3 position battles that will define Blue Jays Spring Training, and who will win

The Toronto Blue Jays have some compelling positional battles for fans to keep an eye on during Spring Training.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Ernie Clement during the 2023 MLB season
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Ernie Clement during the 2023 MLB season / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages
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Battle for RP

Yariel Rodriguez 

Earlier this year, in January, the Blue Jays signed former Cuban and Japanese league pitcher Yariel Rodriguez to a five-year contract. As a full-time reliever in Japan, Rodriguez posted a 1.15 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 54.2 innings. He also made two starts for Cuba in the world baseball classic the last time he pitched competitively, posting a 2.45 ERA while striking out 10 batters in 7.1 innings pitched.  The idea with Rodriguez may eventually be to put him in the starting rotation, but since he has not pitched competitively since March 2023, he will need time to build up as well as face major league hitters in lower leverage situations before handing him a significant role. 

Bowden Francis 

Bowden Francis is a baseball player I enjoy watching and believing in. During his time as a rookie with the Blue Jays last year, Francis had a 1.73 ERA with 35 strikeouts and just eighth walks in 36.1 innings pitched. He was used in a variety of different roles as a one-inning opener, a bulk reliever, and, on occasion, a late-inning man. His versatility and belief in his ability from within the clubhouse really helps his case for landing a spot on the Blue Jays opening day roster. 

Yosver Zulueta

Zulueta is the 9th ranked Blue Jays prospect and did not qualify for the Fangraphs top 100 prospects ranking. At the beginning of spring 2023, the hype around Zulueta was unreal, as it seemed like the Blue Jays desperately needed bullpen upgrades, and he was one of the first in line for the job. However, as the season went on and the Jays bullpen ended up holding its ground (with the addition of some trade pieces), the allure surrounding him died down a little. He still has much to offer this ballclub, though, posting a career of 3.91 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 119.2 innings of work throughout the minor leagues. 

Prediction: Francis will be first in line and earn a major league spot; If the Blue Jays add another arm to their roster, Rodriguez will be next. 

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