* INF Ryan Goins will start the season off at triple-A Buffalo. The Bisons open their home schedule Friday at Coca-Cola Field. Photos: Jay Blue. ….

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Letters of Intent

Inside the Buffalo Bisons’ 2015 Opening Day Roster
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays From Away

The Blue Jays rung in the new season with a bang (or two) and beat the New York Yankees to take the victory. In addition to the Blue Jays starting their season, the minor league affiliates released their initial rosters for the 2015 season. In this post, we’re going to look at the Buffalo Bisons initial roster and see what we can read in between the lines.

Starting Pitchers
Andrew Albersalbers
Scott Copeland
Jeff Francis
Chad Jenkins
Randy Wolf

This is clearly the opening day roster so we’re not going to see Felix Doubront or Johan Santana just yet but both open the season on the DL. I think this is pretty much the starting rotation that we expected to see with the exception of Chad Jenkins who was optioned to Buffalo in the middle of spring training.

Francis, Albers and Wolf were signed to be starters in Buffalo and so it comes as no surprise to see their names on the list. Finally we have Copeland who was expected to be a member of the rotation for the Bisons coming into this year after he re-signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays.

The surprises come with who isn’t here. Ricky Romero is starting the season on the DL but is listed on New Hampshire’s roster while Juan Oramas was DFA’ed to make room for the trio of youngsters on the Blue Jays’ 25-man roster. I was expecting Oramas to start the year with Buffalo. Instead he’d headed to pitch in Mexico.

Relief Pitchers
Scott Barnes
Austin Bibens-Dirkx
Steve Delabar
Preston Guilmet
Greg Infante
Bobby Korecky
Rob Rasmussen
Bo Schultz
Ryan Tepera

Coming into the season, the biggest question around Buffalo’s bullpen was never going to be who is on the staff but who isn’t. The Blue Jays had signed a huge number of pitchers to minor league deals and picked up several on waivers between the end of 2014 and now and there was no way that there was going to be room for all of them in Buffalo.

Last year’s closer, Korecky returns after re-signing in the offseason and he was expected to be here. Rasmussen, who made his big league debut last year and Tepera, who was added to the 40-man roster this offseason were also both expected to be in Buffalo. Greg Infante is a hard thrower who can hit 100 mph but needs to harness his control. At 27, I’m sure that the Blue Jays want to test him in Triple-A if they think that they’re going to want that power arm in the Toronto bullpen at some point this season.

Schultz was a later cut after a solid spring training while Delabar’s optioning to Buffalo was a huge surprise. I think we’re all pulling for him to be dominant on the mound at Coca-Cola Field.

So who isn’t here? Greg Burke, a veteran side-armer, Cory Burns, who was outrighted to Buffalo earlier in the spring and Matt West are all starting the year in New Hampshire. I’m a little surprised that all three are there but, with the number of arms at the top levels of the minors, the numbers game is going to get a few guys.

Starting on the DL is Wilton Lopez.

Sean Ochinko
Josh Thole

Obviously the noticeable omission here is A.J. Jimenez who starts the year on the DL. This doesn’t surprise me at all. There are fans of Jack Murphy out there but I think the Blue Jays are going to really look at Ochinko, who has spent some time in Triple-A already and will share time with Thole. I’m actually intrigued to see how the playing time will be split with Jimenez on the shelf. Will the Bisons give Ochinko at least half of the playing time or will Thole be the starter?

Daric Barton
Chris Colabello
Jonathan Diaz
Ryan Goins
Matt Hague
Munenori Kawasaki
Andy Wilkins

Again, something was going to have to give, thanks to the number of corner infielders in the high minors. With Goins’s demotion, he’ll likely split time between second and short with Diaz and Kawasaki picking up the slack.

Barton, Colabello and Wilkins are all going to be sharing time at first base and DH while it looks like Matt Hague is the every day third baseman. Of the corner infielders, that I thought would be in Buffalo, Jake Fox was on the outside looking in and will start in New Hampshire.

I’m not surprised that someone like Jon Berti is starting the year in New Hampshire but it’s interesting when an R. Howard Webster Award winner doesn’t get promoted. I thought that Ryan Schimpf would also make the Bisons, particularly due to his versatility: he can play second and third base as well as the outfield.

Ramon Santiago will start the season on the DL after re-signing a minor league deal with the Jays.

Ezequiel Carrera
Chris Dickerson
Caleb Gindl
Brad Glenn

I’m actually really interested in seeing what this outfield can do. There’s a lot of minor- and major-league experience here in Carrera, Dickerson and Gindl. I’m hoping that Glenn can really start hitting but there isn’t going to be a lot of playing time to go around in this group. Andy Dirks starts on the DL, as expected.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, get out to Coca-Cola Field on Friday afternoon for Buffalo’s season opener! It’ll be a veteran crew that should be able to win quite a few ballgames!

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