I got a little lazy (i.e., busy) and didn’t update the list for July. With over a month of the short-season leagues under our belts we can finally talk about some of the younger prospects who are actually doing something! Without further ado, the list.
1. RHP Aaron Sanchez – Dunedin (1) – Sanchez has struggled a bit and has also seen some time on the DL, but his potential is still off the charts. There are concerns out there about his fragility. The other three pitchers he was most associated with in Lansing (Nicolino, Syndergaard and DeSclafani) have all moved up to AA.
2. RHP Roberto Osuna – Lansing (2) – He probably will have Tommy John surgery before the season is over . . . we hope. Osuna’s young enough that he’ll still be really advanced for his age if he comes back for his Age-20 season in Dunedin after the surgery. Get it over with Roberto.
3. RHP Marcus Stroman – New Hampshire (3) – Stroman has posted three double-digit strikeout games in New Hampshire this year and seems to be eating up the opposition. His HR totals and fly ball to ground ball ratios leave something to be desired. I’d like to see him tested in Buffalo before coming up to the majors, but I could see him added to the roster in September.
4. LHP Sean Nolin – New Hampshire (4) – Nolin had a great stretch of three starts in which he pitched 19 2/3 innings, didn’t give up a run, walked only 4 and struck out 23. He’s been lit up a couple of times since then (giving up four runs in two consecutive 5-inning starts) but some of his stats are better than Stroman’s (particularly that Nolin’s only given up three HRs all year).
My ranking of Nolin and Stroman is dependent on whether I think Stroman can start in the majors. I still haven’t seen either of them live in game-action so I’m reserving judgement.
5. OF Kevin Pillar – Buffalo (5) – The only reason that Pillar is lower than either Nolin or Stroman is the fact that his ceiling probably isn’t as high (notice, I said “probably”). I think it’s unwise to doubt Pillar’s ability to play at any level at this point given how seamlessly he’s been able to make each jump. Does he get a taste of the bigs this year? I honestly don’t think so. He’s not on the 40-man and doesn’t have to be for at least another year, given the fact that he was drafted in 2011 and has risen through the minors meteorically. The only question that remains is whether or not he’s an every day major leaguer.
6. 3B Andy Burns – New Hampshire (6) – Despite his slow start in Double-A, Burns is starting to come around and be the same type of consistent hitter he was in Dunedin. He’s starting to take more walks and hit for more power and his low batting average can be explained by a .255 BABIP (as opposed to the .344 BABIP he had in Dunedin). His strikeouts are up a lot over his time in Dunedin but I think they’ll come down slightly before the end of the year.
7. C A.J. Jimenez – New Hampshire (9) – Jimenez was off to a torrid start to his year with the bat but has since cooled off, hitting under .200 in the last month. Despite that, he’s one of the more surefire prospects. He’s going to make the majors based on his defense but will he hit enough to play every day?
8. RHP Chase DeJong – Bluefield (19) – DeJong jumps up after dominating in Bluefield thus far. While his conventional numbers don’t scream out like Jairo Labourt‘s or Alberto Tirado‘s, DeJong’s peripheral numbers are far more impressive. His FIP is lower than both of them, his K% is higher and his BB% is lower. DeJong, at 19 years old, throws with good velocity (90-91) has one filthy off speed pitch (his 12-6 hard curve) and has one that has very good potential (his changeup). He’s also 6’4″ and about 185 lbs so he can definitely fill out and increase velocity. Having seen him in person, he’s become a guy that I think has a big future.
9. OF Dalton Pompey – Lansing (14) – Pompey is probably the most advanced outfield prospect the Jays have below Triple-A. While he tends to be streaky, he’s definitely shown a good ability to get on base (.344 OBP despite a .259 BA), some extra-base pop (18 doubles, 9 triples, and 1 HR) as well as an unbelievable sense of when to steal (33 steals in 39 attempts — 84.6% success rate). He’s also a great defender in CF. It’s the 20 year old’s first year of full-season ball so inconsistency is the most challenging aspect. Look for him to rise quickly next year if he can make enough contact and get on base enough to use his blazing speed.
10. LHP Daniel Norris – Lansing (7) – Scouts who dream on tools and stuff will rank Norris higher. I have him falling further on my list primarily because he’s just not getting the control of his (by all accounts) outstanding stuff yet. Norris is still young (20) and has time to figure things out and he definitely shows flashes of his potential (particularly by striking out 70 batters in 61 2/3 innings).
11. RHP Alberto Tirado – Bluefield (16) – Tirado is having a strong year in Bluefield and has some drool-worthy stuff. His control is solid this year but his strikeouts aren’t quite at the level you’d like to see from a top prospect. Tirado’s still only 18, though.
12. RHP Tom Robson – Vancouver (nr) – Robson is an intriguing young pitcher that really surprised me when I got to Bluefield. He has been dominating Appy League hitters in a way that Jeremy Gabryszwski did last season but with more strikeouts. Paul Quantrill told me that Robson’s really working on getting ground ball outs early with his heavy, 90-92 mph sinker rather than trying to strike batters out, but he definitely has secondary pitches to get the Ks when needed. He’ll definitely be tested at higher levels, but the combination of solid velocity, sinking motion and good off-speed pitches should serve the 20 year old well.
13. OF Dwight Smith, Jr. – Lansing (11) – The forgotten first round draft pick (ok, a supplemental round draft pick), Smith surprised me by his solid play in Lansing, also at age-20. While Smith doesn’t have Pompey’s tools (especially when it comes to speed and defense), he does have more power and sound base running judgement (18 for 22 in stolen bases).
14. RHP John Stilson – Buffalo (8) – With the consensus being that Stilson is going to be a relief arm rather than a starter, he falls down to 14. He’s been very good in Buffalo as one of the youngest players (23) on a very veteran team. He’s probably about 11th or 12th on the depth chart for the Toronto bullpen right now so he won’t be rushed. He’s sporting a 4.1 BB/9 ratio and an 8.2 K/9 ratio right now and both need to improve a bit before he’s ready. If he’s going to be an elite bullpen arm, he has to be able to put guys away and keep them off the bases.
15. SS Dawel Lugo – Bluefield (nr) – Lugo has been excellent at the plate so far this year as an 18 year old in the Appalachian League. While he may not end up at SS in the long term, he’s certainly not horrible there right now. He’s showing impressive raw power and contact ability but will hopefully be able to start taking more walks as he matures.
16. OF D.J. Davis – Bluefield (12) – Davis is a quiet, reserved 19 year old from Mississippi who’s putting together a solid season in the Appy League. Most impressive is the power that he’s showing in addition to his raw speed. Everyone knew that Davis was raw coming into pro ball and he’s made some big strides but still needs to reign in his tendencies to be fooled by off-speed pitches out of the zone (as evidenced by his 40 strikeouts in 34 games). Look for Davis to be next year’s Dalton Pompey, holding down center field in Lansing in 2014.
17. 3B Mitch Nay – Bluefield (nr) – Nay is only behind Davis on this list because Davis plays a premium position (CF), and has speed to burn. Nay has power to burn and makes consistent contact and gets on base (.361 OBP). Right now, he’s only occasionally making it rain with monster home runs but as he adjusts to pro ball (he’s only in his first pro-season at age 19), I can see his sweet swing launching many balls out of the ballpark. Nay is also a very good defensive third baseman with a strong, accurate arm.
18. LHP Matt Smoral – GCL Blue Jays (9) – Smoral has struggled with velocity, injuries (blisters) and mechanical issues so far this season and hasn’t been impressive. However, he’s still young (19) and mechanical and control issues for pitchers of his size (6’8″) are fairly common. Randy Johnson didn’t figure things out until his mid-to-late 20s.
19. RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski – Vancouver (nr) – Gaby is probably one of the biggest question marks in terms of prospects. At 20 years old, he was the youngest pitcher on the Canadians’ staff (at least until Robson and Shane Dawson got there) and has been dominant up until his most recent start which is the only blotch on a phenomenally clean slate for him. Even so, with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP, he’s definitely confounding the Northwest League hitters. The biggest knock on Gaby is that he doesn’t strike batters out – only 27 in 50 innings so far despite his only 6 walks.
20. RHP Adonys Cardona – Bluefield (17) – After seeing Cardona myself and having some of my observations confirmed by Jared Macdonald, I have trouble seeing him as a starter, despite his still being only 19. While rumours of his velocity peaking at 99 mph are definitely out there, I only saw him hit 95 in a game and that velocity faded after a couple of innings. He still struggles with his control (10 walks in 21 2/3 innings) but has been effective when he dials it back a bit. He could be an elite reliever if he can get back to the high 90s and maintain it for an inning or two.
June 5 List:
1. RHP Aaron Sanchez
2. RHP Roberto Osuna
3. RHP Marcus Stroman
4. LHP Sean Nolin
5. OF Kevin Pillar
6. 3B Andy Burns
7. LHP Daniel Norris
8. RHP John Stilson
9. LHP Matt Smoral
10. 2B Christian Lopes
11. OF Dwight Smith, Jr.
12. OF D.J. Davis
13. C A.J. Jimenez
14. OF Dalton Pompey
15. C Santiago Nessy
16. RHP Alberto Tirado
17. RHP Adonys Cardona
18. 1B K.C. Hobson
19. RHP Chase DeJong
20. RHP Jesse Hernandez