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When I started this list thing, I really thought it would be enjoyable, you know, a walk down memory lane. Well memory lane isn’t so great, especially when it comes to the catcher position. The truth is, Kansas City has been a black hole for catchers. Sure, there’s been a couple of really good catchers, but for a franchise that is 51 years old, you’d think filling out a top five would be easy. Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Have them be a catcher because evidently there is a serious shortage of great ones.

I had no idea that Brent Mayne stuck around the bigs for 15 seasons. Buck Martinez and Jamie Quirk hung on for 17 and 18 years respectively. Mayne had 20 career home runs in 15 seasons. Buck Martinez had 15 career home runs in his 17 years. Compare that to Mark Belanger who carved out an 18-year career as a great fielding, no-hit shortstop for the Orioles. Belanger somehow stroked 20 career home runs and was good for 41 WAR, while Mayne, Quirk and Martinez were good for a combined 9 WAR. I know that’s comparing apples to oranges, but I came away amazed at how weak the Royals have been at catcher most years.

Another issue that complicated matters is that three former backstops I considered (Ed Kirkpatrick, Jamie Quirk and John Wathan) also spent considerable time playing other positions for the Royals. I ran over the stats of 11 different catchers and amazingly, those 11 have caught most of all games the Royals have played. Well let’s get to the ugly.

Honorable mention

Ed Kirkpatrick and Jim Sundberg. Sundberg had a fantastic career, good for 41 WAR. The problem was only 2 of his 16 years were spent in Kansas City. He played a huge part of the 1985 Royals winning the World Series. In the playoffs and World Series, he had timely hitting and expertly managed the young pitching staff.

5. John Buck
Buck was drafted by the Houston Astros in the seventh round of the 1998 draft. On June 24, 2004 he was traded to the Royals as part of the infamous three team trade in which Kansas City sent future Hall of Famer Carlos Beltran to Houston in return for Buck, Mark Teahen, Mike Wood and cash. He made his Major League debut the next day at the age of 23.

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The Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams that have met with free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal according to ESPN’s Marly Rivera.

It’s unclear how many teams the Blue Jays are competing against on the Grandal front, but Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Tuesday that the Milwaukee Brewers want to bring him back for another season. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last week that “all signs point” to the Cincinnati Reds making a “serious run” at the switch-hitting catcher.

Grandal, 31, is one of the top prizes on the free-agent market and currently occupies the No. 9 spot on TSN’s top 50 MLB free agents board. He had the best season of his career last year, slashing .246/.380/.468 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI in 153 games while being recognized as one of the top defensive catchers in the game. He also appeared in 20 games at first base (startinff 16) in 2019.

Prior to spending last season with the Brewers, Grandal played four years with the Dodgers and three with the San Diego Padres. He was named to the National League all-star team last year as well as in 2015.

The Jays are no stranger to making big splashes in free agency behind the dish, signing Canadian Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal prior to the start of the 2015 season. Martin went on to play a crucial role in the Jays playoff runs of 2015 and 2016 before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last off-season.

The Blue Jays went with a trio of Danny Jansen, Luke Maile and Reese McGuire behind the plate last season but didn’t get consistent production from any of the three from both sides of the plate. McGuire finished the year with a nifty .299/.346/.526 slash line but saw his OPS drop considerably when facing left-handed pitching (.924 against righties, .685 against lefties). Despite 13 home runs from Jansen, neither he (.207), nor Luke Maile (.151) was much of a factor at the plate.

While Grandal is without question one of baseball’s best catchers, general manager Ross Atkins made it clear earlier this week at the GM Meetings that the Jays are prioritizing pitching this off-season.

“First and foremost, for us, we want to make sure we address every pitching need, every pitching opportunity and consider that before we lunge at the positon player market. Pitching could impact our financial flexibility.”

The Jays finished last season at 67-95 in 2019 to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

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Aspiring young baseball player visited to Kamloops this week to learn the tricks of the trade from the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Academy travels across Canada, teaching athletes ages 9-16 techniques used by the professionals. Camps are taught by both Blue Jays alumni and Blue Jays Baseball Academy instructors. This year, the camp brought Homer Bush, Lloyd Moseby, Orlando Hudson and Roberto Alomar to instruct the kids.

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The camp took place July 16-17. Rebecca Scott, team manager for the Salmon Arm Minor Baseball Association, attended along with 12 team members including her son Brady.

