Darrell Ceciliani was traded from the Mets to the Blue Jays in February of 2016, and the outfielder nearly made the 25-man roster out of spring training. Once assigned, he surprisingly took a step backwards in production at Triple-A even factoring in a move away from the hitter-friendly PCL. In 2015 at Triple-A Las Vegas, Ceciliani hit .345 with an OBP of .398 and a career-high .581 slugging percentage over 70 games. In his first season with Toronto, at Triple-A Buffalo, the 26-year-old slashed .266/.323/.441. When Ceciliani was called up to fill a hole in the Blue Jays outfield, he failed to produce. In 13 games (29 at-bats) in Toronto, he hit .111/.172/.185 with an unbelievably awful 48.3 percent strikeout rate (albeit a small sample size). Ceciliani is built for a corner outfield spot, but the club is loaded with other talent at those positions, leaving him buried on the depth chart.
Ceciliani was optioned to minor league camp Wednesday, John Lott of the Athletic reports. The 26-year-old went on a nice run toward the middle of March which put him back in the conversation for a roster spot, but he then hit a 1-for-11 slide to close out his time in big-league spring training. While Ceciliani will likely report to Triple-A Buffalo to begin 2017, he could be a DFA candidate early on if the Blue Jays decide they need to add depth at another position.
Ceciliani has heated up this spring and put himself back in the conversation for an Opening Day outfield role, Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star reports. After a slow start to the Grapefruit League season, Ceciliani has earned a seat at the table with a recent stretch of solid production. He leads the Jays in RBI (eight) this spring while managing the second-most hits on the team (14). In fairness, Ceciliani's 51 at-bats significantly exceeds most of the other players and there's no hiding the 29 percent strikeout rate he's racked up. Realistically, a platoon in left field is the best it will get for the 26-year-old, and even for that, Ceciliani will need to beat out trusted veteran Ezequiel Carrera. On the positive side, the 2009 fourth-round pick of the Mets is at least garnering some attention that could earn him some MLB playing time later in 2017.
Ceciliani went 0-for-2 with a strikeout Saturday against the Phillies. Ceciliani has now gone down by strikes in four straight spring contests. He's 6-for-24 (.240) with just one walk and seven strikeouts through 11 Grapefruit League games. Ceciliani's lack of plate discipline has plagued him throughout his professional career, and unfortunately for the 26-year-old outfielder, he's once again showing that he's not ready to handle MLB pitching.
Ceciliani, who is last among all outfielders on the team's depth chart, is a candidate to be designated for assignment before the end of spring, SB Nation reports. Ceciliani hasn't panned out as the Jays had hoped when they acquired him from the Mets last February. Even after an impressive push for a starting role last spring (15-for-36 with four homers and 10 RBI), the outfielder was sent to the minors to open the season. After slashing .345/.398/.581 at Triple-A Las Vegas (Mets) in 2015, Ceciliani disappointed with a .266/.323/.441 at Triple-A Buffalo in 2016. The Jays' outfield is even deeper now than it was a year ago, and the writing appears to be on the wall for the former fourth-round pick. However, a move may not be the worst thing for Ceciliani, as he's shown enough over his eight years to get a starting job for a team in need.
Ceciliani entered Monday's game versus the Yankees as a pinch runner, but did not play the field or get an at-bat. Monday marked the first time Ceciliani has stepped between the lines since Sept. 9. After striking out in his only at-bat of the month, the outfielder didn't appear in the team's next 15 games, the longest such stretch in Ceciliani's short MLB career. Simply put, the 26-year-old is only on the team because of roster expansions, and he's not expected to contribute during the final weeks.