In case you missed it: The 2020 Lugnuts home schedule has been released.
On Monday, April 6th, 2020, I expect we shall be releasing the roster for the 25th Lansing Lugnuts season in the Midwest League. Until then, that first week of April, we'll know nothing and neither will the players, though they might have guesses as to where they'll be assigned.
Let's take some guesses of our own and preview some names to know before next year.
Today: The Top Prospects
MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Blue Jays prospects includes the following intriguing names:
- No. 2 - SS Jordan Groshans: Chances: Good.
The 2018 first-rounder played in only 23 games with the Lugnuts, his season cut short by injury. Could the Blue Jays jump him up to Dunedin? They might, but it's reasonable to expect that he'll need more Midwest League seasoning first.
- No. 3 - P Alek Manoah: Chances: Not so good.
The Jays' 2019 first-rounder made six starts for Short-Season A Vancouver, a level below the Nuts, striking out 27 and walking five in 17 innings while allowing just five runs. It was exactly the type of debut the Jays wanted. In the past, the Blue Jays have skipped their top draft picks - Marcus Stroman, Nate Pearson, Logan Warmoth, Riley Adams - from Vancouver to Dunedin for their second professional season. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Mount Manoah rise over Lansing to the FSL next April.
- No. 5 - P Eric Pardinho: Chances: Good.
Like Groshans (20 next year), Pardinho's young (19 next year) and had his time with the Lugnuts abbreviated by injury. If he's healthy next season, he could certainly be moved onward to Dunedin, but he also could still use time in the Midwest League to work on sharpening his repertoire.
- No. 7 - INF Orelvis Martinez: Chances: Not yet.
At some point, Martinez (18 next year) is going to be a Lugnut. But he's young, raw, and spent all of 2019 in the Gulf Coast League. If the Jays jump him over both Bluefield and Vancouver, it would show that they're high on his ability. Until then, let's expect him to reach the Lugnuts either late 2020 or at the start of 2021.
- No. 9 - INF Miguel Hiraldo: Chances: Great.
Hiraldo (19 next year) joined the Nuts at the very end of this year and tripled in his first at-bat -- and then he homered against Michigan State in the Crosstown Showdown pres. by Auto-Owners. Barring something unforeseen, he'll be in the 2020 Opening Day lineup at West Michigan.
- No. 10 - P Adam Kloffenstein: Chances: Good.
6'5 King Kloff (age 19 until late next August, name pronounced "kloff-en-steen") pitched well in the Northwest League this past season (2.24 ERA, .205 avg allowed). The Blue Jays could accelerate his progress up to Dunedin, but why rush? Let him join his high school teammate Groshans with the Lugnuts, and give him the Opening Day start at West Michigan.
- No. 11 - P Kendall Williams: Chances: Not yet.
How awesome would it be to have the 6'6 Williams, one day older than King Kloff, joining his fellow towering teenage right-hander at the front of the Lugnuts rotation? It could happen - but let's be cautious for the moment since the 2019 2nd-rounder spent his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League and would have to skip over Bluefield and Vancouver to get to the Capital City.
- No. 14 - SS Leonardo Jimenez: Chances: Great.
The gregarious Jimenez (turning 19 next May) accompanied Miguel Hiraldo in moving up to Lansing for the last weekend of 2019, giving him a taste of what's to come. He'll be in the Nuts' starting lineup next year.
- No. 18 - OF Dasan Brown: Chances: Not yet.
The speedy Canadian (18 next year) spent his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League and hit .222 in 14 games. Let him play in Bluefield and/or Vancouver first, and then we'll see him in the Lugnuts' outfield afterward.
- No. 19 - OF Will Robertson: Chances: Good.
The Jays' fourth-round pick in 2019, Robertson (22 next year) finished his pro debut in Vancouver on a 16-for-35 hot streak to raise his final slash line to .268/.365/.404. Toronto could see fit to jump him up to Dunedin. If they do, expect his bat to take off in the hitting paradise of Cooley Law School Stadium.
- No. 24 - INF Tanner Morris: Chances: Good.
Morris (22 next year) went in the fifth round in 2019. Just like Robertson, his Vancouver offensive numbers were not stunning, except for a preponderance of walks: .246/.384/.346. Send him to Lansing and put him at the top of the Lugnuts' order.
We're not going to get everyone on that list. It would be nice if we did, true. We won't, and that's all right.
But let's say hypothetically that we did.
Consider this start to a roster:
No. 1 starter - Alek Manoah
No. 2 starter - Eric Pardinho
No. 3 starter - Adam Kloffenstein
No. 4 starter - Kendall Williams
1. CF Dasan Brown
2. 2B Tanner Morris
3. SS Jordan Groshans / Leonardo Jimenez
4. RF Will Robertson
5. DH Miguel Hiraldo
6. 3B Orelvis Martinez
That would be great fun to watch on a regular basis.
As far as catchers, first basemen, outfielders, and the rest of the pitchers are concerned?
Part II: The Catchers and Infielders
Part III: The Outfielders
Part IV: The Pitchers
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.