“Wednesday they played a whole bunch of games and it was just really fun; they had a fun time and the Blue Jays were goofy,” Scott said.

The players worked through six stations on Tuesday, learning fielding techniques with Moseby and Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.

Hitting drills were conducted by with Bush and Gold Glove Award-winner Orlando Hudson.

Over the two days, Brady said he learned something new from the pros.

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“When I’m playing second and trying to get a double play, I should lead with my left foot instead of my right,” Scott said.

Kamloops was the Jay’s only stop in the Interior. The next stop for the camp will be in Richmond, B.C. at Latrace Field on July 18-19.

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With the exciting pennant races of 1985 a fresh memory, the Royals traveled to Toronto for the American League Championship Series. The 1985 season marked the first year that the Championship Series went to a best-of-seven format. The Blue Jays, who started as an expansion team in 1977, won their first American League East crown by holding off the New York Yankees by two games. For the Royals, their West division title marked their seventh playoff appearance in the past ten seasons.

Conventional wisdom would seem to favor the veteran Royals, but this was a tough Blue Jays team. The Jays featured young stars Tony Fernandez, George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield along with ace pitchers Dave Steib, Jimmy Key and hard throwing closer Tom Henke. The Jays also had their share of former Royals – Rance Mulliniks, Buck Martinez, Willie Aikens and a 21-year-old first baseman by the name of Cecil Fielder. The series also featured the Iorg brothers – Garth for Toronto and Dane for Kansas City.

Vegas installed the Jays as the favorites in the series. The Blue Jays had homefield advantage, if you can call it that. Their home was Exhibition Stadium, a facility that had been built for the CFL Toronto Argonauts. Jays President Paul Beeston once called Exhibition “not just the worst stadium in baseball, it was the worst stadium in sports.”

They tried calling it “The mistake by the lake” but that name was already taken by Cleveland. The stadium sat near Lake Ontario and the weather was often cold at the beginning and end of the baseball season. In the Jays first game ever, on April 7, 1977, they had to borrow a Zamboni from the Toronto Maple Leafs to clear the field of snow. The main seating area was a bowl reconstructed from two grandstands that ran the length of the third and first base lines and was open to the elements. A huge covered grandstand ran the length of left field and extended well past center field. There were no seats in right field, just a fence and a whole lotta space. It was, and remains, one of the strangest baseball fields I’ve ever seen. Calling the first two games for NBC were former Yankee great Tony Kubek and a young Bob Costas.

Game One

The game was played October 8th in Toronto. The Blue Jays started their ace, Dave Steib. Steib only went 14-13 in 1985 but made the All-Star team and led the American League in ERA with a 2.48 mark. Kansas City countered with lefty Charlie Leibrandt, who had posted a sterling 17-9 record in his second season with the club. The Jays wasted little time, jumping on Leibrandt for six runs in the first four innings. The Royals finally got on the board in the ninth when Willie Wilson scored on a ground out by Pat Sheridan.

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Here are your 1985 Kansas City Royals
The six runs were more than enough as Steib held the Royals to three hits in eight innings of work and Tom Henke, who looked more like a high school science teacher than one of the best closers in the game, worked around two singles in the ninth to preserve the win and give the Blue Jays a 1-0 series lead. Leibrandt gave up five runs in two innings of work before Dick Howser went to Steve Farr. Mark Gubicza and Danny Jackson for the final four innings. The odd pitching rotation highlighted a serious lack of depth in the Kansas City staff. Howser basically had five decent starters and Dan Quisenberry. Steve Farr, who had only thrown 37 innings in the regular season, emerged late in the year to give Howser a little more depth.

Game Two

Played Wednesday afternoon, October 9th with a 3:00 ET start time, the Jays started their number two-man, Jimmy Key. The Royals countered with Bud Black. Key had gone 14-6 in the regular season, while Black had an off year, finishing 10-15. Key and Black, both lefties, were nearly mirror images of each other, the only difference being Key often threw from a three-quarter arm slot while Black came over the top. The Royals struck first when Buddy Biancalana led off the third with a single to center.

With one out, Willie Wilson fouled off the first two pitches from Key. Key challenged him on the third pitch and Willie deposited it into the left field stands. Wilson had only hit four home runs during the regular season. The Royals increased their lead in the fourth when Daryl Motley walked and scored on a double by Jim Sundberg. Rain interrupted the proceedings in the fifth with the score 3-1 Kansas City. When play resumed, Black lost his rhythm. He hit Bell with a pitch and after a Cliff Johnson single, uncorked a wild pitch. Barfield then punched a single to center to score both runners.

Manager Dick Howser went to his closer, Dan Quisenberry, to start the eighth. Lloyd Moseby singled, stole second, advanced to third when Sundberg’s throw got by Frank White and score the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by George Bell. The Jays were only three outs from taking a two-game lead and with Henke on the mound, it looked bleak. Pat Sheridan, pinch-hitting for Daryl Motley, said no problem and wrapped a lead-off home run around the flagpole in right to stun the Toronto crowd.

Quisenberry worked around a two-out Mulliniks single to retire the Jays in the ninth. Kansas City took the lead in the 10th, when Wilson singled, then with one-out, stole second. With two outs, Frank White stroked a sinking liner to center. Moseby charged and appeared to have made a shoestring catch. Left field umpire Derryl Cousins didn’t see it that way and ruled that Moseby had trapped the ball, which allowed the fleet Wilson to easily score. Manager Bobby Cox argued vociferously, but to no avail. In those prehistoric days, there was no replay and even today, the YouTube video of the play is too difficult to make a solid ruling.

Howser sent Quisenberry out for the tenth and Tony Fernandez led off with a high chopper to Onix Concepcion. Concepcion fielded the ball cleanly, had the ball in his throwing hand, then for some mysterious reason double clutched, allowing Fernandez to beat the throw. It was ruled a hit but should have been an error on Concepcion. The error/hit proved costly as Fernandez moved to second on a ground out before a Moseby single to right drove him home with the tying run. Fernandez ran through third base coach Jimy Williams stop sign and easily beat Sheridan’s throw to the plate.

Quisenberry then tried to pick off Moseby but first baseman Steve Balboni forgot to catch the ball, allowing Moseby to take second. That brought Al Oliver to the plate. Oliver was a professional hitter in the last year of a brilliant 18-year career which saw him accumulate 2,743 hits and almost 44 WAR. With two strikes, Oliver went the other way, slipping a grounder to left to easily score Moseby with the game winner. The Royals committed three costly errors in the game, four if you count the freebie given to Concepcion, and it cost them the game.

Game Three

Game Three moved to Kansas City, a Friday night game with announced attendance of 40,224. The Royals started 20-game winner Bret Saberhagen while the Jays countered with Doyle Alexander, who had a fine 17-10 season. For the season, Saberhagen had recorded 158 strikeouts and only issued 38 walks. Game Three quickly became the George Brett show. Brett had worked out hard over the winter looking to avoid the injuries that had plagued him since his seminal 1980 season. Looking at that 1980 season, .390/.454/.664, where does a player go from there?

With one out, Willie Wilson singled to center. Wilson attempted to steal second and was called out. The replay clearly shows his slide beat the tag by Tony Fernandez but second base umpire Vic Voltaggio’s view was blocked by Fernandez and since replay didn’t exist yet, Wilson took a seat. Naturally, Brett drove the next pitch about ten rows deep to right to give the Royals a quick 1-0 lead.

It stayed that way until the fourth, when Brett narrowly missed another home run, as his lead off drive bounced high off the right field wall for a double. He advanced to third on a fly out by Hal McRae and came home on another fly out by Frank White.

The wheels came off for Saberhagen in the fifth. The inning went single, home run, fly out, double, single off Saberhagen’s leg and finally another home run, this one off the bat of former Royal Rance Mulliniks. Howser brought on game two starter Bud Black to put out the fire. 5-2 Toronto. Steve Balboni led off the Royals half of the fifth with a hard liner to left, but George Bell made a terrific running catch to rob Balboni of extra bases. Jim Sundberg picked his teammate up with a home run that barely cleared the left field wall. 5-3 Toronto. In the bottom of the sixth, Wilson led off with a sharp single over the glove of Alexander, bringing up Brett. Brett took a ball, then took a violent cut at a ball which he fouled off. On Alexander’s third pitch, Brett drove the ball deep over the left-center wall, up onto the grass to tie the score. The fans gave him a well-deserved standing ovation, getting a curtain call from Brett. Many believe Alex Gordon’s home run in the 2015 World Series was the biggest in Royals history, but this Brett shot was right up there. If the Royals lose this game, they go down three games to none and have to face Dave Steib. Game three was a must win for Kansas City and their star delivered. Again.

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Juan Guzman turns 53 today.

Juan Guzman was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1985 by the Dodgers. The Jays traded Mike Sharperson to LA for him. One of the better trades in Jay’s history. Pat Gillick was a terrific GM.

Juan was called up to the Majors in early June of 1991; the Jay’s rotation was a bit of a mess behind the top three of Stottlemyre, Key and Wells. Dave Stieb was hurt and Denis Boucher didn’t pan out and would be soon traded to the Indians along with Glenallen Hill and Mark Whiten for Tom Candiotti and Turner Ward.

Juan made his first start June 7th and stayed in the rotation the rest of the season. He was great, going 10-3 with a 2.99 ERA. He had 123 strikeouts in 138.2 innings, gave up too many walks (66) but kept the hitting to a minimum (98). He was equally great against left-handed batters (holding them to a .201 BA) as well as right-handed batters (.193 BA). He was second in the AL in Rookie of the Year voting to Chuck Knoblauch. We lost out in the ALCS to the Twins that year in 5 games. Guzman had our 1 win in game 2 of the series.

The next year he was in our starting rotation all season, though he missed most of the month of August with a strained back muscle. He was great once again with a 16-5 record and a 2.64 ERA in 28 starts. He struck out 165 in 180.2 innings, still giving up too many walks (72) but held opponents to a .207 BA. He was selected to the All-Star team and pitched a shutout inning in the game.

More importantly, in the first of the Jay’s back-to-back World Series wins, Juan won each of his 2 starts in the ALCS win over Oakland. In the WS he started game 3 but didn’t get a decision, giving up only 2 runs in 8 innings of a game the Jays won in the bottom of the 9th.

In 1993 we won the World Series again and again Juan was a big part of our success, he was 14-3 in 33 starts with his highest ERA in his career to that point, 3.99. He still walked way too many, 110 in 221 innings. He also gave up more hits than he had in the past, giving up a .252 BA, which is pretty good still but not near as good as he had been his first two seasons. The trouble was a drop in effectiveness against left-handed batters who hit .282 against him, while righties hit just .223. And he was third in the league in strikeouts. He received a Cy Young Award vote. Two other Jay pitchers finished ahead of him in the voting, Duane Ward and Pat Hentgen. Jack McDowell from the White Sox won the award that year. Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall for his arm as he was allowed to throw 120 pitches or more in 12 starts. Cito was never gentle with young pitchers.

Once again won his two starts in the ALCS, this time against the White Sox, but Dave Stewart won the Series MVP for his two wins. Really they had very equal series, Stewart gave up 3 runs in 12.1 innings, Guzman 3 runs in 12 innings. They each gave up 8 hits, Stewart walked 8, Guzman 9, Stewart struck out 8, Guzman 9. Juan also made two starts in the World Series, getting a no decision in a game one win and taking the loss in game 5.

Juan was lousy the next two lockout/strike shortened seasons with ERAs of 5.68 and 6.32 and a combined 16-25 record. He still walked more than a batter every other inning but he was giving up more than a hit an inning as well.

But then in 1996 he found the touch again, leading the league in ERA at 2.93, winning 11 and losing 8. He really cut down on his walks, walking less than a batter every 3 innings. He also pitched better against lefties (.224 BA).

1997 was an injury filled season for Juan, he only made 13 starts with a 4.95 ERA and a 3-6 record. In 1998 Guzman made 22 starts for the Jays before being traded to Baltimore on July 31st for Nerio Rodriguez and Shannon Carter. Yeah we didn’t get much for him but then he didn’t do much for the Orioles before they traded him to the Reds on July 31st, 1999. He made 12 good starts for the Reds then signed with the Rays as a free agent before the 2000 season. He made 1 crappy start for the Rays and his shoulder was wrecked. That was the end of his career.

Juan had a pretty good 10 year career finishing 91-79 and a 4.08 ERA. He struck out 7.5 per 9 innings. He was wild, walked way too many and led the league in wild pitches in 1993 with 26 and 1994 with 13. He was slow and deliberate on the mound. He was very poor at holding runners. He threw a sinking fastball, rising fastball, slider and curve. Bill Mazeroski said he had “Incredible stuff and he’s just wild enough for hitters to have that in the back of their minds’.

He also had the cool jheri curl.

Juan Guzman’s place among Jay pitching leaders:

bWAR: 6th (21.0)

ERA (>500 IP): 18th 4.07

Wins: 7th (76)

Hits/9IP (>500 IP): 6th (8.14)

Strikeouts/9IP (>500 IP): 9th (7.63)

Games: 28th (195)

Innings: 6th (1215.2)

Strikeouts: 4th (1030)

Games Started: 6th (195)

Walks: 4th (546)

Wild Pitches: 1st (88)

Happy Birthday Juan. I hope you have a good one.

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Carlos Delgado turns 47 today.

Carlos Delgado was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The Blue Jays signed him as an amateur free agent in 1988, when he was just 16. He went through the Jay’s minor league system as a catcher. He quickly became our top prospect; he hit 30 home runs in Dunedin in 1992 at 20 years old and then 25 the next season at Double-A Knoxville.

Carlos got called up to Toronto at the end of the 1993 season, our second World Series winner, but only got into a couple of games. The Jays gave him a ring anyway. The next season he started the year with the Jays. He played most of the games for the first couple of months, playing left field. Things started well, he had a 1.028 OPS on April 24th with 8 home runs, but it went downhill from there. He was sent back down to the minors in early June. He was hitting .215/.352/.438 when he was sent down. Cito never has had any patience with young players, it would have been nice if some patience was shown here. Bill James said that he would be an MVP candidate by 2000. He turned out to be an MVP candidate several times.

In 1995 the Jays brought Delgado up at the end of April but Cito used him mostly as a pinch hitter and he didn’t hit much in the 25 at bats he was given that month (it was more important to keep Joe Carter’s .300 OBP in the lineup) and was sent back down. They brought him back up in September and he did play more but still didn’t hit much.

Finally in 1996 Carlos got to stay up with the Jays for the full season, DHing most of the time, he hit .270/.353/.490 with 25 homers and 82 RBI. After the season the Jays traded John Olerud to make room at first base for Carlos.

Over the first couple of months of the 1997 season Joe Carter played first base and Carlos DHed but by late May Delgado took over at first and played there for the next 8 years. He had a great year hitting .262/.350/.528 with 30 homers and 91 RBI.

In 1998 Carlos played first base full time and his numbers took another big jump. He hit .292/.385/.592 with 38 homers and 115 RBI. He got MVP votes for the first time in his career and finished 5th in the league in slugging average.

He had another great season in 1999, hitting .272/.377/.571, setting a new career high in homers with 44, RBI with 134, runs with 113 and walks with 86. He won his first Silver Slugger award and finished 12 in MVP voting. He tied George Bells single season team record for RBI. He would have set a new record but he missed the final 10 games of the season, breaking his tibia fouling a ball off his leg.

In 2000 Carlos played in all 162 games, led the league with 57 doubles. He hit .344/.470/.664, had 41 homers and set a new team record with 137 RBI. He also took 123 walks and led the league being hit by pitch 15 times. He made the All-Star team for the first time, came in 4th in MVP voting, won the AL Hank Aaron Award (for best hitter) and was the Sporting New Player of the Year. He also got his second Silver Slugger award. Carlos finished 4th in the league in batting average, 2nd in on base average, 2nd in walks, 2nd in slugging and first in total bases.

His .664 slugging average is the Jays single season record .344 BA and .470 OBP are both the second best in Jay history. That season is also the Jay season high in total bases, doubles, walks, extra base hits and runs created. He was AL Player of the Week twice and had a 22 game hit streak. He was one of 7 Jays to hit 20 homers and one of 3 with 30.

Delgado played in all 162 games again in 2001. His numbers dropped off some from the year before, hitting .279/.408/.540 with 39 homers, 102 RBI and 111 walks. Pretty decent for a down season. It was his 4th consecutive season with over 35 HR and 100 RBI. He also stole a base for the first time in his MLB career.

His numbers fell off a bit more in 2002. He hit .277/.406/.549 with 33 homers, 108 RBI and 102 walks. He finished 4th in the league in OBP, 8th in slugging and 4th in walks. Carlos was the first Jay to hit 30 homers in 6 consecutive seasons and 100 RBI in 5. He missed a game August 4th to snap a streak of 432 consecutive games played. Then went on the DL for just the second time in his career, later in the August, with a stiff back.

Carlos had a bounce back season in 2003, hitting .302/.426/.593 with 42 home runs and a new career and franchise high in RBI with 145 which also led the league. He made the All-Star team, got the Silver Slugger award and came in second in the MVP voting. He finished 2nd in slugging, on base, home runs and walks.

It was his 7th straight year with 30 home runs, 6th 100 RBI and 5th with 100 runs. Among other achievements, he had 97 RBI at the All-Star break and 4 home runs in a game on Sept. 25th. HE reached base 334 times, setting another team record.

2004 was Delgado’s last season with the team, he missed about a month of the season with a strained rib cage and missed getting to 100 RBI for the first time since 1997. He still had 32 home runs and hit .269/.372/.545.

After the season Carlos was a free agent and the team decided not to try to sign him. JP was trying to cut salary and Carlos made $19.7 million in 2004. He signed a 4 year contract with the Florida Marlins. I felt that Carlos got blame for the team not making the playoffs. I find bad organizations (and often fans) will blame the team’s best player for the team’s short comings. We heard enough of that during Jose Bautista’s early years with the team.

After one season with the Marlins, they decided to cut payroll and traded Delgado to the Mets for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas. Carlos played for the Met for 4 seasons, making the playoffs for the first time in 2006, losing out to the Cardinals in the NLCS in 2007.

Carlos retired with a .280/.383/.546 batting line and 473 home runs in 2035 games. He was one and out on the Hall of Fame ballot, only getting 3.8% of the votes in 2015. He deserved better.

Rob Neyers ‘Big Book of Baseball Lineups’ lists him as the best Jay first baseman. It also calls him the worst defensive first baseman in Jay history too. Considering John Mayberry played first for us too, that’s saying something. He’s right, Delgado was never much with the glove, but I don’t think we ever had a better hitter.

Carlos was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award in 2006 for ‘good play and strong work in the community’. He does work for many charities in Puerto Rico.

He has had his moments of controversy. He protested the war in Iraq by not standing during ‘God Bless America’ (he was ahead of his time). He said ”I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war. But I think it’s the stupidest war ever.”

He is married and has a son and a daughter.

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Gruber was a Rule 5 pick up from the Rangers in 1983. Since we didn’t have 7 or 8 man bullpens back then, a Rule 5 pick could be hidden on the bench, you really didn’t gave to use the full 25-man roster back then. Gruber had all of 16 at bats in 1984, while staying on the roster all season.. It took until 1986 until he played much, playing in 87 games mostly as a defensive replacement. 1987 was the first season he had a real role on the team, taking Garth Iorg’s spot as the right-handed half of the third base platoon with Rance Mulliniks. He didn’t do well, hitting.235/.283/.399.

In 1988 he took over the full time third base job, when Rance became DH. Kelly was much better, hitting 278/.328/.438, with 16 home runs, 81 RBI and 23 stolen bases. 1989 was our first playoff season and Gruber was a large part of success despite a couple of trips to the DL (shades of things to come). Kelly got selected to the All-Star team and hit .290/.328/.448 with 18 homers and 73 RBI. Even his defense improved as he showed a bit more range. And on April 16th he became the first Jay to hit for the cycle. Gruber hit well in our 5 game lost to Oakland in the ALCS, with a .294 average

1990 was Gruber’s best season by far, with 31 home runs and 118 RBI, hitting .274/.330/.512 for a OPS+ of 127. He had career highs in at bats, runs, doubles, triples, homers, RBI. He won the Gold Glove, Silver Slugger award for best offensive third baseman and made the All-Star game, taking a walk and stealing 2 bases in two plate appearances. He also was 4th in the MVP vote. He was 6th in the AL in slugging average, 2nd in total bases and 2nd in RBI.

After that he had a couple of injury filled seasons, but he picked up a World Series ring and was part of what should have been a triple play:

After 1992 Kelly was traded to the Angels. He only played 18 games for the Angels, then injuries forced him out of the game. In total he played 10 seasons, hit .259/.307/.432 with 117 home runs. He also was a very good defensive third baseman. Kelly was blond and good looking and seemed like a fun guy, he was a fan favorite.

Josh Towers turns 42 today.

Towers pitched for us for 5 seasons, winning 37 and losing 42 from 2003 to 2007. His best season was 2005 when he went 13-12 with a 3.71 ERA in 33 starts. Unfortunately the next year wasn’t quite as good, 2-10 with a 8.42 ERA. Towers, even at the best of times, gave up a lot of hits, and a good number of home runs as well, but he kept the walks down and made guys hit their way on base. In 2009 he had a couple of appearances for the Yankees. He was your basic soft thrower, throws strikes, gets hit a lot but didn’t walk anyone.

