Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects at the All Star Break

Brad LeClairCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2012

Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects at the All Star Break

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    Even though the Toronto Blue Jays are struggling to a .500 record in a season full of injuries and inconsistencies, that cannot be said for the Jays' farm system, which is ranking among the best in all of baseball.

    The Jays feature a full pitching rotation worth of starting pitching prospects, and they could probably field an entire lineup for top 100 prospects in the game.

    The depth in the organization is immense, making many Jays fans believe that it will only be a matter of time before the team is back in the post season, and not a matter of if they'll ever make it back to October baseball.

    These rankings are based on performance this season, and a little bit on past performances, and potential in future years.

10. Starting Pitcher Adonys Cardona

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    The the only International signed player to make the top 10 list, but certainly not the last. Cardona is a prototypical power pitcher with strike-out stuff and a surprisingly good control for a young kid.

    Last season he struck out 35 batters and only walked 12 for a 3:1 K/BB ratio, while only giving up two home runs in 31.2 innings pitched.

    Cardona is on a fast track to the Majors, and at the age of  18 years old, his goal has always been to pitch in the Majors at the same age as his idol, Felix Hernandez, who pitched at the age of 19 with the Seattle Mariners.

    Due to the organizational depth at this time, and the Jays coddling of all young pitchers, Cardona will likely require another two to three years in the minors before ever coming close to a call-up.

    2012 Stats: 8.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 4 BB 10 K [Team: GCL Blue Jays]

    Organizational Rankings

    BlueBird Banter: 13th

    MLB: 16th

    Keith Law: 9th

    Steal of Home: 9th

9. Starting Pitcher Joseph Musgrove

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    Musgrove's addition into the top 10 might come as a surprise, but Musgrove is another prototypical power pitcher and innings-eater down the road.

    The 20-year-old is nearly 6'6'' and weighs over 230 pounds. Musgrove is armed with a fastball that routinely sits in the 91-93 mph range, although some scouts have clocked him as high at 98 mph. He also features a change-up and a hammer curve, which he uses to strikeout opponents.

    Because of his size, his ability to throw strikes consistently, and his maturity, expect Musgrove to move quickly throughout the organization.

    I expect him to be pitching in the big leagues in two years.

    2012 Stats: 8.0 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K [Team: Bluefield Blue Jays]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 14th

    MLB: 11th

    Keith Law: Not Listed

    Steal of Home: 15th

8. Starting Pitcher Daniel Norris

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    A consensus first round pick that fell, Daniel Norris is another one of those rare lefties organizations flock to scout.

    Norris, the Johnson City, Tennessee native, has talent to spare, as he ranked 91st on Baseball America's top 100 list without even pitching an inning in the minors.

    His pitching repertoire is very similar to Dodgers pitcher and Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw.

    His first season in the Jays' system has been a fairly productive season, although his control has been suspect at times. The lack of control can be expected from a power pitching lefty that is still very young and raw.

    2012 Stats: 15.1 IP 8 H 6 ER 8 BB 18 K [Team: Bluefield Blue Jays]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 7th

    MLB: 5th

    Keith Law: Not Listed

    Steal of Home: 7th

7. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria

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    One of the top shortstop prospects in all of baseball (I'm sure Jurickson Profar, Manny Machado, Carlos Correa, and others object), Hechavarria mixes a good bat with an even better arm and range at shortstop.

    His development has skyrocketed in the last few years as he progressed through the Jays' farm system-- albeit the promotions he got were suspect and probably not warranted.

    To Adeiny's credit, he didn't manage to get worse as he moved up. He actually got better at every level he progressed to, as odd as that sounds.

    Hechavarria projects to be a similar shortstop to Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals or Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox.

    The Cuban defector has found a home in the Jays' organization, as I am expecting a September call-up in the near future for Hechavarria.

    2012 Stats: .317 AVG 6 HR 58 RBI .819 OPS [Team: Las Vegas 51's (AAA)]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 11th

    MLB: 15th

    Keith Law: Not Listed

    Steal of Home: 12th

6. Starting Pitcher Justin Nicolino

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    Nicolino is the first of the big three to make the list out of the Lansing Lugnuts rotation.

    Nicolino is the smallest of the three starters coming in at 6'3''.

    He features a fastball that ranges in speed from 89 to 94 mph, while he throws a terrific change-up and a sweeping curveball that wreaks havoc on opposing left-handed batters.

    Last year, in eight innings in Lansing, Nicolino got hit a little bit, allowing 11 hits in those innings.

    This season has been a different story as he's pitched 66 innings and struck out 66 batters, while only walking 13 and allowing 61 hits. The most notable stat is that he's only allowed three home runs in 66 innings this year, something a developing lefty only wishes for.

    2012 Stats: 66 IP 61 H 17 ER 13 BB 66 K [Team: Lansing Lugnuts]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 5th

    MLB: 6th

    Keith Law: 6th

    Steal of Home: 6th

5. Outfielder Jake Marisnick

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    Marisnick is one of many Jays' outfield prospects who could be top players at the next level.

    Jake combines great speed with an elite glove and a decent bat, and he should hit for power at the next level.

    At the age of 21, he was recently promoted to AA New Hampshire where he has struggled with the bat. 

    However, if his production can increase as he gets older and more used to the league, Marisnick could have his name thrown around as one of the top right-handed hitting outfield prospects in the game along with Bubba Starling, Wil Myers, and Starling Marte.

    2012 Stats: .256 AVG 6 HR 36 RBI .778 OPS (combined stats A, AA) [Team: New Hampshire Fishercats]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 3rd

    MLB: 3rd

    Keith Law: 3rd

    Steal of Home: 2nd

4. Starting Pitcher Aaron Sanchez

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    When Aaron Sanchez was drafted, he weighed only 180 pounds while standing 6'3''. He came into the Jays' organization with great potential, but many questioned whether he could make a dent in the Jays' farm system and eventually push for a rotation spot down the road.

    Two years later, Sanchez has added some beef to his slender frame, and added a few extra mph on his fastball, which has likely become the second best fastball in the entire Jays' minor league system behind Syndergaard's.

    Sanchez was a tad wild to start out his career as a Blue Jay, and, to be honest, really hasn't improved his control, still walking on average nearly five batters every nine innings pitched (4.88 BB/9 IP as of July 10th, 2012).

    It's Sanchez's ability to dominate the competition by striking out batters and getting lazy fly balls and ground outs that has allowed Sanchez to have one of the best ERA in minor league baseball.

    2012 Stats:  62.2 IP 30 H 5 ER 34 BB 70 K 0.72 ERA [Team: Lansing Lugnuts]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 10th

    MLB: 7th

    Keith Law: 5th

    Steal of Home: 9th

3. Starting Pitcher Noah Syndergaard

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    Syndergaard has some of the most dominant stuff in the Jays' system. I like to call it, "pure filth."

    Armed with a mid 90's mph fastball and improving off-speed pitches, Syndergaard has obviously drawn comparisons to former Jays' great Roy "Doc" Halladay.

    Having started the season "piggy-back" starting with Anthony DeSclafani, Syndergaard only saw limited usage in the first half of the season.

    Starting the second half, Syndergaard has been purely dominant, having given up only three earned runs in 27.2 IP, good for 0.99 ERA in his last five starts, plus a 2.2 IP appearance. The last start, he went a season high 6.0 IP and only gave up three hits, one earned run and struck out four while walking just one batter.

    2012 Stats: 6-2 64.2 IP 56 H 22 ER 18 BB 80 K [Team: Lansing Lugnuts]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 2nd

    MLB:4th

    Keith Law: 7tj

    Steal of Home: 4th

2. Outfielder Anthony Gose

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    Anthony Gose will likely be manning center field for years to come as a Blue Jay. He's got a great arm, great speed, great range, and he's easily the best positional player in the Jays' system not named Travis D'Arnaud.

    Gose is the Jays prototypical leadoff hitter, and has improved his walk rate and strikeout rate this season, on pace for less strikeouts and more walks than he's ever had as a minor-leaguer.

