Monday, November 28, 2011

Wassuuup?

As John Paul Morosi notes today, this is the start of a three week period centered around next weeks winter meetings during which the meat of the player movement this off-season can be expected to occur. Yes there are outlier factors - Darvish certainly won't be posted, won, and signed within the next three weeks (if at all) for instance. But for baseball junkies and rosterbators, this is Christmas season in a whole other sense.

Before I get too deep into that I want to pat my own back a bit. Here's a quote from me, posted on November 24:

If there is any thing which distinguishes them, it's that with so very many young talented candidates for the rotation that they might turn Molina into their own version of Joakim Soria even if that would be under-using his obvious talents.

Now note what John Farrell had to say on Jeff Blair's show today:

"Nestor Molina is a guy who we've had some internal discussions about who might fit that role [closer], for multiple reasons," said Farrell. "No. 1, emotionally he seems to have handled everything that's been thrown his way. He's got exceptional command of his fastball and he's got a split-finger that's a put-away pitch."
"So whether or not we look to make that decision this winter is probably premature, but he's a guy that we've had discussions about in that role going forward."

Prediction: if the Jays do not sign or trade for a legit closer (that is, a guy who's known as a closer, not just a quality reliever who might be able to) such as Street or Bailey, or Broxton - Molina will come to camp in the spring with a shot to win the job if he shows he can do it in ST.

Another interesting comment was that Farrell described the closer job as a higher priority than 2B (and I still have a pretty strong feeling that Alex will go get Prado for that job). given how very empty 2B is right now (with all due respect to Luis Valbuena) that's a pretty striking thing to me. Sal Fasano also had great things to say about Molina today.

Now, looking ahead over the next month, I'm going to get away from my Jays-focus a bit and attempt some predictions about upcoming moves. Sometimes this will be "i think this will happen" and sometimes a little "I think this SHOULD happen" will leak in.

Top free agents, likely destinations:

Pujols - stays with Cards
Fielder - Nationals or Marlins
Reyes - Brewers
Wilson - Marlins
Oswalt - Rangers
Ramirez - Angels

Also, I've got Johnson to the Tigers (as many do) but I hope he goes to the Cards. As for the Blue Jays, the only major player (other than closers) I see them in on is Eric Bedard, which I think they would be the favorite for but not a slam-dunk favorite. There's a good chance he re-ups in Boston too.

Glancing over the latest chatter about trade possibilities, all of this sourced to MLBTR who in turn source it elsewhere:

Supposedly the Cubs are shopping Matt Garza. Before you covet him, look at his home-road splits and see what the park in TB did for him. Call me crazy but if I were the KC Royals i'd be all over this one. Very few MLB teams have a better set of prospects to deal from.

Yu Darvish and his wife are divorcing. Speculation abounds on whether this makes him more or less likely to post. Elliot reports Beeston is not a fan of the posting system and seems to imply this makes the Jays a much less serious contender for him.

Jonathan Broxton is said to be looking for a one-year deal to rebuild value, and given the Molina discussion . . . I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he's the probably first in line for the Blue jays. but he's said to be planning to pick a team this week and it's difficult to predict where HE wants to be. I'm inclined to think that the one year deal, or one and an option, is the way the team prefers to go.

I really thought there would be more things I wanted to comment on here in terms of "this player ought go there" sort of things - but it's getting late and my brain is froze up on the subject so....yeah.



Then there's THIS disturbing quote:

Teams that fail to sign top draft picks can’t re-allocate the money saved toward deals for other draft picks, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. For example, a team that fails to sign a top pick who had a recommended bonus of $1.5MM would see its spending ceiling fall by $1.5MM and would not have the option of spending that $1.5MM on other players.


If true, this is an astonishingly bad development - it amounts to hard slotting after all. It seems very hard to believe.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Top 50 Prospects: Part 2 - the Top 25

Since this is the post I'll be linking for the next year in the sidebar, let me start by including links to the previous lists:


Also, the list from last season is here.

And with that, let us indulge ourselves in a list of players Jays fans have to be thankful for (even if it's not Thanksgiving in Canada).

25. DJ Thon (20) SS [#17 last year] - The drop in ranking for Thon has more to do with the continued influx of talent along with the breakout campaigns of some other players, rather than penalizing him for his illness impinged 2011 campaign. Six of the players ranked above him were not in the Jays organization last year (on the other hand, five players graduated from the list).

24. Dwight Smith, Jr. (19) OF [ N/A] - I admit that I really overlooked this guy after the draft, and I blame that one one thing - all the lazy evaluations which said, more or less, "He's like his dad." But over time with more information, I think that sold him short. the more through descriptions make him sound like a considerably more interesting prospect than that initial description would imply.

23. Jacob Anderson (19) RF/1B [N/A] - I'm possibly giving Anderson too much credit for a really small sample in the GCL, but it was a very nice sample. In 37 pro at-bats he hit .405 and hie had a 1.098 OPS. Still, the 2011 first round supplemental pick (the highest pick after the unsigned Tyler Beede) was picked that high for a reason.

22. Chris Hawkins (20) LF [43] - Hawkins was drafted as a 3B, but the Blue Jays shifted him to LF this year and he responded with a fine offensive year. He showed good speed, good power, quality aggressive base-running (in 68 games he had 6 triples, and 14 steals in 18 attempts) as well as a respectable eye at the plate (.372 OBP).

21. Asher Wojciechowski (23) RHP [14] - Woj had a season that, on paper, looks like a disappointment. He opened the seasons strong, but the Jays felt he was relying too much on his fastball and had him make some adjustments that did not lead to a great results. By Mid-season he found the groove he was looking for (I'm unclear whether as a result of abandoning the changes or adjusting to them) and over his last 10 games looked very much like the guy the scouts had been praising (a 5 to 1 K to BB ratio for instance).

20. Chad Jenkins (24) RHP [13] - The best word for Jenkins year is "consistent" but that's as opposed to "impressive" or "breakout." Jenkins has established his pattern as a ground-ball pitcher who doesn't get the strikeouts one usually expects from a first rounder or a top prospect. I'm actually tempted to penalize him for that, he almost strikes me as the pitching version of David Cooper. But I'll be patient another year. My guess is that if he's still with the team next year, he'll have been so buried on the depth chart that he'll be dreaming fondly of a trade.

