With the minor league season one week away, we, at Grading on the Curve, are going to take a look at who is likely to start the season where in the different minor leagues. For you minor league baseball fans, check back with us frequently to find the league and division that’s closest to you.
We start with the International League North Division. This is the division that I’m most acquainted with, mainly because of the fact that I see the Buffalo Bisons an awful lot and that means that I see the other division members a lot too. It’s going to be an exciting division with several high level prospect to keep an eye on. Going alphabetically, we’ll start with those Bisons.
Parent Club: Toronto Blue Jays
Unlike 2013, when the Bisons had a very veteran group with few actual prospects, the 2014 edition is much more exciting. The Blue Jays are parking two of their top pitching prospects in Buffalo to start the season while a few other interesting arms will be in the rotation and bullpen. While the infield is anticipated to be filled with a number of minor league veterans, the outfield has a few future major leaguers.
This is where the Blue Jays have a lot of the depth that they didn’t have last year. Headlining the prospect ranks is Marcus Stroman who dominated Double-A last year, threw well in the Arizona Fall League and has come out as the consensus #2 Blue Jays prospect. Stroman, despite his short stature, will only be in Triple-A as long as it takes him to learn to remain focused and not leave his impressive pitches up in the strike zone.
Lefty Sean Nolin had a taste of the majors last year but also needs to make sure to keep his pitches down and to locate them better. While Nolin had three Triple-A starts at the end of the season (and a few more in the Dominican Republic), he’s going to need to keep hitters off balance. A projected back-end arm, Nolin could very well be in the majors by mid-way through the season.
John Stilson, Rob Rasmussen and (former first-round pick) Deck McGuire will also be in Buffalo. Stilson and Rasmussen will come out of the bullpen while it’s still unknown what the Jays are going to do with McGuire.
The catchers and infielders are all veterans but in the outfield, the Bisons are going to have a trio of Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar and Brad Glenn. Gose and Pillar both have ML experience and Gose has tools to dream on despite more modest big league success. Pillar was somewhat overwhelmed in his first ML exposure in 2013 but has made some progress through spring training and could be back this year. Glenn is a real dark horse. A big, power-hitting right-handed hitter, Glenn impressed all throughout spring training, impressing both in both major and minor league camps and could very well end up in the bigs as a solid, corner outfielder with a modest ceiling.