Three Takeaways From the Blue Jays Spring Breakout Game

The Blue Jays faced the Yankees in Saturday's Spring Breakout contest, a chance to see some of the game's top prospects go head to head.

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 01: 2023 Toronto Blue Jays First Round Pick Arjun Nimmala (36) throws the ball over to first base during the Florida Complex League (FCL) game between the FCL Blue Jays and the FCL Tigers on August 01, 2023, at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A new initiative by Major League Baseball came to fruition this past weekend, as the game’s top prospects all competed in a single-game format dubbed the Spring Breakout. It was a fun twist to the spring training grind, as fans got a chance to see different prospects get their chance to play for their respective clubs in the seven-inning contests.

For the Blue Jays, they got the Saturday late afternoon slot against their AL East rivals in the New York Yankees, a club known to boast some talented offensive weapons such as Spencer Jones, Roderick Arias, and George Lombard Jr., amongst others.

The Jays countered with numerous top prospects from their camp, including Arjun Nimmala (#3 on MLB Pipeline), Brandon Barriera (#4), Leo Jimenez (#5), and Addison Barger (#6), along with numerous other ranked prospects across various levels of the Jays farm system.

By the end of the game, things did not go the Jays’ way, as the Yankees prospects pulled ahead early and stayed there, taking the game 9-1 on the back of a stellar performance from starter Brock Selvidge and Jones’s two home runs in the contest.

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While the score may not have been what the Blue Jays were hoping for, under the surface, there were some positives to be had for an organization that is looking to build up some prospect capital after trading away numerous players over the past couple of seasons.

Here are three takeaways from the Blue Jays Spring Breakout game.

Blue Jays pitching goes through ups and downs in Spring Breakout

Looking at the score, it is safe to say that the Jays’ pitching prospects had a tough day.

Seven different pitchers were used in the game by the Jays and all but one (Barriera) allowed at least one hit in the game. C.J. Van Eyk, Fernando Perez, and Landen Maroudis all got tagged for runs, with Maroudis having the roughest outing of the group.

Adam Macko got the ball to start the game and his day was cut short thanks to a Jones two-run shot that had the Jays down early. He did get Arias to strike out on a high fastball that ticked over 94 MPH but his offspeed was hanging a bit too far over the plate, which Jones capitalized on.

While Maroudis did allow four earned runs on the day, there were a lot of positives from the right-hander, as he faced some excellent Yankees hitters in Arias, Ben Rice, T.J. Rumfield, and Caleb Durbin. It’s a tough assignment for a 19-year-old who has yet to throw a professional inning since last summer’s draft but he was hitting the mid-90s with his fastball and mixing up the arsenal well. He will be one to watch this year.

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Another positive was the outing put forth by Barriera, who enters this season looking to bounce back from a 2023 campaign that saw him miss a good chunk of time due to injury.

He quickly got ahead in the inning with a strikeout and a groundout before issuing two walks to put himself in a bit of trouble, eventually escaping unscathed with a popout to short to end the seventh inning. Having Barriera healthy heading into the new season is a positive and all eyes will be on the former first-round pick to see how he bounces back from last season’s limited campaign.

Tucker Toman comes in clutch

Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Blue Jays were held off the scoresheet and looked to be shut out as the Yankees brought in right-hander Jack Neely to finish out the game. Not to go without a fight, an untimely walk and a fielders choice/error saw the Blue Jays put some pressure on the Yankees with a runner on second and first with one out late in the game.

Up to the plate was Tucker Toman, a switch-hitting 20-year-old infielder who was looking to make a statement during the Spring Breakout contest.

Last season, Toman struggled at times to put the ball in play, posting a .208/.320/.313 slash line on the year with a .633 OPS at Single-A. He showed off his plus power at the plate, collecting 32 extra-base hits for the Dunedin Blue Jays, but saw a high number of strikeouts in his first full professional campaign that saw him face numerous adversities on the field.

Against the Yankees, Toman fouled off two fastballs down the middle from Neely and adjusted at the plate for Neely’s slider, which the Jays prospect quickly deposited into left-centre field. The 101.6 MPH line drive scored the Blue Jays only run in the game while Toman advanced to second on the play, showing off his plus wheels.

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It was a bright spot for the Jays #21 ranked prospect, who should continue to develop over the years and likely continue to smash the ball as he fills out his frame and works his way up the Minor League ladder. A positive start to the year for the middle infielder.

Young Blue Jays get a chance to shine

One of the biggest attractions of the Spring Breakout series was the ability for fans to watch their team’s top prospects, likely for the first time for those who haven’t had the opportunity to watch Minor League Baseball.

The Blue Jays brought a large contingent of prospects to the game and used almost every player in some capacity, with LHP Ian Churchill and RHP Yosver Zulueta being the only two players to not see the field that day.

All 18 position players found their way onto the diamond at some point, including some of the younger players like Nimmala, Maroudis, Toman, Sam Shaw, Manuel Beltre, and Enmanuel Bonilla, a spectacle for any prospect watcher for the Blue Jays. Bonilla even joined in with a hit of his own, a line drive to left field on an inside fastball, with the outfielder able to get his hands in on the ball in impressive fashion for one of the three knocks on the day.

The Blue Jays also brought a strong Canadian contingent to the showcase, including Shaw, Macko, Damiano Palmegiani, and Dasan Brown, with Brown making a spectacular defensive play in centre field to end the fourth inning.

The results likely weren’t what many Toronto backers were hoping for given the 13 strikeouts on the day but the Spring Breakout gave Blue Jays fans a chance to see some of the prospects they normally miss out on until they reach the higher levels of the Minor Leagues.

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There were a lot of positives even with the elevated score for the Yankees and there are a lot of Blue Jays prospects worth keeping an eye on this year.