End of month Winter Leauge wrap-up: Rainer Nuñez leads the Dominican Winter League in home runs, Bowden Francis pitching well, and more!

It’s the end of November, so it’s time to look at how Blue Jays prospects are doing in their respective winter leagues!

So first things first, you’ve read the title and may be asking “who’s Rainer Nuñez?”. He was Blue Jays Nation’s 16th-ranked prospect in the mid-season ranking, and oh my is he ever coming into his own. More on that in the first section.
We’ll also look at several other prospects, such as Naswell Paulino, Bowden Francis, Otto López, and Adrián Hernández.
Rainer Nuñez:
As I had mentioned, the 21-year-old ranked as our 16th best Blue Jays prospect, and for good reason. He was the only Dunedin Blue Jay regular to have an exit velocity over 110 mph, which he did five times. In fact, in 2021 when exit velocity was tracked, he was one of only six batters with a ball hit over 110 mph, which he did the most despite being younger than most of his contemporaries.
Of course, exit velocity only matters so much, so what about his season totals?
Nuñez slashed .299/.328/.482 with 15 homers in 384 plate appearances with the Dunedin Blue Jays, eventually winning the Florida State League batting title. His BB% dropped from 13.7% in the FCL in 2021, to 3.6% with the baby Jays, but he only struck out 21.4% of the time, which isn’t bad in the slightest.

La puso del otro lado ¡HOMERUN de Rainer Núñez que pone a las @EOBASEBALLCLUB en la pizarra! #LIDOM #CopaBanreservas pic.twitter.com/9jiKntkx1J
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) November 30, 2022

He wa …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Moving Bo Bichette to centre field may be so crazy, that it actually works

Look, the likelihood of this happening is essentially zero, but I think it’s an interesting discussion that has some merit.

In the early part of the 2022 season, I wrote about how the Blue Jays should move shortstop Bo Bichette to second base, as his defense at short was well below average. I felt comfortable with that opinion, as it would have just been a swap with everyday second baseman Santiago Espinal.
This article is a little bit different. Unlike the previous article and more like an onion, this article will have more layers as we’re in the off-season. Let’s get into the pros and cons of why this idea may be so damn crazy that it’ll work.
Starting the caveat:
We’ll get into why it looks good on paper in the next few sections, but this section will feature the biggest obstacle in why this likely won’t happen.
Imagine you’re Bo Bichette, and you’ve been touted as the long-term shortstop of the Toronto Blue Jays. Four years into your young career, the Jays are looking to move you off the position and into the outfield (in this case, centre field.)
I don’t imagine he’d be very happy with the situation, and I don’t even know if the Jays would consider this as they’ve spent four years developing Bichette at short. While it may make sense on paper, the human element, as well as the team’s interests are likely in a different direction. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an inter …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays, Position by Position: Without external help, the bullpen is already in good shape heading into next season

In the last installment of this series, we’ll look at the Blue Jays bullpen.

I won’t lie, I thought the bullpen was actually pretty good in 2022. It’s also looking to be much better heading into 2023, as they have quite a few relief prospects who could make the jump next season.
So, let’s recap how each of the core relievers did in 2022, the depth, and the prospects the Jays have. Afterward, we’ll look at what they may do externally to improve the arm barn.
The guaranteed relievers for 2023:
First, we’ll look at the pitchers that I believe are a lock for the bullpen in 2023.
Jordan Romano:
Starting with the bullpen ace, we have closer Jordan Romano. The 29-year-old Canadian posted a 2.11 ERA and 2.82 FIP in 64 innings pitched, along with a 28.3 K% and 8.1 BB%. His 36 saves ranked sixth in the league, but that doesn’t tell you how many one-run leads he protected.

With the winning run in scoring position, Jordan Romano shuts it down. pic.twitter.com/kBzxojcklG
— MLB (@MLB) September 4, 2022

Romano was an integral part of the Blue Jays in 2022, and he will continue to be such as he won’t hit free agency until 2026.
Anthony Bass:
The big acquisition in the bullpen at the trade deadline, the recently turned 35-year-old had an impressive season split between Miami and Toronto. He had a 1.54 ERA and 3.00 FIP in 70.1 innings pitched. Along with that, he had a 26.5 K% and a 7.3 BB%.

Anthony Bass White Castle Special. pic.twitter.com/wCgDhkihOU
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 15, 2022

His numbers with the Jays ticked up quite a bit, however, as he had a 1.75 ERA and 4.63 FIP in 25.2 innings pitched.
Bass has a $3 million club option which will more than likely be picked up by the Blue Jays. He will be a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.
Yimi Garcia:
Garcia was si …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Looking way ahead to the 2023 draft: The Blue Jays will pick 20th, an early look at draft prospects and more!

With the Jays out of the playoffs, it’s time to look ahead to the 2023 season. More specifically, the 2023 draft.

As you know, the Jays were eliminated from the playoffs last Saturday, swept by the lower-seed Seattle Mariners. It was a bitter pill to swallow, as they were considered to be World Series contenders in 2022. 
I’ll eventually write my thoughts on what exactly went wrong, and what needs to be changed, but we’ll just focus on some good that came out of being bounced so quickly.
The Jays will select 20th overall:
Unlike last season, the draft ranking isn’t determined by where teams finish in the standings, but by a lottery. While the Jays won’t partake in that, they’ll be affected by the changes regarding the playoffs.
Teams that are bounced in the wildcard round, will pick after the 18 teams that didn’t make it. These four teams are the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York lolMets.
The 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd overall picks have been determined by record, meaning that the Rays will pick 19th, the Jays 20th, and the St. Louis Cardinals 21st. While the Mets would usually get the 22nd, they pick drops ten spots due to being way over the luxury tax. Have fun signing all your free agents, lolMets.
If you’re wondering, yes, the fact that the Jays picked a few spots below the World Series winning Atlanta Braves in the 2022 draft absolutely irks me to t …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Trades, Targets, and Toughness (Part 2 of our Leafs Reader Poll)

We’re back for day two of our look at your responses to the Reader Poll. Day one focused largely on contracts and opinions of Keefe and Dubas. Today we shift to that middle ground of trade bait and roster needs before closing this series out tomorrow with a look at the players and how successful they will be this year.

We’re starting off with one of my favourite questions and that is who could be moved in season. I’m sure it seems odd that I included two newly acquired goaltenders, but that comes down largely to the fact that if one or both are a bust, will the Leafs move on? Or at the deadline, will the Leafs want to move one in order to afford roster strengthening moves elsewhere? I feel I need to explain that one a bit, as the other candidates seem far more straightforward.
Not surprisingly Holl and Kerfoot are at the top as the present situation dictates that one of them looks to be out in order to afford Rasmus Sandin. Muzzin is a bit of wishful thinking, but he would likely be the best bet for the Leafs to move if it wasn’t for his full no trade clause at the moment. I guess it’s always a safe bet that the Leafs are looking to trade their first, and we’ll see below if you think that’s a good idea.

I want to start by saying that I’ve come to terms with the fact that Nylander probably should be traded at some point between now and his free agency period. I’m not sure I want it this year. I can appreciate the appeal of a potential top-four right-shot defenseman, but am decidedly less enthu …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation