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Toronto Blue Jays: All-Minor League Team

George HalimCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2016

Toronto Blue Jays: All-Minor League Team

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    Through every dark path, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.That's exactly what every fan in Jays nation is thinking right about right now.

    J.P. Arencibia is the latest Blue Jay to go down with a serious injury, making him the tenth player to go on the disabled list (eight of them being pitchers, the other Jose Bautista). Although it might be easy to throw in the towel and hope for the best, there always seems to be a bright spot with today's squad.

    In this article, I've formed a starting lineup made up solely of minor-league prospects within the Blue Jays organization. There will be one position player at every spot, one designated hitter and three pitchers. The team may surprise you, or it may not. But at the end of the day, Toronto fans have a lot to be proud of, they just need to remember what it is.

    The farm system is just one of them.   

Catcher: Travis d'Arnaud

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    Triple-A Pacific Coast League

    Las Vegas 51s

    One of the key players the Jays received in the Roy Halladay trade in 2009, d'Arnaud battled back injuries through the 2010 campaign, limiting him to 71 games and a mild .259/.315/.411 slash line. In 2011, though, he came back with a strong year, posting career best numbers in most all categories including home runs (21), total bases (250), RBI (78), hits (132) and runs (72).

    Although he was recently injured, his slash line still sits at an impressive .333/.380/.595 in 2012 through 67 games.

    He's usually been a quiet guy and kept to himself, but this season he's been a little more vocal with his pitching staff. His hitting tools are raw, but he makes constant adjustments on the fly, making him a threat at the dish.

    His catching skills aren't as great as they can be right now, but he's made significant strides. His athleticism behind the dish will also give him the opportunity to become a tremendous defensive catcher, landing him with the big club in no time despite his injury.    

First Base: David Cooper

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    Triple-A Pacific Coast League

    Las Vegas 51s

    David Cooper isn't new to Jays fans. He's been up and down with the club a few times in the past couple of years, but since that time, we've been able to witness him growing into a formidable ballplayer. 

    Last season, Cooper's slash line in the bigs sat at a mediocre .211/.284/.394 in 27 games. He didn't look comfortable out there and it was evident there was work to do.

    Well, he must have taken that to heart, because so far through 24 games in 2012, Cooper has a big league slash line of .292/.333/.431. Mix in his .991 fielding percentage this season as opposed to last year's .964 and you've got yourself a first basemen of the future.

Second Base: Ryan Schimpf

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    Class A Advanced Florida State League

    Dunedin Blue Jays

    At 5'9", 181lbs, this former LSU Tiger sure packs a punch for a guy his size. Schimpf is similar to a left-handed Aaron Hill: lots of power and a violent, yet quiet swing.

    Defensively, he doesn't have the softest hands (.955 fielding percentage), but the Jays don't see it as a problem. That being said, it'll be his bat that takes him to the show.

    A midseason All-Star with the baby Jays this year, Schimpf has shown scouts why he belongs, and why he's a future big leaguer, and although he may be considered a free-swinger at times, he also knows how to turn on a 95-mph fastball.   

Third Base: Matt Dean

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    Rookie Appalachian League

    Bluefield Blue Jays

    The Jays were more than happy to steal Matt Dean away from his University of Texas commitment in the 2011 draft. The slick-fielding Texas native is a third basemen with a ton of upside. 

    A shortstop in high school, Dean possesses a strong arm and quick reactions. The 19-year-old has all the makings of a stellar third basemen, including raw power that makes for high ceiling.

    Although he's struggled a bit this year, keep an eye out for this young stud as the years go by and you might notice his name headlining more than just a few games here and there.  

Shortstop: Adeiny Hechavarria

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    Triple-A Pacific Coast League

    Las Vegas 51s

    This one was a dead giveaway.

    There is no better shortstop, or infielder, in the Blue Jays farm system than Adeiny Hechavarria. He could make it to the big leagues on his glove and speed alone, but throw in the fact that he has a .305/.355/.426 slash line in the hitter-friendly PCL, and you've got a superstar.

    Hech wasn't projected to hit very well this season, but his six home runs, six triples, 19 doubles and team-leading 126 hits say otherwise.

    Adeiny is a force to be reckoned with, and someone will have to move over when he makes it to the big leagues, because he's on a mission to prove he's here to stay. 

Outfield: Jake Marisnick

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    Double-A Eastern League

    New Hampshire Fisher Cats

    Marisnick knows how to play the game, and play it right. 

