As expected, the preliminary Opening Day roster for the Buffalo Bisons' seventh season as a Toronto affiliate is sprinkled with some big names in the Blue Jays' organization.
The biggest one, of course, won't be here yet as third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. remains in Florida while rehabbing the oblique injury he suffered March 8. Even though the Bisons await Guerrero's arrival, there is no shortage of talent around him for manager Bobby Meacham to use in his third season at the head of the Herd.
The roster includes four of Toronto's Top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com. It will be led by shortstop Bo Bichette and second baseman/outfielder Cavan Biggio, sons of former major leaguers who were mainstays of Toronto's Double-A Eastern League champions last year at New Hampshire.
Bichette, who turned 21 on March 5, is the son of former Colorado outfielder Dante Bichette. Bo Bichette is rated as the Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect behind Guerrero and is No. 11 in the minors by MLB Pipeline. He batted .286 with 11 homers and 74 RBIs last year at New Hampshire and batted .410 with four homers and five RBIs this spring with the Blue Jays.
Like Bichette, Biggio will make his Triple-A debut this year. The 23-year-old son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio batted .252 with 26 homers and 99 RBIs last year for New Hampshire. He's rated No. 10 in the Toronto chain.
The other top returning prospects are outfielder Anthony Alford (11) and catcher Reese McGuire (24). Both spent substantial time in Buffalo last season, with Alford playing 105 games (.240-5-34) and McGuire appearing in 96 games (.233-7-37).
The club will hold closed workouts in newly named Sahlen Field on Tuesday and Wednesday before opening the 135th season of professional baseball in Buffalo on Thursday at 2:05 p.m. against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
The Bisons have not yet named a starting pitcher for the opener. The likely starter was right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, who went 12-5 last year between New Hampshire and Buffalo. But he was called up to Toronto and started Monday against Baltimore.
With injuries to Clayton Richard and Ryan Borucki in Toronto, potential Buffalo starters Reid-Foley, Trent Thornton and Thomas Pannone are in Toronto. Jacob Waguespack, Shawn Morimando and Jordan Romano will open as starters with the rest of the rotation to be determined.
Other top returnees include outfielder Roemon Fields, the club's 2017 MVP who has played 100-plus games the last two years and is second on the Bisons' all-time list with 70 career stolen bases; infielder Andy Burns, who played 111 games for the Herd in 2016 before spending the last two years in Korea; and closer Justin Shafer, who had a 1.41 ERA and 15 saves for Buffalo last year.
The full roster looks like this:
Catchers (3): Reese McGuire, Patrick Cantwell, Michael De La Cruz
Infielders (5): Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Eric Sogard, Andy Burns, Gunnar Heidt
Outfielders (4): Anthony Alford, Roemon Fields, Andrew Guillotte, Jordan Patterson
Pitchers (11): Jacob Waguespack, Shawn Morimando, Jordan Romano, Danny Barnes, Justin Shafer, Dusty Isaacs, Zach Jackson, Corey Copping, David Paulino, Danny Young, Jason Adam