1. Travis d'Arnaud (22) - It's difficult to imagine a player taking a bigger leap forward or accomplishing more of what he needed to in a season than d'Arnaud did this year. He was the MVP of the EL and deservedly so. He showed good power, good plate control, and above average defense. Usually the first guy one mentions on a list like this is worthy of 2 or 3 paragraphs but d'Arnaud's promise is so self evident it's difficult to find things that need saying. He'll start 2012 in the PCL and may well dominate but I've a hunch the Jays will move slowly unless they get a very impressive opportunity to include JP Arencibia in a trade, and it's possible it might be June of 2013 before d'Arnaud is in the majors "for good".
Some will express caution about the thumb he injured during the Pan Am games, but the team is confident he'll be ready to go and 100% when Spring Training starts.
2. Carlos Perez (20) - this was one of the hardest choices I've had to make so far in relative ranking. Viewed in isolation Perez's 2011 was not the second best season by a catcher in the jays system. Indeed it was arguably not even third best. But Perez brought a high enough profile into the season to sustain his reputation through one down year. He is still, of course, unpolished and inconsistent. But most observers see a relatively high ceiling. He'll need to rebound in 2012, however.
3. A.J. Jimenez (21) - Jimenez was a ninth round pick in 2008 and has been steadily raising his profile since the draft. He's always had a good reputation as an impressive defender, and he's turned himself into a quality hitter. He lacks home run power (so far, but he makes good contact and posts a respectable OBP. In isolation, he has a case for the #2 ranking on this list, and he certainly has his believers among Jays' prospect observers, but I still think that Perez will ultimately be a better prospect with a higher ceiling and it's for that reason i gave him the slight edge on this list. Jimenez will certainly move up to NH in 2012, and it's reasonably likely that unless Perez struggles in the spring, he'll move up to Dunedin as well, despite a sub-standard 2011. But the Jays might elect to hold him in Lansing and make him force their hand.
4. Yan Gomes (23) - It's time Gomes started getting some respect. Thus far in his career he's had the misfortune to share a roster with a catcher who was much his superior andso his playing time, particularly behind the plate, suffered. Gomes followed JP Arencibia at Tennessee, and while not as powerful as his predecessor, he shares a similar profile. Gomes is probably never going to be a first string major leaguer, but I could easily see him succeeding as a competent journeyman backup. but we'll never know for sure until and unless he gets a shot at a full time starting job.
5. Santiago Nessy (18) - Nessy is a bonus baby signing out of Venezuela. As you might imagine he's very young and raw and many of these guys just never "click" - but Nessy got off to a reasonably good start with the bat for a kid his age in his first North American work. My concern with this kid is his size. He's listed at 6'2" and 230 and probably isn't done growing. That's pretty big for a Catcher. I could see him maybe moving out to 1B at some point.
Another name to know is erstwhile glove man Brian Jeroloman. Abandon hope he'll ever hit much, but he has an impressive defensive reputation and some guys build a pretty decent career as a reserve on that profile. Sean Ochinko, from the 1B list is still technically a catcher and if Perez is not promoted out of the spring he (Ochinko) might actually get noticeable work behind the plate at least in the first half. also, Big Jon Talley has his believers, but he's as big as Nessy, and it's unclear how much potential the Jays see in him