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  • Steve Potter

1/18/23 : Spring Competition - Jersey Shore BlueClaws


Continuing with the theme of anticipation for the 2023 season ( see https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/12-26-22-2023-pre-season-is-near )  I’ve embarked on a five part series of articles looking forward to some spring competitions we might expect to see in the next couple of months for roster placements on opening day.


I began with the major league club https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/1-9-22-spring-competition  and follow up with articles on Lehigh Valley https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/1-13-22-spring-competition-lehigh-valley-iron-pigs, Reading

https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/1-15-22-spring-competition-reading-fightins , Jersey Shore and Clearwater.  This series won’t be detailed profiles of players - we’ve done that for the minor leaguers already ( see https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/12-20-22-who-will-reach-the-major-leagues-2023 )  but rather a limited discussion on what each roster may look like.  There are maybe still player signings to be announced so at this point we may not yet know all the names competing for the jobs but we will do our best with what we know at present.


So here goes - the Jersey Shore BlueClaws - there are 30 active roster spots allowed for the A level however teams generally carry a few more than that - they are just inactive on game days.


High A - Jersey Shore BlueClaws  :


Starters :


Jordi Martinez ( LH ) finished the 2022 season with Jersey Shore making two starts after appearing in 17 games with Clearwater - he’s a mid nineties capable hurler whom I’ve been high on since first seeing him in Fall Instructs a few years back - he will very likely open 2023 as part of the BlueClaws rotation.  Another lefty, Rafael Marcano made ten starts with the BlueClaws to finish 2022 after opening the year in Clearwater - we like his capabilities as well and expect him to return to JS as part of the rotation.


RH Victor Vargas finished the 2022 season with an outstanding effort on September 7th throwing seven shutout frames against Aberdeen allowing just two hits and punching out eight batters.  He’s pitched in his native Colombia this off-season in their winter league and might break camp with Reading however injuries limited him to just 34 innings at the High A level last year so we believe he returns.  I’m very optimistic about RH Eduar Segovia who spent last season at the Complex rehabbing from injury - the last time we saw him in the Fall he looked ready to go - believe he’s gonna do very well - cross fire delivery and good stuff - can see him opening with the BlueClaws.  LH Gabriel Cotto had a nice season in Clearwater last year and seems poised to bump up a notch out of spring camp.  RH Starlyn Castillo missed almost the entire ‘22 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery but has since pitched well in the Australian Winter League - “El Koala” seems on track to join the rotation in Jersey Shore albeit additional time with Clearwater might be an initial path as well. 


RH Eiberson Castellano is an intriguing young hurler who both started and served in a bulk reliever role last year with Clearwater - we see him moving up out of spring camp.  RH Gunner Mayer lost time to a medical issue last year but returned to the Threshers in July to make 10 starts before the season ended - he will be in the mix for a JS rotation spot.  LH Jordan Fowler has pitched really well in the Australian Baseball League - he’s a starter/bulk reliever that should break camp with the BlueClaws.  LH Matt Osterberg had a very solid 2022 season in a similar role as Fowler with Clearwater - we see him at the least opening 2023 with Jersey Shore, maybe even Reading.  RH Alex McFarlane is a candidate to break camp with Jersey Shore however he’s made just three pro starts - we see it as more likely he opens up in Clearwater - ya never know though.


Bullpen :


Big arms ( high velo ) have become a staple of pro baseball bullpens and there’s no lack of candidates who fit that bill to open the 2023 Jersey Shore season - Alex Garbrick, Daniel Harper, Orion Kettering, Tommy McCollum, Alex McKenny, Nicoly Pina, Alex Rao & Cam Wynne are all capable of 96 mph or plus heat and will be in the mix for opening day roster spots with Jersey Shore - McCollum is one to watch as he also features a wipe out splitter - I’ve always liked Pina - he’s coming back from TJ injury - missed most of last season.  RH Carlos Betancourt had a solid ‘22 year in Clearwater and followed that up with a good performance in the Venezuelan Winter League - he’s firmly in the mix for a bulk reliever role with the BlueClaws. RH Konnor Ash, RH Josh Bortka, RH Jack Dallas, RH Victor Lopez, RH Chase Webster, LH Jared Wetherbee & LH Gabriel Yanez should all compete for a Jersey Shore roster spot in spring camp. Right handers Jason Ruffcorn & Rodolfo Sanchez could return for another year at Jersey Shore if they don’t make the Reading roster.  LH Tristan Garnett finished the ‘22 season with Jersey Shore pitching in three games after posting a strong 1.86 ERA in 19 games with Clearwater - he will compete for a roster spot with Reading this spring but if that doesn’t come to fruition a return to Jersey Shore would happen.


Position Players :


Catchers :


Anthony Quirion appeared in 23 games with Jersey Shore last season in a year that was setback with injuries - he’s playing very well this winter in the Australian Baseball League and could return to JS if he doesn’t earn a Reading roster spot in spring camp.  Arturo DeFreitas is an excellent defensive catcher who was also playing in Australia this winter before suffering an ankle injury - he’s now rehabbing in Clearwater at the complex and if ready could break spring camp with the BlueClaws.  Caleb Ricketts played in 22 games last season with Clearwater after being selected in the 7th round of the 2022 draft and seems ready to move up a notch.  Andrik Nava was on the opening day BlueClaws roster in 2022 before being transferred to Clearwater later in the year - he could be a BlueClaw once again.  Adony Mejia finished the year with Jersey Shore and will compete for a roster spot this spring.  Micah Yonamine has played primarily first base to date in his career - he should be in the mix for a 1B/C role with Jersey Shore this spring.


Infielders :


Corners :


Hao Yu Lee seems likely to return to Jersey Shore to begin 2023 - he finished the 2023 campaign there - can play third base, shortstop and second base - the soon to be 20 year old can flat out rake - he’s increased his body strength in off season training and may be more suited to play third base as his regular spot.  Matt Alifano played in 15 games with Clearwater at third base last summer after signing as an un drafted free agent - he could move up.  Otto Kemp spent a lot of time this fall learning the nuances of second base - he played third base in college - signed last summer as an un-drafted free agent he will compete this spring for a JS roster spot. Chad Castillo played in 24 games with Clearwater after being drafted in the 9th round last summer - he would seem to be in the mix for the first base spot with Jersey Shore, Micah Yonamine played first base in 72 games with the Threshers last summer - as stated in the catcher’s review he will compete for a similar role in spring camp to move up to Jersey Shore.  Cole Moore is a very good defender at first base - he played in 34 FCL games after signing as an un-drafted free agent last summer - will be in the mix competing for a spot with Jersey Shore this spring.   Rixon Wingrove might return to Jersey Shore in a 1B/DH role if he doesn’t make the Reading roster - Anthony Quirion can also play first base.


Middle :


Kendall Simmons seems likely to open the 2023 season as Jersey Shore’s primary second baseman - he finished the ‘22 season strong and has worked diligently in off season High Performance Camps to hone his skills at the position.  As mentioned Otto Kemp has also worked in the middle infield spots this off-season and will likely see time at both positions.  Pedro Martinez was selected in the minor league portion of the rule 5 draft from the Rays organization - he’s a strong candidate to open as the primary shortstop for the BlueClaws in 2023.  Hao Yu Lee could see significant time at both shortstop and second base - he will move around as a lineup regular. Erick Brito played in 97 games at primarily shortstop last year with Clearwater and could move up a notch although another season at the Low A level might be beneficial.  Jamari Baylor hit into a lot of tough luck with Clearwater last summer yet posted a .394 OBP the last three months of the season - he can play both middle infield spots - will be in the mix to move up in spring camp. Nicolas Torres, Casey Martin,  Freylin Minyety  & Uziel Viloria are candidates to return to Jersey Shore or perhaps move up to Reading  -all can play multiple infield positions.


Outfielders :


Marcus Lee Sang finished the ‘22 season with Jersey Shore and has spent almost the entire off season working at the complex in Clearwater preparing for 2023 - he likely returns to the BlueClaws as a lineup regular.  Leandro Pineda also finished 2022 as a BlueClaw - the 20 year old has a sweet left handed swing and is a strong defender - will certainly be in the mix this spring to break camp with Jersey Shore.   Wilfredo Flores filled in admirably last summer for Clearwater in center field when others were injured - at times he was the best player on the field - the versatile fielder ( can also play infield ) seems as a logical choice to move up to High A this year.  Cade Fergus, Dakota Kotowksi & Troy Schreffler are 2022 signees who all seem as likely candidates in spring camp for opening day roster spots with the BlueClaws.  Gabriel Rincones ( 2022 3rd round draft selection ) has yet to play a pro game as he went on the IL after signing to rehab a shoulder injury - when he’s given clearance the 21 year old left handed power hitting OF/First Baseman could be in the mix for a JS roster spot albeit beginning at Clearwater seems more likely.   


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Photo by Michael Dill

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