Notes: Groshans 'ready'; Mayza near return

February 20th, 2021

Blue Jays prospect is good, and he knows it.

Now 21, the club’s No. 3 prospect and first-round pick from the 2018 MLB Draft is at Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and ready to convince the Blue Jays that his timeline needs to be accelerated. Groshans is a different player than the one who played Class A ball in '19, and that starts with his body.

Up to 210 pounds after playing at around 190 in Class A, Groshans, who appeared recently on MiLB’s Show Before the Show podcast, laid out his recent goals in the simplest possible terms.

“Get really big and hit baseballs really hard,” he said.

Groshans has accomplished that with a training program built by the Blue Jays' staff that’s built him up in phases, including varying levels of weights and explosive exercises. Having that quickness to go along with the pure strength was key to Groshans, as that often creates the gap between being in shape and being in “baseball shape.”

“The baseball jumps a little bit different off the bat,” Groshans said. “It’s going to be a fun year.”

Groshans spent time at the club's alternate training site in 2020 and, while he had some success, the most important thing that happened there was the week and a half when he struggled. One of the trickiest parts of a player’s development is that some top prospects don’t experience true failure until the upper levels. Learning how to fail, then adapt to find success again, is what turns great prospects into great Major Leaguers.

Part of this process for Groshans has been learning what it truly means to be “ready to hit” on each pitch, which he developed a better sense of at the alternate site. This is all about timing -- on every single pitch -- which helps Groshans better control his plate appearances.

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“I would be late on a ball and shoot it the other way, and I wasn’t on time to hit. I just got lucky. I threw my bat out there and got a hit,” Groshans said. “After that, when I learned how to be ready, I would actually be on time, ready to hit the ball outside, and I drove it for a double the other way. Basically, instead of just reacting to it, I’m looking for something and I’m ready to hit the pitch.”

A Major League debut at some point in 2022 would make sense for Groshans who, along with No. 2 prospect Austin Martin, represents that next wave of positional talent that could round out a great Blue Jays infield. That’s one of many reasons the Marcus Semien deal made sense, as it helps to bridge that gap.

Groshans, of course, has other ideas.

“I know a lot of people will think I’m crazy for that, but I’m ready,” Groshans said. “I think I’ve been ready for that. I’m here to show everybody that I’m ready to be in the big leagues.”

Mayza nears intriguing return
is back to throwing bullpens and facing live hitters now, 16 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The left-hander still has to progress to throwing on back-to-back days, but he is fully confident in where he’s at physically and expects to see some Grapefruit League action at some point.

As Mayza progressed through his rehab process, he was able to clean up some mechanical issues. Often, the recovery process from a major elbow surgery offers pitchers that opportunity, given that they’re refamiliarizing themselves with their delivery from the ground up. That can have some benefits, too.

“I think the two-seam has come a long way from where it was in the middle of ’19, a little more consistent,” Mayza said. “I would say that it has a little more sink now than it did back then. I feel like coming out of rehab, you don't know how the rehab or the return to throwing is going to affect the way these pitches move, and I think the two-seam has plus potential to be a solid pitch for me.”

Consistency is key for Ray in 2021
has added some bulk and looks strong early in Blue Jays camp, earning some optimistic reviews from manager Charlie Montoyo. After adjusting and readjusting his delivery in recent years, Ray feels he’s getting back to his peak form, which would be a major development for a rotation in need of some upside.

“Looking back coming into last year, I struggled with my delivery and just finding a comfortable delivery for me as far as like my windup,” Ray said. “I felt fine out of the stretch, but my windup just felt a little uncomfortable coming into Spring Training. That was the main focus coming into this Spring Training, having a delivery that was consistent that was going to allow me to pitch the way I know how to pitch and get ahead of guys.”

Extras ...
• Montoyo feels comfortable with Cavan Biggio batting leadoff, second, or lower down in the lineup. While Biggio's lefty bat will be valuable to a lineup that’s very right-handed heavy, Montoyo compared this lineup to the Yankees in that they’re talented enough to hit regardless of how many righties are stacked together.

• If the Blue Jays need a fifth outfielder at any point -- or a fourth in the case of an injury -- expect Jonathan Davis to be first up, with his speed and defense valuable to the Blue Jays. Joshua Palacios is also on the 40-man roster and will likely get a shot at some point this season, but he’s expected to play primarily the corner-outfield spots while Davis can handle center comfortably.