News and Notes: The Blue Jays again have interest in Andrew Heaney, Ronald Acuna Jr. trade speculation, and more!

A familiar name has entered the Blue Jays Rumour Mill early in the off-season.

According to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays have interest in signing left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney…

As the #BlueJays seek pitching, a name on their radar is LHP Andrew Heaney per source.
Jays pursued him aggressively last year, but he signed with Dodgers & posted elite 35.5% K rate (MLB avg: 22.1%) with 6.1% walk rate & 3.10 ERA in 72.2 IP (14 starts).
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) November 11, 2022

Heaney was among the names in the mix last winter to be Toronto’s next Robbie Ray when it became clear that the bargain-bin-arm-turned-Cy-Young-winner was going to secure a bag of cash elsewhere in free agency.
Heaney wound up inking a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the L.A. Dodgers and posted a 3.10 ERA over 72 2/3 innings while striking out a whopping 13.6 batters per nine innings. The Dodgers didn’t issue Heaney a qualifying offer so he’ll head to the open market without draft pick compensation attached to his name.
We’ve seen the Blue Jays carry interest in certain pitchers over multiple off-seasons in the past, which is why Toronto’s interest in Heaney is more notable than the usual ‘The Blue Jays Are In On This Guy’ rumours we’ll see in the coming weeks. They were in on Kevin Gausman back in the off-season following the 2019 season before he wound up signing a one-year deal with the San Fransisco Giants and they finally landed him two years later.
Heaney, who was selected No. 9 overall by the Miami Marlins in the 2012 draft, throws a fastball that averages 93 miles per hour and a wipeout slider that leads to his elite strikeo …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Prospect #8: Nick Abruzzese set to prove the doubters wrong yet again

As was the case for many players, Nick Abruzzese entered the 2021-22 season with major question marks having missed an entire year of hockey. Unlike most who had been able to at least use the time away from the rink to work on other aspects of their game, Abruzzese spent his rehabbing.
Even if Harvard had played their 2020-21 season, he wasn’t going to have been a part of it for very long. Abruzzese underwent hip surgery in the summer of 2020 to repair a nagging injury, an operation that would’ve sidelined him for a vast majority of the 2020-21 season.
Coming back from over a year away from game action and a significant surgery, it was fair to have reservations over what Nick Abruzzese would be able to produce. But just as he has done time and time again in his career, he proved the doubters wrong.
Nick Abruzzese
LW | Harvard (ECAC) | Age: 23 | 5-foot-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: LAcquired: 2019 Draft, 124th Overall | 2021 Ranking: #8
At every level Nick Abruzzese has played, he’s faced the same doubts over and over. Concerns over his lack of size and average at best skating are perfectly valid. They remain true and are going to be the biggest hurdles for him to overcome if he is to …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

2022 TLN Prospect Rankings: #14 Mikhail Abramov

When Mikhail Abramov entered the Maple Leafs organization full time, there were plenty of question marks.
The 21-year-old seemed like the perfect pick for Toronto in the fourth round back in 2019. A six-foot tall centreman who was able to be dominant with the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL — he was someone the Maple Leafs needed to pounce on.
One of the unfortunate parts for him, and for plenty of other NHL prospects, was the pandemic which slowed his development down. In his final season in the QMJHL, Abramov was the captain in Victoriaville but only wore the ‘C’ for 25 games.
And now, the 21-year-old is in the AHL, where plenty hope his game will evolve.
Mikhail Abramov
C | Toronto (AHL) | Age: 21 | 6-foot-0 | 161 lbs | Shoots: LAcquired: 2019 4th Round, 115th Overall | 2021 Ranking: 9
At the beginning of his first AHL season, many had question marks about whether Abramov would fit in the AHL right away. Obviously, he had the skillset, but did he have the ability to deal with the physicality of the AHL?
Short answer — yes. Long answer, we’ll see.
It was mostly an up and down season for the 21-year-old. When entering your first season of pro after having spent a few years in junior, there’s a lo …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation