who is coming off a disappointing season for New Hampshire. In 25 starts, Harris went 12-5 but posted a 4.75 ERA while striking out just 6.5 batters per nine innings. His mid-90s velocity might play better out of the bullpen, and the pedigree alone will cause teams to give him a look.

RHP Jackson McClelland: McClelland is one of the most intriguing names on this list. Toronto's been taking an extended look at the 24-year-old in the Arizona Fall League and he remains a tantilizing arm with a fastball that hits triple digits. Command is still an issue, with 4.3 walks per nine innings in the Minors and nine walks over 12 innings in Arizona. McClelland is high-risk, high-reward, and the Rule 5 Draft allows teams to make cheap gambles.

OF Forrest Wall: MLB Pipeline ranked Wall the No. 24 prospect on Toronto's list. The 22-year-old was acquired in the Seunghwan Oh trade and he's coming off a season in which he posted a .746 OPS in the Minors. Wall needs more time, so he likely goes undrafted, but a team that lacks outfield depth might want to take a chance.

Worth mentioning: RHP Yennsy Diaz went 10-5 with a 3.05 ERA over 27 appearances this year in Class A. The talent is undeniable, but at age 22 it seems unlikely a team would take a chance on him this early ... RHP Jacob Waguespack was the return for Aaron Loup and with a full season at Triple-A under his belt he might be ready for the next step ... RHP Corey Copping was acquired for John Axford and posted a 2.39 ERA across two levels in 2018 ... C Max Pentecost appeared in a career-high 89 games for New Hampshire but he slashed just .253/.283/.401.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays

Vlad Jr., Pearson flash velocity in Fall Stars win

MLB.com

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A pair of Blue Jays top prospects created quite the buzz with the velocities they produced on the mound and at the plate for the West team in Saturday's Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. The West beat the East, 7-6, on a walk-off single from Royals prospect Meibrys Viloria.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A pair of Blue Jays top prospects created quite the buzz with the velocities they produced on the mound and at the plate for the West team in Saturday's Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. The West beat the East, 7-6, on a walk-off single from Royals prospect Meibrys Viloria.

:: 2018 Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game ::

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, posted the event's top exit velocity when he scorched a 117 mph double off the left-field wall in the fifth inning. For context, only 15 Major Leaguers have registered hits on balls hit 117+ mph since Statcast™ debuted in 2015.

The double was the lone hit in five trips to the plate for Guerrero, who also reached via a walk and an error. The 19-year-old phenom has been one of the Arizona Fall League's top hitters so far, as he entered the game with a .393 average through 15 games after slashing .381/.437/.636 and reaching Triple-A during the regular season.

Nate Pearson, meanwhile, showed elite velocity in his start for the West. Specifically, the Blue Jays' No. 4 prospect (No. 90 overall) touched 104 mph with a fastball that never registered below 101 mph as he struck out two in his lone inning.

Video: EAST@WEST: Pearson flashes 101 mph+ with regularity

"The highest I've ever hit before today was 102 mph," Pearson said. "I saw 104 mph and I was kind of skeptical if it was actually real, but everyone in the dugout was freaking out, so I guess it was pretty legit. I knew I was only going one inning, so I was just going to let it go …really try to throw as hard as I can and give the guys my best stuff."

Blue Jays No. 9 prospect Cavan Biggio also swung the bat well in the contest, hitting a 102 mph single to right field before adding a 97 mph lineout to shortstop later in the game.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Toronto Blue Jays

Stat projection already sees Vlad Jr. as elite

No. 1 prospect in baseball could be on verge of historic rookie season
MLB.com

We've all heard and read the superlatives when it comes to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. But the Blue Jays phenom and son of Hall of Fame outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is projected to not only thrive when he gets to the Majors in 2019, but also to be among the best players in the game.

FanGraphs Steamer projections for 2019 were released on Friday, ranking each player in the game according to several categories. The projections have Guerrero, who has yet to make his highly-anticipated MLB debut, as the 14th-best player in baseball based on Wins Above Replacement. The 19-year-old's projected 4.7 WAR puts him on par with elite players like the Yankees' Aaron Judge and the Rockies' Nolan Arenado, both perennial candidates for the Most Valuable Player Award in their respective leagues. It also ranks higher than players like Trea Turner, Josh Donaldson and Jose Altuve.

We've all heard and read the superlatives when it comes to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. But the Blue Jays phenom and son of Hall of Fame outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is projected to not only thrive when he gets to the Majors in 2019, but also to be among the best players in the game.

FanGraphs Steamer projections for 2019 were released on Friday, ranking each player in the game according to several categories. The projections have Guerrero, who has yet to make his highly-anticipated MLB debut, as the 14th-best player in baseball based on Wins Above Replacement. The 19-year-old's projected 4.7 WAR puts him on par with elite players like the Yankees' Aaron Judge and the Rockies' Nolan Arenado, both perennial candidates for the Most Valuable Player Award in their respective leagues. It also ranks higher than players like Trea Turner, Josh Donaldson and Jose Altuve.

The players ahead of Guerrero on the list are Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager, Jose Ramirez, Anthony Rendon, Alex Bregman, Christian Yelich, Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa. Talk about heady company for a player that has yet to play in a big league game.

Video: Guerrero Jr. goes 3-for-5 in Fall League debut

Guerrero is projected to hit .306/.368/.511 with 22 home runs in 138 games next season. He has surged through every level of the Minors, most recently at Triple-A Buffalo, where he slashed .336/.414/.564 with six homers in 30 games. That was following a midseason promotion from Double-A New Hampshire, where he posted a .402/.449/.671 slash line with 14 homers in 61 games.

The third baseman was named MLB Pipeline's Hitter of the Year, leading the Minor Leagues in batting average (.381), slugging percentage (.636) and OPS (1.073). Until an Arizona Fall League game on Thursday, Guerrero hadn't had back-to-back hitless games since July 20-21, 2017. In his first three AFL games for the Surprise Saguaros, he hit .643 and drove in six runs to earn AFL Player of the Week honors.

Video: Guerrero Jr. discusses potential callup, Fall League

"I can just control what I can control," Guerrero said through a translator on Oct. 16. "I am going to come next year and have fun with the guys and let the team decide when and how I am going to get to Toronto."

It's only a matter of time until Guerrero is called up to the big leagues, and his MLB debut will be among the most highly anticipated ever. If the Steamer projections are any guide, Guerrero's could be a rookie season for the ages.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Toronto Blue Jays

Guerrero named AFL Player of the Week

MLB's top prospect continues hot hitting in desert
MLB.com

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, entered the Arizona Fall League as the player to watch.

One week in and he has lived up to the hype. It was announced Tuesday that Guerrero won the league's Player of the Week after batting .643 and recording six RBIs in his first three games with the Surprise Saguaros. Baseball's top-ranked pitching prospect, Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley, was named the league's Pitcher of the Week.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, entered the Arizona Fall League as the player to watch.

One week in and he has lived up to the hype. It was announced Tuesday that Guerrero won the league's Player of the Week after batting .643 and recording six RBIs in his first three games with the Surprise Saguaros. Baseball's top-ranked pitching prospect, Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley, was named the league's Pitcher of the Week.

Through the first week, the 19-year-old Blue Jays third-base prospect led the Fall League in batting average, hits, doubles and on-base percentage. He was second in slugging (.929) and OPS and had three hits in each of the three games he played, in which the Saguaros went 2-1.

Whitley named AFL Pitcher of the Week

Guerrero is coming off an outstanding season, in which he batted .381 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs while playing across four different levels, primarily Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo. In his 61 games in New Hampshire, Guerrero batted .402.

