There are plenty of big names invited to Instructs this season. The Jays 2006 first round pick, Travis Snider, has been invited and is expected to take part in the workouts. Snider was the MVP of the Appalachian League, despite missing the final two weeks with tendonitis in his wrist.
The three youngest players attending this camp are all from international waters. Latin-American prospects Balbino Fuenmayor and Johermyn Chavez will be present next week, as will Chris House, who was signed in January from the Australian Academy. All three players will be just 19-years-old at the end of this season, and bring much hype to the organization. Fuenmayor and House have yet to play in an official game for Toronto, while Chavez spent the 2006 season with the Pulaski Blue Jays. Josh Wells, who was also signed from the Australian Academy was suppose to be part of Instructs this year, but will undergo Tommy John Surgery.
Making Their Debut
Four more players, who did not play in professional baseball this summer, will be making their debut on the field for Toronto. Graham Godfrey, selected in the 34th round of the draft, out of the College of Charleston will be someone the Jays closely monitor. Godfrey signed late this summer after negotiations lingered. Brad Cuthbertson, was drafted by Toronto in the 49th round of the 2006 draft, but signed late in the summer and never played for Toronto. Mike Lynch, of Brockville, Ontario, signed with Toronto last month as an undrafted free agent.
David Purcey will be the ‘veteran' in this camp. The left-hander has logged the most innings, 290, out of any pitcher, and has the most experience in the minor leagues than any other player. The Blue Jays decided to invite their southpaw after Purcey had his worst season of professional baseball, battling command problems, for the third consecutive season. Chi-Hung Cheng is on a similar boat with Purcey. Cheng, is the second most experienced player in camp this year, and will be working on his command as well.
2006 Draft Class
This summer's draft class will be strongly represented in Dunedin, as is the case every year at Instructs. Joining Travis Snider will be fourth round pick Brandon Magee, fifth round pick Luke Hopkins, sixth round pick Brian Jeroloman, seventh round pick Jonathan Baksh and tenth round pick Scott Campbell. Not included in this list is eighth round selection Dan O'Brien. The left-handed logged just 11 1/3 innings this summer and subsequently was shut down by the organization.
Carry the Momentum
There are plenty of players at this year's Instructional League Camp that had breakout seasons, and as a result the Blue Jays decided to challenge them more with this invite. Wilfreddy Aguirre, the Jays 19-year-old southpaw continued his rise this summer as he dominated the NY-Penn League. Billy Carnline began the season with the Lansing Lugnuts and breezed through the Midwest League with ease, before ending his season with the Dunedin Blue Jays. Zach Dials was a big factor for the Doubledays making the postseason this season. The 28th round pick this summer lived up to his sleeper tag in his first year of pro ball. Ted Serro, selected in the 40th round of the draft this summer, finished the year in the Midwest League after he proved he was no match for the NY-Penn League.
Lots of Arms
The Jays are sending a total of 20 pitchers to Instructs. Joining the names already mentioned are more pitchers with outstanding potential. Kyle Ginley played in two levels this summer after late developments enabled the Jays to select him in the 17th round, after an administrative flaw allowed him to enter the draft and not sign with the Reds as a draft-and-follow player. Chase Lirette, the Jays 16th round pick, was brilliant for Auburn in 2006. Chris Reddout, an undrafted free agent, was simply brilliant in his first season of pro ball. Paul Phillips, who played as high as Double-A this year, will be back at Instructs for the second consecutive year, building up his power arm. Michael Barbara, Edward Rodriguez, Nate Starner, Sean Stidfole, Noah Tritz, and Kyle Walter, round out the pitchers that the Jays invited.
Six At the Backstop
Joining Jeroloman and House as the catchers invited are C.J. Ebarb, Jonathan Jaspe, Matt Lane and Matt Liuzza. House and Jaspe are the only catchers in this group that Toronto did not draft this past summer. Lane will also see some work at third and first base to go along with his tutorial behind the plate.
Infield Shows Youth
A total of 11 infielders were invited by Toronto and looking at the crop of players you immediately notice the youth at the position. Jonathan Del Campo, the Jays 20th round pick, was one of several prep players selected by the organization this past summer. Raul Barron will head to Dunedin after an impressive season with Pulaski and will try to catch up on lost time after recently moving back from Mexico. Luis Fernandez, a slick fielding shortstop from Puerto Rico will continue his development along with fellow infielders Leance Soto, and Wesley Stone. Sean Shoffit, who began the 2006 season on a tear with Lansing, will look to sharpen up his approach at the plate and work on the defensive fundamentals of the game. Scott Campbell, will make a one month pit stop in Dunedin as well, before heading back home (New Zealand) where he will continue the off-season program that the Jays provide him with. Jonathan Diaz and Jesus Gonzalez round out the infield crop for Toronto.
More Rookies in the Outfield
Outfielders Shawn Scobee and Adam Calderone will be continue to build on what they learned this season in Auburn, as they join Victor Santana, Baksh, Chavez, and Snider in the outfield.
All players will report on September 18 and will take part in the first official workout the next day. The Blue Jays will play six games between September 26 and October 7. Dick Scott, the Jays Director of Player Development will head the camp and will be assisted by various coaches. This list includes: Mike Basso, Gary Cathcart, Charlie Poe, Antonio Caceres, Clayton McCullough, Dane Johnson, Dwayne Murphy, Ken Joyce, Justin Mashore and Vince Horsman.
Tuesday September 26: Devil Rays @ Blue Jays
Thursday September 28: Blue Jays @ Phillies
Saturday September 30: Blue Jays @ Phillies
Tuesday October 3: Devil Rays @ Blue Jays
Thursday October 5: Blue Jays @ Phillies
Saturday October 7: Phillies @ Blue Jays