Ah, right field. The home of one of my favourite childhood players, Jesse Barfield. We all love to watch the right fielder gun down a runner on the bases but he’s also expected to hit (as Barfield did).
The Blue Jays have a great one there now in the majors but right field isn’t the club’s strongest position in the minors. Since the Blue Jays have been focusing a lot of their draft picks on pitchers and international free agent money on infielders, there aren’t too many true, premium right fielders on the farm.
2014 Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Depth Chart (projected) — Center Field
1. Jose Bautista – ML
2. Moises Sierra – ML/AAA
3. Brad Glenn – AAA
4. Brett Carroll – AAA
5. Ryan Scoma – AAA/AA
6. Matt Newman – AA/A+
7. Nick Baligod – A+/AA
8. Carlos Ramirez – A/A+
9. Brenden Kalfus – A/SS-A
10. Melvin Garcia – SS-A/A
11. Derrick Loveless – A/SS-A
12. Jesus Gonzalez – R+
13. Andres De Aza – R+
14. Sean Hurley – R/R+
15. Juan Tejada – FR/R
As you can see, the names on this list are very rarely talked about when it comes to the Blue Jays’ top prospects. The closest you’ll get is Brad Glenn, who will be 27 on April 2 but has had very good success at every level he’s played. Glenn is a solid defensive player with some good power potential who could be a decent extra outfielder. Scoma and Carroll were both minor league free agent signees and were added for depth purposes.
Matt Newman is a great story. Not a particularly great physical specimen (listed at 5-foot-10), Newman is a ballplayer. With great instincts and the ability to hit with gap power, Newman was probably one of the most consistent hitters for the Dunedin Blue Jays last year and picked up 11 outfield assists in addition to the solid hitting.
When you talk to people who were around the ballclub last year, Carlos Ramirez of the Lansing Lugnuts was one of the most physically gifted players on the team. With a long and lean frame, Ramirez hits tape measure shots in batting practice and has a cannon of an arm but has yet to really put all of his tools together. He struck out 102 times last season and had an OBP under .300.
Brenden Kalfus was a draft pick last year and led the Vancouver Canadians in outfield assists with eight. He had a solid offensive season but still isn’t considered to have as much power as you would like from a corner outfielder.
Kalfus is followed by a couple of players who could be sleepers in Jesus Gonzalez and Derrick Loveless. Despite a 22.4% strikeout rate, Loveless is showing improvement in every category and has demonstrated a lot of patience at the plate. He’s also got some extra-base pop with six doubles, six triples and two home runs in the Appalachian League last year.
An international free agent, Gonzalez is similar to Ramirez in that people around the Bluefield club last year raved about his tools. Still only 18, those tools haven’t turned into production for Gonzalez and he’ll probably be back in Bluefield unless he’s showing some improvement through instructs and extended spring training. 18-year-old Andres de Aza could be another player that sneaks up on people in a couple of years. He’s also showing some pop in his bat but he strikes out a lot and is just one season removed from the Dominican Summer League.
Don’t forget about The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, available March 31 as an ebook at Smashwords.com, Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers for $7.99. Come back in early March for pre-order information.