Thursday, December 22, 2011
Blue Jays Top 30 Prospect Preview
Both directly and indirectly, the offseason is one of the times every year in which prospects enter the baseball spotlight. Indirectly, prospects are frequently involved in trade discussions, as it is becoming seemingly more and more rare for teams to trade major league talent for major league talent. Directly, the winter brings in countless prospect lists, allowing fans to further inspect and analyze the reported trades, attempting to assemble a package that they deem "fair" for both teams.
In a preview of the more detailed and in-depth player-by-player list I'll release over the next couple of months, below is my ranking of the Top 30 Blue Jays prospects (in order) with a short blurb about each player. The list is divided into three tiers -- upper, middle, and lower. The tiers are more arbitrary than anything else, basically acting as shorthand for 1-10, 11-20, and 21-30. The gap between 9 and 10 isn't necessarily any different than the gap between 10 and 11, despite the change in tier.
1. C Travis d’Arnaud –- The best all-around catcher to step foot in Toronto’s system in recent memory, d’Arnaud has the best hit/power combination on this list while playing sound defense at a premium position.
2. CF Jake Marisnick –- The biggest jumper from last year’s ranked prospects (11 to 2), Marisnick translated his impressive tools into absurd statistics to lead Lansing to the Midwest League Finals.
3. CF Anthony Gose –- If he improved his hit tool, he would be one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Until that happens, the risk is too great to rank Gose any higher.
4. LHP Daniel Norris -– Toronto’s highest rated 2011 draftee, Norris has the highest ceiling (#1) of any pitcher in the system. As with most highschool arms, the risk factor here is off the charts.
5. RHP Noah Syndergaard –- Syndergaard’s fastball improved so much in 2011, he has jumped from below slot signee to top prospect. He has the frame and repertoire to be a frontline starter.
6. RHP Drew Hutchison –- Hutchison lacks the ceiling of the previous two pitchers, but he’s almost Major League ready and could easily be a solid mid-rotation starter down the line.
7. LHP Justin Nicolino –- Nicolino dominated the low minors in 2011 with an advanced changeup. He has loads of projectibility on an already solid fastball, giving him some significant big league potential.
8. RHP Aaron Sanchez –- Continuing the trend of potential front line starters, Sanchez uses a fastball/curveball combination to put hitters away. Command is the biggest obstacle at this point.
9. RHP Deck McGuire –- McGuire lacks the ceiling of many pitchers on this list, but he may have the highest floor, as he already throws four solid-average pitches with good command.
10. CF Jacob Anderson –- This multi talented highschool draftee demolished the Gulf Coast in a late season assignment, and could be ready to make his name in full season ball.
11. RHP Adonys Cardona –- History’s highest paid Venezuelan IFA, Cardona has one of the best fastballs in the system and a huge ceiling, but his lack of secondary pitches give him a shaky future.
12. RHP Asher Wojciechowski –- The rotation/bullpen question remains, and the reliance on his fastball and resulting sky high homerun rate (in the Florida State League of all places) is concerning.
13. 3B Matt Dean –- Despite having yet to play professional ball, Dean’s power ceiling is intriguing enough to rank in the upper half of the middle tier. Serious boom or bust potential.
14. C Carlos Perez –- His full season debut was incredibly disappointing. When combined with the surge and infusion of talent in the rest of the system, Perez becomes the system’s biggest faller (8 to 14).
15. LF Christopher Hawkins –- A converted infielder, Hawkins’ advanced bat allowed him to dominate the Appalachian League. Another good year with the bat in 2012 could really boost his stock.
16. SS Adeiny Hechavarria –- The best defensive player in the system, Hechavarria would easily be in the upper tier if he could swing the bat. Until that happens, projections must be tempered.
17. SS Dickie Thon Jr –- Thon has plus athleticism and solid defense to go along with the most offensive potential of any Toronto middle infielder, but his career has gotten off to a very rough start.
18. C A.J. Jimenez –- Perhaps the most underrated player in the system, Jimenez has four good tools and has put together back-to-back solid seasons. His Double-A play could make or break his prospect status.
19. RHP Joseph Musgrove –- Featuring primarily a heavy fastball capable of touching 98 mph, Musgrove is a solidly built 6’5” right hander with a wide possibility of futures.
20. RHP Kevin Comer –- Injuries derailed his draft year, but Comer is a big, athletic right hander with a bright future in the rotation if he can rediscover his lost velocity.
21. RHP Chad Jenkins –- Toronto’s 2009 first rounder, Jenkins took a step back in 2011 and needs to prove he can be more than an inning eating back-end starter.
22. 1B David Cooper –- Cooper had a monstrous 2011, but there are big questions regarding how much success should be attributed to his bat, and how much should be attributed to the PCL.
23. RHP Joel Carreno –- One of two top 30 prospects to play in the majors, Carreno’s fastball/slider combination gives him a future as a late inning reliever, possibly as soon as next season.
24. LF Marcus Knecht –- A poor August weakened an otherwise outstanding first full season, but as a below average fielder, Knecht will need to find consistent success with the bat to have a future.
25. RHP John Stilson –- Recovering from a serious shoulder injury, Stilson’s plus fastball and improving offspeed pitches should guarantee he reaches the big leagues, with the role dependent upon health.
26. 3B Kellen Sweeney –- Health is the biggest concern for this former second round pick, as he’s managed only 80 professional at-bats in two seasons. Sweeney needs to get his career going.
27. LHP Griffin Murphy –- Turning 21 in early 2012, Murphy needs to make some noise above the GCL if he wants to find the prospect shine that made him a second round pick in 2010.
28. RF Michael Crouse -- Formerly a highschool football player, Crouse has a power/speed ceiling that's off the charts if he can continue to develop the bat.
29. RHP Danny Barnes –- A Princeton U graduate, Barnes throws four pitches out of the bullpen with good command, allowing him to put together an outstanding 13.50 K/9 with Lansing.
30. RF Moises Sierra -- Two serious injuries derailed his development in 2010, but a solid all-around 2011 season would indicate he's back on track. Best defensive arm in the system.