    Additionally, Gose has improved his OBP, reaching .371 this season. Many argue its because he's hitting in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but the fact is that the numbers don't lie: his approach has changed.

    He's stolen less bases this season despite hitting at a better clip, but many still consider him the second fastest man in minor league baseball behind Reds shortstop Billy Hamilton.

    Expect Gose to be a Blue Jay in the near future, possibly as early as a September call-up.

    2012 Stats: .290 4 HR 38 RBI .793 OPS 29 SB [Team: Las Vegas 51's]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 4th

    MLB: 2nd

    Keith Law: 4th

    Steal of Home: 3rd

1. Catcher Travis D'Arnaud

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    D'Arnaud injured his knee this season, and has been ruled out of games until at least mid-September, thus ending his 2012 season.

    It was a great season while it lasted for D'Arnaud, after he started out slower than usual. Had it not been for the injury, D'Arnaud was on pace for (in a 500 AB) over 40 home runs and 130 RBI as a catcher. Hard to believe those numbers, which are likely inflated by the PCL.

    It's only a matter of time before D'Arnaud is ready for prime time, as he'll likely remove catcher JP Arencibia from his position, forcing Arencibia to either move to first or platoon at DH Another alternative is that the organization trades Arencibia, which seems like the more likely move if D'Arnaud is all he's cracked up to be.

    Expect D'Arnaud to push Arencibia for the starting job next year, eventually winning it because of his better approach at the plate and his better defensive habits at catcher.

    2012 Stats: .333 16 HR 52 RBI .975 OPS [Team: Las Vegas 51's]

    Organizational Rankings:

    BlueBird Banter: 1st

    MLB: 1st

    Keith Law: 1st (sixth overall in all of baseball)

    Steal of Home: 1st

Rising Prospects in the Organization and Notable Omissions from the List

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    Rising Prospects

    SP Roberto Osuna (Bluefield Blue Jays)

    12.0 IP 7 H 1 ER 14 K 0 BB

    1B Mike McDade (New Hampshire Fishercats)

    .293 AVG 13 HR 43 RBI .829 OPS

    SP John Stilson (New Hampshire Fishercats)

    22 IP 7 ER 10 BB 17 K

    SP/RP Sam Dyson (New Hampshire Fishercats/Toronto Blue Jays)

    24.1 IP 2 ER 9 BB 9 K

    RF Moises Sierra (Las Vegas 51's)

    .303 AVG 14 HR 52 RBI .853 OPS

    RP Chad Beck (Las Vegas 51's)

    31.2 IP 5 ER 11 BB 17 K 10 SV

    2B Jon Berti (Dunedin Blue Jays)

    .286 AVG 2 HR 29 RBI 28 SB

    SS Kevin Nolan (Dunedin Blue Jays)

    .316 AVG 5 HR 39 RBI .857 OPS 12 SB

    SP Sean Nolin (Dunedin Blue Jays)

    7-0 2.35 ERA 72.2 IP 62 H 19 ER 17 BB 73 K

    OF Kevin Pillar (Lansing Lugnuts)

    .315 AVG 5 HR 55 RBI 34 SB .827 OPS

    SP/RP Javier Avendano (Vancouver Canadians)

    50.1 IP 33 H 6 ER 27 BB 64 K

    2B/SS Christian Lopes (Bluefield Blue Jays)

    .270 AVG 3 HR 8 RBI .892 OPS

    C Santiago Nessy (Bluefield Blue Jays)

    .296 AVG 3 HR 7 RBI 1.025 OPS

     

    Omissions

    Deck McGuire, Asher Wojciechowski, Chad Jenkins, Justin Jackson, Kevin Ahrens, Carlos Perez, Kevin Comer, AJ Jiminez, Jacob Anderson, Dwight Smith Jr., Dickie Thon, Eric Arce, Jorge Vega Rosado, Matthew Dean, and Kellen Sweeney failed to make the list based on performance this season.

    Newcomers DJ Davis, Anthony Alford, Matt Smoral, Marcus Stroman, and the rest of the 2012 class are not included in this list.