Bisons announce preliminary 2023 roster
BUFFALO, NY - Bisons Manager Casey Candaele will have roster filled with familiar faces, top prospects and veteran leadership as the Toronto Blue Jays revealed the Herd’s 2023 Preliminary Buffalo Bisons Opening Day Roster in advance of the team’s season-opener on Friday, March 31 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against the RailRiders (6:35
BUFFALO, NY - Bisons Manager Casey Candaele will have roster filled with familiar faces, top prospects and veteran leadership as the Toronto Blue Jays revealed the Herd’s 2023 Preliminary Buffalo Bisons Opening Day Roster in advance of the team’s season-opener on Friday, March 31 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against the RailRiders (6:35 p.m.). The Home Opener at Sahlen Field is set for Tuesday, April 4 against Worchester (2:05 p.m.).
Three of the Blue Jays Top 10 prospects are scheduled to start the season with the Herd with RHP Yosver Zulueta (#3), INF Addison Barger (#6) and RHP Hayden Juenger (#10), as is Toronto’s 2020/2021 Top Prospect, RHP Nate Pearson. They are set to be joined on the team by Bisons 2022 Most Valuable Pitcher, RHP Casey Lawrence.
Lawrence has been tabbed to anchor the Bisons rotation again this season. It will be the veterans third straight year making an appearance for the team. He was one of the top pitchers in all of Triple-A baseball last season, finishing with a 2.97 earned run average, as well as a 0.89 walks and hits per innings pitched, both best at the Triple-A level.
The 35-year-old will be joined by fellow RHP Thomas Hatch, who has pitched in parts of each of the last two seasons for Buffalo as well. Veteran starter Drew Hutchison signed back with the Blue Jays this past off-season and would make his first appearance for the Herd since 2016 if he appears in a game.
Zulueta made his Bisons debut late last season after battling back from injuries. Pearson spent time with Buffalo as well, working on Major League Injury Rehab with the team throughout the 2022 campaign.
The bullpen boasts several of the reliable relievers that helped lead the team late in games last year. Lefty Brandon Eisert is scheduled to return for the 2023 campaign, along with righties Matt Peacock and Jackson Rees.
Several veteran pitchers will help round out the team’s bullpen, as well. Righty Trent Thornton will begin the season with the Herd after splitting the 2022 campaign between Toronto and Buffalo, going 2-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 Triple-A relief appearances.
Fellow RHP Zach Thompson spent last season in the Big Leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 29-year-old made 22 starts and 29 overall outings, winning three decisions along the way. Julian Fernandez logged the third-most outings for any Triple-A pitcher last season, appearing out of the Albuquerque Isotopes’ bullpen 58 times.
Lefty Paul Fry is a veteran of 188 career MLB appearances and joins the Bisons pitching staff for the 2023 season. Fry made his big league debut in 2018 for the Baltimore Orioles and pitched over parts of the next six seasons for the club, also making one appearance for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year. Veteran RHP Junior Fernandez has pitched in the Major Leagues in each of the last four seasons. Last year he pitched for both the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.
Buffalo boasts a trio of veteran catchers to start the 2023 campaign. Stevie Berman returns to the Herd after signing with the Blue Jays organization last April and appearing in 68 games with the team. He is joined by veteran backstop Rob Brantly. The 33-year-old signed as a free agent this past winter and brings 135 games of Major League experience, as well as 645 games in 10 Minor League seasons to the organization. Jamie Ritchie has appeared in 598 career MiLB games across parts of eight seasons.
Barger was promoted to the Bisons late in the 2022 season and had a hit in each of the 10 games he appeared in for the team. The 23-year-old spent considerable time in Major League Spring Training for Toronto, playing in 15 games for the team.
Spencer Horwitz is fresh off his stint with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic, and will be joined by fellow second year Triple-A infielder Tanner Morris. Morris was promoted to Buffalo in early June last season, playing in 31 games for the team. The former fifth round pick in the 2019 Draft made eight starts at second base, along with 19 at third base to go with serving as the designated hitter four times.
Brighton High School product and Rochester native Ernie Clement was signed by the Blue Jays earlier this month. The utilityman will join the Herd for the start of the 2023 campaign. He is joined by Niagara University standout Wynton Bernard. The veteran outfielder recorded the highest batting average in Triple-A baseball last season, hitting .333 for the Isotopes. Bernard also made his Major League debut with the Colorado Rockies last season.
L.J. Talley began the 2022 season with the Bisons and provided the game-winning base hit in the season opener against the Iowa Cubs. The 25-year-old infielder is one of several young players returning to Buffalo after success at both New Hampshire and the Bisons. He is joined by Rafael Lantigua, and Davis Schneider, as well as Triple-A newcomer Cameron Eden.