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The Baseball America Top-100 Prospects list has been released and the Blue Jays have six players, the most in recent years outside of the seven the Jays had on the list in 2019.
Looking at the 2021 list of Blue Jays, it’s very interesting to see how some major-league time, as well as time at the Alternate Training Site in 2020 have affected their standings.
The top Jay is still Nate Pearson, although he has fallen to #14 from his position in 2020 (that peaked at #5). Big questions that came up in 2020 were his durability (missing time due to an injured elbow), giving scouts reason to believe that he can’t necessarily handle a starter’s workload, throwing as hard as he does. They also felt that his changeup, when he threw it, “played below-average.”
In his first full year on the list, Austin Martin makes it as the Jays’ #2 prospect, comes in at #19 (down from #13 at the end of 2020). Scouts noted that he spent a lot of time at shortstop at the alternate site but did move around to third base, second base and center field, showing that his final position is a work in progress. It’s his bat that most people rave about, with “excellent hand-eye coordination” and “no problem barreling high-end velocity.”Jordan Groshans is down a bit from the final ranking of 2020 at #25, coming in at #34 overall. The young infielder hasn’t played a real minor league game since early 2019 when he injured his foot but he apparently led the Blue Jays’ alternate site in home runs in 2020. BA likes his “athletic, well-sequenced swing” and likes how he has “above-average raw power.” They also think that his “range and quickness” work better as a third baseman where “he would have the tools to become and above-average defender.”
There’s a big gap between Groshans at #34 and Simeon Woods Richardson, who lands at #69 (down from #56 last year). BA liked the fact that his changeup improved in 2020 “to become a plus pitch” while his 91-95 mph fastball has “late riding life when he pitches up in the zone.” They like his control and his ability to locate his fastball to all corners and they think he’ll start 2021 in Double-A.
Coming in right behind Woods Richardson and seeing some helium from his brief call up to the major leagues in 2020 is catcher Alejandro Kirk. Kirk lands at #70 (up from #98 last year) and gets rave reviews for his “short swing” that makes “frequent contact.” They like his “average raw power that he accesses in games because of his ability to consistently find the sweet spot.” There is, of course, the worry about his physique and his defense.
Finally, landing at #96 (not ranked in 2020) is shortstop Orelvis Martinez. BA also believes that he’ll probably have to move to third base, but they give him raves for his bat speed and plus power. He’s also fairly big, leading some to believe that as he fills out more, he won’t be able to keep up at shortstop. That said, BA praised his work at the alternate site, where he spent the last week, as well as the four home runs he hit in the first two weeks of the instructional league.
The big question is where are the pitchers. With only Alek Manoah and Adam Kloffenstein in the Jays’ top 10, the Blue Jays clearly have more talent (especially at the upper minor leagues) for the position players than they do for pitchers. Most of these young hitters in the Top 100 are suspected of being really close to the major leagues (Kirk has cracked the big leagues with Martin and Groshans possibly a year away and further behind them, Gabriel Moreno, less than two years away). There’s also another wave, particularly of infielders behind them with guys like Martinez and Miguel Hiraldo who will probably start 2021 in A-ball.
This makes it even more important that the Blue Jays acquire some pitching if they’re to take advantage of the window that they’ve been afforded with some of their young hitting stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel.
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