The Vancouver Canadians have released their 30-player roster for the 2021 season and it has plenty of familiar names on it.
The pitching staff will be led by ‘King Kloff’, Adam Kloffenstein, who returns to the club from 2019 along with fellow right-handers Nick Fraze and Parker Caracci and left-hander Luke Gillingham. Kloffenstein put in a season worthy of 2019 Northwest League Pitcher of the Year honours—though he did not win it—with a 4-4 record and a 2.24 earned run average, striking out 64 batters in 64-1/3 innings.
2019 catcher Philip Clarke is back along with infielders Tanner Morris, Ronny Brito, Luis De Los Santos and Spencer Horwitz. The 2019 outfielders are Will Robertson and Cameron Eden. Robertson led the team in home runs with six and runs batted in with 33 two years ago while Morris posted a team-best .384 on-base percentage.
The 2021 roster also features a number of pitchers who were with Vancouver in 2018, including two Canadian-born players. Outfielder Tanner Kirwer from Sherwood Park, Alberta returns with Vancouver, BC right-hander Will McAffer. The other 2018 hurlers are righties Cobi Johnson, Sean Wymer and Troy Miller and lefty Marcus Reyes, a holdover from the C’s 2017 Northwest League championship squad.
2016 righty Justin Maese will wear a Vancouver uniform again after being sidelined with a shoulder injury that wiped out his 2018 campaign. He returned to pitch just five innings with the Gulf Coast League Jays in 2019. The El Paso, Texas native recorded a 2.05 ERA with a 20-1 strikeout/walk ratio in 26-1/3 innings with the C’s in 2016 before earning a promotion to Lansing.
Toronto Blue Jays second-round pick C.J. Van Eyk highlights the 12 newcomers on the C’s roster for 2021. The Tampa, Florida right-hander reunites with his 2018 Florida State Seminoles teammate Johnson. who led the C’s in saves that year with 10.
Hagen Danner bypassed Vancouver by skipping from Bluefield to Lansing in 2019 as a catcher. He is now set to make his debut in a C’s uniform as a right-handed pitcher. Danner was selected in the second round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft by the Blue Jays from Huntington Beach High School in California. He had pitched and caught during his high school days and pitching was considered to be a fallback option if catching didn’t work out. He batted .279 with Bluefield in 2018 but struggled in Lansing by hitting just .170 in 2019.
Like Danner, Troy Watson made a two-level promotion from Bluefield to Lansing. After going in the 15th round back in 2018, the right-hander won his first three professional starts with the Bluef-Jays in 2018 to go along with a 1.67 ERA. The Northern Colorado product pitched for Lansing and went 6-5 with a 3.14 ERA during the 2019 campaign.
2019 12th-round pick Sam Ryan and 37th-rounder Andrew McInvale are the other two new hurlers on the C’s pitching staff this season. Both righties saw action in Bluefield in 2019 with McInvale also spending time in the Gulf Coast League.
Also bypassing Vancouver on his way from Bluefield to Lansing the first time around is catcher Ryan Gold, a 27th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2016 from Carolina Forest High School in South Carolina. After batting .302 with Bluefield in 2017, Gold spent the next two seasons with Lansing. He homered seven times in 2019 but hit just .239 with the Lugnuts. Gold has also made 10 appearances at first base in both years with Lansing.
Joining Clarke and Gold behind the plate is Venezuelan Andres Guerra, a free-agent signing by Toronto back in 2015. He played a total of 60 games in Bluefield during the 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
Two other new faces to the 2021 roster also rode the Bluefield-Lansing express. 2016 Dominican free-agent signee Rafael Lantigua hit .302 with Bluefield in 2018 and batted .254 with 26 extra-base hits with Lansing in 2019. He has also spent time playing in the Dominican Winter League over the past two years. Outfielder D.J. Neal has racked up 39 stolen bases in three minor league seasons, including 15 steals in 16 attempts with Bluefield in 2018 and 16 swipes with Lansing in 2019 but was caught nine times. He hit .237 and .238 in those seasons respectively.
Infielder L.J. Talley—the Blue Jays 7th round pick from Georgia two years ago—made his professional debut in Lansing. He swatted six home runs but batted just .191.
Donnie Murphy is the manager of the 2021 Canadians and he’ll be joined by hitting coach Ryan Wright, pitching coach Phil Cundari and position player coach Danny Canellas, who was with the C’s two years ago.
C’s broadcaster Tyler Zickel hosted a Zoom media call with Murphy recently which you can check out below.
A total of 33 players with Vancouver Canadians ties also learned their assignment in the Toronto Blue Jays system. The Triple-A Buffalo Bisons have a dozen players with a Vancouver Canadians connection on their 2021 roster with six pitchers and six position players.
Years in parentheses indicate the year the pitcher or player was with Vancouver.
- Nick Allgeyer (2018)
- Dany Jimenez (2017)
- Alek Manoah (2019)
- Joey Murray (2018)
- Nate Pearson (2017)
- Tayler Saucedo (2015)
- Nash Knight (2016)
- Cullen Large (2017)
- Josh Palacios (2016)
- Rowdy Tellez (2014)
- Richard Ureña (2014)
- Logan Warmoth (2017)
The Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats also have six former C’s on their 2021 pitching staff along with nine position players who once suited up for Vancouver.
- Mike Ellenbest (2016)
- Jon Harris (2015)
- Connor Law (2018)
- Zach Logue (2017)
- Brody Rodning (2017)
- Fitz Stadler (2018)
- Chris Bec (2018)
- Vinny Capra (2018)
- Otto Lopez (2018)
- Brock Lundquist (2017)
- Nick Podkul (2018)
- Reggie Pruitt (2017)
- Samad Taylor (2017)
- Kevin Vicuña (2017)
- Chavez Young (2017)
The Low-A Dunedin Blue Jays have four pitchers and two position players from the 2019 Vancouver Canadians rosters.
- Winder Garcia (2019)
- William Gaston (2019)
- Gabriel Ponce (2019)
- Grant Townsend (2019)
Garcia started the final game of the 2019 season from Vancouver after being called up from the Gulf Coast League to replace Alek Manoah, who was shut down for the season for precautionary reasons.
- Davis Schneider (2019)
- Ryan Sloniger (2019)
Adams Goes to the Show
Congratulations to 2017 Vancouver Canadians catcher Riley Adams on his call-up to the Blue Jays. He is set to make his major league debut after Alejandro Kirk suffered a hip flexor injury. The 99th pick of the 2017 draft from the University of San Diego batted .305 for the C’s that year to help them win the Northwest League championship. Adams nearly pulled off a cycle in a win against Spokane in late June of that year. He will wear Tom Henke‘s #50 with the Jays.
3 C’s Released
A trio of former Canadians have been released by the Toronto Blue Jays. It was pointed out by @the_birdfeed on Twitter that 2019 outfielders Dom Abbadessa and McGregory Contreras (who also played in Vancouver in 2018) were released by the Jays last week according to their milb.com player pages. Also getting a pink slip was 2016 right-hander Andy Ravel.
Abbadessa led the C’s in stolen bases with 10 in 2019 but batted just .184 on the season after being sent down from Lansing. His last at-bat resulted in a ninth-inning single that turned out to be the last base hit of the 2019 season for Vancouver, finishing his final game in the Jays organization with a 2-for-4 day.
Contreras had a team-best eight home runs with the Canadians in 2018 but could not build on that in 2019 as he was demoted from Lansing to Vancouver where he scuffled to a .211 batting average and just three home runs. His struggles also carried over to the field as fly balls hit in his direction were an adventure.
Ravel began his pro career in Vancouver where he posted a 3-1 record with a 5.12 ERA in 2016. He went to Lansing in 2017 and split 2018 with Lansing and Dunedin but never threw another pitch after July 26 of that season.
All the best to Abbadessa, Contreras and Ravel in their future endeavours.
Here are the latest C-Tweets of interest with a Vancouver Canadians connection as Opening Day approaches. The C’s are in Pasco, Washington to take on the Tri-City Dust Devils—the Los Angeles Angels affiliate—for a 6:30 pm first pitch this evening at Gesa Stadium. Tyler Zickel will call his first game as a C’s announcer on CanadiansBaseball.com