Guerrero's prowess in the box makes him a can't-miss prospect. He was the first player to ever receive an 80 hit tool grade by MLB Pipeline, which he received prior to his breakout 2018 season, in which he won MLB Pipeline's Hitter of the Year award.

Guerrero's hitting is well documented, but his ability at third base is still somewhat unknown. He has improved his fielding percentage each of the three years he's been in the Minors, with a career-best percentage of .945 in 2018.

Video: Guerrero Jr. goes 3-for-5 in Fall League debut

While he's on the cusp of breaking through to the big leagues, it's not something he thinks about.

"I can just control what I can control," said Guerrero through a translator. "I am going to come next year and have fun with the guys and let the team decide when and how I am going to get to Toronto."

Guerrero has enjoyed his time in the desert so far and looks forward to continuing to build relationships with the players.

"I'm just trying to come here, get to know the guys. Have a good time with them. There's some people who I've never played with or faced in the league," Guerrero said.

Guerrero started his second week of play Monday night by going 1-for-4 with a walk, as Surprise beat Scottsdale, 2-1. He has struck out just once in 20 plate appearances in the Fall League.

Drake Dunaway is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Toronto Blue Jays

Vlad Jr. continues torrid AFL start with 3-hit night

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, has started the Arizona Fall League season much like he concluded his Minor League season.

Hot.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, has started the Arizona Fall League season much like he concluded his Minor League season.

Hot.

After collecting three hits in his AFL debut on Tuesday, the 19-year-old Blue Jays third baseman collected three more for the Surprise Saguaros in Wednesday night's game against the Salt River Rafters at Salt River Fields.

Video: Guerrero Jr.'s double vs. Salt River in Fall League

Gameday

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

In his first plate appearance, Guerrero hit a double that nearly left the park. On the ninth pitch of his first-inning at-bat against Salt River starter Luis Reyes, a Nationals farmhand, Guerrero belted a long fly ball to left field for a two-bagger.

After hitting 20 home runs and posting a 1.073 OPS in 95 games between Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A New Hampshire this season, Guerrero is 6-for-9 with four doubles through his first two Fall League games.

Wednesday's Arizona Fall League roundup

"I'm just trying to come here, face every team and have fun," Guerrero said through an interpreter.

On Wednesday, Guerrero went 3-for-4 with an RBI, a walk and two runs scored, as he reached base in each of his first four plate appearances.

After trading three-time All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays have an opening at third base, which should soon become a vacancy filled by Guerrero.

Guerrero has received advice from his father, Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, to help advance further in his career, but he won't share what he's learned.

"I don't like to talk about that stuff because I think it's personal," Guerrero said.

Christopher Roth is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Toronto Blue Jays

Pipeline names Blue Jays' Prospects of Year

MLB.com

TORONTO -- Vladimir Guerrero's long, talked about Major League debut never came to fruition in 2018, but he did arguably turn into the top prospect in all of baseball.

Guerrero, unsurprisingly, has been named Toronto's Minor League Hitter of the Year by MLB Pipeline while right-hander Sean Reid-Foley took home top pitching honors. Two big pieces for the future, who likely will heavily factor into the Blue Jays' plans next season.

TORONTO -- Vladimir Guerrero's long, talked about Major League debut never came to fruition in 2018, but he did arguably turn into the top prospect in all of baseball.

Guerrero, unsurprisingly, has been named Toronto's Minor League Hitter of the Year by MLB Pipeline while right-hander Sean Reid-Foley took home top pitching honors. Two big pieces for the future, who likely will heavily factor into the Blue Jays' plans next season.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The 19-year-old Guerrero saw his season start with a bang when he hit a walk-off homer during Toronto's exhibition series against the Cardinals in late March at Olympic Stadium. The game might not have counted for anything, but it was still a signature moment for a player whose father started his Hall of Fame career between those same walls.

"There's no debate that he's on an accelerated time frame," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said toward the end of the season. "He's already eclipsed the time frame that any player would have at his age and his level of experience. He's going to get up here at a very young age. Maybe next April, we're open to that."

Guerrero embarked on one of the most historic offensive seasons the Minor Leagues has ever seen. He posted a ridiculous .402/.449/.671 slash line with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs over 61 games for Double-A New Hampshire. Then he finished the year by hitting .336/.414/.564 with six homers and 16 RBIs for Triple-A Buffalo.

Video: Guerrero Jr. named Pipeline Hitter of the Year

The only downside for Guerrero came in early June when he sustained a strained patellar tendon in his left knee. Guerrero missed a little more than a month but returned to finish the year strong in advance of an upcoming appearance in the Arizona Fall League.

There are prospects and then there are super prospects like Guerrero. There seems to be very little debate that he will become an impact bat at the Major League level, and the biggest question surrounds whether he'll go on to have a similar career to that of his nine-time All-Star father.

Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects 

"This is huge for him going into the Arizona Fall League," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. "That will be a great development for him. Next Spring Training will be a great development for him. As he transitions to the big leagues, we're planning on him playing third base."

Reid-Foley, Pipeline's No. 10 Blue Jays prospect, earned Toronto's Minor League Pitcher of the Year after a breakout season for Triple-A Buffalo. The 23-year-old bounced back from a disappointing 2017 season, which saw him go 10-11 with a 5.09 ERA at New Hampshire, to re-establish himself as a big piece of Toronto's future.

Video: TOR@NYY: Reid-Foley fans 10, tosses 5 shutout innings

In 16 starts for Buffalo, Reid-Foley went 7-5 with a 3.90 ERA. That was enough to earn a late summer promotion to the big league roster where Reid-Foley was predictably inconsistent but held his own against some of the league's top hitters.

With 42 strikeouts over 33 1/3 Major League innings, there's a lot to like, but the product of Florida will have to get his walks under control if he's going to take the next step in 2019. Reid-Foley issued 20 walks in seven starts for the Blue Jays in August and September.

"The kid did a good job," outgoing Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said at the end of the year. "He still has things to work on, naturally, but I thought he held his own. He's a different style than some of the other guys. ... He has a nice little breaking ball. A little changeup. Yeah, I think [fastball command] is going to be the key for him and how good he becomes."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Sean Reid-Foley

Injuries force Bichette to withdraw from AFL

Toronto's No. 2 prospect dealing with minor elbow, knee soreness
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette has withdrawn from the upcoming Arizona Fall League because of lingering knee and elbow soreness.

The AFL is set to get underway on Oct. 9, and Bichette was originally expected to be one of the top prospects in attendance. Instead, the Blue Jays have decided to replace him with second baseman Santiago Espinal.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette has withdrawn from the upcoming Arizona Fall League because of lingering knee and elbow soreness.

The AFL is set to get underway on Oct. 9, and Bichette was originally expected to be one of the top prospects in attendance. Instead, the Blue Jays have decided to replace him with second baseman Santiago Espinal.

View Full Game Coverage

"Bo Bichette experienced some minor elbow and knee soreness at the end of the Eastern League playoffs that will require a conservative course of treatment and rest," a team spokesman said while reading a statement from the club. "It should not affect his offseason or Spring Training."

Per MLB Pipeline, Bichette is Toronto's No. 2 overall prospect behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and he's ranked No. 9 in all of baseball. The 20-year-old appeared in 131 games for Double-A New Hampshire this season, and he hit .286/.343/.453 with 11 home runs and 74 RBIs.

Espinal is a 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic, who was acquired from Boston as part of the midseason deal for outfielder Steve Pearce. He appeared in 42 games for New Hampshire and hit .286 with 12 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs.

Right-handers Zach Jackson, Jackson McClelland and Nate Pearson, left-hander Shawn Morimando, second baseman Cavan Biggio and Guerrero are among those who will be representing the Blue Jays while playing for the Surprise Saguaros, who will be managed by Canadian Stubby Clapp.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays