2024-02-15 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Toronto Blue Jays George Springer and Bo Bichette

Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle | Getty Images

The sun is out, birds are chirping, it’s freezing cold in Toronto and Keegan Matheson is back in Florida - that’s right folks, Spring Training is here!
With many camps officially opening today, the hustle and bustle of men in skin-tight athletic tees scampering around both Arizona and Florida is expected to peak fairly soon. While each organization sets their own dates, everybody ends up reporting around the same time - 18 teams opened their Pitchers & Catchers workouts today, with another 10 coming on Thursday. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres jumped the gun by a few days - Los Angeles on the 9th and San Diego on the 11th - as the NL West rivals will begin their Regular Season in Seoul, South Korea for a two-game series on March 20th and 21st.
For the Blue Jays, their first official workout comes on Thursday, with position players reporting early next week. These dates, though technically official in some respects, act more as a deadline than anything. A number of players live and train near or at their respective organizations’ Spring facilities during the offseason and thus show up early to camp. Among others, lefty Yusei Kikuchi and newly-signed Isiah Kiner-Falefa have both already made appearances in Dunedin.
Along with established Major Leaguers, Spring is once again the time for youngsters battling to prove themselves and fringe-MLB’ers alike to try and grasp a more desirable roster spot. Recently, the Blue Jays announced their list of NON-roster invitees:
  • Andrew Bash (RHP)
  • Jimmy Burnette (LHP)
  • Connor Cooke (RHP)
  • Chad Dallas (RHP)
  • Brandon Eisert (LHP)
  • Paolo Espino (RHP)*
  • Mason Fluharty (LHP)
  • Devereaux Harrison (RHP)
  • Ryan Jennings (RHP)
  • Hayden Juenger (RHP)*
  • Ricky Tiedemann (LHP)
  • TJ Brock (RHP)
  • Phil Clarke
  • Payton Henry*
  • Max McDowell
  • Brian Serven*
  • Andres Sosa
  • Luis De Los Santos
  • Damiano Palmegiani
  • Steward Berroa
  • Zach Britton
  • Cam Eden*
  • Rafael Lantigua
  • Will Robertson
  • Alan Roden
*Denotes having played in the Major Leagues prior to 2024.
There are notable names up and down the list, though top prospect Ricky Tiedemann is once again in the headlines as he lines up to make his MLB debut at some point this summer. The 21-year old lefty has posted terrific numbers since being selected in the 3rd Round of the 2021 MLB Draft. Tiedemann is currently ranked as MLB’s #29 overall prospect, and is one of only six LHPs in the top 100. Giants’ Kyle Harrison is ranked #23, the only lefty above Tiedemann.
Offensively, Damiano Palmegiani and Alan Roden are two big bats whom the Blue Jays have high hopes for. Over AA and AAA in ‘23, Palmegiani smacked 23 HR with 93 RBI over 128 games. In a small sample size (20 games) with Buffalo, he hit four of his home runs and drove in 22 while batting .284. One of Palmegiani’s was a grand slam off of ex-Opening Day Pitcher Drew Hutchison, while another was a solo shot against ex-Jay Bryan Baker. For Roden, he may be slightly further away - only one full season has he played with the organization, as the ‘22 draftee has already risen the ranks to AA. He’s slightly older, having recently turned 24, but possesses great hitting ability (.317 in ‘23) and does not strike out (68 BB to 64 K in ‘23). Successful home-grown Outfielders have been few and far between for Toronto, with Vernon Wells being the most obvious answer - though he’s been gone since 2010.
Additionally, the club announced a deal; recently-DFA’d Infielder Otto Lopez being sent to San Francisco in exchange for cash - a move that clears a roster spot and removes one of Toronto’s many middle-Infield men from the fray.
Toronto’s first action comes a week from Saturday, as they host the Philadelphia Phillies on February 24th in Dunedin for the squad’s first game. Just days ago, Sportsnet announced that they will be broadcasting 26 of Toronto’s Spring games, including all 15 home games through February-March. For eleven away games, fans of Toronto can tune in and watch Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Rays, Braves and Pirates streams at various points throughout the Spring. Two of Toronto’s road games are at 6:05 pm, while only one begins at 6:35 pm - like usual, the team hits the field the rest of the time in the early afternoon.
As well as the broadcast schedule, Sportsnet also revealed that SN590 listeners will now hear the voices of Ben Shulman and Chris Leroux on the radio. After Ben Wagner, Toronto’s play-by-play voice who filled the shoes after Jerry Howarth retired, was fired earlier this offseason, the position was left vacant for quite some time. Ben is the son of Dan Shulman, who fans know well from TV, while Leroux is an ex-MLB Reliever who pitched over six seasons with Florida, Pittsburgh, and the Yankees from 2009-2014. He has also pitched on the Canadian Nation Team on many occasions, as well as in the NPB. In 2019, he suited up for the IBL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, and pitched in 8 games with the club. Leroux made an appearance on season 3 of Bachelor Canada.
Oh, and one more thing - Free Agent Cody Bellinger currently follows Justin Turner, Vlad Jr., and Auston Matthews on Instagram. Do with that what you will.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins


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