The Blue Jays announced their Opening Day roster on Monday and to the surprise of many it included teenage Rule 5 pick Elvis Luciano. Yes, the same Elvis Luciano who has yet to play a game above Rookie ball and is coming off a Spring where his ERA was 10.61.
Toronto has two prospects in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette (both older than the 19-year old Luciano) who are being held in the minors because as the Blue Jays put it, they still have things to work on. Well every prospect has things to work on. No prospect is perfect, just like no big leaguer (with the exception of a select few) are perfect. If Bichette and Guerrero were playing with the Blue Jays, they’d immediately become Toronto’s best hitters, and it wouldn’t even be close.
How can the Blue Jays front office make an argument for holding back Guerrero and Bichette when they’ve promoted a teenage pitcher who’s yet to even play in Single A? Had Luciano pitched well this Spring, I could better understand the Blue Jays keeping him around. But Luciano did not have a good spring, in fact he had a terrible spring.
What’s even worse than Luciano being selected to play for the Blue Jays before Guerrero and Bichette is that there are relievers far more deserving than he is of this opportunity. How about Javy Guerra who posted a 0.87 ERA in Grapefruit League action. Or Justin Shafer, who’s been busting his a** in the minors for five years and is coming off a season in Buffalo where he had a 1.41 ERA in 38.1 innings of work.
If you’re wondering what the Blue Jays biggest weakness will be to begin the season, look no further than their bullpen because they’re about to get rocked. Sure Toronto’s bullpen is having to deal with injuries to key relievers like Ryan Tepera and David Phelps, but this ball club is only making things harder on themselves by not selecting the best available relievers who are healthy.
It’s time the Blue Jays send Luciano back to the Royals and admit they screwed things up with Travis Bergen. Who they lost to San Francisco in the Rule 5 Draft last December when they made the mistake of not protecting him. Toronto isn’t doing Luciano any favours by keeping him in the majors. OK, so he’s making big money, but for a player his age, what’s most important is for him to be developing and developing properly. And getting shelled in the American League East is hardly how a team should go about developing a pitcher who just turned 19 last month.