3 biggest areas of need for the Toronto Raptors this offseason

3 biggest areas of need for the Toronto Raptors this offseason

Despite losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games during the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Toronto Raptors had a successful season in 2021-22. The Raptors clinched the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, Scottie Barnes won Rookie of the Year, and Fred VanVleet is an All-Star this year. Considering that this […]
3 biggest areas of need for the Toronto Raptors this offseason – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

Getting to know the Blue Jays new #20 prospect, Adrian Pinto

Despite being prospect #6 about to be released, we must track back all the way to prospect #20. 

Originally, Zach Logue ranked 20th on my prospect list. However, he was sent to the Oakland A’s along with Kevin Smith, who would have been #3, and Gunnar Hoglund, who would have been #9 on my list. 
To compensate for this move, Adam Kloffenstein filled in at #11  while Yhoangel Aponte ranked #10. While neither of these guys are where they were supposed to be on my list, I’ll be reduxing the #20 prospect, who is the newly acquired Adrian Pinto.
Background:
I guess you could say this is striking while the iron is hot. On March 24th, the Jays sent long-time Jay, Randal Grichuk to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for 28-year-old Raimel Tapia and 19-year-old prospect, Adrian Pinto. 
The 19-year-old second baseman was signed for $120,000 out of Venezuela in 2019. As you probably know, the 2020 minor league season was canceled, meaning that Pinto didn’t make his professional debut until 2021.
Pinto’s 2021:
Pinto played the entirety of the season with the Rockies’ Dominican Summer League (DOSL). He was 18-years-old for the majority of the 2021 season, which is about average for the age. However, he was far from average in the DOSL, as he won the MVP award for the league.
Pinto’s bat:
Firstly, his bat was insane. The then 18-year-old slashed .360/.486/1.029 in only 224 plate appearances. The 5’6, 156 pound second baseman also added an additional three home runs, which is quite a lot for the level. For context, he would have ranked second on the DOSL Blue Jays, one behind noted power hitter Cristian Feliz, and a head of #9 prospect, Manuel Beltre. Pinto also finished the season with 22 extra base hits, including four triples and 15 doubles.
While the homers are impressive, especially for his smaller stature, Pinto also walked 17% of the time while only striking out 8% of the time. If you’ve been keeping up to date with these prospect reports, you know I look highly on prospects who walk more than they strike out, and Pinto is no exception. 
Batted balls:
In terms of his batted balls, 19.4% went for line drives. This is a solid percentage for line drives, as that is the type of b …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Pre-2022 Blue Jays Top Prospects Countdown – No. 7: Leonardo Jimenez

Despite playing in Low A, his highest level to date, Leo Jimenez was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster. For good reason. The 20-year-old is one of their most enticing infield prospects as his bat and glove are pretty darn good.

Background:
Of course, we’ll start with his background. Jimenez was signed for $825,000 during the 2017 International Free Agency period from Panama.
In his first professional season in 2018, the then 17-year-old slashed .250/.333/.674 without a home run in 150 plate appearances. However, there were signs that the young shortstop had potential, as he walked 10.7% while only striking out 11.3% of the time. Two solid percentages for a 17-year-old already playing in the States.
In 2019, the then 18-year-old slashed .298/.377/.754 in 245 plate appearances, an improvement at the same level he had played a season prior. However, with an increase in batting average, his K% also rose to 17.1% while his BB% decreased to 8.6%. Leo also failed to register a home run in 2019.
Then came the global pandemic, which meant that Jimenez and every other minor league didn’t get to play a 2020 minor league season due to the cancellation. 
With all these numbers in mind, why does Leo Jimenez rank so high?
Jimenez’s 2021:
This is probably the craziest statistic in this series, even more so than Kendry Rojas pitching more in …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

It’s Transaction Time! Here are the Blue Jays’ needs now that teams can make trades and signings again

The lockout is done and despite losing $10 to fellow Blue Jays Nation writer, Brendon Kuhn, I am pretty damn happy. Instead of refreshing Twitter hoping that the lockout will end, I am now refreshing Twitter to see Blue Jays rumours.

Per Spotrac, the Blue Jays have a payroll of $159,382,143, meaning that they can spend an additional $70,613,857 before they hit the new Competitive Balance Tax of $230,000,000 (they can still spend over this).
Let’s hop into the biggest needs the Blue Jays have coming into the 2022 season.
Starting pitching:
I think there is an argument that the Blue Jays don’t actually need starting pitching. They already have a very good core of four players (Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Alek Manoah, Hyun-Jin Ryu). If you were to add Ross Stripling as their fifth starter, the team still looks good. However, with over $70 million left to spend, it’s easy to see the Jays possibly looking to upgrade the last spot in their rotation.
In terms of free agents, the best free-agent pitcher available is Carlos Rodon. The 29-year-old left-handed pitcher owned a 2.38 ERA along with a 2.65 FIP in 2021. He also had an incredible K/9 of 12.55 with a lowish BB/9 of 2.44. There are concerns about his health though, as he only pitched 42.1 innings in the two seasons prior.
Another name that’s been in the rumour mill, especially before the lockout started, is 30-year-old left-handed …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays are expected to sign one of the top international free agents from next year’s class

Despite the fact that the 2022 international free agent period is still open, it’s never too early to speak about potential 2023 International Free Agents that the Jays are connected to.

While the team’s big-league outfield is solidified with Geroge Springer, Teoscar Hernandez and a mix of Loudres Gurriel Jr and Randal Grichuk, there aren’t a ton of high ceiling prospects in the pipeline. Looking at MLB’s Pipeline, the first natural outfielder in the Jays’ top 30 is Dasan Brown, who is ranked 19th.
However, on the morning of January 27th, it was announced by Joe Doyle of Prospects Live that the Toronto Blue Jays are in a handshake deal with corner outfielder Emmanuel Bonilla. The 15-year-old from the Dominican Republic is already a whooping 6’3, 205 pounds. He’ll be turning 16 in February, meaning that by February 2023, the young outfielder will be able to officially sign with the Jays. He is estimated to sign with a bonus of 4 million, slightly more than what Vladimir Guerrero Jr signed for in 2015 (3.9 million).

