I could list off a dozen blogs that any half-interested Blue Jays fan really ought to be following religiously. But I can't honestly say mine would be one of those. No sooner than I thought I'd found a niche doing weekly updates than i realized some 3 or more other bloggers were doing it as well, and generally better (either via deeper analysis or better connections). I'm probably not going to bother with that anymore.
Still, in previous seasons (last year's unfortunate events notwithstanding) I'd done updates at the end, roughly, of each month of the minor league season. I need to be plugging away at SOME thing or their won't be enough content here to make it worthwhile to post at all so I'll see how this works. I had previously done these reports more in relation to player status and performance than by team (be honest, do you REALLY care who's in first place in the Midwest League on May 1? if you're not a fan of the Midwest league team first - no you don't, and maybe not even then) and I'll continue that pattern, but slightly modified in that I'll format it a bit more toward the Top Prospect list.
What follows then will reflect a consensus prospect list which results from combining the rankings by myself and nine other bloggers (technically more than nine since it uses the Batters Box list which is itself a compilation of the minor league contributes there). The list tracks fairly closely to a consensus list of nine leading professional sources (BA, BP, Kieth Law, John Sickels and others) - each list has the same 10 players in the top 10, although in slightly different order from 5-10 - but four of the pro lists only go to 10, while every blogger went to at least 20 (and most to 30 or beyond. This allows me to get a consensus list 20 deep, and I'll also look at other players of note at the end, particularly guys who might end up in the Top 20 by years end. As per the old format, they are divided into pitchers and hitters.
1. Dan Norris / LH / Buffalo - Given his work to this point has been in the majors, you know the deal. Beat reporters have noted that the team thinks the issue is mostly mental (i.e. struggling with shaking off a bit of adversity, and/or trying to be too perfect) and over-dependence on the fastball.
2. Aaron Sanchez / RH / Toronto - Tantalizing and frustrating for reasons I'm sure you've noted.
4. Jeff Hoffman / RH / (extended) - drawing rave reviews before he even gets into game action, he's probably less than two weeks away from being assigned (my money is on Dunedin) and the talk suggests he's rise as fast as his production dictates ala Graveman, Norris, etc last year. Legit possibility the jays see him in September but one must be careful about assuming too much.
5. Roberto Osuna / RH / Toronto - so far so good. A busy reliever's standard workload is just about right as he builds up his IP, the real question is whether they trap him in relief or let him spend part of a year back on the farm in 2016 adding to those 80 or so innings so that he's an option for the rotation if the need arises. I never heard anyone say he projected as a reliever anyway until late spring so I wonder if that's a bit revisionist.
6. Miguel Castro / RH /
10. Sean Reid-Foley / RH / Lansing - If one could overlook the wildness, they'd find his line astonishing. For someone who was still in his last days of high school a year ago and already in A Ball, you have to like it.
13. Matt Smoral / LH / (extended) - Shi Davidi helpfully provided some insight here into the as-yet-unassigned pitching and Smoral was one mentioned. Most of us amateurs were puzzled he didn't break with a full-season squad but the dirt here is that he had a minor injury they chose to be cautious with. Now that he's getting read to get into real games, there's a bit of a crowding issue. This applies to others on the list as well so let me g on a bit of a tangent here.
The current Lansing starting staff has six guys, four of who appear elsewhere in this post. In Dunedin there's less crowding and three veteran free agent organization filler guys (Allen, Santos, and Smith) on hand. Hoffman figures to kick one of those guys aside and logically, one or two of the Lansing guys ought to be on the verge of doing the same to the other two. One would assume that when this happens, there'll be room for Smoral in Lansing.
14. Jario Labourt / LH / Dunedin - Last year he was aggressively placed to Lansing, he was a mess and after a mere 14 IP (in which he walked 20!) he was dropped back to extended before being assigned to Vancouver where he pitched great (albeit still wit more walks than ideal, but that's not shocking for younger guys). He earned an assignment to Dunedin this spring, skipping the cold of Lansing, but it hasn't been all sunshine anyway. He went great start awful start, great then awful again.
