Teoscar Hernandez

With so many young outfielders not quite ready for the big leagues but too good to play anywhere other than Triple-A, the outfield in Buffalo might be a crowded place to begin the 2018 season.

It’s a nice problem for an organization to be dealing with…when you have such a healthy number of up-and-coming players and only so many suitable places to put them all.  The dilemma the Blue Jays are beginning to face, is that because so many of their prospects continue to improve, there’s starting to be somewhat of a logjam in both Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A New Hampshire.

There are several positions in particular where Toronto is so loaded with talent that players will probably be forced to either play out of position or play at a level lower than the should be.  For example, once they’re all healthy, Triple-A Buffalo will have a group of outfielders that includes Dalton Pompey, Dwight Smith, Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, and Roemon Fields.  Fields, who had a .291 AVG, .355 OBP, and 43 SB with Buffalo last year may not even crack their roster to begin the season.  And even if he does, he’ll have four other outfielders ahead of him on the team’s depth chart.

Not to sound too obvious, but one of the main reasons these players are in the minors is to allow their game to continue to develop and flourish.  For that to happen though they need plenty of playing time, and against adequate competition.  Having someone like Fields play in Double-A or sit on the bench in Triple-A after having a year in 2017 where he more than proved himself in Buffalo seems to defeat the purpose of what a ball club is trying to do when it comes to developing their young talent.

It isn’t just in the outfield where Toronto has an overwhelming number of quality prospects coming up through the ranks.  At shortstop they have Richard Urena, Lourdes Gurriel, Bo Bichette, and Logan Warmoth.  Ideally, with so many solid shortstops you hope to find a place for each of them where they won’t be taking playing time away from one another.  If the Blue Jays were to take that approach with these four players, they’d have Urena in Triple-A, Bichette in Double-A, and Warmoth in Single-A Dunedin.  That still leaves Gurriel though, who’s likely to begin the year in Buffalo (possibly New Hampshire), where he and Urena would alternate duties playing 2nd base and shortstop.

This abundance of solid prospects at certain positions will allow the Blue Jays to trade from a position of strength if they so choose.  It’ll also convince some players to realize that the best way for them to continue climbing that ladder to the big leagues will be to diversify and start playing different positions.

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