19. Roberto Osuna (16) RHP [N/A] - I readily admit I tend to give more credit to the new acquisitions than almost anyone, but how can you not be impressed by a kid who was holding his own in the Mexican League at 15! He was already 6'3" when signed and likely has added a couple of inches since then. I'm excited to see what he can do but he'll spend 2012 in the DSL so patience is required.

18. Kevin Comer (19) RHP [N/A] - Another supplemental round pick from the 2011 draft (thank you Colorado), some observers debated whether he might have been the highest upside pitcher the jays drafted this year (yes, over Beede) but like some of the other players from this draft, he was considered completely unsignable. That turned out not to be so.

17. Matt Dean (19) 3B [N/A] - This will be remembered as the boldest, or craziest, ranking on this list. Every year as the draft approaches there ends up being 3 or 4 guys that I read so much I like about that they become guys I lust after. sometimes that works out well (Eric Thames) and sometimes it fails (Justin Jackson). This year one of my favorites was Dean and i was thrilled the Jays took him. I have very high expectations. They got him late (13th round) - again a signability issue - but he was considered to be possibly a high 2nd round talent, of not even higher.

16. Adonys Cardona (18) RHP [16] - The prize of the Blue Jays international free agent class in 2010, Cardona made his stateside debut in 2011 and had just a little higher ERA than ideal, but the ratios were more than fine for a 17 year old in the GCL. There's nothing to suggest he's not progressing as expected.

15. Marcus Knecht (21) OF [33] - Mildly overshadowed by his fellow Lansing outfielders, mainly because he lacks their speed, but he led the team in walks, doubles and homers and has nothing of which to be ashamed. He'll certainly open in Dunedin in April.

14. A. J. Jimenez (22) C [15] - A lot of Jays bloggers like Jimenez a bit more than I do. Not that I dislike him as a prospect, in a vacuum, there's a lot to like. Good speed, solid doubles power, and reportedly excellent defense. But in the depth of the Jays system, particularly at the same position, he just doesn't stand out to me. I can remember years when he'd been a definite top 10 but not now.

13. Michael Crouse (21) RF [39] - Here's a guy I might be under-rating based on his draft position. There were a lot of similarities between he and the fellow who played to his right, but Crouse was a 16th rounder (2008) while the other guy was considered a huge steal in the third a year later. In fact, On August 1 he had more walks doubles, triples, and homers than that other guy, but he missed much of August with injury and was 1 for 11 upon his return. Quite possibly I've wronged him here, but the top of this list is a log-jam of worthy options.

12. Deck McGuire (23) RHP [10] - The knee-jerk thing to do is to compare McGuire's AA transition to that of other pitchers promoted before him and see disappointing results. But that was a tiny sample (only three starts before getting hurt) and it overlooks the results in Dunedin which were not at all underwhelming for a guy in his first professional season. There are guys in the system I like better (as yet unnamed) but i need to be careful to not penalize McGuire for not being them.

11. Carlos Perez (21) C [4] - Here's a guy who did have a disappointing season. I've seen quotes indicating his coaches were pleased with it but statistically he was well off his previous pace. Given the remarkable progress by some other players in the system he was bound to drop, but he still gets a ton of praise so not too far. Most are giving him a mulligan on this year.

10. Aaron Sanchez (19) RHP [8] - Here's another one of my "pet projects" - the guy Mel Queen called the best pitcher he'd scouted since Christ Carpenter - but he struggled with control at times in 2011 and in the process saw a couple of his fellow draftees pass him by on my list.

9. Daniel Norris (19) LHP [N/A] - I have an acknowledged history of spotting the first round pick a spot in the Top 10, unless the depth is staggering (which it is) but Norris wasn't a first rounder. Nevertheless, he's the recipient of so very much praise, including being widely described as a guy who'd never have reached the Jays first pick if anyone had thought he would sign, that in my mind, he's the #1 pick for 2011 no matter what the record says. This is one of those places where my ever shifting rankings shows up, as i had him at #6 right up until I started writing him up, but I can't overlook the results already in the book. I do believe in this guy though, without reservation.

8. Justin Nicolino (20) LHP [42] - Only one other player rocketed further up the chart this year than Nicolino. Made all the more valuable by his left handiness, Nicolino's year gives the appearance of one who's toying with his inferiors. in 12 starts for Vancouver he had an ERA of 1.03, a WHIP of 0.75 and a 6:1 ratio of K's to walks. And you have to be less inclined to think it's a low-minors mirage when you note he was a 2nd round pick.

7. Noah Syndergaard (19) RHP [18] - As good as Nicolino was, Syndergaard was just as good, though physically he might have a higher ceiling. Listed at 6'5" with some reports about that he's added another couple of inches, the big Texan pitched across three levels and while not quite as dominant as the lefty, the cumulative ERA was under 2.00 so he's worthy of this respect.

6. Adeiny Hechavarria (23) SS [5] - all the reports say that his bat will be just tolerable in the majors given his defense (which is a contender for "best in baseball") and dismiss his late season surge after moving up to Vegas is nothing but a manifestation of the PCL effect. But it's worth noting that his offensive turnaround starter weeks before his promotion, and that a big chunk of those Vegas games were played in Memphis and Nashville which do not inflate offensive numbers and he never slowed down. He also did well in the AFL after a slow start, hitting .308 with an .870 OPS in the last 10 games he played (albeit the AFL is also very hitter friendly). I'm not saying he's going to be an impressive hitter but I am saying he might be getting a little too much disrespect at the plate.

4.(tie) Nestor Molina (23) RHP [56] - didn't just put himself on the map, he re-drew the whole friggin thing. In his first year as a starter after three in relief, Molina walked through hitter in Dunedin with ease, then as if that wasn't enough he spent August slapping around AA at a pace that would impress Nicolino. In five starts he threw 22 innings and struck out 33 while walking only 2 and giving up a single earned run.

4.(tie) Drew Hutchison (21) RHP [19] - there's simply no way to choose between he and Molina, he started the year in Lansing and didn't find much in the way of serious opposition on any of the three levels he pitched at. And like Molina, he threw even better in a small AA sample than he had at lower levels. Either pitcher could see time in Toronto in 2012, but certainly will be candidates in 2013. If there is any thing which distinguishes them, it's that with so very many young talented candidates for the rotation that they might turn Molina into their own version of Joakim Soria even if that would be under-using his obvious talents.

