Baseball America has gotten their Top-10 Blue Jays Prospects list out and it’s time to take a look at how BA, one of the best sources for minor league news and scouting, sees the Blue Jays’ young players and system now that Vlad, Bo, Danny, Lourdes and Cavan have graduated from prospect status.
It’s my understanding that you’ll be able to see the list if you’re not a subscriber but the comments will require the subscription to view and, as a result, I won’t put too much of their scouting report in here but will comment with my thoughts on rankings and other random things.
This year’s list has a very nice mix of pitching prospects and position players, something that we didn’t see much of in the past years as Vlad and Bo dominated the proceedings but what I find interesting is that there are no outfielders in the Jays’ Top 10 (and probably in the Top 15).
- Nate Pearson
- Jordan Groshans
- Simeon Woods Richardson
- Alejandro Kirk
- Alek Manoah
- Orelvis Martinez
- Gabriel Moreno
- Miguel Hiraldo
- Anthony Kay
- Adam Kloffenstein
Pearson being number one was obvious but the way the rest of the list shakes out is pretty interesting to me, and probably to many prospect watchers.
Takeaway: About Pearson, they think he has a 70 overall grade with “medium” risk and they wrote that “in 2019, Pearson made a case as the best pitching prospect in the minors as he rose three levels to finish the year in Triple-A.”
At number two is Jordan Groshans. Groshans missed much of last year with a foot injury but was dominant as a 19 year old in his limited exposure to the Midwest League. While some of the players on the list may overtake Groshans at some point (I’m thinking Manoah may have higher upside), the fact that he’s still playing a premium position and has shown to be so advanced with the bat moves into a #2 position that I can’t really argue with.
Takeaway: He has “the ability to hammer premium velocity while also recognizing offspeed pitches and has the adjustability in his body and swing to barrel soft stuff.”
My biggest surprise was that Simeon Woods Richardson was evaluated so high as the Jays’ number-three prospect. He’s got a 60-grade on him with a high risk level. It’s tough to say where he’ll peak and what his ceiling is but the fact that he was the only 18 year old pitching in the Florida State League after the Blue Jays acquired him from the Mets, and the fact that he was outstanding there is exceptionally encouraging.
Takeaway: “Little about him resembled an 18-year-old, from his strong, athletic frame to his advanced pitchability and poise on the mound.”
Another player I was a little surprised to see ranked so high was Alejandro Kirk at number four. Kirk is a hefty catcher who has struggled with his body but has hit advanced pitching at the age of 20 through the season, playing in Lansing and Dunedin. BA gives him a 55 overall grade with a 70 hit grade while his power and fielding grade as fringy at 45. With Kirk, we start to get into players who have big questions: Will he be durable with his body type? Will he be able to remain as a catcher with his size? Those questions make him a higher risk prospect than some of the others further down the list.
Takeaway: “But Kirk is also one of the best pure hitters in the minors. He has short arms, a compact swing and outstanding bat control.”
At number five, 2019 first rounder Alek Manoah makes his first appearance on the list. Like Pearson, he’s a very big-bodied righty who has shown the ability to dominate in his short time in Vancouver. There is a small concern that his changeup and fringy command could make him a reliever in the end.
Takeaway: “Manoah is enormous.” “Manoah is trending in the right direction, with the ability to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter.”
Orelvis Martinez, at number 6, is getting us into a more speculative portion of the list where the players were performing well at lower levels of the minors. Martinez had a stellar debut in the GCL last year at the age of 17, giving us hope for the huge, $3.51 million bonus he received. He hit for average and power in his pro debut and wasn’t overwhelmed but scouts think that his swing has a lot of moving parts.
Takeaway: “Martinez could be ready for low Class A Lansing if the Blue Jays want to push him aggressively.”
At number seven, Gabriel Moreno showed a lot of promise as a 19 year old in Lansing last year. He’s a gifted hitter who has the ability to make contact with almost anything, as befits his 11% strikeout rate in 2019 but when I visited Lansing, other hitters spoke to me about how natural he is at making contact.
Takeaway: “Moreno’s hand-eye coordination is elite. He rarely swings and misses.”
Miguel Hiraldo, 19, is a year ahead of Orelvis Martinez but is a couple of spots lower on the list, mainly because I think he struggled a bit at shortstop and is probably going to be more at home at second or third base. He’s got some power but needs to work on swinging at bad breaking balls and I saw some of that when I visited Bluefield this year.
Takeaway: “Hiraldo has a lot of hitterish qualities, with a knack for barreling baseballs.”
The only player on this list who has made a major league debut (in fact, the only one aside from Pearson who has any service time at Double-A or Triple-A), Anthony Kay comes in at number nine. Kay struggled in Triple-A when he debuted there for Syracuse but after he came over in the Stroman trade, he found himself. He throws harder than I think most of us expected at the time of the trade and uses his curveball effectively from the left side.
Takeaway: “He should be in Toronto’s rotation immediately. His future could improve with a better third pitch.”
Adam Kloffenstein, 2018’s third-round pick (whom they signed with late-first-round or second-round money) comes in at number 10. Kloffenstein was strong in Vancouver this year, jumping there in just his second pro season (with just a couple of innings in the GCL in his draft year and was ranked #5 in the Northwest League’s Top 20 by Baseball America. He’s another very big pitcher (coming in at 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds) but he doesn’t have the elite velocity that Manoah and Pearson manage. BA likes his feel for his breaking balls and can throw a solid changeup too.
Takeaway: “Kloffenstein has a starter profile and, given his youth, there might be another gear coming for his stuff.”
Who do you think Baseball America missed on for their Top 10? Who’s missing? Who shouldn’t be there? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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