Spring Breakout talent could impact Blue Jays sooner rather than later

February 16th, 2024

DUNEDIN, FLA. -- The Blue Jays’ Spring Breakout game won’t just be a glimpse of the faraway future. On a roster leaning so heavily on improvements from within, the stars of tomorrow may need to arrive, well … tomorrow.

Consider Spring Breakout the ultimate prospect showcase. Spread across four days in March, with the Blue Jays’ game coming against the Yankees at 4:05 p.m. E.T. on March 16 as part of a traditional doubleheader with the team’s Major League Spring Training game that day, this event stacks each roster with the organization’s top prospects all in one place.

Nearly all Spring Breakout games will be broadcast live and blackout-free on MLB’s digital platforms (MLB.com, MLB.TV and the MLB app). In Canada, it will also be broadcast on Sportsnet+.

You can expect to see a roster that runs deep with the Blue Jays' top prospects who are not already on the 40-man roster, but Minor League players who have already been added to the 40-man roster can still elect to opt in and play. That expands the potential pool to include names like Orelvis Martinez, Leo Jimenez and Addison Barger, all of whom could factor into the crowded Toronto infield at some point in 2024.

If the Blue Jays are looking for upside, though, is the biggest, brightest hope.

Toronto’s No. 1 prospect -- ranked No. 29 overall by MLB Pipeline -- will be one of the biggest stories of camp. Still just 21 years old, Tiedemann is facing the same final hurdle that so many flamethrowing pitching prospects do. He’s flashed incredible talent, but now he needs to sustain that over 100-plus innings.

Like many other top prospects, Tiedemann has been reading about Spring Breakout on social media this week. These top-ranked players know the lists, they know the No. 1’s and they know the Top 100 stars. Part of the challenge is compartmentalizing that and performing against other top competition.

“You’re going in there, and when you see a guy in the box, you obviously know he’s one of the top prospects as well,” Tiedemann said. “When I’m up there, it’s still just about getting the job done, throwing strikes and being in my own game. For me, it’s all about going out there and doing my job.”

Injuries slowed Tiedemann’s ascent in 2023 -- mainly a left biceps issue that cost him the bulk of the Minor League season -- but he was able to pitch a combined 62 innings between the regular season and the Arizona Fall League, where he was named the circuit’s pitcher of the year with a 2.50 ERA. A game like the Spring Breakout could be that one final glimpse of Tiedemann dominating Minor League hitters on your television.

On the position-player side, fans could get a look at a couple of dark-horse candidates to make an impact in 2024.

“In terms of impact, Orelvis and Ricky T, those two guys could have such impact,” said general manager Ross Atkins. “That’s not taking anything away from others who have already had an impact or someone like and Will Robertson, even, who would be really good complements to our team.”

Roden, who shot all the way up to the club’s No. 7 prospect last year, is coming off a .430 on-base percentage between High-A and Double-A. Toronto’s outfield depth currently relies more on utility players sliding in to back up the regulars, but if a more permanent solution is needed to cover an injury mid-season, Roden has put himself in position to compete for a spot.

Corner infielder , the Blue Jays' No. 18 prospect, is another name you should be monitoring through camp, including the Spring Breakout. Primarily a third baseman with defense that’s been improving, Palmegiani is the direction you should look in if you’re hoping for a 2024 version of Davis Schneider. Palmegiani is built for power coming off 23 home runs last season, and with third base looking like a revolving door for the Blue Jays, Palmegiani finds himself in a similar position to Roden, competing to be the “next man up” if a long-term need arises.

Toronto’s Spring Breakout game should bring so many of these top names together, and the Blue Jays are a team which could be using this as a piece of the evaluation for their big league roster, not just a showcase for years down the road.

That’s where the Blue Jays find themselves as Spring Training opens, and if they’re going to win big by betting on internal improvements, these top prospects need to become top players quickly.