18. Alberto Tirado / RH / Dunedin - Same as above, he started 2014 in Lansing along with Labourt, and was awful - walking almost a batter an inning until they pulled the plug after 40 IP and sent him down to Vancouver, where he improved somewhat but still walked too many initially. He never made it back to Lansing but showed enough this spring for another aggressive promotion (albeit this time as a reliever) to Dunedin. In the early going, he's not stumbled this time. Davidi quotes Jays' Farm Director Tony LaCava in reporting Tirado may eventually be tried as a starter again, but needed to have some success.
19. Ryan Borucki / LH / (extended) - Disabled after an elbow clean-up, there's no fresh news which implies he's not on the mound yet.
Beyond the Top 20, in order of how I ranked them:
Jesus Tinoco / RH / (extended) - Pitched well enough in extended that when Lansing needed an arm for the duble-header the found themselves in this week, he got the promotion. He wasn't immediately sent back out after so maybe they are going to give him an extended look.
Case DeJong / LH / Lansing - Re-bounding nicely from last year's struggles, should be on the countdown to make the move to Dunedin soon (as discussed above). Of course, I'm only looking at the stat line as with many of my comments.
Clint Hollon / RH / (extended) - When/if DeJong (or someone else - see below) moves up, Smoral is in line to replace him - this guy, an almost forgotten by many 2nd round choice, would then be next in line, although it's possible that he'll be held back long enough to get a taste of Canada in Vancouver (something Alex talked about a few weeks ago as something the team would factor in when making assignments)
Matt Boyd / LH / New Hampshire - Dominating so far, LaCava told Davidi he still needed work on his secondary pitches. Still, a lot of observers feel like that he might be a guy who could push his way into a late-season bullpen appearance. If he can overcome the logjam of relievers the Jays have stockpiled in AAA of course. Which is not to say they will not continue to view him as a starter for as long as possible. Also could be one of the more attractive trade candidates.
Adonys Cardona / RH / (extended) -recovering from yet another injury that shortened 2014, LaCava reports he's hitting as high as 97 again. To try and keep him healthy, he'll work from the bullpen as what LaCava called a "priority reliever" which I take to me, he'll get his innings on a regular schedule regardless of situation, and then they will re-evaluate his future as a starter f he stays out there all year. Should be activated by Lansing soon.
Others to watch:
Shane Dawson / LH / Lansing - Soft-tosser is fooling everyone and needs to be challenged with a promotion which one would think would be coming quite soon, P
Conner Greene / RH / Lansing - 2013 draftee (7th round), just past his 20th birthday, posting tasty ratios in the early going which bodes well for continued success.
John Anderson / LH / New Hampshire -The Dustin McGowan of the Jays minor leagues, he has good enough stuff for them to stick with him, but enough injuries to make everything uncertain. He's accumulated less than 300 IP in the system since 2008. LaCava says he has "probably the best stuff" on the AA team but he just needs consistent work. Given the org depth among SP, that window of opportunity may have closed for him but a power lefty in the 'pen is a valuable thing if that's where he lands.
In no particular order, other than being grouped by level, the following guys have rocked it so far - minor league relieving being what it is, who can say which of these might offer major league results at some point. (Not nitpicking here about what constitutes actual "prospect")
Buffalo - Colt Hynes, Ryan Tepera, Rob Rasmussen, Preston Gulmet, Bo Schultz (apart from one bad inning from Luis Perez, the whole 'pen here really)
New Hampshire -
Dunedin - Will Browning, Chad Giordo, Jimmy Cordero
3. Dalton Pompey / CF / Buffalo - You know at least as much as I, there hasn't yet been any in-depth reporting on the demotion but one might suppose that this is one of those "how will you react to failure?" moments that high-character payers will come back from just fine.
7. Max Pentacost / C / (extended) - Technically listed on the Dunedin roster, and on the 7 day DL, but the originally mentioned recovery times dovetails nicely with the beginning of the short-season teams' season, and I'm inclined to think the Jays might give him a little run through the Northwest League before moving him back to A ball.
