A Look at How Toronto Prospects Fared in Their Debuts

Toronto Prospects
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Toronto prospects must wait and develop their game for their chance to debut at the major league level. On Thursday evening, pitcher Alek Manoah became the next prospect to make his major league debut for the Toronto Blue Jays. Manoah has skipped three minor league levels with three starts in Triple-A Buffalo. It’s a moment many fans have been curious about since the 23-year old throttled through the farm system as the Blue Jay’s first-round pick in 2019. Manoah threw six scoreless innings in his first start in the majors, allowing two hits with seven strikeouts and two walks against the New York Yankees. 

Since he is the latest prospect to earn a promotion, it leaves one thinking about how other former prospects fared in the past. Here’s how a few other Blue Jays fared in their debuts.

Toronto Prospects Debuts

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Debut: April 26, 2019, vs. Oakland

Line: 1-for-4, double

All eyes were on Vladimir Gurerro Jr. when he was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on April 26. The Rogers Centre crowd roared during the slugger’s pre-game introduction and when he took the field in his debut. The son of All-Star Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero, “Vladdito” led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double off Oakland’s Yusmeiro Petit for his first big-league hit.

Vlad’s hit led to a complete walk-off homer from Brandon Drury, giving the Blue Jays a 4-2 victory over the Athletics. Coming into the majors, Guerrero Jr. was the consensus top prospect in baseball. He was hitting .367/.424/.700 with three home runs and eight RBIs in eight games with Buffalo.

Bo Bichette

Debut: July 29, 2019, at Kansas City

Line: 1-for-4, single, strikeout

Blue Jays fans were in for another treat with another top prospect making his debut in 2019. Bo Bichette made an immediate impact against the Kansas City Royals. On the second pitch he saw, Bichette earned his first major league hit against Brad Keller of the Kansas City Royals. The debut began one of the most impressive debuts in league history. Bichette’s single began an 11-game hitting streak. He set a record with at least one double in nine consecutive games. Bichette hit four home runs and nine doubles to become the first player with 12 extra-base hits in his first 11 games.

Vernon Wells

Debut: August 30, 1999, vs. Minnesota

Line: 0-for-3, two strikeouts

It took Vernon Wells time to find an everyday role after his debut in 1999. Despite going hitless in his game, the former fifth overall pick made 92 trips to the plate as a 20-year old. His debut season slash line was .261/.293/.352 with one home run, eight RBI. Wells would spend the next two years playing at both the major and minor league levels. The center fielder finally broke out in a big way in 2002.

Tony Fernández

Debut: September 2, 1983, vs. Detroit

Line: 1-for-1, run scored

Baseball America named Tony Fernández as Toronto’s top prospect in both 1983 and ’84. Fernández was called up in 1983, getting a chance to play in 15 games down the stretch. In his debut, the shortstop came off the bench as a pinch-runner for Cliff Johnson. He scored a run on a wild pitch from Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Bair. Fernández would become one of the most beloved players for Toronto. He would win the World Series in 1993 and win four Gold Gloves with five All-Star appearances.

Roy Halladay

Debut: September 20, 1998, vs. Tampa Bay

Line: 5 innings, 8 hits, 2 earned runs, 5 strikeouts (No decision)

In 1995, Roy Halladay was the Blue Jays’ first selection of the amateur draft. Three years later, Halladay made his debut in Tampa Bay against the Devil Rays. “Doc” lasts five innings, allowing two runs in a Blue Jays victory over their division rivals. Halladay had what would have been the third no-hitter pitched on the final day of the regular season in his second career start.

Ricky Romero

Debut: April 9, 2009, vs. Detroit

Line: 6 innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, five strikeouts (W)

Ricky Romero eerily had a similar debut to Halladay. Romero made the roster out of spring training, making his debut against Detroit. Opposite rookie pitcher Rick Porcello, it was the first time in MLB history that two-first round picks pitched against each other in their respective debuts. The Blue Jays pitcher earned his first career win, who surrendered two runs and five strikeouts over six innings in a 6-2 victory.

Lloyd Moseby

Debut: May 24, 1980, vs. New York Yankees

Line: 2-for-4, double, strikeout

Lloyd Moseby was selected second overall by the Blue Jays in the 1978 MLB Draft. He quickly climbed through the club’s ranks to make his major league debut on May 24, 1980. Moseby would become the starting center fielder for the next ten seasons, with a breakout campaign in 1983. During that season, he batted.315 with 18 home runs, 31 doubles, and seven triples. He also led the AL with 11 assists at his position.

Other Toronto Prospect Debuts

John Olerud

Debut: September 3, 1989, vs. Minnesota

Line: 1-for-1

Shannon Stewart

Debut: September 2, 1995, vs. Chicago White Sox

Line: 1-for-3

Dave Stieb

Debut: June 29, 1979, vs. Baltimore

Line: 6 innings, 6 hits, 5 earned runs, 5 strikeouts (L)

6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 SO, 2 BB, 5 ER, L


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