3. Anthony Gose (21) CF [6] - another very hard choice here, Gose has outstanding skills in 4 of the 5 tools . . . but it's the deficiency in the fifth that left him ranked third for me. He can run like the wind, and do it smartly, he's a great fielder and has solid power (albeit, that was new this year and needs repeating) and has a cannon arm. But he hit only .253 which is not quite what you'd want for a future lead-off hitter. If he hit .300 he'd be a contender for the top 10 prospects in baseball.

2. Jake Marisnick (21) CF [9] - Edges Gose almost entirely because he hit .320 this year. While batting average is a less than ideal stat, a developing prospect needs to put the bat on the ball and Marisnick did that. He's not quite as fast as Gose, and probably has a tic less arm, but he's a more well rounded player. He's some seven months younger than Gose, but hasn't been pushed as fast through the minors. My hunch is he's a slightly better bet to be an All-Star and a somewhat lesser bat to flop than Gose.

1. Travis d'Arnaud (23) C [11] - the definition of a break-out year. d'Arnaud went from a year which was hindered by a back injury which led some to worry if he was physically able to hold up to the rigors of the position, to winning the EL MVP in convincing fashion. Even though the Blue Jays now have on their roster perhaps the best young catcher they've ever developed, the speculation is already abroad that his days are numbered until d'Arnaud forces the Jays to open the position.

And there you have it. To acknowledge historical reality, it's generally true that the majority of highly ranked prospects DON'T in fact go on to be above average major leaguers, but with that said, I truly feel that the team has 18-20 guys who are, in an average year or an average system, easily "top 10" prospects and over 40 guys who have legitimate potential to be average or better major league players. it's hard to describe the remarkable depth.

Last year the Kansas City system got high praise for having several really high ceiling guys, which would be an aspect they had over this list in the judgement of most observers, but for sheer depth of really good guys, it's hard to imagine it ever getting any better than this.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top 50 Prospects: Part 1

So. Brian Jeroloman is back. AA never lets me complete a list in peace. For the record, I had him at #73 (this pushes Marcus Brisker out of the top 100 - yes, I have an irrational attachment to having Scott Campbell on the list).

Now, let the festivities begin!

50. Alan Farina (age 25 on opening dayof minor league season) RHP - Will miss most if not all of 2012 recovering from TJ. Still has pretty good future after recovery.
49. Sam Dyson (24) RHP - has been recovering from injury, at least one recent report said he'd had a setback. Good stuff but plagued by injury.
48. Santiago Nessy (19) C - could go a lot higher if he stays at Catcher and succeeds, much harder to impress if he has to move out to 1B. Big kid for a catcher.
47. Manuel Cordova (17?) RHP - One of the summers well regarded bonus babies.
46. Jesus Gonzalez (17?) OF - another 2011 summer signing. All of these guys in the top 50 were well regarded by scouts and paid like high draft picks.
45. Anthony DeSclafini (22) RHP - Sixth round pick this summer, some good reports though largely overlooked in the praise for other picks.
44. Tom Robson (18) RHP - Canadian hero, 4th round pick this year. Will be a sentimental favorite for many.
43. Jeremy Gabryswski (19) RHP - Second rounder this year, another guy who didn't get the publicity of some others but some observers like him a good bit.
42. Yan Gomes (24) C - Finished strong in the AFL, had surprisingly good season in AA despite a constant struggle for playing time behind d'Arnaud. Given the opportunity he could climb.
41. Myles Jaye (20) RHP - considered a quality sleeper choice when drafted in the 18th round in 2010. Didn't set the league on fire, or disappoint. Jury still out.
40. Jario Labourt (18) LHP - Under the radar free agent last year, pitched fairly well in DSL this year but too early to judge him on stats. Scouts like him.
39. Mitchell Taylor (20) LHP - Excellent walk and K rate for Bluefield, possibly a temperament issue as he was sent home early for disciplinary reasons.
38. Mark Biggs (19) RHP - Eighth round pick in 2011 but he fell due to signability. probably more like a 3rd round talent.
37. Griffin Murphy (19) LHP - Second round pick looked a bit ordinary in first pro season but it's very early yet. Considered a very quality pick.
36. Joe Musgrove (19) RHP - Yet another guy who is perhaps underrated because he wasn't a guy who fell due to being hard to sign. Thus not a lot of publicity after the draft.
35. Kellen Sweeney (20) 3B - Missed almost the whole season due to injury, but if healthy still has a major league ceiling.
34. Dawel Lugo (17?) SS - All these 2011 bonus players have a "?" by their age because I don't have a birthdate on most of them. All these guys were on the list of the top 40 highest regarded Latin prospects on signing day, essentially, sort of the first round talent of the market.
33. Wilmer Becarra (17?) SS/CF - Most reports suggest the shortstop is growing out of the position (he's already 6'4") and will likely begin his pro career in CF.
32. Mike McDade (23) 1B - A mid-season knee injury wreaked what had been a breakout year. his first-half OPS was .880 and the second half saw only a .561 total. We'll have to see if that was an expected regression or it really was the knee.
31. Joel Carreno (25) RHP - Seemed to find a niche as a reliever (in a small sample) which is what I'd expected of him all along. We don't know yet how he'll peak but there might be a very good late inning guy here.
30. David Cooper (25) 1B - none of the scouts express the view that he'll be anything more than a filler guy in the majors, depsite fans drooling over his 2011 stats. Could have a Dan Johnson like career, or might prove his critics wrong.
29. Sean Nolin (22) LHP - lost a bunch of weight over the last off-season and re-invented himself. Jays coaches were blown away by the result. With so many good pitchers in the system, this might be the single most overlooked pitcher the team has.
28. Christian Lopes (19) SS - Seventh round signability steal. This is one of the guys from the 2011 draft I have a strong hunch about, though he might end up at 2B eventually.
27. John Stilson (21) RHP - Health is a big concern here. if he can stay on the mound, might be one of the biggest bargains in the draft. Question is - will the Jays develop him as a starter, or throw him out there as a closer where he might come very fast.
26. Moises Sierra (23) RF - Sierra is a bit of an enigma to me. Tools are there, performance is so far just "not bad." I've concluded that given the team's near-majors depth, Seirra is a prime trade candidate (as is Cooper) and I expect him to be an add on to some trade, this winter or next summer (in the same manner that Yohermin Chavez was in the Morrow deal).

In my opinion, there are easily 40 or more players in the system who would be top 30 prospects on your average MLB list - and there are players as low as #55 on my list that some would make an argument for as being worthy of that praise.


Coming soon: the Top 25!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prospect Week Continues!

This whole business of having a deep deep system takes on a new context given the news of the new CBA today. Frankly, I like Kevin Goldstien's take that pretty much the only good thing to come out of it (in terms of acquiring amateur talent) is the agreement to move up the signing deadline.

That said, my tinfoil hat theory is that Paul Beeston saw this coming (having worked closely with Uncle Bud) and that factored into Alex's plan to do crazy balls-out system building now, then turn into big-market monsters when they were ready - with "ready" being defined as "when MLB changes the whole dynamic." I suspect that Anthopoulos already has a plan in the works for how to keep succeeding in the new paradigm.

For some good takes on the situation, see Dave Cameron's piece for Fangraphs, Jim Callis' revised thoughts for Baseball America For Jays specific content, there's a great read (as always) From Shi Davidi, and Stoten's comments on DJF (which includes some further linkage). One further thought, Kelly Johnson is now a "modified Type A" which means that should another team sign him, the jays will get a pick in front of their first pick, but that team won't actually lose their own pick. I can't help but notice that the Twins (at #2) Cubs (#6), Marlins (#9) Rockies (#10) and Mets (#12) could all use a guy like Kelly Johnson at 2B next year . . . just sayin'!

And with that, I'll dive into the next batch of players on the list.

75. Dave Rollins (LHP) - kinda low pick in '11, did pretty well
74. Jon Diaz (SS) - the next John McDonald?
73. Jon Talley (C/1B) - Not too late for him to bust out if power holds up
72. Darin Mastorianni (CF) - sure seems fringy to me
71. Jesus Tinoco (RHP) - Signed this month, little info other than bonus
70. Jorge Vega-Rosado (SS) - Could make big leap if production continues
69. Alberto Torado (P) - Summer bonus baby, not a lot of info
68. Matt Wright (LHP) - Might lose in minor league portion of Rule 5 draft
67. Chad Beck (RHP) - Recent high praise justified?
66. Casey Lawrence (RHP) - Has done well for undrafted free agent
65. K.C. Hobson (1B) - very disappointing year
64. Keenen Bailli (OF) - Japanese import, unheralded for a reason apparently
63. Eric Acre (OF) - Undersized, but showed a lot of power
62. Danny Barnes (RHP) - low minors relievers are often illusions
61. Yeyfry Del Rosario (RHP) - little notice 2010 bonus baby, might be something there
60. Evan Crawford (LHP) - Added to 40, Jays must see something
59. Dalton Pompey (OF) - Some consider him a sleeper to watch
58. Brad Glenn (OF) - old for his league, but props for results
57. Daniel Webb (RHP) - headed to relief, Jays apparently like his profile there
56. Sean Ochinko (C/3B/1B) - off year, gets a mulligan
55. Tyler Ybarra (LHP) - a most promising sleeper
54. Gus Pierre (SS) - how long will they endure his SS defense?
53. Danny Farquhar (RHP) - marginal guy probably
52. Gabriel Cenas (3B) - Still in DSL, too early to tell on this bonus baby
51. Brad Mills (LHP) - likely can't succeed in Toronto. Needs trade.

Coming soon: the real meet of the system is on the horizon with 50-26 up next.


Top Prospect Week begins!

As i mourn both the MVP vote and the signing of Joe Nathan in Texas (and cast a wistful glance at the stats for Houston Street) I lay aside the past and look again to the future

I'm totally changing up the way I list the prospects this year. I have, on my spread sheet, a "ranking" of no less than 150 players in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. A few of them I'll take out because they've lost their rookie eligibility even though in my mind they are still prospects because they haven't firmly established their grip on the major league roster, but there's still a ton of names. obviously the VAST majority are not likely to ever suit up in Toronto, but I don't like for a player to sneak up on my, so I pay attention to all of those who are interesting in any way.

In an effort to share my obsession with you, I intend to at least call the name of 100 players. to repeat, these are not "prospects" in the sense of having great promise to make an impact in Toronto. I think there are 30-40 guys you should be enthused about in the Jays system and, statistically, you'll be lucky if a third of those are real difference makers.

But it's also true that guys who were not in that top 30 last year are very important players this year, and guys who are not now, might very well be there a year from now. So I try to be exhaustive.

In years past I've avoided the more traditional "count-down" listing format preferring to just start with #1. But this year I will go with the reverse list simply by the nature of this week-long project. What I intend to do is write four columns, beginning with this one, with 25 players on each. I'll going to be very clear in saying that the lower on the list you are, the less the "rankings" actually mean. In this first installment (100-76) they are almost completely useless, in the next they reflect somewhat the concept of which players might be more prone to break out and jump into the top of the list (as Nestor Molina did this year). In the third installment, I begin to really sort of focus on "this guy is better than that guy" (and that defined as a balance of tools, the likelihood he can effectively use them, and accomplishment so far).

It's only the Top 25 where I consider the number beside the name to really mean something important in terms of reflecting my views. The higher we go on the list, the more likely I'll want to comment on the player. Which means, of course, that i won't say much about these guys.

100. Scott Campbell (2B) - injuries wiped out his career, a lot of sentiment in this ranking
99. Marcus Brisker(CF) - tools, hasn't panned out
98. Jon Jones (OF) - speedy guy but not blazing
97. John Anderson (LHP) - tons of injuries
96. Ryan Tepera (RHP) - classic Org Guy
95. Art Charles (1B) - a guy who could move up some
94. Adric Kelly (RHP) - some thought a sleeper in 2010 draft
93. Nico Taylor (OF) - very low pick, but nice start
92. Kevin Aherns (3B) - pretty much ready to give up on former 1st rounder
91. Justin Atkinson (SS) - versatile infielder from 2011 draft
90. Kevin Patterson (1B) - could move up next year
89. Devy Estrada (RHP) - loved his work pre-'11, scouts insist it won't play at higher levels.
88. Shane Opitz (SS) - some think he has promise
87. Ericdavis Marquez (LHP) - Awesome in DSL, 20 a touch old for that league
86. Ron Uvideo (RHP) - respectable stats, might be a fringe major leaguer for a bit
85. Zach Adams (LHP) - slow start, praised pick at #15 in 2010
84. John Tolisano (OF) - more disappointment from the '07 high schoolers
83. Dayton Martze (RHP) - mixed opinions from me here
82. Andrew Burns (SS) - 11th round pick in '11, same as Opitz in '10
81. Justin Jackson (IF/OF) - looked like possible break-out into June then fell completely apart
80. Kevin Pillar (RF) - good stats, but old for league
79. Brady Dragmire (RHP) - here a good thing or two about this pick
78. Ryan Goins (SS) - not bad, just not taking off either
77. Dustin Antolin (RHP) - comeback from TJ this year, could make big jump next year
76. Ryan Schimpf (2B) - just a guy

Up next - 75-51

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Uniformly Pleased!


Okay sure, it's not news. I, like every other Blue Jays fan on the planet, am still swooning over the new unis. I didn't even particularly dislike the last ones (the only ones I ever hated was the hideous T-Bird design) but these come very near to perfection. My favorite choice is to use the stripped down logo (as opposed to the one with the baseball behind it) on the cap and jersey. The darker, brighter coloring on the logo is a vast improvement over the pastels of the original.

There's not a lot more to say about the biggest event of the day, but it wasn't the only event. There was also roster movement as November 18 was the deadline for teams to finalize their roster in advance of the upcoming Rule 5 draft. The choices on who to add were obvious this year, as the Jays added Travis d'Arnaud, Mike McDade, Nestor Molina, and LH reliever Evan Crawford. Meanwhile they announced that the had removed Brian Jeroloman, who was lost on waivers to Pittsburgh (you'd think they would have learned by now!) and Cole Kimball (who they'd just claimed on waivers a few days ago) who was lost back to the Nationals from whence he came. Also added to the 40 man roster was another waiver claim, one Andrew Carpenter who played for the Phillies and Padres last year. The roster now stands at 38.

for those of you wondering about the shortage of slots given the needs the team has, having only 2 or 3 (or even less) open slots heading into the R5 is not unusual. Teams simply make their arrangements and announce the deal formally after the draft. And when the time comes other players will be outrighted to the minors to make room (such as Alan Farina, who's recovering from Tommy John surgery, or Darin Mastorianni as examples)

If you are wondering if any Jays prospects are at risk of being drafted - no one you should worry about but here are a few players who might temp teams, particularly in the minor league portion of the draft:

1. Jon Diaz - ceiling is John McDonald 2.0
2. Matt Wright - LH reliever who had good ratios
3. Mark Sobolewski - under-achieved his scouting reports coming out of the draft
4. Balbino Fuenmayor - one time bonus baby, never got out of low-a ball.
5. Jon Talley - C/1B/DH with emerging power potential

I'd be stunned if any were taken in the major league portion of the draft.

Coming soon, the Top Prospect list.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 Positional Review: Pitchers


Buckle up folks, this is going to be a long one. I thought about doing the relievers as a separate post but that would give you the impression that they are more highly regarded than they are. the truth is the best relief prospect is usually no better than the 15th or so Starter prospect, and most of the best major league relievers were not relievers in the minors. So I'll list them in this post after dedicating the thousands of words necessary to cover the deep SP list.

Let me take a moment to note here, as I'll have to do in the Top prospect list, that there are guys who ":feel" like prospects still who have lost their rookie eligibility and so do not qualify. particularly, in this case, Henderson Alvarez (who'd be #1 on this list if he hadn't broken that threshold) and Kyle Drabek (almost impossible to properly rank anyway)

1. Drew Hutchison (20) RHP - It's difficult to speak highly enough of Hutch's record as a professional so far. The 15th round steal has been nothing short of phenomenal. As a pro he has 42 starts, ranging from short-season to AA in just 2 seasons. in that body of work his SO/BB ratio is 4.33; his SO/9 is 9.7 and his BB/9 is 2.2; his ERA is 2.52 and his WHIP is 1.03 over a total of 218 IP. If there is a cautionary note it's that he more than doubled his IP total from 2010 to 2011, which os often regarded as inadvisable - but you were never going to be able to stick to the +20% rule when his 2010 total was under 70IP anyway.

2. Nestor Molina (22) RHP - This might be viewed as a mildly aggressive ranking given that Molina is 22 and most of the other highly ranked guys played all or most of 2011 at age 20 or less. But Molina, despite having played his first professional game as a pitcher (he's a converted SS) at 18 was only recently moved into the rotation and has fewer professional starts than Hutchison does (27 v. 42). But what starts! In particular look at his five starts to finish the season after being promoted to AA New Hampshire. his ERA was 0.41, giving up a single earned run in 22 IP. He also K'ed 33 while walking TWO in those five games. And this at the end of a season in which he exceeded his previous career high in IP by 50. Overall his rates in 2011 were even better than Hutchson's. It's only the smaller sample of starts which has him slightly behind Hutch on this list.

3. Daniel Norris (18) LHP - another aggressive ranking here, and no maybes about it. This is based entirely on the flood of praise directed his way in the wake of the Jays landing the supposedly unsignable "best HS LHP in the draft" this summer. I'm sure there will be strong arguments made for going with the professional results of the next three guys on the list before I note Norris, but none of them came into the draft with the clippings Norris did.

4. Noah Syndergaard (18) RHP - Reviewing the 2010 draft class I certainly swooned over the praise for another guy in that class, and still think highly of him, but a lot of good things were said about the 6'5" Syndergaard as well and so far he's gotten out of the gate better. He's done all you could ask for in his first full professional season and his growth curve seems to still be trending upward. In 11 starts spread over three levels he posted a sub-2 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 9.2 SO/9 to go with a 1.09 WHIP. Expect more good things next year beginning at Lansing and possibly following the rapid promotion path that Hutchison took in 2011.

5. Aaron Sanchez (18/19) RHP - Sanchez, who turned 19 in the middle of the 2011 season, was the object of my swooning affection this time last year and as much as I still love his upside, the big (6'4") righty didn't match Syndergaard's production in 2011. Sanchez has dealt with some mechanical problems with his delivery which has created control issues. He's shown flashes of brilliance but until he gets that problem solved he's going to lag behind his classmates.

6. Justin Nicolino (19) LHP - There might be a small element of bias in not putting Nico ahead of Sanchez on this list, because it's hard to find any fault with the lefty's first year. The Jays held Nicolino far longer than i would have in Vancouver when he seemed to be owning the league, but he did get 3 starts in Lansing at the end of the year and did fine work in a small sample. In Vancouver he had an ERA of 1.33, a WHIP of 0.85, an insane H/9 rate of 5.8, 10.8 SO/9 and 1.9 BB/9 while opposing batters hit a tiny .156 off him. The 6'3" Nicolino is listed at a mere 160 and it's possible that he still has some growth yet in his physicality. Certainly there are no red flags when it comes to projecting continued success.

7. Deck McGuire (22) RHP - the 2010 first round pick has suffered more by comparison to the insane production of those above him on this list more so than by actual under-achievement on his part. Seen in a vacuum, McGuire did pretty much exactly what you'd expect in a first professional season in which he was aggressively started off in Hi-A ball. He posted almost a K per 9 with a solid ERA and a somewhat higher than ideal WHIP (though far from awful at 1.21) fueled by somewhat too many walks while making 21 starts in Dunedin. After his promotion to NH he made three respectable starts before being shelved with a minor injury which kept him out of action for a month. His ERA there was a bit high as AA hitters made better contact off him but the sample size (under 21 IP) is far too small too make you worry much.

8. Adonys Cardona (17) RHP - The Venezuelan bonus baby was in his first year stateside in 2011, pitching in the Gulf Coast league. As one might expect, there was some inconsistency but the indicators were strong, as were the reports. He could use more control, but his K rate was strong and I think given what he was paid to sign, there's every reason to expect big things.

9. Kevin Comer (18) RHP - Some observers considered it just as big a coup for the Jays to steal him away from Vandy as it was to land Norris and some scouts thin he's at least as good a prospect. For some reason, maybe just a latent resistance to believe that every move is pure gold, I've resisted buying into that entirely - but I can't ignore that he's good enough to at least provoke such high praise either.

10. Roberto Osuna (16) RHP - the nephew of former Major Leaguer Antonio Osuna was holding his own in the Mexican League at 15. He was considered no worse than the 4th best international player signed this summer and right now he's being rated all on tools and ability. He's very unpolished but with effective coaching could be a special player.

11. Chad Jenkins (23) RHP - Some are concerned about Jenkins' perceived lack of conditioning and his propensity towards a ground-ball, low-strikeout result and wonder how he'll play at higher levels. But his numbers are not bad, so much as they are something less than most fans hope for from a first round pick. In another organization one might expect him to be a perfectly serviceable #4 or 5 starter. given the competition with the Jays, it's hard to imagine a path from where he is to the major league rotation. I anticipate he'll be included in a trade at some point.

12. Asher Wojciechowski (22) RHP - Woj is listed at the same height and weight as Jenkins, but I've yet to hear anyone question his conditioning. Possibly they are put together differently. Still ,it's difficult to resist the urge to compare them. Their K rate was almost identical and the BB rate was pretty similar too. Woj gave up considerably more hits but there's a caveat to that. He started the season in fine fashion and, sometime in mid-May, the team tried to change something about his delivery which, whatever the intent, fouled up his fastball command and let to a lot of balls up in the zone. This persisted throughout June (his combined ERA for May and June was 7.81) , but once he overcame (or abandoned?) that he reverted to form and finished the season strong posting a 3.18 ERA in his last ten starts. For some reason i've had a hunch all along that Woj will end up a power reliever rather than in the Jays rotation (if he's not traded at some point) and I still lean towards that view.

Other guys to watch who stand to be quite good:
John Stilson (20) RHP - if he recovers from injuries suffered in colege
Joel Carreno (24) RHP - marginal as a starter prospect, could be a very good reliever in 2012
Sean Nolin (21) LHP - took huge leap forward in 2011
Mark Biggs (18) RHP - described as a steal in the 8th round, another "hard sign" guy
Joe Musgrove (18) RHP - i might be under-rating this guy
Mitch Taylor (19) LHP - 7th rounder from 2010, bit of a sleeper in this group
Griffin Murphy (19) - disappointing first season, still good potential
Jario Labourt (17) LHP - just getting started, well regarded though

Even more guys who deserve a mention: Myles Jaye, Jeremy Gabryszwiski, Tom Robson, Anthony DeSclafani, Manny Cordova, Sam Dyson, Tyler Ybarra

When you can construct a solid Top 20 prospects while only mentioning starting pitchers, you know you are doing something right.
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Relievers

1. Joel Carreno (24) RHP - mentioned above, much more promising in the 'pen
2. Chad Beck (26) RHP - lots of praise from observers for long-shot guy
3. Alan Farina (24) RHP - will miss all of '12 recovering from TJ surgery
4. Danny Farquhar (24) RHP - not as impressive in '11, still has interesting arsenal
5. Trystan Magnuson (26) RHP - big guy, middling stuff, reminds you of Rauch in some ways
6. Danny Barnes (21) RHP - dominated at Lo-A, remains to be seen how he handles advancement.
7. Evan Crawford (24) LHP - solid ratios in AA, doing quite well in AFL
8. Matt Wright (24) LHP - high K/low BB numbers in Dunedin show promise.
9. Dustin Antolin (21) RHP - first year back from TJ, next year will be key
10. Daniel Webb (21) RHP - highly regarded in draft, couldn't pull it together as starter, Jayssiad to love his upside as reliever.

Others to watch - Ron Uvideo, Aaron Loup, any of a number of SP who might ended up converted to relief along the way. Particularly Stilson and Dyson who'd come much faster as relievers.

(subject to proofing tomorrow)

Friday, November 11, 2011

2011 Positional Review: Catchers

This is a position both well stocked (astonishingly so given the rarity of good prospects behind the plate) and easy to handle in review.

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 Positional Review: 1B


Just going to give you an up-front warning: the best of these guys don't ever come up in scouts' discussions of the premium talent in the Jays organization. the position is in better shape for prospects than 2B and 3B, but the best guys are usually regarded as guys who project to a relatively low ceiling.

1. David Cooper (24) - Everything the scouts tell you about Cooper screams "don't get your hopes up" but he did everything you could ask him to do at AAA this year except pile up home runs. the book is that he's a guy with an offensive ceiling something like Lyle Overbay at his best (and a "most likely" that looks like Overbay in decline) but his case is not aided by defense. Overbay carries a sterling defensive reputation, Cooper's is "barely adequate.

That's an unfortunate combination for him. You have to tip your hat to what he did in Vegas though. A .439 OPS and 51 doubles is nothing to sneeze at. And while it's true his HR power was absent, he hit 20 dingers in AA the year before in a much tougher environment for power - and that having had an awful first half in 2010. So there's some power there. It's hard to say how much of that he gave up for the contact. I expect Cooper to be traded as part of some package because i don't see a place for him in Toronto. He'll have an "okay" career, i imagine, but not one that will make you wish the deal hadn't been made.

2. Mike McDade (22) - A sixth round pick in 2007, McDade is the definition of a "bad body" player. He stands 6'1" and is listed at 260 pounds. Most observers have thus spent his career waiting for that fact to catch up with him and his development to stall. Thus far, it hasn't. McDade has been a consistent "very good but not great" hitter the last three years. In the first half of 2011 he seemed to be having a breakout year, but around mid-season he suffered a knee injury. He eventually came back and tried to play through it (it's unclear to me if he hid it from the trainers or the team thought he could keep playing) and his stats crashed through the floor. Look at the comparison of his first and second half stat line:

.310/355/.525/.880
.214/.265/.297/.561

It's reasonable to assume the second half numbers are not representative of, well, anything, and that the first half stats are project-able as a reasonable representation of where he's at now. Still, it's worth noting that he's missed ~20 games or more each of the last three years so there may be some health issues related to his size after all.

One thing NOT related to his size is his defense, which surprisingly, is considered to be excellent. He should move up to AAA this season, even if Cooper is still in the organization. He should look like a monster in Vegas, but we see how much good that did Cooper.

3. Sean Ochinko (24) - Future utility guy, so long as he maintains his positional versitility. Still listed as a catcher, he can also play 3B and 1B and where his defense holds up will make a big difference in his major league value. If he can be a competent catcher he'll be worth watching as a reserve guy in the majors, but good defensive catchers usually don't get shuffled around this much. I could see him maybe having a major league role not unlike that which Eric Hinske has settled into.
The two-time Webster Award winner fell on some hard times in 2011 in comparison to his previous work. His HR total did go up quite a bit, but at the expense of so much contact that the net offensive result was actually down. He had a miserable April before picking it up the rest of the season but his OPS varied widely from month to month and he never seemed to be "in the zone." You can write this year off, of course, as an off-year, but it doesn't need to become a habit.

4. KC Hobson (20) - By every measure Hobson had a completely unimpressive season in 2011. He was projected to hit for power, and hasn't yet - not really even impressive doubles power. He was very streaky, didn't make enough contact, and even posted an alarming (for a 1B) 25 errors defensively. He's still young, and the Jays will take their time, but he needs to step up his game.

5. Kevin Patterson (22) - Patterson had a good year, but the big caveat is age. Being 22 in short-season ball and having a good year really doesn't impress most people. A 30th round pick in 2011, my guess would be that for a real challenge he might move ahead of Hobson- eventually if not initially - in 2012 because at his age he really ought to be trying his skills in Dunedin. lack of pro-experience aside.

6. Art Charles (20) - Charles is a big (6'6") guy with power potential who played for the Bluefield Blue Jays in 2011 after being a 20th round draft pick in 2010. He stepped up his offensive game this year, increasing both his OBP and his slugging. But he's probably not ever going to be called a great prospect if his average doesn't get out of the .240's - that kind of thing might be overlooked in a catcher or a SS, but not a 1B.

I'm going to try to get to the catchers this week before tackling the massive pitcher list.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Quick hit: roster management

Handful of minor but interesting moves lately, my thoughts:

Adam Loewen
I won't repeat Alex's explanation of the mechanics of the deal, if you pay close enough attention to read this blog you surely know. I still hold out hope he'll be back, not just for the story but also because I see him being a valuable reserve OF/1B at a minimum. Still, he has to have cleaner path's to a major league starting role. In particular, I suggest that the mariners would be a good fit. Besides being a "hometown" team of sorts, there's a LF job crying out to be filled.

Jesse Carlson
Recovering from shoulder surgery, and by no means a high-enough ceiling guy originally for anyone to be optimistic about his coming back solid. But I'd have no objection to giving him another whirl.

Trystan Magnuson
Re-acquired from the A's for cash, Magnuson continues to put up impressive numbers in the minors (albeit his control slipped this year) and in a small sample in the majors, was not ugly - in fact, take away one terrible appearance v. the Twins and his ERA otherwise was 2.86 - but in less than 13 IP. We'll see where he ranks in terms of being a candidate for the last job in the 'pen alongside Danny Farquhar, Chad Beck (who still hasn't been scored on in the AFL by the way) and...

Jesse Chavez
Also pitching well in the AFL, but has so far been unable to consistently turn good minor league work into  major league success. I think there's a solid possibility that the Jays will, at some point, try to sneak both Magnuson and Chavez off the 40 man roster, but either would be tempting in the Rule 5 draft so maybe not.

John McDonald
Presumed to return to Toronto this off-season, he re-signed with Arizona on a two year deal. No big thing, he's an NL kind of guy anyway. I trust that, despite the speculation of some fans, the Blue Jays will make every effort to have someone better than Mike McCoy in that role next year. I like Jerry Hairston, Jr for instance.


In other news, the annual exit of over two dozen minor league free agents occurred yesterday.  Besides Loewen and Carlson, other guys who are free to leave who you may have heard good things about over the years include Reider Gonzalez, Yohan Pino (who pitched very well standing in for Deck McGuire in August) Sean Henn (who did surprisingly well in relief for Vegas) and veteran major league pitchers Chad Gaudin and Kyle Davies, both of whom would surely be welcomed to re-sign. Baseball America has the complete list.

In still other news, there was a report this week that Atlanta seems willing to take offers on Martin Prado. , other than the idea of trying a gamble on Gordon Beckham if the White Sox give up on him, I don't think I've heard of a potential 2B candidate for the jays that i like better. On his career, he's pretty much equal in value to Johnson, and more consistent. If you can get Prado for something you value less than the 2 draft picks you can get for Johnson, then he's a better choice. But I have no idea how high the price might get.

All for now. Transmission ends.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Positional Review: SS, 3B, and 2B


Circumstances compel me to combine lists this year in these infield position. Quite frankly, there's no significant 2B prospect at all and anything the Jays develop there will be a converted shortstop. Similarly, there's no significant 3B above short-season ball, and it's not impossible that should a player develop at this position it might well be a converted shortstop.

Thus I will present these players in a combined list, with a crop of other lesser players who have some aspect worth your attention.

1. Adeiny Hechavarria , SS (22) - The class of this list is clearly Hech, who some describe as the best defensive SS in professional baseball (and the rest call him second best to his countryman in the Red Sox organization). the odds are high that that glove WILL get him into the majors. Alcies Escobar, for instance, And Elvis Andrus are wizards who's bat would not otherwise play in the bigs. What kind of a hitter he will be remains to be seen. When he was promoted to AAA in mid-August, his bat seemed to explode in the offense friendly league, and of course the common meme was "so what? it's the PCL?" but there are nevertheless some reason to not be so flip about that breakout.

For starters, Hech did not JUST see his stats go up to a level you might expect a no-bat guy to produce down there. Comparisons are difficult because comparing him to a weak hitter who's a decade or more older (such as Dewayne wise) isn't fair, and there are few players of his age level and background who were already in the PCL. but the fact remains that if the base conclusion is "the guy can't hit" then there is only so much the PCL can do for him. look at Jon Diaz for instance.

Second, and more importantly, the offensive explosion actually started two weeks BEFORE his promotion. From the double-header on July 27 through his promotion to AAA, Hech hit .375/.417/.518/.935 and that's worth noting, even if it's a small sample, because he'd done nothing like that previously in his pro career. I recall that in 2010 David Cooper was sitting on a very mediocre line at mid-season, then roared throug hthe second half and observers had little way to understand that. later we learned he made a significant adjustment in his approach and re-discovered his college offensive production. I have no inside information but it is quite possible Adeiny likewise unlocked his upside via some adjustment in his mechanics. I am not arguing he's ever going  to be Tony Fernandez, but he might be on par with the slick fielders I mentioned in the first paragraph at least.

2. Matt Dean, 3B (18) - Admittedly an aggressive rating, this reflects both a lack of depth at the position and my appreciation of the great press he got in the wake of the draft. don't be fooled by his relatively low draft position, he was widely regarded as a low first round talent that was unsignable. if there's one guy in the system who might make the Jays consider moving Lawrie to the post-Baustista outfield, it's Dean.

3. DJ Thon, SS (19) - Yes, I'm going to keep calling Dicke Thon Jr "DJ" until someone gets him to say he doesn;t like it. Thon, like Dean, was an unsignable first round talent that the Jays managed to sign anyway. He didn't show a lot of that this year because he was weakened by a kidney disorder that was identified during spring physicals. There's nothing really remarkable about his season for the GCL Jays, other than his great July (.911 OPS in 20 games) but you have to give him a mulligan on this one.

4. Christian Lopes, SS/2B, (18) - another highly regarded player who dropped in the draft on questions of signability. At least one list had him among the top 50 prospects going into the draft. Like Dean, I'm ranking this guy on his clippings since he has no professional at bats under his belt.

5. Kellen Sweeney, 3B, (19) - a 2nd round choice in 2010, Sweeney also frustrates with his lack of pro-stats for reference. Injured early in 2011, he missed most of the season and accumulated only 35 at bats. Still, in his meager professional sample, he's shown excellent plate discipline and he's still highly regarded.

6. Gabriel Cenas, 3B, (17) - Signed for a significant bonus out of Venezuela in 2010, the youngster got only 53 at-bats in the DSL this year. It's impossible to project whether Latin bonus babies will live up to the cash they received. One need look no further than Balbino Fuenmayor for evidence, or the next guy on this list. but on paper, the kid is a legitimate prospect.

7. Dewal Lugo, SS, (16) - bonus baby signed this summer, assigned to but did not play for the DSL team. This ranking is based only on the amount of his bonus. In truth, I consider him a better prospect by that measure than Cenas, and my master list reflects that. but given Cenas has a touch of experience, a defer to him for this list.

8. Gustavo Pierre, SS, (19) - the lanky Dominican bonus baby continues to try the patience of Jays prospect geeks. the bat which has been thought to have real potential has yet to emerge, and his error total in 2011 was astonishing. It says something about his natural ability that the Blue jays did not simply concede the point and move him to 3B or the outfield, but the comments of observers point to that eventually happening. His 44 errors (as poor a measure as errors are, particularly in the low minors) cannot be overlooked.  On the other hand, it would be insane to write off a kid at 19 who has his physical gifts.

Other players who, for one reason or another, may be worth your attention in 2012:

Ryan Schimpf, 2B - the best actual current 2B prospect in the system, you should not be excited
Chino Vega, SS/IF - that's actually just the nickname of Jorge Vega-Rosado, but I like it better so I'm going with it. He was drafted in the 28th round, and he's an undersized buy, but he spanked the GCL in impressive fashion.
Ryan Goins, SS - competent guy, drafted in the 4th round in 2009. Nothing flashy but might soldier on until he's a factor.
Andrew Burns, SS - 2011 11th round pick
Shane Optiz, SS - considered a sleeper in some quarters
Jon Diaz, SS - at 26, he's on the clock, but John Farrell raved about his defense in spring training and it's not impossible that, now that John McDonald is out of the picture, he might not sieze the chance to be the next all-glove no-hit reserve infielder in toronto next spring.

Also, one last token mention of former first round 3B Kevin Ahrens, who's done nothing to make you happy, and one-time-SS-cum-utility player Justin Jackson, who look so good this year until mid June before swooning back into utter mediocrity by the end of the season. I had such hopes for that kid