It seems like another Top 100 or Top 200 list comes out just about every other day, but at The Athletic (note: all content is behind a paywall), Jim Bowden, a former GM-turned-analyst, has ranked his own 200 prospects and put nine Blue Jays on that list with some differences from some other evaluators.
Of course, leading the way is Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., and Bowden calls him “the best hitting prospect major league baseball has seen since Mike Trout arrived eight years ago” and picks him for his bet for Rookie of the Year. Ok, nice to hear, but tell us something we don’t know.
Bo Bichette ranks in at #12 and Bowden says that “Bo has better tools than his father, especially on the defensive side of the game” and lauds his baseball IQ. He also thinks that the Jays will try to play the service-time manipulation game with Bo as well.
Danny Jansen is ranked #59, the third-highest Blue Jay and while Bowden isn’t high on his defensive skills, calling Jansen “not a very good defensive catcher at this point,” he does note that he’s “serviceable behind the plate.” I’ve heard a little better reviews of Jansen’s defense, but we all know that it’s his bat that’s going to make or break his career.
Cavan Biggio shows up at #70, the highest I’ve ever seen him ranked by any scout or prospect writer. Bowden calls himself a “huge Cavan fan, just like [he] was with his Hall-of-Fame father,” noting that Cavan has more power but without the same physical tools of his dad. This is interesting as I’ve seen writeups of Biggio that say he may have a limited upside. Bowden’s optimism makes me hope that Biggio’s explosion of power in 2018 wasn’t a one-time affair.
Coming it at #89 is Nate Pearson whom Bowden would have ranked higher had he stayed healthy and had been able to pitch all year. Bowden likes Pearson’s “overpowering fastball . . . [and] great downward angle” and thinks hes a “high risk, high reward” pitcher, giving him fringy grades in control and command.
Just missing Bowden’s Top 100 was Eric Pardinho at #102, the 18-year-old righty out of Brazil. Bowden likes his “tremendous pitchability” and maturity as he’s shown the ability to use his changeup effectively even after adding it last year.
At #105, just behind Pardinho, is Kevin Smith. Interestingly, Bowden gives Smith a 60-grade for his power but just a 45-grade for his hit tool which I think 2019 will play out to see if he’s correct. While his contact ability did drop in Dunedin in the second half of 2018, I think there’s better contact ability and sources told me that he was pressing a bit in Dunedin. Bowden really likes Smith’s “tremendous work ethic and passion for learning” and says that “the power and baserunning instincts are real.”
Sitting just behind Smith is Jordan Groshans at #107 and Bowden thinks he has an “incredible ceiling offensively and should fly up this board over the next couple of years,” although he feels that he’ll be a third baseman long term.
The final Blue Jay at #138 is Sean Reid-Foley. Reid-Foley’s drawbacks are mostly inconsistency with his command and breaking balls and thinks that if those improve, “he should end up as a back-of-the-rotation innings eater at the very least.” To be honest, I’ve seen games in Buffalo when Reid-Foley was locked in and could locate pitches well, rendering him almost unhittable. I could see him easily eclipsing that role but it will take better consistency both within starts and over the course of a season for that to happen.
What do you think of Bowden’s rankings and how the Blue Jays fit in to his Top 200?
If you like us here, like us on Facebook!
The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2018) and may not be used without permission.