TORONTO -- The next generation of Blue Jays talent will be well represented at this month's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game after Bo Bichette and Danny Jansen were selected to the United States roster.
Bichette is ranked as Toronto's No. 2 prospect and he's the seventh-best prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Jansen projects to have a bright future as well after being ranked as the Blue Jays' No. 6 prospect, and he figures to be the club's future staring catcher.
The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which is now in its 20th year, features the top Minor League prospects competing in a nine-inning contest as part of All-Star Sunday on July 15. The U.S. Team leads the all-time series, 12-7. Last year in Miami, the U.S. Team defeated the World Team, 7-6, for its seventh victory in the last eight years.
"I think it's good, it puts them in the spotlight with all of the top Minor Leaguers," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It's a nice honor for them and for the organization."
Both players figure to be a big part of Toronto's future, and while Bichette might be the more hyped prospect, it's Jansen who likely will join the Blue Jays first. Jansen has spent each of the last two Spring Trainings with the big league club, and he's in the midst of a strong season for Triple-A Buffalo with a .287/.398/.464 slash line across 61 games.
The Blue Jays have been known to take a cautious approach with their top prospects, but there's a good chance that Jansen will make his Major League debut at some point later this year. He was added to the 40-man roster prior to the season to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and the plan appears to be calling Jansen up at the latest when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Emerging catchers are treated a little bit differently than other prospects. A regular position player likely would be immediately tossed into an everyday role, but Gibbons believes there would be some value in promoting Jansen but then easing him into the role so that he has plenty of time to learn the pitching staff while gaining valuable experience. He'll get lots of playing time, but not necessarily every day for a team that has Russell Martin under contract through the end of 2019.
"Jansen is closer, heard he's playing great," Gibbons said. "He'll get some time this year somewhere. I would expect in September anyway. ... If you look at the year that he's having, I would expect him to be here one way or the other next year. In some capacity. I don't know that for sure but I'd expect it."
Blue Jays officially add 27 international prospects
The Blue Jays officially signed 27 international prospects on Friday afternoon, with 16-year-old shortstop Orelvis Martinez headlining the list. Martinez is ranked as the No. 4 prospect on MLB Pipeline's list of the top international prospects and according to scouting reports, he has a short compact swing with plus bat speed and possesses a chance to hit for above-average power.
Toronto did not release the financial details of the deal, but per MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, Martinez will receive $3.5 million. That amount would be the highest bonus given to an international prospect in the 2017-18 class.
According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs that received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the MLB Draft received a pool of $6,025,400, while clubs that received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Draft received $5,504,500. All other clubs, including the Blue Jays, received $4,983,500.
Estrada's status still TBD
The Blue Jays still can't say for sure whether Marco Estrada will be able to avoid the disabled list. Estrada left his last start after just 12 pitches because of a strained left glute and he is currently considered questionable to return before the All-Star break.
Toronto ideally would use Estrada at some point during the upcoming four-game series against the Red Sox that begins Thursday, but that will depend on how he feels over the next couple of days. If Estrada's status does not improve, he remains a candidate to go on the 10-day DL.
"We're going to look at it in the next couple of days," Gibbons said. "[That Boston] series, he could do that. Hopefully by then."
Right-hander Danny Barnes (left knee tendinitis) continues to throw long toss and is feeling "good" according to club officials. Barnes will begin his mound progression next week. Lefty Jaime Garcia (left shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt "great." He will be reassessed on Saturday.
Aaron Sanchez (finger contusion) has been throwing long toss and will continue that process until he's ready to progress off the mound. Reliever Dennis Tepera (right elbow inflammation) began playing catch on Friday.
In the Minors, Triple-A Buffalo outfielder Dalton Pompey (partial tear in thumb) is expected to begin a rehab assignment early next week. Top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (left knee) is performing agility and running drills and all baseball work. He's scheduled to begin baserunning next week and will be re-evaluated for game action at that time.
Blue Jays outfielder Darnell Sweeney cleared waivers on Friday afternoon and has been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo. Sweeney was designated for assignment earlier this week after a brief stint with the big league club.