Back from the Dominican Republic, Blue Jays general manager was back in camp today with plenty other members of The Brass. Anthopoulos watched some batting practice and headed out to the fields to monitor the pitchers.
In between, AA took some time to chat with the media and he talked about visiting the Blue Jays’ new baseball academy in the D.R. and scouting some young players who will be eligible to be signed later this summer.
“Did you come back with any cigars?” one reporter asked. “Do you like Cubans?”
The group laughed and Anthopoulos knew the questions were less about whether he’d be firing one up with Jays president Paul Beeston and more about the other players he reportedly scouted while on the island. The Jays have been linked to Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz and might have interest in Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria.
“Without getting specific on players,” Anthopoulos replied, “we’re trying to be as aggressive as we can and really explore every player that’s out there — at least doing our homework and doing our due dilligence and making sure we’re scouting these players, evaluating them, getting to know them a little bit. And, obviously, finding what the price points are and if they line up with how we evaluate the player.
“That being said, are we going to see every international player? Probably not. But, that’s something that I just sat down with Marco [Paddy, director of Latin American operations] last week and we’re trying to devise a plan of, ‘How can we do our best to see as many of these players as we can?
“We’re trying to maybe be a little more aggressive and scout a little bit harder than we may have in the past.”
Highlights from the discussion with Anthopoulos:
- The Blue Jays have plenty of money to spend on international free agents, if it makes sense and if the value the club places on the player is in line with the asking price. The money set aside for such signings does not take away from the pool of funds available for the upcoming First-Year Player Draft.
- In terms of his drafting philosophy, Anthopoulos said he wants to target high impact, high ceiling players. Whether they are college or high school stars does not matter. He is not opposed to taking risks and he said he’d rather have two picks reach the Majors as high-impact players than five who reach the Majors as average players.
- Anthopoulos said that drafting approach means the Jays will continue to stick with the best-available player style. Toronto will not select players based on team needs. Anthopoulos is excited about the potential to “beef up” the farm system this year, when they have nine picks in the first three rounds.
- Right now, Anthopoulos does not see Brett Wallace making the Opening Day roster. The Jays want him to receive regular at-bats and also to have lots of playing time at first base. Wallace is making the move to first from third. Along the same lines, Kyle Drabek might have a great spring, but the Jays don’t want to rush his development.
- Anthopoulos does not see a scenario in which Brandon Morrow would wind up in the bullpen. That could change way down the road, but Morrow is a starter — whether with the Jays or in the Minors. That said, while nothing is guaranteed, Anthopoulos said he expects Morrow to make the rotation. He has a job to lose.
- The news about Dustin McGowan continues to be good, but Anthopoulos is sticking with a “cautiously optimistic” approach. He cited Casey Janssen, who had no restictions last spring, but ran into a setback once he began pitching in games. McGowan’s biggest hurdles will come once he begins appearing in Grapefruit League contests.
- Anthopoulos said Randy Ruiz will get a good look this spring and said that he and Brian Dopirak are essentially competing against one another for a spot on the Opening Day roster. That echoes what manager Cito Gaston said on Wednesday. Ruiz arrived in camp on Thursday looking significantly trimmer.
BIRD FEED: Beyond the arrival of Ruiz, Jose Bautista also showed up in camp on Thursday for the Blue Jays. Right now, Bautista looks like the favorite to win the right field job and to bat leadoff for the Jays. … The only notable no-show so far is shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Position players are not required to be in camp until Friday, when the first official full-squad workout is scheduled. … Gaston was not in camp with the Blue Jays on Thursday because his wife was admitted to a local hospital. She underwent an apendectomy. Gaston is expected to be back in camp on Friday.
QUOTABLE: “I think with him, it’s just too early to tell. We’re so early in the process. I mean, if we get to that point that we start talking about an innings cap, I think that’s great news for us. That’d be a great problem to have.” –Anthopoulos, asked if McGowan might face an innings limit this season
CLUBHOUSE CONFIDENTIAL: The daily workout sheet’s “Quote of the Day” for Thursday was, “A sense of humor is needed to be a successful manager (and a good bullpen). — Whitey Herzog”
PHOTO OF THE DAY:
Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton, braving the Florida tundra
That’s it for today. I have to go pick up Mrs. MLBastian and MLBastian Jr. from the airport. Catch you from the yard tomorrow…