CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With just over two weeks remaining in Spring Training the end of big league camp is near for some of the Blue Jays' top prospects.
Toronto has 47 players still in camp -- including 16 non-roster invitees. A series of cuts are expected in the coming days now that the team has completed all of its "B" games for the year.
To date, the club has used its time to showcase the likes of Brett Lawrie, Eric Thames, Anthony Gose and Travis d'Arnaud. Now that the regular season is approaching, though, Toronto's veteran players are expected to see more game action.
That means some of the prospects will need to be sent to Minor League Spring Training in the near future to avoid losing playing time.
2010 Spring Training - Toronto Blue Jays
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Spring Training Info
"I think we're getting closer to that point where their regular at-bats are going to take precedence," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "But in the meantime they'll continue to be used in the way they have been and they'll continue to learn and [we'll] provide feedback to them when opportunities present themselves."
The Blue Jays are in a somewhat difficult situation of trying to balance short-term benefits versus long-term gains. Lawrie and Thames have excelled during their time in Spring Training but publicly the club has remained non-committal about their chances of cracking the big league team.
Both players spent 2010 in Double-A and making the leap to the Major Leagues might not be the best for their long-term success. The organization wants to avoid moving players back and forth between Triple-A and the Major Leagues -- when a prospect gets a promotion the Blue Jays want it to be permanent.
It's a topic of discussion that Farrell and general manager Alex Anthopoulos have spent a lot of time focusing on. They don't always agree on the 25-man roster but Farrell says the two have developed a strong working relationship.
"I think right now there might be a couple of differences," Farrell said of their ideal rosters. "But that's what makes the conversations respectful and thoughtful when it comes to not only the current but the bigger picture.
"I understand the organizational view and I know there are potentially differences there but the fact is we have quality players that we're talking about and it's exciting to see that either they're currently starting the season with us or they're not too far off in the distant future."
Farrell has the unique perspective because he is a manager that also has experience working in a front office. The 48-year-old spent almost five years in Cleveland as the director of player development.
That type of work history allows him to understand Anthopoulos' view as he looks at the roster not only for the start of this season but for several years down the road.
"There is some first-hand experience in situations such as we're facing right now with young players," Farrell said. "When do you think they're fully ready and the factors you have to weigh when you're talking about any young player. Yeah, there's a little bit greater perspective than saying, 'No I want this guy' and being belligerent about it."
Regardless of what final decisions are made Farrell says there already are a lot of positives to take from this year's Spring Training. Toronto's youth movement has been on full display and has everyone in the organization feeling positive about the future.
"I sent a text to Alex yesterday saying I can't wait for the day that Lawrie and Gose might be fully ready to go as Major League players," Farrell said. "They're exciting young players and they can impact the game in a number of different ways. That's not to say we've made a final roster decision when it comes to Lawrie but both of those guys are extremely talented and are going to have an impact the day they arrive in the Major Leagues."
Lawrie has been posting solid numbers since the start of camp. He is hitting .345 with two home runs and five RBIs in 29 at-bats. The native of Langley, British Columbia, has also shown he can handle third base after spending the first two years of his professional career at second.
Toronto has had to be a little bit more patient with Gose. The 20-year-old showed flashes of brilliance early on but also had lapses on the basepaths. Farrell says those mistakes have been greatly reduced over the past couple of weeks and he thinks it's an example of a young player learning on the job.
"We went from an early Spring Training where Anthony Gose was so over anxious on the basepaths -- his leads were somewhat unrealistic, " Farrell said. "To [someone] who hasn't lost his aggressiveness on the basepaths but I think he has become a little bit more controlled when he is taking those leads and how he has gone about trying to steal bases.
"Right in front of our eyes we're seeing a little bit more efficiency and I think that speaks to the awareness of the individual and how they make adjustments to more advanced competition."
Gose realizes his time with the Major Leaguers is drawing to a close. That hasn't taken anything away from his first time in a big league camp, though.
"This has been a wonderful ride," said Gose, who is hitting .333 with eight stolen bases. "I don't know when it's going to come to an end -- at some point pretty soon it will -- but the experience, the lifestyle, you can see the camaraderie amongst the guys in the clubhouse it's a lot different than anything I have been a part of. You feel big league when you come here. It has been quite a thrill."