The Toronto Blue Jays have Canadian blood flowing through the pipelines of their farm system. Currently, the Jays have prospects in five levels of the Minor Leagues. The Buffalo Bisons, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Dunedin Blue Jays, Vancouver Canadians, and Bluefield Blue Jays all have at least one Canadian prospect.
The Bisons’ sole Canadian representative is a familiar name to Blue Jays fans; Dalton Pompey. Pompey, once thought to be the future center fielder of the Jays, lost the job to Kevin Pillar a few years ago and has only seen limited time with the major league club since.
2017 was a disappointing season for Pompey. After suffering a concussion in an exhibition game for the Canadian World Baseball Classic team, Pompey was held to just 13 games in both Dunedin and Buffalo. During these 13 games, Pompey hit for a disappointing .205/.286/.295 slash line.
However, these numbers can be mostly disregarded. Pompey’s 2016 stats are slightly more encouraging. In 93 games for the AAA Bisons, Pompey held a .270/.349/.353 slash line with 18 stolen bases. The most prominent concern with Pompey’s offensive skill-set is that he neither excels in getting on base or hitting for power. While .349 is a respectable OBP, a higher percentage would allow Pompey to use his speed more often on the base paths.
While his offensive game is lacking, his defense is certainly not. In 13 games last year, Pompey did not commit a single error playing both center and left field. As well, Pompey held a 2.93 RF/9 in center field. His 2016 numbers were equally strong, with a 2.34 RF/9 in center field, his best position.
The Fisher Cats feature two Candian prospects; Alberta native Shane Dawson and New Brunswick native Andrew Case. While Dawson struggled as a starter for the Fisher Cats, Case had a good year coming out of the bullpen.
Dawson, a southpaw, pitched his way to a disappointing 4-9 record and a high 6.16 ERA in 111.0 IP. A victim of the free pass, Dawson racked up 48 walks compared to just 62 strikeouts in 2017.
Andrew Case showed a lot of promise in his age-24 season. Case finished the year with a 4-0 record with an excellent 1.58 ERA and 8 saves in 40.0 IP. The only concern in Case’s game is a lack of strikeouts, for a truly dominant bullpen arm, it’s unique. With just 23 strikeouts to 10 walks, Case will likely have to show an ability to strikeout batters to maintain a high leverage bullpen job. However, Case earned his way to a promotion to AAA Buffalo last year and should start the 2018 season there, as well.
Dunedin is home to two of the more intriguing Canadian prospects in the Blue Jays system. Both Ontario born, Connor Panas and Jordan Romano had strong seasons for the Jays advanced-a affiliate.
Panas hit for a strong .276/.364/.475 slash line with 18 HR and 55 RBIs in his age-24 season. Hitting for a strong OPS of .839, Panas proved that his bat has power and can make an impact. The strong season is even more impressive coming from the pitcher-friendly Florida State League.
Panas split most of his time defensively between first and right field. At both positions, Panas struggled. In right field, Panas held a .948 fielding percentage in 34 games with 3 errors. Clearly more comfortable at first, Panas converted 109/115 chances and committed just one error at the corner spot.
Jordan Romano is a name that Blue Jays fans should get familiar with. Currently ranked as the number 18 prospect in the Blue Jays system by MLB.com, the Markham native has a future in the major leagues. In 2017 Romano finished with a good 7-5 record and a strong 3.39 ERA.
One of the most impressive parts of Romano’s game is his ability to strike batters out. In 138.0 IP, Romano struck out 138 batters. However, he also allowed 54 walks and surrendered 141 hits. Both numbers will need to be lowered in order to develop into a major league pitcher.
Vancouver had a great year that ended with a championship win. The team was helped by a few Canadian prospects; Mattingly Romanin, Brayden Bouchey, and Owen Spiwak.
Mattingly Romanin, a native of Burlington, Ontario, did not put up huge numbers but he was still a key contributor. With playing time in Dunedin and Vancouver, Romanin hit for a .202/.311/.275 slash line with a respectable 55 RBIs.
Brayden Bouchey played a key role in the Vancouver Bullpen. In 24 games, with his hometown Vancouver Canadians, Bouchey pitched to a 1-1 record with a 4.20 ERA. Most impressively, Bouchey was able to keep the other team from getting hits—holding a great OPP AVG of .194.
Owen Spiwak served as Vancouver’s designated hitter. Over 29 games, the Mississauga native hit for a slash line of .211/.312/.295 adding a home run and 11 RBIs. Spiwak struggled with plate discipline over the season, racking up 39 strikeouts over 29 games.
Bluefield had just one Canadian prospect in 2017. Tanner Kirwer, a Sherwood Park, Alberta product, played in right field for the team.
In 25 games for the Blue Jays, Kirwer held a .224/.323/.329 slash line with 1 HR and 10 RBIs. However, Kirwer got hits when it mattered most, managing a .304 average with runners in scoring position.