Thomas Pannone and Forrest Wall among Blue Jays’ minor-leaguers who became free agents

Major League Baseball free agency officially began yesterday.

While the big names like Trevor Bauer and George Springer and Marcus Stroman and so on will dominate people’s attention, there are also 422 minor-league players who also hit the open market yesterday. The Blue Jays had 18 players become free agents.
Here are they are, courtesy of Baseball America…
Deiferson Barreto, Andrew Burns, Patrick Cantwell, Ryan Dull, James Dykstra, Conor Fisk, Gabriel Guerrero, Mac James, Jesus Lopez, Mike Nittoli, Juan Nunez, Norberto Obeso, Willy Ortiz, Connor Overton, Tom Pannone, Luis Silva, Mitchell Walding, Forrest Wall.
A good chunk of these names are just organizational depth types who were signed to minor-league deals, like Andy Burns, Ryan Dull, and Patrick Cantwell. But there are also a couple of prospects worth noting here.
Thomas Pannone was acquired as part of the Joe Smith to Cleveland trade a few years ago. At one point, he looked like he had a future as a starting pitcher but never panned out. Pannone was designated for assignment in August and cleared waivers. He didn’t pitch for the Blue Jays in 2020 after pitching 116 innings for the club between 2018 and 2019.
And then there’s Forrest Wall, one of the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Thoughts on last night’s fittingly bizarre World Series conclusion

The weirdest baseball season of our lives fittingly had a very bizarre ending.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, far and away the best team in baseball this season with their 43-17 record, beat the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 2-1, winning the World Series four games to two, earning their first championship since 1988.
On paper, it seems like L.A. winning the whole thing was the most predictable outcome — but last night’s conclusion was far from predictable.
Where to begin? I guess I’ll just go chronologically.
It started off when Randy Arozarena clubbed a solo dinger off of Tony Gonsolin to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead. The homer was Arozarena’s 10th of this post-season, which is two more than he has over the course of his regular-season career in 42 games played. Hilariously enough, Arozarena is still eligible for Rookie of the Year in 2021. He’ll look great as an Expo.
It looked like the Rays were going to kick the door in early. Gonsolin looked pretty shook. He allowed a single to Austin Meadows and walked Brandon Lowe but got Manuel Margot and Joey Wendle to work out of the threat. In the second, …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

This year’s Gold Glove finalists are really weird

Major League Baseball announced the Gold Glove Award finalists for the 2020 season and, in 2020 fashion, they’re, uh, pretty weird.

Lourdes Gurriel is the Blue Jays’ lone Gold Glove nominee which sorta kinda gives you an indication of how strange some of the selections were.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, Gurriel is a solid fielder. He makes some highlight reel snags in the outfield and he has a cannon for an arm that he used on multiple occasions to gun guys out at home.

How did @yunitogurriel earn his FIRST Gold Glove nomination?
Two words: Piña Power pic.twitter.com/dtF5WHgJD5
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) October 22, 2020

But he’s not exactly your prototypical Gold Glove guy. Gurriel just switched to left field mid-way through the 2019 season and still looks pretty green at the position at times. He often runs the wrong way off the hop and that’s why he ends up making TV grabs. FanGraphs had him at -3 defensive runs saved in 2020, but defensive metrics are always a bit tricky, so take them with a grain of salt.
Elsewhere, there are some other puzzling choices, like… the White Sox having two catchers as finalists, Clint …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Korean free agent Ha-seong Kim would be a great fit for the Blue Jays

If you were one of the people who tuned into the Korean Baseball Organization this year while Major League Baseball was shut down due to COVID-19, you’ll probably recognize the name Ha-Seong Kim.

Kim, an infielder for the Kiwoom Heroes, was one of the league’s best hitters during the 2020 season, slashing a .310./402/.530 line with 28 homers, 103 RBIs, and a 61-to-70 strikeout-to-walk rate.
Over at FanGraphs, Dan Szymborski wrote that Kim is planning to make the jump across the Pacific Ocean this winter to the Major Leagues. Kim expressed interest in coming over to the Majors last winter but ultimately decided to ride out the final year of his contract in the KBO.
Now, after a huge season at the plate, Kim should garner plenty of interest from Major League teams as a free agent.
The posting rules for Asian leagues are different as of 2018. Teams no longer bid on players, as you’d remember from situations like Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka. Instead, posting teams will get 20 percent of a player’s first guaranteed $25 million, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and 15 percent after that.
Circling back to Szymborski’s post at FanGraphs, Kim’s projected numbers according to ZiPS …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Major League Baseball will apparently use bubble cities for the playoffs

Following the lead of the NHL and the NBA, Major League Baseball is reportedly planning to use bubble cities for the playoffs this fall.

Per Jeff Passan, the plan is for American League teams to play in Los Angeles and San Diego, while the National League teams will play in Arlington and Houston. It isn’t specified whether the Los Angeles park will be Angels Stadium or Dodger Stadium, but I would guess the latter given that the goal here seems to be avoiding anybody having home-field advantage.
This makes a lot of sense as MLB surely wants to avoid any kind of outbreak of COVID-19 happening during the playoffs when there isn’t any room for error. The NHL and NBA have done an excellent job executing their playoffs in bubble environments, so there’s a clear lead here for MLB to follow.
The best part about this for the Blue Jays? No possibility of playing a playoff game at The Trop!

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Baseball America has the Blue Jays ranked as their No. 4 farm system

Baseball America has released its mid-season farm system rankings, although we aren’t really at the mid-season point. It’s basically a re-shuffle of systems based on how teams have done at the draft, given the fact there hasn’t been any minor-league ball to follow this summer.

NEW FARM SYSTEM RANKINGS
We have re-ranked every system now that we’re midway through 2020.
Here are the five most talented systems:
1. Rays2. Padres3. Mariners4. Blue Jays5. Dodgers
Full list https://t.co/XAQ6HGyTH1 pic.twitter.com/HR2LV59cyy
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) August 12, 2020

The Blue Jays, who ranked No. 6 coming into the 2020 season, have jumped up to No. 4.
The big reason for this jump, of course, is the fact the Jays added Austin Martin, arguably the second-best prospect, at the draft this summer. Baseball America is very hyped on Martin, as they have him ranked as the No. 16 prospect in all of baseball despite the fact he hasn’t played a professional game yet.
Martin is one of four players who cracked BA’s most recent Top-100 list, along with Nate Pearson, who was ranked No. 7, and Jordan Groshans and Simeon Woods Richardson, …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays are on pace to go 60-0

Baseball! It’s back! The Blue Jays beat the Rays 6-4 to kick off the 2020 season, so all aboard the hype train!

Things worth mentioning…

Hyun Jin Ryu took the hill for his first-ever start as a Blue Jay and it mostly went very well. Ryu was very ace-like over his first four innings of work, painting corners, mixing speeds, and ultimately coming as advertised. He ran into some problems in the fifth inning, though, as he surrendered a walk and a two-run bomb that resulted in him getting yanked. Ryu’s control was a tad off tonight, but you can probably chalk that up to pitchers not being as sharp as they would usually be after a normal-length spring training.
Pretty much everyone got into the mix offensively, which is exactly what you want to see from this lineup. Everybody reached base at least once, and everybody except for Rowdy Tellez had at least one hit.
The Jays went up 3-0 with a very small-ball-style inning, in which Cavan Biggio reached on a bunt single, Vlad Jr. singled, and Travis Shaw walked before Randal Grichuk, Rowdy Tellez, and Teoscar Hernandez hit back-to-back-to-back sacrifice flies. It seemed …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Baseball America ranked Austin Martin 16th in their most recent Top 100 prospects list

Baseball America put out a post-draft update to their top-100 prospects list on Wednesday and it seems they’ve really bought into the Austin Martin hype.

Baseball America updated their top 100 prospects list to reflect drafted players.
Blue Jays on the list:7 Pearson16 Martin31 Groshans67 SWR
Safe to say they like the Jays system a lot!https://t.co/MgzWjatBJl
— b (6+ feet) k (@_bkuhn_) June 24, 2020

Nate Pearson is unsurprisingly Toronto’s top prospect. He comes in seventh on the list, which is exactly where he was heading into the 2020 season a few months ago.
And then there’s Martin, the Blue Jays’ first pick from the 2020 draft, who many suggest should have gone higher than fifth-overall. Baseball America has Martin ranked as their 16th-best prospect in all of baseball, which is some damn lofty praise for somebody who hasn’t yet played a game at the professional level yet.
The two other Blue Jays’ prospects on the list are Jordan Groshans and Simeon Woods Richardson.
Groshans actually slipped a bit from 31st overall on their last list, which would make sense as he was jumped by two players from this summer’s …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Nate Pearson Conundrum

The last time we watched a Blue Jays baseball game, Nate Pearson was dealing.

Pearson went two innings against the Pirates, scattering a couple of hits and a walk while striking out two. He also allowed an earned run, which was his first and only blemish in spring training. All told, Pearson threw seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and three walks while striking out 11.

This is our last baseball for a while, so enjoy this video of Nate Pearson owning a guy so hard he just chucked his bat at the ball pic.twitter.com/Bjt13NZ0to
— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) March 12, 2020

The Blue Jays’ No. 1 prospect was the breakout star of spring training. He was hitting 100 miles-per-hour on the gun with ease and looked like an ace. But, no matter how well he pitched, Pearson wasn’t going to crack the roster and travel north with the Blue Jays.
The organization has taken a slowly-but-surely approach with their ace of the future. After missing virtually all of the 2018 season due to a freak injury, the Blue Jays eased Pearson back in 2019, having him go back and forth between making two-inning starts …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The 60-game season massively increases the Blue Jays’ playoff odds, according to FanGraphs

The Major League Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. That won’t be the case this year.

We’re living in unprecedented times, and, as a result, we’re going to have an unprecedented baseball season. MLB is moving forward with a plan to execute a 60-game season, which would be baseball’s shortest schedule since the 1870s.
You know what that means? Chaos. It’s usually pretty hard for a team to bullshit their way through a 162 grind, but anything can happen in such a small sample size.
According to FanGraphs, who put out their 60-game season ZiPS projections on Wednesday, the Blue Jays now have a 15.1 percent chance of making the playoffs. That’s a 14.5 percent increase on the minuscule odds that FanGraphs had them at when projecting a 162-game season back in March.
Of all the teams in baseball, Toronto saw the fourth-highest playoff odds increase with the change from 162 games to 60 games. The other teams above them were the White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Rangers. The team that took the biggest hit? The Yankees, who now have 66.5 percent odds rather than 97.7 percent odds they had rolling into a normal …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation