Bisons start with top pitching prospects Pearson and Manoah
Bisons start with top pitching prospects Pearson and Manoah
(Trenton, NJ) - The Trenton Thunder, presented by NJM Insurance Group, are pleased to announce that the Buffalo Bisons have set their preliminary roster in conjunction with the Toronto Blue Jays. 14 players with prior Major League experience will suit up for the team’s first game on May 4 against the Worcester Red Sox, as Triple-A baseball returns to the Garden State for the first time in 60 years. In addition to the team’s veteran presence, the roster also features five of the Blue Jays Top-30 prospects according to Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. This group is highlighted by first-round picks Nate Pearson, Alek Manoah, and T.J. Zeuch, three of the Blue Jays most highly touted homegrown pitching prospects of the past decade-plus.
The Bisons have one of the most interesting starting rotations in the minors in Pearson (28th overall, 2017), Manoah (11th overall, 2019), and Zeuch (21st overall, 2016). In addition to being _MLB Pipeline’s _top Blue Jays prospect for the third straight season, Pearson has been a Top-100 overall prospect for both publications for four straight years. A shortened 2020 season saw the Odessa, FL native make his Major League debut, finishing the season 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA in 5 games (4 starts). In his playoff debut in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card against the Tampa Bay Rays, the 24-year-old Pearson struck out five over two scoreless innings.
Manoah’s 2021 season got off to a brilliant start with three scoreless appearances in Spring Training that featured 15 strikeouts across seven innings. He is Toronto’s #7 prospect and #97 on Baseball America’s Top-100 list after being the Blue Jays #5 prospect last season. Zeuch has already pitched in four games with the Jays this season and forever holds a place in the Herd history books as the second pitcher in the modern era to throw a no-hitter (8/19/19 @ Rochester). *_Jake Waguespack *_returns to the Herd after a 2020 season that featured 11 relief appearances with the Blue Jays, and lefthander *_Nick Allgeyer *_gets his first taste of Triple-A despite being in just his third season.
Several pitchers did not see any game action in 2020 because of the canceled Minor League season, including Bryan Baker, Joey Murray, Kirby Snead, Hobie Harris, and Jackson Rees, who was unanimously chosen as _MiLB.com’s _Best Relief Pitcher after the 2019 season. On the flipside, a trio of righthanders were able to pitch in the majors last season: Jeremy Beasley, A.J. Cole, and Dany Jimenez. Only Cole toed the mound for Toronto, finishing the regular season 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in 24 games before making his playoff debut in the Wild Card against the Rays.
Behind the plate, the duo of Reese McGuire and trusted veteran *_Juan Graterol *_will split time for the Bisons to start the season. McGuire offers plenty of upside after batting .296 (38-for-128) over his first 44 big league games from 2018-19, and Graterol returns for his second stint in the organization after being traded from the Angels on March 31. From 2016-19, the 32-year-old appeared in 67 games with the Angels, Reds, and Twins.
The Bisons have both versatility and flexibility thanks in part to switch-hitters Cullen Large and Breyvic Valera. Two members of the 2017 Draft class are also ready to contribute for the first time at Triple-A, with *_Logan Warmoth *_(22nd overall pick) and *_Kevin Smith *_(4th round) continuing their climb together after playing in the 2019 Arizona Fall League with Scottsdale. Warmoth was impressive in the prospects league, hitting .295 (18-for-61) with six doubles and a HR in 17 games after flashing an impressive glove up the middle with Double-A New Hampshire during the second half of the 2019 regular season. Smith has been a mainstay on _MLB Pipeline’s _Top-30 Blue Jays prospects list and has 105 extra-base hits since the start of the 2018 season.
The middle of the lineup will be anchored by the big bats of Rowdy Tellez and Tyler White, who have combined to appear in 443 big league games. Last year, Tellez hit .283 in 35 games for the Jays as a follow-up to his first full season in 2019 that featured 21 homers. White is back in the states for his first go-around with Toronto after a brief stint in the Korean Baseball Organization a year ago. A member of the Astros from 2016-19, White was there for their 2017 World Series win and brings with him an impressive resume that includes a pair of minor league championships and the _MiLB.com _Fans Choice for Best Offensive Player in 2015.
Elsewhere on the infield, *_Christian Colon *_and *_Dilson Herrera *_bring more big league experience to the Bisons as they embark on their first seasons in the Blue Jays organization. Herrera, a former Triple-A All-Star and two-time Futures Game selection, has played with the Mets, Reds, and Orioles over parts of four seasons. Colon, meanwhile, recently signed with Toronto after playing in 11 games with the Reds last season. From 2015-17, he was on the Kansas City Royals Opening Day roster, winning two American League pennants and the 2015 World Series.
In the outfield, Josh Palacios and Forrest Wall are an intriguing duo for the Bisons as they enter their age-25 seasons. Palacios, a Brooklyn, New York native, bypassed Buffalo completely and made his Major League debut on April 9 against the Angels. The next day, he stole the show by going 4-for-4 for his first hit and RBI as the Jays cruised to a 15-1 win. Wall returns on a free agent contract after finishing the 2019 season with the Herd. In 14 games, he batted .255 (12-for-47) with 5 extra-base hits and 4 RBIs. Originally selected by the Rockies 35th overall in the 2014 Draft, Wall remains the highest drafted high school second baseman since the Draft moved to a single phase in 1987. Rounding out the group is lightning bolt *Jonathan Davis, who’s played in 86 games with the Blue Jays since 2018 and won MLB’s Play of the Week once during each of the last two seasons.
The Bisons begin the 2021 season on Tuesday, May 4 with a 7:00 first pitch at Trenton Thunder Ballpark. Their opponent, the Worcester Red Sox, will be playing their first game in franchise history. Pregame radio coverage with Gregg Caserta and Trenton Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Schofield begins at 6:30 PM on 920 ESPN New Jersey.
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