MLB.com went live with their 2017 Top Prospects list, and there were four Blue Jays farmhands among the 100, not bad for a farm system that is still recovering from the multitude of trades that launched the Blue Jays from perpetual mediocrity to back-to-back ALCS appearances.
Sneaking into the top 100 was Richard Urena at #94. Urena is the last remaining shortstop of a wave that included Dawel Lugo and Franklin Barreto. For a while, Urena was thought to have the least offensive upside of the bunch but the highest defensive ceiling but now, Urena is turning heads with surprising power and excellent contact ability. MLB.com rates him as an overall 55 potential player (with major league average expected to be a 50 rating) and comments that “he still has gains to make with his approach and pitch selection”
Anthony Alford comes in at #70 as another “55-rating” overall player. Scouts rank his running ability as his top tool but that might be a little overstating things at the present, given his injury last year. Still, he’s making good, hard contact but MLB.com notes that “his setup and the placement of his hands lead to some timing issues . . . and scouts believe he’ll clear more fences as he continues to refine his approach.” They also note that “his transformation from a raw athlete into a well-rounded and polished baseball player in a short amount of time has club officials excited about his ceiling as a top-of-the-order hitter who can stick in center field.”
Sean Reid-Foley comes in at #64 with his rise into the top-100 coming from his successful 2016 season in which he had a 2.81 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 115 1/3 innings between Lansing and Dunedin. MLB.com attributes this success to “his improvement as a strike-thrower,” lowering his walk rate significantly while “the Blue Jays love his competitive and overall mound presence and believe the physicality, stuff and feel for pitching will give him a chance to be a No. 2 starter.”
Of course, MLB.com anoints Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. their #1 Blue Jay and the #34 prospect overall. For such a young player (who has yet to turn 18) to debut so high on this list is impressive, but so is Vlad Jr., posting an OPS over .800 in his debut season, two levels above where many 17-year-old Latin American players begin. MLB.com tags him as “a potential above-average hitter with plus power . . . [with] the offensive potential of a future All-Star.” The surprising thing about Guerrero is their ETA for his major league debut, which MLB.com suggests is 2019, just two full minor league seasons away (and would have him in the major leagues at 20 years old). Guerrero has a lot of ground to cover until then but I wouldn’t rule it out.
I was a little surprised to see that Urena broke the top-100 but, by putting him on their 40-man roster, the Blue Jays signaled that he’s probably closer than we might think to the majors. Alford certainly has Top-100 tools while Reid-Foley has pushed himself into a strong consideration for being one of the Blue Jays’ best young arms.
What do you think about MLB.com’s list?
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