2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
By Andrew Hendriks
As 2014’s general manager’s meetings, a precursor to the annual winter meetings — Dec. 8-11 in San Diego — drew to a close Wednesday night, details began to surface regarding a trade between the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays.
When the dust had settled around 11:15 PM, we learned that Toronto had sent outfielder, Anthony Gose to the Motor City in exchange for a highly regarded double-A infield prospect.
Gose, who in a round about way became the centerpiece in a deal that sent long time Blue Jays ace, Roy Halladay to Philadelphia in 2010, spent parts of four seasons in the Blue Jays system, making his big league debut with Toronto and hitting .234/.301/.332 over 202 games at the MLB level.
Like Kyle Drabek, J.P Arencibia, Travis Snider, Russ Adams and a long line of ballplayers before them, Gose quickly earned the title of top prospect within the Blue Jays system, leading many to hang their playoff hopes on the California native long before he saw his name scribbled on to a MLB lineup card.
When right fielder, Jose Bautista injured his wrist after mashing a deep foul ball off Yankees reliever, David Robertson on July 16, 2012, the call was made to triple-A Las Vegas and Gose, who was in the midst of one of his finest seasons as a professional, made his first trip to north to the majors.
In the two years that followed, the former second round draft pick was called up and sent down more times than any of us cared to keep track of and the multiple trips between the minors and the show lead to a rash of inconsistencies that saw the speedy outfielder struggle to gain any sort of foot hole at either level.
With center-fielder Austin Jackson having been dealt to the Mariners as part of a three-team-deal that saw the Tigers land LHP David Price at this summers trade deadline, Dave Dombrowski, Detroit’s GM, needed to find a viable replacement for the upcoming season and beyond.
Understanding that the club needed a burner to cover the vast depths of Comerica Park’s outfield, the long time Tigers GM decided to target Gose, dangling a player that many insiders were calling Detroit’s top prospect in middle infielder Devon Travis who as it stood at the time of the deal, was blocked on Detroit’s depth-chart by four time All-Star, Ian Kinsler and had recently been asked to move to centre field in an attempt to reach the majors faster.
Travis, 23, joins the Blue Jays boasting an impressive slash line of .323/.388/.487 over parts of 257 minor league contests since being drafted by Detroit in the 13th round of 2012’s first year player draft.
In 2014, the slick fielding second baseman appeared in an even 100 games with the Erie Sea Wolves, double-A affiliate of the Tigers, where in his third season as a professional, the West Palm Beach native notched 37 extra base hits to go with an OPS of .817 in 441 at bats prior to being sidelined with a sports hernia late in the season.
Known as a solid defender with an ever evolving bat, Travis earned high praise for his performance last season, recently being noted as Baseball America’s #1 prospect within the Tigers system prior to his trade to the Blue Jays.
Despite his lack of experience above the double-A level, Travis will likely throw his name in to the mix as Toronto looks to sort out it’s second base situation in Dunedin this spring. Barring another trade, it will be Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins and Travis battling it out for the starting role when the team heads north at the end of exhibition play.
After losing outfielders Colby Rasmus and Melky Cabrera to free agency, Toronto’s decision to deal Gose for an infielder was expedited by the impressive play of Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey, following his late season call up to Toronto.
As it currently sits, (and remember, it’s a long time between now and April 6) Toronto’s outfield consists of Andy Dirks, Pompey and Bautista, with the left handed swinging Kevin Pillar on the bench able to spell either of the trio should one need a day off or manager John Gibbons decide to play match ups.
In other club related news, the Blue Jays inked a quartet of pitchers to minor league deals earlier on in the week as the club looks to restock its depth ahead of the 2015 season.
Highlighted by Scott Copeland, who went 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA over four starts with the triple-A Bisons in 2014 en route to earning a spring training invitation, hurlers Bobby Korecky (35), Austin Bibens-Dirkx (29) and Mike Lee (27) all signed contracts with Toronto.
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