There is quite clearly a “Big 4” in the 2022-2023 international free agent class. The Mariners, Padres, Yankees and Blue Jays are positioned to land one each.
Hear what international scouting directors have to say about the impressive next wave. https://t.co/NcgsetEy81
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) January 27, 2022

Bonilla is your prototype corner outfielder wit …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Know Your Enemy: The Maple Leafs and Golden Knights match up well despite injuries

Despite the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs just about got the result you could expect from a game against the Colorado Avalanche while dealing with injuries, the way they got to that result was a disappointing one. They’ll be looking to rebound against the other big contender in the Western Conference in the Vegas Golden Knights, who are also dealing with injuries from important players, with Max Pacioretty and Jack Eichel still on the shelf for a while (although Eichel looks closer to returning). Despite that, they’ve seen a rise in the standings from a slow start to the season, although they’re on a bit of a cold streak losing three of their last four. It’ll make for an interesting matchup regardless of both teams, and is a potential Stanley Cup Final preview with how strong both teams can be.
Note: This is based on projected lines and starters at the time of publishing. Coaches really love to surprise us right before game time, so there’s a solid chance that some of the matchups aren’t accurate for the actual game because of that.
Tale of the Tape (via Mark Norman)

Lineups
Toronto Maple Leafs

LW
C
RW
MICHAEL BUNTING
AUSTON MATTHEWS
ONDREJ KASE
ALEXANDER KERFOOT
JOHN TAVARES
WILLIAM NYLANDER
ILYA MIKHEYEV
DAVID KAMPF
WAYNE SIMMONDS
KYLE CLIFFORD
JASON SPEZZA
NICK RITCHIE

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
MORGAN RIELLY
T.J. BRODIE
JAKE MUZZIN
JUSTIN HOLL
RASMUS SANDIN
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Vegas Golden Knights

LW
C
RW
JONATHAN MARCHESSAULT
WILL …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Raptors should look into adding outcast Nuggets center Bol Bol

Raptors should look into adding outcast Nuggets center Bol Bol

Despite their insistence on a philosophy of small ball, the Toronto Raptors are being hampered by a lack of size for the second consecutive season. A seven-footer with defensive skills, like Jaxson Hayes or Bol Bol, would be a major boost for this team. Defensively, Toronto leads the league in steals at 9.9 per game. As […]
Raptors should look into adding outcast Nuggets center Bol Bol – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, and Marcus Semien win Silver Slugger Awards

Despite not making the playoffs, Blue Jays’ players continue to win awards for what is the biggest “what-if” season.  After Marcus Semien won the Gold Glove, Vlad Jr. won the Hank Aaron and a bunch of players got nominated for either the MVP, All-MLB, and Cy Young, there are three new award winners.

It was announced that the Jays have three Silver Sluggers: Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Marcus Semien, and Teoscar Hernandez.
This is Teoscar Hernandez’s second straight Silver Slugger award and wow, has he ever developed into a key part of a contending team. Teoscar will become a UFA in 2024, but the Jays should look to sign him well before then.
Vlad was a given. Not much has to be said here except for the fact that the 22-year-old will win an MVP award within the next three years. Vlad is fantastic.
It’s looking as if Semien taking the short-term deal will pay off massively for him. Not only did he win the Silver Slugger, but he also won a Gold Glove, finished third in MVP voting, and had one of the best seasons for a middle infielder in history. The Jays may not be able to re-sign …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Maple Leafs enter toughest stretch of the season needing to prove they can beat contenders

Despite what the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rather poor record to start the season may suggest, the team has yet to face much objectively tough competition. Other than the Carolina Hurricanes, every team the Maple Leafs have played thus far either finds themselves sitting at the bottom of the standings, or has begun the year as a pleasant surprise overachieving against preseason expectations. That all changes this week starting tonight with a matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights followed up by games against Tampa Bay and Boston later in the week. These three teams have been some of the NHL’s best over the past few seasons, and despite some slow starts of their own for Tampa and Vegas, both are currently sitting on three game winning streaks to surge back into the conversation of the NHL’s elite.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs want to be respected as members of the NHL’s elite, and be seen as true Stanley Cup Contenders they’ll need to snatch at least two wins from the three games against these formidable opponents. Vegas is due up first in tonight’s game, and with two matchups against divisional rivals on the horizon, it’s …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Even Before It’s Over, the Lessons From This Blue Jays Season Are Clear

Somehow, despite trying their best worst over the past two weeks, the Blue Jays are still in the playoff race. Entering Monday’s games, they are 5.5 games back of the 2nd wild card spot. Normally that might seem insurmountable with only one month of games remaining, but due to some lucky scheduling, it appears it might not be impossible to overcome with some well-timed wins and fortuitous opponent losses in the next stretch of games. 

Even so, it’s clear to anybody who has watched even a handful of Toronto’s games that there is no need for them to be in this place right now. Their run differential is so much better than those of their wild card competition because, in truth, this Blue Jays team is one of the most talented teams in baseball, yet also one with glaring holes. They’ve outscored their opponents by 114 runs. Clearly this team should have more wins. Yet, they don’t, and even if they manage to sneak into the playoffs in September, it’ll be in spite of a few factors that I believe are easily correctable over the off-season. 
The aforementioned glaring holes are actually a blessing in disguise. …

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Author: Gideon Turk / Blue Jays Nation