News and Notes: Former top 30 prospect Rikelbin De Castro released, Austin Martin made his MLB debut, and more!

With the first series of the season wrapped up, let’s look at some News and Notes happening regarding the Blue Jays.

The Jays ace from 2022 appears to be getting closer, a former top 30 prospect was released, and a former top 100 prospect made his big league debut.

Let’s dig in!

Alek Manoah bullpen session

On Sunday morning, Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae posted a video to Twitter of Alek Manoah throwing a side session and reported that the next time he throws, it’ll be for three innings.

Manoah only pitched in one Grapefruit League game this Spring Training where he gave up four earned runs in 1.2 innings of work, hitting three batters and walking one. Afterwards, he went down with a shoulder injury.

Whenever Manoah returns, he’ll look to improve drastically after a horrific 2023 season. Last season, he posted a 5.87 ERA and a 6.01 FIP in 87.1 innings pitched, and was optioned twice. This came after a 2022 season where he finished third in American League Cy Young voting. Hopefully, he returns to his 2022 form.

Rikelbin De Castro released

During the 2019 international free agency period, the Blue Jays gave shortstop Rikelbin De Castro a $1.2 million signing bonus, the highest bonus the Jays gave to any player from that class.

Well, on March 29, the Blue Jays released the prospect. Interestingly, the shortstop was once a top 30 Blue Jays’ prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who ranked him as the 17th-best prospect in the organization.

In his 2021 bio, MLB Pipeline noted that he was one of the best defenders in the class, but the bat trailed behind, mainly because he was listed at 6’, 150 lbs. There was cause for excitement in 2021, as he slashed .238/.372/.397 with two homers in 156 plate appearances in the Florida Complex League.

However, De Castro struggled once reaching Single-A, slashing .162/.254/.230 with a home run in 170 plate appearances in his most recent season for a 39 wRC+. The season prior, he slashed .176/.251/.233 with two homers in 196 plate appearances for a 44 wRC+, but dropped his K% from 35.7% in 2022 to 28.2% in 2023. Time will tell if another organization will pick him up.

Moreover, the Blue Jays released 2021 17th rounder, Cooper Benson the same day. Last season in High-A, he had a 4.04 ERA and a 4.42 FIP In 71.1 innings pitched, along with a 24.9 K% and a 14.8 BB%. The season prior in Single-A, he had a 35 K% and a 2.45 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched, so this was a bit of a surprise. 

Former Blue Jay Austin Martin made MLB debut

At the 2021 trade deadline, the Blue Jays had one of the best farm systems in the league, and used it to acquire José Berríos. In that trade, they gave up Simeon Woods Richardson, as well as fifth-overall selection in the 2020 draft, Austin Martin.

Martin had some hit or miss seasons since turning professional, but was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft in December. The 25-year-old made his MLB debut on Sunday afternoon, where he went 0-3 in an 11-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

It’ll be interesting to see if Martin ever develops into the player the Jays thought they would get when they picked him fifth-overall. However, they absolutely won this trade.

Bo Bichette scratched

Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette was scratched from the Jays starting lineup due to neck spasms. Ernie Clement replaced him in the lineup, and made a terrific defensive play in a 9-2 Blue Jays win against the Rays.

In the early stages of the 2024 season, Bichette is slashing .167/.231/.250 with a double in 13 plate appearances. In Spring Training, the shortstop slashed .345/.367/.483 with a home run and five doubles in 60 plate appearances.

Hopefully, this isn’t a long-term injury.

Génesis Cabrera appealing suspension

During Saturday’s defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays, Blue Jays left-handed relief pitcher Génesis Cabrera pushed José Caballero after he overran the third base bag and bumped into Cabrera.

The Blue Jays reliever gave him a shove towards the neck/face area and the benches cleared, but Cabrera immediately went back to the dugout. On Sunday morning, it was reported that Cabrera would be suspended for three games, and of course, he’d appeal it.

WIth all that being said, the suspension seems… extreme. Yes, he did push him, but the two immediately moved away and the benches clearing didn’t escalate the situation. Perhaps a one-game suspension is fair, but three games for a simple push? Get it together MLB.


As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.


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Title: News and Notes: Former top 30 prospect Rikelbin De Castro released, Austin Martin made his MLB debut, and more!
Author: Brennan Delaney

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