MLB Pipeline released their 2020 Toronto Blue Jays Top-30 Prospects list the other day and there are some interesting players, especially outside the top 10.
As we’ve come to expect the top three players on the list are Nate Pearson, Jordan Groshans and Simeon Woods Richardson, so there aren’t any surprises there. Alek Manoah comes in at #4 and Alejandro Kirk at #5. Following them at #6 is Orelvis Martinez and #7 is Gabriel Moreno with Miguel Hiraldo at #8. Rounding out the top 10 are Adam Kloffenstein at #9 and Anthony Kay at #10.
For those of you playing along at home, these 10 players are the exact same 10 that Baseball America had as the Jays’ top 10 with Manoah and Kirk switched around and Kloffenstein and Kay switched around.
There really isn’t anything controversial here. Some may rank Manoah higher or lower depending on how they see he’s able to maintain his body and/or how his secondary pitches are developing and some have similar body issues with Kirk but both have undeniable talent. With Kloffenstein and Kay, I have a feeling that you could go either way depending on where you put the upside of either pitcher.
MLB Pipeline follows up with Kendall Williams at #11, Eric Pardinho at #12, Otto Lopez at #13, Griffin Conine at #14 and Leonardo Jimenez at #15. This group is interesting because all of these players have question marks attached to them. Williams is the furthest away and it’s tough to project such young pitchers, but he does have a solid repertoire despite not having lights out stuff at this point. His physical size means that there might not be as much projection in his stuff as there would be from someone more slight. Pardinho has tons of questions in his ability to come back from Tommy John surgery, although the news of TJ may have actually helped him in the rankings by allowing us to hope that the lost velocity from 2019 was due to nagging injuries. Otto Lopez is a solid hitter but he hasn’t shown much power and he struggled while playing a lot of shortstop last year in Lansing. Griffin Conine has big power but was a big victim of the strikeout bug in 2019 despite leading the Midwest League in home runs, having played far fewer games than anyone close to him. Finally, Jimenez is a wonderful defender at shortstop but he only played in the Appalachian League last year there’s a big question as to whether he develops power to match his contact ability.
As we move down the list, we see Estiven Machado at #16, Canadian Dasan Brown at #17, Rikelvin De Castro at #18, Patrick Murphy at #19 and Reese McGuire at #20. For me, if I was including McGuire as eligible, I’d have him higher. For me, a floor of being a good defensive backup catcher with a ceiling of being solid everyday player is worth a ton more, particularly considering how much risk there is in three of the four other players in this grouping. Machado and De Castro are both 2019 international free agents. De Castro comes with more emphasis on his glove than his bat while Machado, while getting a smaller bonus than De Castro, has really created buzz, likely through his performance in the Tricky League last year. Machado ranked #12 for Baseball America and De Castro ranked #18. I would also rank Murphy higher. I think he’s got a lot of upside that his numbers last year didn’t suggest as he was dealing with a mechanics revamp as well as an injury. If he’s got things squared away, he could take off this year. Brown is also a very risky young player. He’s got great tools but is considered very raw at the plate. Like many athletic young players, his hit tool is going to be what carries him to the major leagues.
As we move down we’ve got Anthony Alford (#21), Santiago Espinal (#22), Kevin Smith (#23), Thomas Hatch (#24) and Julian Merryweather (#25). The sleeper in this grouping for me is Hatch as he focused more on his changeup last year after he was traded to Toronto and took off with the Fisher Cats. He could be int he big leagues this year. Smith had a down year and fell to #23 but a rebound could have him climb up again. Espinal has a lot of buzz as well but it’s likely that his ceiling is as a back up infielder or lower-tier regular, unless what he did offensively in his call up to Buffalo last year carries over.
In the final five, we’ve got 2019 draftee Will Robertson (#26), catcher Riley Adams (#27), Dutch international free agent Sem Robberse (#28), Yennsy Diaz (#29) and Josh Winckowski (#30). All of these names are intriguing but Robertson has legitimate power potential and a solid track record in college and he figured some things out after a slow start in Vancouver last year. Robberse is said to have added some velocity and he’s a starting pitcher who could be much higher on this list next year after another season on his resume. Winckowski is a guy I’ve been high on for a while. His velocity is on the upswing and he’s been successful as a young pitcher at multiple levels. For Adams, I think he needs to show that he can really hit at the upper minor league level while Diaz needs to show more polish in his command and his secondary pitches to move up, but he definitely has an intriguing arm.
That’s MLB’s Top-30 Prospects list for the Blue Jays. What do you think? Is there someone they missed? Someone who you think is in the wrong place? Let us know in the comments!
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