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After Stroman Who is Next Vancouver Canadian in Toronto?

Ex Vancouver Canadian and 2012 Toronto Blue Jays draftee Marcus Stroman made his first start for the big league club Saturday.  Given fact Toronto’s management have been bold in stretching Stroman out to be a starter, when many pundits assumed he was destined for the bullpen, I am going to conveniently ignore the five relief appearances and 12 plus ERA prior to his first start.  So ya, thus far, the Duke University product has had a very productive big league career.  Six innings of one run ball with six strikeouts.

Judging by the chat on twitter, pretty much everyone in Vancouver saw Stroman at the Nat.  Call it Pavel Bure syndrome, where at least 100 thousand people were jammed into the Pacific Coliseum for the Russian Rocket’s debut.

The next Blue Jay? Norris relaxes at spring training (image courtesy of mlbprospectportal.com)

The next Blue Jay? Norris relaxes at spring training (image courtesy of mlbprospectportal.com)

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see him.  Nor did I see Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, or Daniel Norris.  I moved back to Vancouver in July 2011 and went to only one game at the Nat that summer.  Ben White started.  If you have read some of my old stuff over at YourVanCs.com, which debuted in June 2012, you’ll see a familiar pattern.  When I started to frequent the Nat more often, I tended to go on days that Ben White was starting.  It got a bit frustrating.

Now, White has gone a lot further than I ever expected, having made 10 starts for Dunedin so far this year, but he is not going to be the third ex-C to play for Toronto.  Which is what this exercise is all about.

But before we get there, I’m going to make another confession, I didn’t even KNOW that Kevin Pillar had played for the C’s when he made his Blue Jay debut.  Both Baseball Reference and Fangraphs don’t list playoffs in the teams played for section so Pillar’s 2011 Championship turn in Vancouver flew under my radar.

Who’s next then?  The obvious choice is 2011 C and current number one prospect Aaron Sanchez.  After lighting up spring training, he has struggled a bit with New Hampshire.  Still, if he can get his fastball down in the zone and command it better, he should be in a Jays uniform next season.

From that 2011 team, I had high hopes for Andy Burns.  After tearing up Dunedin in the first half last year, he got a deserved promotion to double-A.  After some initial struggles he seemed to come to grips with Eastern League pitching, slashing .315/.363/.468 over his final 27 games.  I assumed he would continue to hit in 2014.  Teach me to assume.  Burns has regressed, putting up an OBP under .300 (.290) and slugging only .326.  His .248 BABIP suggests he’s been a tad unlucky and eight hits in his last eight games, including two home runs, keeps me just interested enought to not give up on him just yet.  Still, I’m not going to hold by breath.

Of the 2012 squad, after Stroman, the next name to possibly be on the back of a Jays jersey will be Daniel Norris.  After sorting out some mechanical issues which plagued him in Vancouver and the first half of his full-season debut in Lansing, the 6’2″ 180 pound left-hander has been dominating in Dunedin so far.  The biggest jump in minor league baseball is from A+ to AA so if, and when, Norris makes it, we can’t guarantee his success.  Still, if he is promoted, as you would expect, in the next couple of weeks and is successful?  Well then, remember when Drew Hutchison jumped from New Hampshire to the Jays?

Another name that I would have had alongside Norris, if not injured, is Roberto Osuna.  And finally!  Someone I saw live at the Nat. Osuna’s advanced feel for pitching (plus fantastic stuff of course) should have seen him moving through the system quickly.  Tommy John surgery has slowed his progress but I still expect him to make a move on his return.

It’s too early to say definitively who will be the first of the 2013 class to make his Jays debut.  I full expect one of Chase DeJong, Shane Dawson, Tom Robson to eventually pitch in Toronto while Mitch Nay is probably the most heralded position prospect right now.  I’m just not willing to say which one will be first, nor when, as they are all miles away.

Finally, what can we expect from Stroman?  He’s going to dominate, of course, solidifying the back end of the Jays rotation, making any proposed trades moot and sending the Jays to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

Possibly wishful thinking.

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