Spring Training Battles: SkyChiefs Outfield

With Blue Jays' minor league Spring Training games underway, we'll take a look at who will be competing for which jobs. Today we focus on the outfielders that will be competing in Spring Training for a spot on the Triple- A Syracuse roster. Next up will be the battles for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Outfield Contenders and Designated Hitter: Miguel Negron, Justin Singleton, Chad Mottola, John-Ford Griffin Wayne Lydon, Ron Davenport, Maikel Jova.

Other than the pitchers (which we will discuss in the final week of March) the outfield crop will be the most competitive battles and the toughest decisions that the Blue Jays will have to make. Miguel Negron is the most intriguing name. Negron had a good spring with Toronto, but one might make the case that another 100 at bats with New Hampshire won't hurt the 23-year-old. In fifteen spring training games with the Blue Jays this month, Negron batted .355 (11-31) with a home run. Last season at Double-A, Negron batted .258 with twelve home runs, but also showed his inconsistency at times.

Wayne Lydon, the speedy outfielder that the Blue Jays signed to a minor league deal this winter, is opening eyes at camp with the Jays, and is also on the plus side of the bubble to open up with the SkyChiefs. Lydon is a year older than Negron, and has spent the last two seasons playing at the Double-A level.

In seventeen games at major league camp this spring, Lydon is hitting .414 (12-29) and has three stolen bases.

Chad Mottola and John-Ford Griffin are virtual locks to begin the season with Syracuse. Griffin will be a victim of the numbers game again this season, and his chances of proving himself at the major league level are beginning to decrease. After a breakout season with Triple-A Syracuse in 2005, the outfielder batted .290 this spring in camp with a home run.

Ron Davenport, 24, is a player that deserves to open up 2006 with Syracuse after his 2005 season with New Hampshire, but the numbers game might not work to his favor. Right now Griffin, Mottola, Negron and Lydon are all ahead of Davenport on the depth chart.

The Blue Jays could let go of the 34-year-old Mottola to open up a spot for the younger players, but the organization might want the veteran leadership in the clubhouse instead.

Maikel Jova, 24, has spent the last two seasons with New Hampshire, although his 2005 numbers fell from 2004, and right now we see him returning to New Hampshire for the 2006 season.

We project that the designated hitter will either be John-Ford Griffin or Chad Mottola. Negron, if he begins in Syracuse, will be the likely center fielder. Lydon could play both corner outfield positions, but some question his arm strength at right field, and since Griffin is only viewed as a left fielder, Mottola could open up at right field, which will leave Lydon and Griffin rotating at the designated hitter spot. Negron could also spend some time at DH, with Lydon playing in center field.

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