With just John Sickels at Minor League Ball to release his Top 100 prospects list, all of the major prospecting sites have made their opinions known as Baseball America released their Top 100 list to much ballyhoo.
Yes, this whole issue has been hashed and rehashed and I won’t go into too much detail here but the writers at Baseball America have a little less faith in the upper echelons of the Blue Jays’ farm system, ranking only two of Toronto’s minor leaguers in their Top 100 prospects in baseball.
There were no real surprises as Aaron Sanchez placed a little bit lower than he has on other lists, coming in at #32 for the BA list. I found the comments a little bit interesting: “Sanchez has starter stuff but has not established a track record of throwing strikes and staying healthy. Those two basics would take him from good prospect to elite.” Notice the term “starter stuff.’ Obviously, it seems that the BA staff is less impressed with Sanchez’s stuff that most other prospect writers. Bernie Pleskoff at MLB.com has called his curveball “beautiful” and his changeup “knee-buckling.” Jonathan Mayo thinks that Sanchez has the best fastball-curveball combination in the minors while Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus calls his stuff “frontline.” It’s very rare to see anyone give such a pedestrian label as “starter” stuff to Sanchez so I’m not exactly sure what’s going on there. The health and command issues are certainly legitimate, though.
Coming in at #55 was Marcus Stroman and, of course, the summary makes note of his size and whether he will end up as a starter or a reliever: “Stroman’s fastball is unquestioned, and his slider and changeup are starter-quality secondary pitches. Maintaining a downhill plane on his fastball may be the decisive factor in whether the 5-foot-10 pitcher is ultimately a starter or reliever.” It must be noted that the Top 100 was compiled by the Baseball America staff but in an online chat, Ben Badler was asked if the low-ish (although it’s very reasonable and fairly consistent with what we’ve been seeing) ranking was because he saw Stroman as a reliever, to which Badler replied, “No, I think he’s a potential No. 2 starter. I see no reason why he would have to move to the bullpen.” Fact: potential relievers don’t get ranked as the #55 prospect in baseball by anyone.
Other players with Blue Jays connections to make the list:
- Kris Bryant (#8) – drafted by the Blue Jays out of high school but didn’t sign
- Noah Syndergaard (#16) – Drafted by the Blue Jays four picks behind Sanchez and traded to the Mets as part of the R.A. Dickey deal
- Travis d’Arnaud (#36) – Acquired by the Blue Jays in the Roy Halladay deal and traded to the Mets as part of the R.A. Dickey deal
- Braden Shipley (#62) – Available when the Blue Jays drafted Phil Bickford in 2013
- James Paxton (#99) – Drafted by the Blue Jays 37th overall in 2009 and didn’t sign (check out this article to read about some of the behind-the-scenes rumblings about that issue)
In Ben Badler’s online chat a few Blue Jays related questions came in including the aforementioned one about Stroman’s ranking being based on whether they believed he would be a reliever. Third baseman Mitch Nay‘s name was brought up as part of a group of players who weren’t ranked in the top 100 asking if any of them were close to being in the conversation for the 90-100 spots. The only player that Badler felt was worthy of mentioning was Jorge Polanco so clearly he’s not as high on Nay as some other prospect writers are.
When asked about Cuban infielders Aledmys Diaz (who has yet to sign) and Erisbel Arruebarruena (who has been reported to have signed with the Dodgers), Badler replied that they wouldn’t have made the list. The Blue Jays are known to have interest in Diaz although the Cardinals have been linked more heavily.
Badler was asked about who was on the list from the 2012 international free agent signing window and he replied that Julio Urias (Dodgers) was already there and Franklin Barreto could be on the Top 100 list next year.
While Badler had to step away and Matt Eddy took over, no one else asked about any Blue Jays players. Do you think that BA should have included more Blue Jays prospects? Is the system just too thin right now at the upper levels or is there anyone who truly belongs there?