New Hampshire Hardball

Fisher Cats release roster

MANCHESTER — The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, have announced their preliminary roster for the 2019 season.
Ten members of the 2018 Eastern League Championship team will return to New Hampshire, along with five of the Blue Jays Top 30 prospects and three members of Toronto’s 40-man roster. Six players were acquired via trade during the past year, as the Blue Jays continue to bolster one of baseball’s Top 5 farm systems (
Click here to view the full Preliminary Opening Day Roster. Please note, this is a tentative roster and is subject to change.
Prospect Watch
SS Kevin Smith is the No. 7 prospect in the Blue Jays’ organization, according to The 2017 fourth-round pick out of Maryland hit 25 home runs last season, good for second most in the system (Cavan Biggio, 26).
2018 Florida State League Pitcher of the Year RHP Patrick Murphy headlines a promising pitching staff after a terrific season with Advanced-A Dunedin. The Blue Jays No. 20 prospect ( went 10-5, led the FSL with 130 strikeouts and finished second with a 2.67 ERA. Murphy made one start in New Hampshire last season, and held Hartford to two runs on four hits over six quality innings. The 2013 third-round draft pick was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster in November.
Two other members of the Blue Jays 40-man roster will join Murphy in the starting rotation: RHP Hector Perez and RHP Yennsy Diaz. Perez, ranked No. 17 among Blue Jays prospects by, joined the Fisher Cats organization as a key piece in the Roberto Osuna trade last July. Diaz split time between Class-A Lansing and Advanced-A Dunedin last season, posting a 10-5 record and a 3.05 ERA. He is ranked No. 27 among Blue Jays prospects by
Baseball America lists 1B Chad Spanberger as the No. 30 prospect in the Blue Jays organization. The 2017 sixth-round pick out of Arkansas came over in the trade for Seunghwan Oh, and produced immediately in Class-A Lansing. Spanberger collected seven hits in his first four games, and was promoted to Advanced-A Dunedin within the next week.
Family Ties
After a season featuring familiar names like Bichette, Biggio and Guerrero, Jr., the Fisher Cats will welcome 1B Kacy Clemens and 3B Brandon Grudzielanek to New Hampshire in 2019. Clemens is the son of former Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros pitcher Roger Clemens, while Grudzielanek’s uncle Mark enjoyed a 15-year big league career from 1995-2010. Kacy’s older brother, Koby, was a catcher for the Fisher Cats in 2012.
The Champions Return
Ten players from last year’s playoff roster will suit up for the Fisher Cats again in 2019, including two clutch performers in the outfield. OF Josh Palacios recorded a hit in five of New Hampshire’s six postseason games, including a game-breaking three-run triple in Game 2 of the Eastern League Division Series. OF Forrest Wall hit a game-winning single in the 10th inning of Game 1 in the Eastern League Championship Series.
After joining the Blue Jays organization in the trade for eventual World Series MVP Steve Pearce, IF Santiago Espinal finished the 2018 regular season with a .354 on-base percentage, and put together a four-game hitting streak in the playoffs.
Returning members of the pitching staff include RHP Andrew CaseRHP Francisco Rios, and LHP Kirby Snead, who ended last season on a 9.1 inning scoreless streak out of the bullpen. RHP Hector Perez struck out 32 batters in 25.2 innings with New Hampshire, while LHP Tayler Saucedo picked up a pivotal win in Game 2 of the Eastern League Division Series with 3.2 innings of shutout relief.
RHP Jackson McClelland wowed fans with his blazing fastball, which reached as high as 101 mph on the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium radar gun.
C Ryan Hissey, who hit home runs off two different Red Sox MLB rehabbers last season, will continue to provide a steady hand behind home plate. Although he wasn’t on the playoff roster, IF Nash Knight earned a championship ring for his contributions in June and July. Knight made headlines last September 2, when he played all nine positions in one game for the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays.
On the Rise
OF Rodrigo Orozco won last year’s Florida State League Batting Title with a .304 average, while Dunedin teammate OF Brock Lundquistproduced a .401 OBP in the second half of the season.
LHP Zach Logue turned heads in 2018 as a Blue Jays Organizational All-Star, going 12-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 27 outings between Lansing and Dunedin.
RHP Andrew Sopko brings championship experience of his own; he won the 2018 Texas League title with the Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers Double-A) before being traded to the Blue Jays organization as part of the Russell Martin deal in January.
RHP Bryan Baker (5-3, 3.68 ERA) and RHP Ty Tice (7-7, 2.29 ERA) are coming off excellent seasons of Single-A relief, while Massachusetts native RHP Jake Fishman (2-3, 2.62 ERA) continues to impress as the first baseball player ever drafted out of Union College.
Italian-born C Alberto Mineo put together an impressive .294 average in Dunedin last summer, after being acquired by the Blue Jays in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft.

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