8. Devon Travis / 2B / Toronto - Really nothing to say here, right?
9. Richard Urena / SS / Lansing -needs to start getting that K rate down but for a Dominican playing in the cold for the first time, some grace is warranted. Not enough data yet.
11. Mitch Nay / 3B / Dunedin - LaCava explains they've made adjustments to Nay to see if he can pull the ball more to capitalize his in-game power (most think he has significant power potential but it doesn't manifest in games, the team thinks, because he tends to hit to the middle of the field. As such, you can't make too much of his stats so far.
12. Dwight Smith, Jr. / LF / New Hampshire - If he had more power, or speed, or glove, he'd get a lot more notice. For me, he's still a "tweener" who lacks a clear major league path, but he can hit ad draw walks and that's not nothing. Might be helpful in a trade to a less ambitious team.
15. Anthony Alford / CF / Lansing - Has done nothing to dim the high praise he's now getting from all quarters. It's not a crazy claim to suggest he's already the best position player prospect the Jays have. Still, it's early and adjustments - and counter adjustments - are yet in the future.
16. Rowdy Tellez / 1B / Lansing -.899 OPS since April 15, like Urena, too many K's but pretty easy to overlook if he's producing. Put it down as a goal, more than a concern.
17. Dawel Lugo / SS / Dunedin - he's just 20 and at A+ which buys some grace, but I seriously worry whether he'll ever hit and the stat line does nothing to convince me I'm wrong so far. LaCava says they are happy with him though so...shrug?
20 AJ Jimenez / C / Buffalo - Just promoted after spending some time in AA when he came off the DL (presumably because Thole being in Buffalo would have regulated one of them to the bench). He's done nothing in 2015 and he's in danger of losing what tiny sliver of prospect status he has left unless he has a pretty remarkable rest-of-the-season.
Beyond the Top 20 (as I ranked them):
Lane Thomas / IF-OF / (extended) - It's not that they don't list him as a 2B, it's that he's so good they can't decide where his bat plays best. He probably doesn't have the pop traditionally associated with 3B, so it's here or CF and it's probably easier to move out later if needed than in.
Matt Dean / 1B / Dunedin - Some occasional homers can't disguise the horrid BB/K ratio. That would take massive power he hasn't shown. Averaging a strikeout per game at 22 without it tends to kill your prospect status.
DJ Davis / CF / Lansing -Really seemed to have figured things out for a secnd, then hit a 1 for 17 over 5 games that suppressed his rates. You know how early season slumps can kill a player's line. Bears watching.
Dan Jansen / C - Lansing -It's like most of the Lansing squad wasn't ready for Michigan in early April and took the first week off. Jansen was 0 for 14 in his first five games. Unlike some of the other slow starters, he hasn't gotten untracked yet. Time will tell if the progression was too aggressive or if he finds a way to get his swing going.
Others to watch:
Andy Burns / IF / Buffalo - More "sleeper" than prospect by the most generous of estimates. But his some versatility and maybe enough bat to cling to the end of a major league bench. Maybe. Probably not but...maybe.
Christan Lopes / 2B / New Hampshire - very well regarded when drafted, Lopes has mastered the art of mediocre as a pro. He seemed to show some significant breakout potential in winter ball down under but it was more of "pretty okay" for Dunedin in April. Still, maybe the Jays see something - he was just promoted to NH - or maybe it was just the best they could do when the AA squad found themselves short-handed.
Roemon Fields - / CF / Dunedin - first (almost) week was a disaster - a .167 OPS in the first six games - but since April 15 his OPS is .760 which, given his inexperience, is pretty okay.
Dicke Joe Thon / IF-OF / Dunedin - Kicked ass at Lansing - but was some 2 years (at least) two old for the league, off to a slow start in five games in Dunedin but I'm sucker enough for the feel-good story that I'll give him a minute.
Ryan McBroom / 1B / Lansing -He's a 1B, DHing only because Tellez is on the same team. He's hitting well, and he's 3 years older than Tellez so obviously much impacted by that in terms of prospect status.
In the future, I'll address actual news, good and bad, and not include guys just because they were on a pre-season list.