The Dunedin Blue Jays are Toronto's longest-serving minor league affiliate. Toronto has fielded a team in their Florida State League home since 1987, when they revived a franchise that had been mothballed since 1978. Local ownership could not be found, so the team assumed control of the team when it returned to FSL play. The D-Jays are one of the lowest-drawing teams in the league, consistently ranking last or next-to-last in attendance for two decades. The FSL is not one of the minors' attendance leaders, but Toronto prospects usually play for crowds of about 750 in their home park. That's probably not a major concern for the organization, however. In addition to acting as another rung on the developmental ladder, Dunedin is a place where prospects with some medical issues can be housed in order to keep a closer eye on them.
Hopefully, with the stadium upgrades that the Blue Jays and the City of Dunedin agreed upon last fall, that might translate into more fans for the players when they are completed by the spring of 2019.
These roster projections are a matter of conjecture. I make them by considering the development of each player, and trying to match it with the goals the organization likely has for that player. With minor league spring training still just under two months away, many changes can take place. Injuries, stalled or accelerated development, and roster moves at other levels all could have an impact on prospect placement.
Pentecost DH'd exclusively since returning in early May last year, his first game action in almost two years while he recovered from shoulder surgeries. While his ultimate position may be somewhere else on the diamond, the plan for this year is to have him return behind the plate to get much needed reps. Hissey did the bulk of the Catching at Lansing last year, and even though his bat tailed off a bit from 2015, he improved his receiving skills by leaps and bounds. Michael De La Cruz and Justin Atkinson have served in back up roles (Atkinson in several positions), but the Blue Jays would likely prefer a more polished receiver like Hissey to give Pentecost regular breaks.
Not the strongest assemblage of talent in the organization, Kelly made the most progress of the group, and Panas tied for 3rd in the Midwest League in Home Runs.
Again, not a stronghold of prospects. Davis will likely repeat High A, and Thomas has had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons, although moving him back to CF seemed to help his game last year.
This is one of the strongest rotations in the system. Depending on what kind of roster additions are made at New Hampshire and Buffalo, Harris may begin the year at AA, despite the organization preferring to keep prospects at one level for at least the equivalent of one full season.
Rios was dominant at Lansing before his May promotion to Dunedin, and despite his numbers taking a bit of a step back at the higher level, he missed more bats in the FSL. Perdomo and Rios both were left unprotected at Rule 5 draft time, but both went unclaimed. Borucki, making a comeback after missing most of 2015, started in Dunedin last year, but struggled, and went to Lansing when the Michigan weather warmed up. He finished 2nd in the MWL in ERA, and was added to the 40-man roster in November. Romano came back from injury as well, and quietly had one of the best seasons of any Blue Jays pitching prospects, striking out a batter an inning - his 2.11 ERA would have led the MWL if he had enough innings to qualify. Hollon is the forgotten man, his career interrupted by Tommy John, and a pair of drug suspensions. Hollon was invited to Instructs last fall, and is looking to get his career back on track.
Again, another strength of this potential roster. Case missed part of 2016 after failing to take a drug test, but was solid along with Isaacs, Lietz, Snead, and Young in Lansing's bullpen last year. In his return from Tommy John, Robson seemed poised for great things last spring, but struggled with his command all year, and was eventually moved into relief. DeGraaf's starting and relieving versatility will be a help when double headers start to pile up.
If you've been keeping track, this list actually has 26 names on it, instead of the maximum of 25, because I had trouble finding places for some of these players. Pentecost and maybe Panas are the only impact bats in this lineup, but the pitching staff will likely keep the D-Jays in the majority of their games. Still, while the post-season is not a priority, it's hard to see this team earning a playoff berth.
If you want to follow the D-Jays progress this year, your options are limited. Games are not streamed through MiLB.com's website, so listening online is about the only way to follow.