Some Spring Training Stats That Matter and Also Some That Don’t

With Spring Training coming to a close it’s time to take a look at what happened in these games and if there is anything meaningful that comes from them and what they might mean for the upcoming season.

A good rule of thumb is Spring stats don’t matter. It’s a month of games and players can get hot, especially when the competition isn’t always Major League calibre. What you want to see are a player’s skills and if those skills have changed. If a player comes into camp throwing harder as we saw with Jordan Romano in 2021, or hitting the ball harder as we saw with Santiago Espinal last year it could be the precursor to a big season.
Note Spring Stats as of March 26th and courtesy of Baseball Savant, unless otherwise specified. 
With that in mind, there is nothing to be taken from Bichette’s .314/.352/.529 Spring line. Baseball-Reference has an Opponent Quality metric to determine as the name says, the quality of the opposing batter or pitcher faced by a player. Bichette is at 7.3 meaning he has faced pitchers on a talent level roughly somewhere between AA and AAA. Bichette should be crushing this type of pitcher.
What is interesting about Bichette is he is hitting the ball hard as he normally does (92.7mph exit velocity), but he is hitting it almost exclusively on the ground. Last season Bichette had a launch angle of 8.5°, while in Spring Tra …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Pitching prospects Gabriel Ponce and Connor Cooke impress, Zach Pop has a hiccup, and more as the Blue Jays fell 6-2 to the Yankees

Can spring training just be over already?

The Blue Jays took on the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon, falling 6-2 to the Bronx Bombers. However, there were still some positives to take away from the game, mainly with regards to the minor league pitchers.
Let’s dig in.
Blue Jays Nation’s player of the game: Gabriel Ponce
You may have never heard of the 23-year-old right-handed reliever, but he showed up on Sunday afternoon.
Pitching in the bottom of the eighth inning, he struck out the side, generating six whiffs on just 17 pitches. The only base runner reached on a sharply hit ball which would have been an out if the shift were not banned.
Ponce pitched at three levels last season, High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, where he posted a 3.54 ERA in 61 innings pitched. He topped out at 95.5 mph with his fastball, and looks to be a reliever to keep an eye on in 2023.

Here’s Gabriel Ponce (@gabriel2ponce)’s strikeout and whiff edit.
He struck out the side and touched 95.5 mph with the fastball.#BlueJays
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) March 26, 2023

Things worth mentioning:
The bats were cold on Sunday afternoon. While they managed to score two runs, Toronto only had four hits with a lineup comprised of mainly big leaguers or fringe big leaguers… and fan favourite Peyton Williams. Kevin Kiermaier hit a triple, while Matt Chapman, Danny Jansen, and Santiago Espinal all had a single apiece.
Connor Cooke was absolutely filthy on Sunday. While he allowed an earned run and walked two in his inning of work, he struck out Giancarlo Stanton on what is best described as a whiffle ball pitch (his slider literally hit 3106 RPM this afternoon), as well as Gleyber Torres. Drafted in the 10th round of the 2021 draft, Cooke spent time between Low-A and High-A last season, pos …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Cavan Biggio hits a home run, Drew Hutchison has a good outing, and more as the Blue Jays split the split squad games (again)

For the second time in spring training, the Blue Jays split the split squad games.

In the televised game, they beat the team from Atlanta 3-1, while they lost 6-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays in the untelevised game.
Let’s start with the win.
The Blue Jays’ 3-1 win against Atlanta:
It was nice to get off the schneid with a win on National TV. There were quite a few players that deserved the player of the game, but I went with…
Blue Jays Nation’s player of the game: Nathan Lukes
There were two homers in this game (which we’ll get to), but today we’re going to go with the 28-year-old Nathan Lukes as the player of the game.
His impact on the game was immediate, as he registered the first out of the game on an outstanding catch in centre field.

Nathan Lukes (@nathan_lukes) with an incredible catch to start the game and get the first out.
Very good defender.#BlueJays
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) March 9, 2023

Lukes also went 2-3, with all three of the batted balls registering an exit velocity of over 95 mph (hard hit). Furthermore, his ground out had an exit velocity of 110.1 mph a game-high. Moreover, he could have easily been his third hit of the game had the first baseman not been positioned perfectly.

Nathan Lukes (@nathan_lukes) may mess around and win the Blue Jays Nation player of the game award.
2-2 today, along with an outstanding catch in centre field.
95.9 mph exit velocity here.#BlueJays
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) March 9, 2023

Added to the 40-man roster in November, Lukes is looking for his first MLB plate appearance, and there’s a good chance he gets that this season.
Things worth mentioning:
Kevin Gausman looked more comfortable in his start this afternoon. He pitched 3.2 innings, allowing two hits, but struck out two. He has yet to allow an earned run this spring training, and hi …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Exploring three internal injury replacements for Mitch White

Heading into this spring, most of the Toronto Blue Jays roster was already set, with 25 of the 26 spots decided upon, leaving room for internal competition involving the final bench position. But another role could open up in the bullpen if Mitch White isn’t ready by Opening Day.
White, acquired by Toronto from the Los Angeles Dodgers at last season’s trade deadline, was impacted by a right shoulder impingement over the winter and entered spring training behind schedule. The injury is behind him, although it significantly delayed his off-season throwing program, forcing him to build up his stamina in camp with the team before being cleared for game action.
The 28-year-old is still a ways out from that progression, though, as he has yet to face any live hitters thus far. And he’s starting to run up against the clock. He did throw a 40-pitch side session over the weekend, which is a step in the right direction, but he still has a few hurdles to jump before making his 2023 spring debut.

Mitch White, whose spring build-up has been delayed by a right shoulder impingement, is expecting to throw a 40-pitch side session this weekend at Blue Jays camp.
Next steps after that would be facing hitters in a live bullpen and then getting into games.
— Arden …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Keith Law ranks the Blue Jays farm system 17th, ESPN lists it at 22nd, and more!

As we inch closer to spring training, more and more prospect lists will be released.

In the past week, there have been quite a few releases, such as from ESPN, The Athletic, and Prospects Live. The latter is strictly looking at Blue Jays prospects, while the other two will focus on where the organization stacks up against the rest of the league.
Let’s start with the Jays’ centric list.
Prospects Live:
Admittedly, I can’t go into too much depth about who comes after the top 10, as that is a Patreon exclusive (it’s like seven dollars in Canadian currency a month.)
However, the top 10 is what you’d expect, with Ricky Tiedemann topping it. In fact, the first three prospects on the list are pitching prospects. They have seven 50 overall-graded players, and the last three are rather solid 45 overall-graded players. You can read the entire Top 10 here, which comes with five in-depth scouting reports.
For the enTop 30, it’s well worth the extra $7.50, as ese scouting reports are incredibly in-depth. Heck, I was even able to write one! You can read entire Top 30 here!
Where does The Athletic rank the Blue Jays’ farm system:
The Athletic’s Keith Law has been rather complementary of the Blue Jays in the past, and their 17th ranking came as a little bit of a surprise. Not as big of a surprise as former Blue Jay Kevin Smith ranking 89th in the 2022 edition of the Top 100, but still surprising.
While he only had one Blue Jay in the Top 100 (Tiedemann at 47th, a rather low ranking), he notes that they have plenty of middle infielders signed via international free agency. Moreover, he notes that Yosver Zulueta and Hayden Juenger could pitch for the Ja …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation