Before I get into what the title implies, just a word about the Escobar signing (of which you are no doubt well aware):
I assume you can infer my enthusiasm from that without further elaboration.
Now, as you also probably know, the Jays three short season rosters have been assembled, and with tomorrows opening night in Bluefield all will have seen game action. The highest level team, the Vancouver Canadians, started with great fanfare Friday night. The lowest of the three, the Gulf Coast League Jays played their first game earlier today.
The wins and loses at these levels are of little importance - this is all about prospect development. the VanCans are just a step below the full season Lansing team in terms of development, the GCL squad is for the very raw (and in some cases the injury slowed since it's located on the jays Florida complex) and the Bluefield squad is about halfway in between.
Rather than pretend I have any great knowledge of the more obscure organizational filler players, I'm just going to highlight the known prospects worth watching on each team.
Honestly, right now things are thin here. Player movement will see several interesting players suit up here before the end of the season, but right now there's not that many well-known names.
Justin Nicolino - the 6'3' lefty was the third of three 2nd round picks for the Jays in the 2010 draft, and surprisingly is the highest placed of the Jays high school starting pitchers. that he's hear (while Sanchez and Syndergaard are not) says a lot about his being the most interesting player on this team right now.
Shane Opitz - the 19 year old shortstop drafted in the 11th round last year likely profiles as a utility infielder in the majors (think something like most of Marco Scutaro's career in terms of results) but some thing he has intriguing potential.
Taylor Cole - only a 29th round pick this year, Cole has an unusual back story. He was drafted in the first round by the Yankees in 2008. Between then and now he took two years off from pitching for a Mormon missionary tour. We'll be watching to see if the first round potential is still in there.
Aaron Sanchez - My praise here has been effusive for Sanchez, he is in my view one of the top 10 Jays prospects in terms of ceiling (or was coming into the season). there's little I can add here except that I assume if he does well, particularly in terms of control, he'll probably not be here all season.
Noah Syndergaard - Another RH high school pitcher taken in the supplemental round in 2010, some feel he's almost Sanchez's equal in terms of potential. He's somewhat more raw and might thereby be just a bit slower in promotion. Anthopoulos has been quoted as saying of both pitchers that they've touched 98 on the gun this spring.
Mitch Taylor - Yet another HS pitcher from the 2010 draft, this one left handed and taken in the 7th round. Taylor has gotten less notice in the shadow of the two names above, along with the already active college pitchers McGuire, and Woj who have also gotten much ink. The there's Nicolino and no less than three other pitchers taken before Taylor's name was called. Nevertheless, Taylor is a guy with considerable potential. He is somewhat smaller than the others, standing on;y 6'0" tall (an exception to AA's preference for "big bodied" pitchers).
Myles Jaye - A high school RH taken in 2010 (sensing a pattern here?) - this time in the 17th round, but you shouldn't underestimate him because of the comparative lateness of his selection. He only started pitching as a senior and he's thus pretty raw but the Jays were quite impressed with him this spring. Fangraph's Marc Hulet rates him the fifth best pitching prospect among the short-season rosters, behind Sanchez, Syndergaard, and two GCL pitchers, Griffin Murphy and Adonys Cardona.
Kelin Sweeney - a SS in high school, Sweeney will likely play 3B (and possibly eventually 2B) in the pros. He was the second of the Jays 3 third round picks last year and another player who might well move up before the season ends. Hulet notes him as the most interesting of the short season hitters, and mentions that perhaps he lacks the power many teams expect from a 3B.
Chris Hawkins - another HS shortstop, this time taken in the 8th round last year. Hawkins has started off the year playing CF in Bluefield though long term he may well slide to right.
Griffin Murphy - surprisingly at the lowest level since his the oldest of the Jays HS pitchers taken in 2010 (he's 10 months older than Nicolino) Murphy is still nevertheless a very worthy prospect. The LH was the first of the jays three 2nd round picks last year, and considered possibly the best High School LH in the draft. Will probably move up during the season, and might be here because of lingering spring injuries.
Adonys Cardonas - (how can you not love a guy named Adonys?) the Jays spent a big pile of money (more than $2 million which is basically first round money) to give Cardonas the highest bonus in last years Latin signing period. Still 17 and quite raw, he will definitely be here all year.
Zac Adams - another 2010 pick, the LHP was taken in the 15th round though he's considerably better than that - he slid because he was considered unsignable. He does have some mechanical difficulties to overcome.
Adaric Kelly - a high school RH that slid all the way to the 28th round, Kelly, like Taylor, is a bit smaller than most of his peers in last years Jays draft. He's another player that just barely signed before the deadline and is perhaps a bargain because of signiability concerns.
Deivy Estrada - gets no respect from scouts, but still very young and has room to grow and pick up some mileage on his underpowered fastball. All he does is gets outs, however, and I'm rooting for him.
DJ Thon - I'm going to keep calling him DJ until it catches on damnit! Thon was slowed this spring by a blood disorder but is active in the GCL roster and played today. The HS shortstop was considered a near impossible sign but the Jays took the first round talent in the fifth round and pulled off the signing. He may not stick at SS throughout the minors, but he's expected to be well worth the investment.
Santiago Nessy - the biggest name the Jays signed out of Latin America in 2009, the 18 year old catcher is turning into the biggest signing period. He's already 6'2" 230 and he runs the risk of outgrowing the position. He's said to have average defense and good power and a solid make-up (per Hulet's report) and while the jays have the luxury of moving slowly with him (because of their outstanding depth at catcher) I wouldn't be stunned if he's eventually at 1B given his size.
Other names of note:
Vancounver: Balbino Fuenmayor, Jon Jones
Bluefield: Gustavo Pierre, Art Charles, Milciades Santana
GCL: Dalton Pompey, Eric Acre, Sony Javiar