Mark DeRosa turns 43 today.

Mark played for us in 2013, the last season of his 16 year career. He was brought in to ‘fix the clubhouse chemistry’ and help Brett Lawrie mature. We went several seasons where we seemed to bring someone in to fix the clubhouse every year. I’m not a fan of bringing someone in thinking he’s going to fix the chemistry, unless, of course, he is also a good player. Mark hit .235/.326/.407 for us, not all that bad, in 88 games. He played more than we would have liked. but wasn’t terrible.

In his career he hit .268/.340/.412 with 100 home runs in 1241 games.

And Richard Urena turns 23 today.

We have been talking about him for so long I keep thinking he is older. I was hoping he would get a shot at being a utility guy this year, but when they signed Galvis, that hope disappeared. It would be nice if he got a real shot at a major league job, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.

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Canadian Cal Quantrill will make the start for the San Diego Padres against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday at Rogers Centre, the team has confirmed.

Scott Mitchell

@ScottyMitchTSN
Cal Quantrill, son of Paul, has been confirmed as San Diego Padres’ starter against #BlueJays on Saturday at Rogers Centre.
It will be the 24-year-old’s fourth-career start, and obviously first in Toronto for the Port Hope product.

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The 24-year-old son of former Blue Jays reliever Paul Quantrill will be making his fourth career MLB start, he currently has an 0-2 record with a 5.40 ERA in 15.0 innings pitched.

Quantrill made his MLB debut on May 1 on the road against the Atlanta Braves and threw 5.2 innings, surrendering two earned runs as he was tagged with the loss.

He made his second and third starts at home against the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates, picking up a no-decision and loss respectively.

The Port Hope, Ont., native was selected eighth overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft by the Padres.

His father Paul pitched six seasons with the Blue Jays and also appeared for the Padres, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Florida Marlins over the course of his 14-year MLB career.

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Toronto Blue Jays prospects Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. both received votes for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, with Biggio garnering more votes than his third base counterpart.
The Toronto Blue Jays had quite a few prospects on their active roster this season due to the rebuild, such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rowdy Tellez, Danny Jansen, Cavan Biggio,and Bo Bichette.

At the end of the season (before postseason begins), two eligible journalists of the Baseball Writer’s of America Association from each MLB city submit their top three picks for who they believe should win the A.L. Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award. It is a point based system where a first place vote receives five points, second place receives three points, and third place receives one. The Houston Astros prospect Yordan Alvarez took home top honours this season, receiving a unanimous 30 votes for 1st place.

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Cavan Biggio was the highest ranking Blue Jays prospect, receiving two 2nd place votes and one 3rd place vote for a total of seven points.

Cavan Biggio finishes 5th in AL Rookie of the Year voting, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 7th.https://t.co/Su73S3ACCu pic.twitter.com/jyF3nknUXn

— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) November 12, 2019

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be next and the last Blue Jays prospect on the list, receiving one 2nd place vote and two 3rd place votes for a total of five points.

This comes as a bit of surprise, as the highly-touted Vladito was a betting favourite at the beginning of the season to bring home the ROY award. The former #1 ranked prospect did have his struggles early on this season, but ultimately finished with a respected slash line of .272/.339/.433, as well as 15 home runs, 69 RBI’s, and 26 doubles. While he did not crank out a bajillion home runs like Blue Jays fans were hoping for, he did produce at the plate for a young prospect still learning the ropes in the big leagues.

The one caveat on Guerrero Jr’s rookie season resume was his defence. While he did make some outstanding plays on the hot corner, as well as some powerful throws across the diamond, he did create some errors on ground balls that should have been routine for a major league third baseman. He would finish the season with a .936% fielding percentage, and would tie for second place for the most errors for third baseman in the MLB with 17.

This area will need to be worked upon this off-season and moving forward, unless the organization decides to move him to a 1B/DH role like some writers and fans (including myself) are predicting in the future.

Cavan Biggio was an interesting story for the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays this season. Son of former MLB player Craig Biggio, Cavan was called up to the team in mid-May and would slot right in at second base, taking over for the injured Devon Travis and the ‘struggling at second base’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Biggio would have a pretty successful rookie season, his eye at the plate being the key focal points showcasing how talented he truly is.

The Notre Dame product would spend the majority of his time at second base, but also played some games at 1st base, as well as in the outfield in right field. While he didn’t look super confident as an outfielder, it was his play at second base that truly stood out. He was able to make consistent plays and turn double plays with ease that made fans feel better when the ball was hit out his way.

He would finish the season with a .989 fielding percentage at second base (.988 for all positions over the season), and would commit only five errors in just 101 games. His defence was rated at -2.7 by Fangraphs for the 2019 season, but with some more time spent on the field moving forward, he seems like a legitimate option to keep turning double plays with Bichette moving forward, turning into an above-average fielder at the MLB level.

Cavan Biggio would finish the season with a .234/.364/.429 slash line to go along with 16 home runs, 48 RBI, and an impressive 71 walks. His eye at the plate was his most impressive quality, which is why he had would finish the season leading all rookies in walks and would hit for the cycle as a rookie.

While the batting average could stand to be improved upon, as well as the number of times he struck out (123), Biggio’s rookie season was quite impressive considering the hype behind prospects like Guerrero Jr. and Bichette heading into the 2019 season.

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In the long run, will anyone remember who came in second place or third place in the 2019 ROY Award? Not really, mostly because not every ROY winner turns out to be a sure fire Hall of Famer. A player isn’t defined by their rookie season alone and the potential behind many of the Blue Jays prospects has yet to be fully defined.

There is tons of upside for players like Guerrero Jr. and Biggio, who performed quite well in their rookie seasons for a fanbase that didn’t really have a lot to cheer for. There are obvious areas where these players, as well as the other Blue Jays prospects, will need to improve upon heading into their sophomore seasons, but the base core is starting to take shape during the rebuild, which is exactly what management set out to accomplish during this process.

Follow this with a supporting cast of other talented prospects with a dash of veteran presence in Randal Grichuk and Ken Giles (before he most likely gets traded), and the Toronto Blue Jays look to be setting themselves up nicely for the future.

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The rocky waves of the rebuild will most likely hurt for the next few seasons while the Blue Jays prospects continue to find their groove, but the end goal of reaching the postseason seems to be drawing closer and closer when looking towards the end of the rebuilding horizon.

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The Home Run Derby is the best part of the MLB All-Star Game festivities and the most entertaining aspect of the three-day event surrounding the Midsummer Classic. Over the years, the Blue Jays have had their fair share of players slug it out for the derby title.

No Blue Jay has won the title, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could become the first tonight at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Despite not technically being named an “All-Star,” he’s a write-in candidate for the Home Run Derby.

In total, 15 Toronto Blue Jays players have competed in Major League Baseball’s biggest slugfest, with a few players earning runner-up honours at the festivities. Here’s the full list of Blue Jays competitors dating back in 1986.

Year Player City Home Runs Place
1986 Jesse Barfield Houston 2
1987 George Bell Oakland 1
1991 Joe Carter Toronto 2
1992 Joe Carter San Diego 4
1996 Joe Carter Philadelphia 2
1999 Shawn Green Boston 2
2000 Carlos Delgado Atlanta 6
2003 Carlos Delgado Chicago 2
2006 Troy Glaus Pittsburgh 1
2007 Alex Rios San Francisco 19 Runner-Up
2010 Vernon Wells Los Angeles 2
2011 Jose Bautista Phoenix 4
2012 Jose Bautista Kansas City 20 Runner-Up
2014 Jose Bautista Minnesota 14
2015 Josh Donaldson Cincinnati 18
For the most part, Blue Jays players did very little damage from the Home Run Derby from 1986 to 2006. Joe Carter participated in three separate seasons but failed to make an impact against his competitors.

For two decades, the Blue Jays’ biggest claim to fame at the Home Run Derby was that Skydome was the birthplace of the infamous Cecil Fielder derby performance. Fielder sent two home runs sailing above Windows restaurant, with distances in excess of 450 feet each.

All that changed in 2007 thanks to a budding young Blue Jays outfielder facing off against the father of future Home Run Derby participant, Vladimir Guerrero.

Alex Rios (2007)

It wasn’t until 2007 when an All-Star outfielder named Alex Rios put his name on the map by finishing runner-up to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Interestingly enough, Rios hit the most home runs of any single player in the 2007 Derby with 19 total, but narrowly lost in the finals by a score of 3-2 from Guerrero Sr.