Blue Jays sign seven Minor Leaguers
Toronto extends each player an invitation to Spring Training
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays inked seven players to Minor League contracts Friday and extended each an invitation to Spring Training.
Toronto signed pitchers Geremi Gonzalez, Beau Kemp, Blaine Neal and outfielder Jeff Duncan, and also re-signed pitcher Brian Wolfe, infielder Kevin Barker and outfielder Chad Mottola.
Gonzalez split the 2006 season between the Mets and Brewers, going 4-2 with a 5.79 ERA in 24 appearances. The 31-year-old right-hander has pitched in 131 games, including 83 starts, since debuting with the Cubs in 1997. From 2003-05, Gonzalez spent time with the Devil Rays and Red Sox. The Blue Jays will represent his seventh organization in the last seven years.
Kemp pitched for Triple-A Rochester in Minnesota's system last year. The 26-year-old righty went 7-4 with a 2.32 ERA and three saves in 49 relief outings. Kemp, who was a 31st-round pick by the Twins in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, struck out 35 batters 89 1/3 innings in '06.
Last season, the 28-year-old Neal was 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in 29 games with Double-A Altoona in Pittsburgh's organization. Since 2001, the right-hander has compiled 113 Major League games with four teams. Over that span, Neal went 5-4 with a 5.08 ERA.
Duncan hit .299 with six home runs and 26 RBIs in 89 games for Triple-A Las Vegas in the Dodgers' system last season. The 27-year-old outfielder was drafted by the Mets in the seventh round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft and has appeared in 69 Major League games.
Wolfe, who was acquired from Milwaukee in January for third baseman Corey Koskie, posted a 2-7 record with a 5.83 ERA in 29 games between Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire in '06. The 25-year-old right-hander served as a starter with Dunedin, but worked primarily out of the bullpen with New Hampshire.
Last year, the Jays honored the 31-year-old Barker with a R. Howard Webster Award, which recognized him as the top player for Triple-A Syracuse. He hit .275 with 18 home runs, 76 RBIs and a club-record 39 doubles with the SkyChiefs. In September, Barker was promoted to Toronto, where he hit .235 in 12 games. Barker declined an outright assigment to Triple-A on Oct. 19 before re-signing the Minor League contract.
Mottola, 35, hit .265 with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs in 110 games with Triple-A Syracuse last year. He also played in 10 games for the Jays, hitting .250 with two doubles. In 1992, Cincinnati made Mottola the fifth overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft. Since then, he's spent time with eight organizations and has appeared in 59 big-league games.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.