MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

MLB Pipeline checks in from Blue Jays camp

Spring Training an opportunity to take inventory of revitalized system

MLB Pipeline checks in from Blue Jays camp

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system. MLBPipeline.com will be visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the Toronto Blue Jays.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- In just two trades -- one with the Marlins that involved Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes, and one with the Mets that brought in R.A. Dickey -- the Blue Jays emptied a large portion of the Minor League cupboard. In a short period of time, however, they have done a good job restocking the shelves, to the point where they have one of the best systems in baseball.

"Despite making the big trades of a couple of offseasons ago, we've managed to hold on to some of the guys we liked, and some of the guys who were already in the system have exceeded expectations," vice president of baseball operations Tony LaCava said, mentioning outfielders Kevin Pillar and Dalton Pompey as the best examples of those exceeding expectations. "We feel like we've had a couple of strong Drafts as well. You always wish you had more, but all things considered, we feel we're in a pretty good spot going forward."

MLB Pipeline Spring Training Reports
Date Team
March 3 Red Sox
March 4 Blue Jays
March 4 Rays
March 5 Orioles
March 5 Twins
March 6 Braves
March 6 Pirates
March 9 Yankees
March 10 Phillies
March 11 Tigers
March 12 Nationals
March 13 Astros
March 16 Marlins
March 17 Cubs
March 18 Cardinals
March 19 A's
March 20 Mets
March 23 Giants
March 23 Brewers
March 24 Rockies
March 24 Angels
March 24 D-backs
March 25 Royals
March 25 Indians
March 25 Rangers
March 26 Reds
March 26 Dodgers
March 26 White Sox
March 27 Mariners
March 27 Padres
 

Camp standouts

While Minor League camp has yet to open, the Blue Jays have been running a minicamp, where several bats have stood out. First on the list might be first baseman Rowdy Tellez. The 2013 30th-round pick has hit well in the early stages of his pro career, but he's really impressed more with how he's gotten into shape heading into this season.

"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."

Lane Thomas, Toronto's fifth-rounder from last June's Draft, is another attendee at minicamp who is apparently ready to go. He hit well in his pro debut last summer, and according to LaCava, he has "come into camp and looks like he's swinging it well."

Breakout candidates

Dan Jansen, C: A high school catcher from Wisconsin taken in the 16th round of the 2013 Draft, Jansen has spent his first two summers in short-season ball, somewhat under the radar. He also had a knee injury that ended his 2014 season in early August. Healthy now, Jansen is preparing for his full-season debut.

"He's a guy, as a catcher, who could really show well and become a guy that people [are talking about]," LaCava said. "He has the chance to make some noise."

Ryan Borucki, LHP: The 15th-round pick out of high school in 2012 missed all of the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. He pitched well upon his return in '14, leaving the Blue Jays excited to see what he can do another year removed from surgery.

"We think he could do some big things as well," LaCava said. "He throws a fastball, slider and changeup, and all three are plus at times."

Three questions with Dwight Smith Jr.

Smith was a supplemental first-round pick, No. 53 overall, of Toronto in 2011.

MLBPipeline.com: This is your first big league camp, coming on the heels of a solid year in the Florida State League. Were you at all surprised to get the invite?

Smith: I wasn't surprised. I was prepared for this moment. I'm really ecstatic to be here, that's for sure, with all the guys. To get this experience is a dream come true.

MLBPipeline.com: To make it even more interesting, you're trying your hand at a new position, second base. Have you ever played there before? And how is it going so far?

Smith: I haven't played there since I was like 14 years old, but it's been going pretty well. I've been learning every day. I've had a lot of help from the veteran guys. They've been teaching me the ins and outs of the infield. Ryan Goins, Devon Travis, Steve Tolleson, Jonathan Diaz -- all of those guys have been helping me with whatever I need to know, along with coaches like Mike Mordecai. I've been getting help from everybody.

MLBPipeline.com: I'm sure you get a ton of questions about being the son of a big leaguer. Other than the constant queries, are there any negatives to it? Or is it always a positive?

Smith: It gives and takes. There are positives and negatives about it, but I always look at the positives. I don't like to look at the negatives. There are enough negatives in this game, so it's all good.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.