Minors report: Olmedo has value

Minors report: Olmedo has value

Hot topic: The transaction barely registered a blip on the offseason radar screen. On Jan. 19, the Blue Jays claimed infielder Ray Olmedo off waivers from the Reds.

At first glance, Olmedo appeared just to be another glove to add into the mix in Toronto's Minor League system. After all, the 25-year-old middle infielder never landed a regular job with Cincinnati, even though he had stints with the Reds in each of the past four seasons.

This spring, though, the Blue Jays have been impressed with Olmedo's defense, and he has found himself in the mix for a spot on Toronto's bench. If he doesn't win a job with the Jays, Olmedo will likely be ticketed for Triple-A Syracuse.

"I saw him a little bit when he was with Cincinnati," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's got great hands and range. He's very valuable to us. He can play either infield spot, and if it came down to it, he could pinch-run for you. We like him."

Last year, Olmedo spent most of the season at Triple-A Louisville, where he posted a .282 average with three home runs and 29 RBIs in 100 games. The switch-hitter also appeared in 30 games with the Reds, who signed Olmedo as a non-drafted free agent in 1999.

The Blue Jays like Olmedo's skills in the field -- he has experience at shortstop, second base and third -- but his offense needs improvement. In 171 career Major League games, he's batted just .230. Olmedo's career average is .260 over 680 games in the Minors.

"He's got good range, he can run and he's a very good bunter," Gibbons said. "One thing he has to do is we want to see him cut his swing down. He has a big swing for a little guy."

If the 5-foot-11 Olmedo does make Toronto's roster, the club would need him to serve as a solid situational hitter who can consistently make good contact. So far this spring, Olmedo has gone 0-for-14 in eight games for Toronto.

On the move: The Blue Jays have liked what they've seen so far from right-hander Francisco Rosario. Through three appearances, the 26-year-old has allowed no runs for Toronto. Rosario is out of options and is in the running for a spot in the Jays' bullpen.

On the pine: On Thursday, outfielder Ryan Patterson broke his right forearm when he was hit by a pitch by Red Sox reliever Edgar Martinez. Patterson is scheduled to have surgery on his arm on Monday, and he could miss up to three months, according to Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

They're No. 1: Aaron Hill, who was Toronto's top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, is slated to be the Jays' full-time second baseman this season. In 2006, Hill set career highs in average (.291), on-base percentage (.349), home runs (six), doubles (28), RBIs (50) and games played (155).

Class of '06: Last June, the Blue Jays selected right-hander Brandon Magee out of Bradley University in the fourth round of the draft. In his first professional season, the 6-foot-5 Magee went 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 11 games with short-season Class A Auburn. This year, Magee will likely begin with high Class A Dunedin.

Stat machine: Outfielder Jeff Duncan has hit .421 with two triples, one double, two RBIs and five runs in eight games for the Blue Jays. Duncan, who is a non-roster invitee, was signed to a Minor League contract in November.

Names in the game: Former Blue Jays manager and hitting coach Cito Gaston has made a handful of appearances this Spring Training. Gaston is one of four guest coaches invited to camp by Toronto this spring.

What they're saying: "It's good memories. But as far as trying to make this team, it means nothing, really." -- Outfielder Adam Lind, on his successful climb to the Majors in 2006

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.