Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Top 15 Prospects
The rest of Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects can be found on the 2013 Team Prospect Lists Bar on the right side of your screen. Thanks for reading! -BB
Bullpen Banter Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Top 15 Prospects
|13||Dwight Smith Jr.||OF|
Jeff Reese: There are a couple of different methodologies to the proper use of prospects: tightly guard them until maturation in the hope of extracting massive surplus value during their pre-arbitration years; or use them as commodities to acquire established major league talent that is already productive. Both stratagems can produce a winning baseball team — the former takes on more risk with a higher payoff and the latter requires a bigger payroll if it is to be sustained. The Toronto Blue Jays under Alex Anthopoulos began by quickly acquiring a number of high upside prospects by trade, by draft, and by international signings; this produced the best farm system in baseball a year ago. Phase two of this plan clearly seems to be down the path of using these prospects as commodities to acquire talent. Seven players that made my top 15 list from a year ago have been traded away; two more have graduated. It seems that the Toronto Blue Jays have decided that they are in fact a large market.
So the system is weaker by a substantial margin this year. There is still talent and upside remaining in the remnant, but it mostly lies at short season and below. Aaron Sanchez can be considered the last man standing in a sense. He was a part of the group that lead last season’s list and is the clear cut choice as the best player in this organization. Sanchez started to put his excellent raw stuff to use in the 2011 but still had issues with his control and command. He has top of the rotation upside if he can slay that dragon. Marcus Stroman and Daniel Norris have similar command issues, but knocks on both go beyond that. Stroman is oft cast as a reliever due to his 5’9″ frame and the electricity of his stuff over a one inning sample. Despite the fact that the Blue Jays used him out of the bullpen last year after he signed — and moved him all the way up to AA in that role — I think that talk is immature. While Stroman can go through bouts of wildness and less than stellar stuff, when he is on, he is pounding the strike zone with a lively low 90s fastball, a wipeout slider, and an effective changeup. To see how impressed I was with him as an amateur, take a look at my college notes on him. Daniel Norris meanwhile has the building blocks of a starting pitcher with four pitches that show above-average potential, but the inconsistency and command issues that dogged him as an amateur are still present. I expected a better debut than what he showed in 2012, but the upside is still substantial. Roberto Osuna does not face the same control issues as the other three. The 17 year old is advanced for his age but lacks the projectability that you would like to see. John Stilson was drafted a year ago despite shoulder labrum issues that cropped up while he was starring as the ace for Texas A&M. So far, so good as he maintained his health while starting games at high-A & AA in 2012. His stuff is good enough to start, but the delivery is peculiar; he probably fits best in the bullpen.
The Blue Jays continued to draft aggressively and landed a number of high upside preps. DJ Davis is at the top with his loud center field tools. He’s an athletic speedster with a feel for hitting and the potential to hit for double digit power totals in the future. Matt Smoral was the more highly regarded coming into the spring; a potential top 10 pick, the 6’8″ giant left-hander broke his foot during his high school team’s opening season tournament in South Carolina — particularly annoying for me as I had been planning to make the trip to Solon HS (OH) a couple of times. The Blue Jays landed him 50th overall and gave him the same $2M bonus that they gave Davis. Mitch Nay also makes the list as a third baseman with good power potential. The draft also brought in interesting prep arms Tyler Gonzales, Chase DeJong, and Ryan Borucki, along with the toolsy Anthony Alford (given permission to play QB for Southern Miss). Alford’s recent arrest further clouds his future as a baseball player. Matt Dean — 2011 overslot prep — had his share of difficulties in the Appy, but he still has the offensive tools to be an exciting third base prospect. I remain a fan.
Toronto still has an interesting farm system even if the top of the class has been gutted by trades. Continuing to aggressively pursue the best Latin talents, target high upside high schoolers, and gamble on injury risks will be vital in building it back up. In the meantime Blue Jays’ fans can enjoy the massive influx of MLB talent.
Al Skorupa: I thought Oakland and Washington saw a dramatic swing in the quality of their farm systems last year, but that’s nothing compared to the talent Toronto has moved on in the last calendar year. Fortunately for Jays fan the change in quality of the big league squad has been equally dramatic. RHP Aaron Sanchez stands far above the rest of the system for me. Sanchez has an electric arm, the makings of three good major league pitches and real front of the rotation potential. While there are command and control issues I believe they generally arise from issues of repeating his delivery – and I think Sanchez will improve in that area, as he’s athletic enough to smooth this stuff out. While he may never have pinpoint control, I think it may the kind of control issues that separate #1 starters from #2 starters. I fully endorse Toronto’s decision to part with others and hang on to Sanchez. I was less enthusiastic than many on Jacob Marisnick and Noah Syndergaard. I loved Travis d’Arnaud and think Arencibia is best served in a backup role… but you were’nt going to acquire all these star level players without giving up something of great value.
Marcus Stroman has two present plus pitches in his FB and SL. Stroman is going to miss lots of bats at the big league level. While he’s capable of starting, I certainly understand giving in to the temptation to move him quickly in relief. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a closer look at Robert Osuna this coming year. The reports our authors who saw him brought back were very positive. Its easy to dream on D.J. Davis’s tools. I don’t expect a whole lot out of his bat, but he does enough things well he can be an exciting major leaguer even if the bat stagnates a little. Alberto Tirado is the arm in this system poised to take a big step forward next season. One guy who took a big step forward this last year was Sean Nolin. I thought I was going to catch Nolin at New Hampshire at the end of the season but the rotation probably shuffled. The reports on Nolin were positive but don’t let your expectations run away here. He’s improved his game and looks like a major league arm – but it doesn’t sound like he’s an impact type. Another guy I got negative reports on this year was Daniel Norris, but I’m not too concerned there. Its basically the same issues he had as an amateur and he’s still very young and raw. Count me among those who see John Stilson as a reliever. Yes, its a deep, strong repertoire. The bottom line for me is how violent his mechanics are and how much effort his delivery requires. There’s the injury history to be considered, too. I have been told by more than one person that the Toronto org. does earnestly view him as a starter, though. One other player I wanted to mention is Dwight Smith. We were high on him last year and his tools could still catapult him up this system in 2013. Should be a very interesting year for this system and the major league team.
Michael Schwartze: The Blue Jays farm system has gone from one of the best and deepest in the major leagues to a pretty weak system. They have received a big return of major league talent though and they appear to be going all in for making a run at the AL East title. There are still many interesting guys in the system but many of them are far from having an impact in the majors and will take time to develop.
Aaron Sanchez seems to be the consensus top prospect in the system and the big projectable righty has top of the rotation potential. He put together a nice year in the Midwest League this year but command/control continue to hold him back. He has three potential plus pitches with his fastball, curveball, and changeup but he’ll have to bring down the walk numbers if he wants to reach his potential. Conor Dowley and I had the chance to see Roberto Osuna in his Northwest League debut and he really blew both of us away. He struck out 13 in 5 innings and did whatever he wanted out there. The 17 year old has maturity on the mound beyond his years. He has a great mid 90s fastball with impressive secondary stuff to go with. He commands all of his pitches well and he has a shot to be a quality number two starter.
Behind Sanchez and Osuna are a pair of 2012 draftees. I think the Blue Jays got great value getting Stroman at 22nd overall as they selected the most electric arm in the draft. The biggest question marks with Stroman are his size and whether he’ll make it in the rotation but I think he can. He is a potential number three guy or shutdown closer with the floor of a back of the bullpen arm. D.J. Davis is a toolsy high ceiling outfielder with elite athleticism and I think he will end up as a top of the order bat with All-Star potential. I was able to see him take batting practice with short-season Vancouver (Unfortunately he was not in the starting lineup) and it was easy to see his tools on display.
Matt Smoral suffered a foot injury in his senior season and his draft stock took a bit of a hit but the big left-handed arm was a personal favorite of mine in the 2012 draft. He is armed with a fastball sitting in the low to mid 90s with solid secondary offerings that will need to develop more. I think he has a good shot to be a solid mid rotation starter with the potential of developing into a bit more. Stilson (RH) and Nolin (LH) both finished the year at AA. Stilson is a big powerful arm with a hammer breaking ball and I think he ends up as a back of the bullpen arm with closer potential. Nolin has a great build with a solid mix of pitches and he has the shot of becoming an innings eater at the back of the rotation.
Dwight Smith Jr. was another guy on the short-season Vancouver roster that I was able to see last year. He has good potential with his bat and is a pure left-handed hitter. He’s pretty polished at the plate and could move quickly through the system and develop into an above average outfielder that hits for a high average at the top of the order.
The system really lost a lot of talent after all the trades this offseason but there are plenty of high ceiling guys that could take off and climb up prospect lists.
RHP Roberto Osuna (Conor Dowley & Michael Schwartze)
RHP Marcus Stroman (Al Skorupa & Michael Scwhartze)
OF DJ Davis (Michael Schwartze)
LHP Matt Smoral (Steve Fiorindo)
OF Dwight Smith (Michael Schwartze)
RHP Chase DeJong (Steve Fiorindo)
3B Kellen Sweeney (Michael Schwartze)
3B Gustavo Pierre (Jeff Reese)
2B Christian Lopes (Michael Schwartze)
1B K.C. Hobson (Jeff Reese)