Restoring the rosters: No. 9 – Toronto

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
Coming in ninth is one of the game’s model franchises from the 1990’s. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of talent left over from the era.
Rotation
Roy Halladay
Chris Carpenter
Ricky Romero
Shawn Marcum
Dustin McGowan
Bullpen
Brandon Lyon
David Weathers
Brett Cecil
Kelvim Escobar
Brandon League
Casey Janssen
Alfredo Aceves
As one might expect given recent history, it’d be a deep pitching staff with everyone healthy. Of course, Carpenter, Marcum, McGowan, Escobar and Janssen have all missed huge chunks of time the last couple of years with arm problems. Alternate fifth starter Jesse Litsch is in the same boat, and while Dave Bush hasn’t undergone shoulder surgery yet, he’s been a wreck lately. If you want to replace McGowan with someone who isn’t such an iffy bet going forward, you could plug Cecil or Mark Rzepczynski into the fifth spot. Rzepczynski and Mark Hendrickson were next in line for bullpen spots.
Even with so many others hurt, Halladay and Carpenter counted for an awful lot here. The bullpen, on the other hand, couldn’t be rated very highly with so many question marks.
Lineup
LF Gabe Gross
SS Aaron Hill
DH Adam Lind
3B Michael Young
1B Carlos Delgado
CF Alex Rios
RF Vernon Wells
2B Orlando Hudson
C Robinzon Diaz
Bench
1B-3B Casey Blake
INF Cesar Izturis
OF Reed Johnson
C Kevin Cash
The Jays have had plenty of failed catching prospects over the years, and the inability to develop even a quality backup has dropped them a couple of spots in these rankings. 2007 first-round pick J.P. Arencibia was the one alternative to the Diaz-Cash duo, but he’s hit .227/.275/.416 this year in a terrific environment for hitters at Triple-A Las Vegas. Also, he’s an unexceptional defender.
The rest of the lineup is pretty impressive, even if there’s no real leadoff man in the bunch. Gabe Gross, who is getting on base 36 percent of the time for the Rays, seemed like the best choice, if only because I wanted Young hitting in the middle of the order. Rios would be another option when he has his act together.
Failing to make the team, even though there were good cases for both, were Felipe Lopez and Travis Snider. I think Hill would be a solid shortstop, but if we’re using him there, then it made sense to carry the more defensive-minded Izturis as the backup. Snider is well on his way to becoming a better player than Gross, but Gross has the advantage right now and Johnson can serve as his platoonmate.
Summary
This Blue Jays squad looks very good now, but it’s well worth noting just how much of the talent was brought in before J.P. Ricciardi took over after the 2001 season. Hill and Lind are the only two legitimate position players Ricciardi has developed so far, though Snider is well on his way to being the third. Ricciardi has done a better job at bringing in talented pitchers, but he and his field staff can’t seem to keep them healthy. Unless that changes and a few of the quality arms turn into strong rotation regulars, then the Jays won’t find themselves still in the top 10 the next time these rankings are updated.

Video: Ketel Marte hits an inside-the-park home run

Harry How/Getty Images
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Braves starter Aaron Blair had a nightmarish bottom of the third inning on Wednesday afternoon against the Diamondbacks. He had just given up a run on a Daniel Descalso triple hit to center field that center fielder Ender Inciarte read poorly. In the following at-bat, Ketel Marte laced a curve ball to right field. Sean Rodriguez wasn’t able to get to it in time, so the ball bounced off the fence and caromed back towards the stands along the right field line. By the time Rodriguez was able to retrieve the ball, Marte was already on his way home and scored standing up.

The inside-the-park homer will certainly provide a boost to Marte’s stats. He entered Wednesday’s action batting .196/.255/.370 in 51 plate appearances.

Video: Rafael Devers homers for his first major league hit

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
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Red Sox third base prospect Rafael Devers notched his first major league hit in style on Wednesday afternoon against the Mariners. The 20-year-old smashed a solo home run to straightaway center field, padding his team’s lead to 2-0 in the third inning.

Per MLB’s Stat of the Day Twitter account, Devers is currently the youngest player in baseball at 20 years and 275 days. He went 0-for-4 with a pair of walks and a run scored in Tuesday’s 13-inning loss to the Mariners.