    In 2011, he exploded on the diamond, finishing the season with a tremendous .320/.392/.496 slash line to go along with 148 hits, 14 home runs and 37 stolen bases.

    He skyrocketed into the system ever since, starting the season in Dunedin and putting pitchers to shame, batting .263/.349/.451, through 65 games before getting promoted in early July to the AA Fisher Cats.

    Marisnick is a five-tool player who can play anywhere in the outfield, but with Anthony Gose coming up, Jays fans would love to see those two in the outfield together someday.  

Outfield: Kevin Pillar

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    Class A Advanced Florida State League

    Dunedin Blue Jays

    Kevin Pillar hasn't been with the baby Jays for long, not even 10 games to date. He's spent the majority of his 2012 campaign laying waste to Midwest League pitching, batting a scorching .322/.390/.451 for the Lansing Lugnuts.

    He also snatched 35 bases in the process.

    Pillar was (not surprisingly) a midseason All-Star with the Lugnuts this year, making it a no-brainer for management to promote him to Dunedin nearly 10 days ago.

    With Dunedin, he's batting .333/.371/.485 through nine games. I know it's early for him, but keep an eye out for this ballplayer, he has yet to face a challenge.  

Outfield: Marcus Knecht

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    Class A Advanced Florida State League 

    Dunedin Blue Jays

    The lone Canadian on this list, Knecht has struggled this season, but that depends on what statistic you're looking at. 

    On one hand, he's struggling to hit the Mendoza line (.198 batting average), yet he hasn't been demoted yet. Why?

    Because he also has 11 home runs and 50 RBI, both good enough for second on his team. Knecht is the kind of guy who minds his own business yet is always aware of his surroundings. He goes about his work in a blue-collar way and when he walks out of the ballpark you can't tell if he went 1-for-5 or 5-for-5.

    He's a class act who has speed, power and baseball IQ. As he matures, he'll be a contributor to a Jays club which isn't short on outfield prospects.   

Designated Hitter: Balbino Fuenmayor

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    Class A Short-Season Northwest League

    Vancouver Canadians

    You may or may not have heard of Balbino Fuenmayor, but I'll guarantee with a name like that you'll never forget him.

    He's been in the organization since 2006, and he has been an impact guy ever since. A converted third baseman, Balbino has taken a little time to progress through the system, mainly because of his weight, which forced a position change to first and occasionally DH.

    The Jays clearly like what they see and project him to be a Ryan Howard, David Ortiz type hitter (6'3", 235lbs). He has a bit of a hitch in his swing, but he seems to have found a groove in 2012 with a fairly decent slash line of .295/.323/.433. Remember, he's only 22 and has a lot of room to grow.

Pitcher: Jesse Hernandez

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    Class A Advanced Florida State League

    Dunedin Blue Jays

    When a guy comes within one strike of throwing a no-hitter, you better believe he's something special. Hernandez, like Pillar, is still young with Dunedin, spending the vast majority of his season with Lansing.

    Over that time, he compiled a 2.29 ERA, with an opponent batting avg. of only .223. Hernandez can pitch. He throws well, with solid mechanics, and he projects to be a starter later on in his career. 

    That being said, he's still young at 23 and there's lots of room to grow.

Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard

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    Class A Midwest League

    Lansing Lugnuts

    Syndergaard stands at 6'5", 200lbs, with a fastball that hits upper 90s with ease—and he's only 19.

    One of the big three starters for Lansing this year along with Justin Nicolino and Aaron Sanchez, Syndergaard sports a 2.27 ERA, a .215 opponent batting average, and he has given up only three home runs in 72.2 innings this year. I hope those three guys kept their ball as a souvenir, because Syndergaard doesn't do much wrong.

    If all goes as planned, Syndergaard easily projects as an ace for any ball club, and fortunately for the Jays, he's in their system. Look for him to get a Spring Training invite in 2013, and make sure you watch him pitch, because batters usually aren't up there for very long.   

Pitcher: Aaron Sanchez

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    Class A Midwest League

    Lansing Lugnuts

    Sanchez is a dominant pitcher. The 2010 first-rounder out of Barstow High School in California is projected as a starter for a very long time. 

    He throws a heavy fastball in the low 90s, but he also has an electric curve and decent changeup, holding batters to an unbelievable .173 average. 

    Guys don't get a chance to hit against him, because they virtually can't. 

    With an 8-2 record and 2.27 ERA to go along with a whopping 82 strikeouts, Sanchez will likely get promoted this year. But if not, he's definitely on the right track to the bigs, and at this rate he'll be there in no time. 

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