It's quite fitting that on the very day on which kids begin their first day of school, the Toronto Blue Jays are set to promote some of their most promising young players to the show. Now the "kids" are all here.
In a somewhat surprising move, as part of their September call-ups the Blue Jays have called up highly-touted prospects Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey and Kendall Graveman among a few others.
It's been a good year overall for the Blue Jays farm system, as many of their players have skyrocketed up the ranks to the Major Leagues. Four of their Top 10 prospects (according to Baseball America's list last winter) have cracked the Blue Jays roster.
For example, Daniel Norris began the season in Single A, and he's been promoted through three levels of the minors this season. This is a guy who was pitching for the Lansing Lugnuts last year, and even then his results in Low A ball weren't all that great.
The same goes for Dalton Pompey who also started the season in Dunedin and will now suit up for the Blue Jays. Pompey spent the entire year in Single A in 2013, and after a stellar year capped off with an invitation to the MLB Futures game, he's set to join the club.
Kendall Graveman, Daniel Norris, and Dalton Pompey were all playing for Dunedin between Apr 30 and Jun 12. Now they are in the big leagues.
— Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer) September 2, 2014
It's a stark contrast from previous years when the Blue Jays seemed extremely wary about starting the service time clock on their prospects. However, with the promotion of Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez earlier this season, clearly they aren't as concerned with service time.
Norris and Pompey are likely the two players most fans will be excited to see, but there are a bevy of other young reinforcements coming the Blue Jays way: Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, Anthony Gose and Ryan Goins.
Now that the rosters have opened up, one can't be sure how much playing time these guys will get as the final month of the season gets underway. I can't imagine any of the pitchers would get innings out of the bullpen, and Pompey may only get the odd start here or there.
I suppose the one advantage of the Blue Jays nearly being out of the playoff picture is these call-ups might see more playing time where they otherwise would not. The manager and front office might be more inclined to give starts and innings these guys down the stretch.
Had the season been on the line, you might not see Dalton Pompey get a start in the outfield or Daniel Norris pitch out of the bullpen. But now ... you might.
While it's great to see all these young players make it to the bigs so quickly, one has to wonder if there's an ulterior motive by Alex Anthopoulos here. Never have we seen so many prospects promoted in September ... so why is that?
This might be two-fold; one, to simply see if these players can hack it at the Major League level (albeit it's in September). And secondly, perhaps Alex is trying to protect his job by fast-tracking the prospects that were drafted under his watch as General Manager.
Don't get me wrong; many of these young men rightfully earned their call-up to the Blue Jays. Daniel Norris has excelled at every level he's played at this season. Dalton Pompey lit it up in every level he's competed at this season: Single A, Double A and Triple A.
But I can't recall the Blue Jays organization ever being so swift to promote their prospects, which to some might scream as a panic move by Anthopoulos. But also, these prospects are cost-controllable assets; which are the best kinds of players to have for a General Manager's standpoint.
Is this all too much too soon? I say ... go for it.
We've all seen what can happen when an organization slowly and methodically progresses some of their players through the farm system. Many of them get injured (which delays their arrival anyway) and some don't even make it up to the Major Leagues.
Start the service clock early and see if these guys can compete at the Major League level. Showcase some of these young players and find out if they can potentially become mainstays on the roster next season or beyond.
Now is the time to get an extended look at these guys. It sounds like these are the players which will be the building blocks for this team once Bautista, Encarnacion and Dickey are gone. They're also the players which will supplement the aforementioned stars over the next few years.
Who knows if they'll all contribute to the big league roster next year, but if even one of these prospects turns into the likes of another Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez, it will all be worth it.
Image courtesy of Toronto Star