Blue Jays finally call up prized signing to big leagues after he proved Triple-A was a joke to him

After the Baltimore Orioles called up Jackson Holliday, the Toronto Blue Jays are plucking one of their farm system pieces and pulling him up to the big leagues.
World Baseball Classic Quarterfinals: Australia v Cuba
World Baseball Classic Quarterfinals: Australia v Cuba / Kenta Harada/GettyImages

Last year, the New York Yankees made the leap to call up their youth star Anthony Volpe from Triple-A to MLB. Then, the Baltimore Orioles -- already heavy on youthful talent -- just this week called up Jackson Holliday, still just 20 years old. The AL East's arms race to infuse new talent doesn't stop there, with the Toronto Blue Jays expected to get in on the action this weekend calling up Yariel Rodriguez, who they signed this offseason to a five-year, $32 million deal.

Rodriguez, 27, doesn't fit the same profile as the uber-spry and youthful call-ups of Holliday and Volpe but still brings a heavy dose of anticipation and hope for what he can bring to the big-league roster. He could be a sharper, immediate add, considering he has the professional experience to bring right from the get-go at the big-league level.

Francys Romero first reported the news, with Jon Morosi of MLB Network confirming Rodriguez's expected call-up. Toronto is starting a series at home against the Colorado Rockies for the weekend.

Yariel Rodriguez could be a key to getting Blue Jays in the AL East mix

Rodriguez, a Cuban pitcher, spent the first years of his career cutting his teeth in international leagues, first in the Cuban circuit and then spending the last several seasons before his MLB signing in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. Last year he hurled a 1.15 ERA and 0.915 WHIP with a 3.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Japan.

Rodriguez gained some more exposure in the 2023 World Baseball Classic where he threw for 7.1 innings to the tune of 10 strikeouts, five hits and two earned runs for the Cuban team. Of the three qualified pitchers on the Cuban team, he had the best ERA.

Rodriguez's call-up likens more to that of a Yoshinobu Yamamoto (25) or a Shota Imanaga (30) of this offseason, players who are coming into the league as fresh on the MLB side, but experienced in professional baseball internationally. While Yamamoto and Imanaga came over to their respective big league squads right away, the Blue Jays opted to instead give Rodriguez some Triple-A exposure first.

Rodriguez quickly outgrew those digs. He pitched 6.1 innings and didn't allow a run, allowed just one hit, and struck out 10. Toronto has the 9th-worst ERA among starting pitching staffs in the majors, so the infusion of a new talent will be welcomed.