Major League training camps are already under way, but most minor league camps don't open until next week, far from the media microscope, but some news is slowly making its way north to help thaw out us frozen denizens of the new Sub-Arctic.
Several Blue Jays prospects were invited to big league camp, and a few have already seen game action.
Dalton Pompey has started both games so far, and acquitted himself well - no surprise. Miguel Castro threw a scoreless inning yesterday, Devon Travis went 0-4 in his first taste of MLB action, Mitch Nay hit an RBI single, and Anthony Alford and Dwight Smith, Jr made pinch-running appearances.
Speaking of Nay, who hit an impressive Home Run in the Blue Jays inter-squad game on Monday, word is that he has been working with former Jays third baseman Scott Rolen this spring. The concern about Nay has always been about his defence, but the club appears intent on giving him every opportunity to play himself out of the position. Nay didn't show a lot of power at Lansing last year, but the organization isn't concerned, because the Midwest League is not a hitter's haven, and the hope is that Nay's 34 doubles (third highest total in the loop) will start to translate into some distance. He fell off the radar a bit this past season, but at 21, there's plenty of time and projection left for him.
Pompey has also been working with former Jay Vernon Wells, who was invited to spring training as a guest instructor. It's a good PR move for teams to bring these former players back, and it also gives them some added teaching hands, and gives both sides a chance to see if coaching is in the player's future. Wells, of course, is beyond financially comfortable, and is content to help raise his kids in Texas. Kids grow up, however, and some of us find ourselves with a sudden surfeit of time when they leave the nest to go away to school. Maybe Vernon will have a change of heart in a few years.
The Blue Jays are holding a mini-camp this week for some of their top prospects. According to Jonathan Mayo of mlb.com, Rowdy Tellez has been an impressive early-reporting prospect. Tellez recovered from a slow start last year at Bluefield, which included an 0-26 stretch, to bash his way to the Midwest League by season's end. Tellez has legendary power, but there has always been concern about his body, and if he would be able to play defence. According to Mayo, Assistant GM Tony LaCava says Tellez has shown up in great shape:
He's really done a great job of conditioning," LaCava said. "He looks like he's transformed his body. It's not even an issue any more. I know that was a concern out of high school. He's worked his butt off to get himself in shape. He looks like he's ready to get going with his first full year at a full-season level."Mayo also says that LaCava told him that 2014 5th round draft choice Lane Thomas has also been impressive at the mini-camp.
Mayo selected a pair of prospects who he thinks will have break out seasons this year: Tellez, and C Danny Jansen. Not to boast or anything, but both are on my recent top five Blue Jays breakout prospect candidates list.
Jeff Hoffman was a guest on his hometown Albany's 104.5 The Team earlier this week. Hoffman, the Jays' first of two first round picks who underwent Tommy John surgery a month before the draft tweeted this a week and a half ago:
Bullpen number 15 tomorrow. Bout ready to see someone in the box. ⚡️⚾️🔥
— Jeff Hoffman (@hoff_23) February 23, 2015
Hoffman told host Armen Williams that he had been throwing off a mound since January 5th, and was feeling about 95%, and will start to face live hitters around the middle of March. If his rehab continues to go well, Hoffman says he's been told he will return to game action sometime in May - in the Florida State League, we would bet. He was also asked about his name being mentioned in trade rumours for O's GM Dan Duquette, and Hoffman admitted that it was a distraction, but he knew it was out of his control.