Stock Up, Stock Down for Blue Jays' Top 10 Prospects for Week of April 29
Alex Anthopoulos spent the first three years as general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays stocking up on minor league talent. His first move as GM sent Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies for three prospects and has continued to develop the team from the bottom up ever since.
His hard worked had the farm system ranked as the second best in baseball in 2012, before unloading plenty of young talent in favour of major league talent.
In order to completely retool the Major League lineup, top prospects Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino were all traded away.
The Blue Jays minor league system is still decent, but a fraction of what it used to be.
Seven of their Top 10 prospects are pitchers, and they have a number of good young players with extremely high upside.
Prospects not currently playing because they play in the Gulf Coast League, which starts in June were left off this list.
Let’s see how they fared this past week.
Ranking based on toronto.bluejays.mlb.com
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Dunedin Blue Jays
On May 2, Sanchez took to the hill against the Brevard County Manatees in Dunedin. He lasted only 3.2 innings but let up only two earned runs.
Opposing batters hit just .167 against the 20-year-old right-hander on Thursday.
Sanchez has posted a 1-1 record in six starts this year, and is on a strict pitch count as most pitchers early in their careers are. He appears to be settling into High-A ball fine, but a sample size of 3.2 innings is too little to make a judgement on the week as whole.
Sanchez has a 3.07 ERA with Dunedin and has yet to give up a home run. Opposing batters are hitting just .170 this season off him.
Sanchez is the Blue Jays most prized possession and has the upside to become an effective MLB starter as he matures.
Daniel Norris, LHP, Lansing Lugnuts
Norris toed the rubber on May 2 in Lansing and pitched five strong innings. He gave up two earned runs, but was unable to pick up his first win of the year.
The five innings pitched marked a season long outing for him, and he was able to drop his ERA to 8.14. Opposing batters hit .250 off Norris, well below his .310 season average while he fanned two and walked one.
Norris has struggled this season in Single-A but had a strong outing this past week.
Roberto Osuna, RHP, Lansing Lugnuts
Roberto Osuna has been enjoying a very successful season so far with the Lansing Lugnuts of the Class A Midwest League. Up until his start on April 30, Osuna had been cruising through the early part of the season.
On April 30, Osuna was tagged for four runs—three earned—over four innings and took the loss. His ERA jumped to 3.63 and he gave up a season high two home runs.
After the game, Osuna was placed on the 7-day disabled list, meaning he will miss at least one scheduled start.
Osuna is just 18 years old and has the raw talent to strike out batters at will.
His 31 strikeouts this season are sixth best in the Midwest League. Look for Osuna to rebound after his stint on the DL and continue his development towards becoming a major league starter.
DJ Davis, OF, Vancouver Canadians
DJ Davis plays for the Vancouver Canadians of the Class A Short Season Northwest League. As the name implies, the season is shortened and the team has yet to play any games yet this year.
Last year, Davis struggled with Vancouver.
He hit just .167 in five games. He recorded three hits, all singles, and struck out six times. Although Davis is ranked fourth in the organization, he is light years away from being MLB ready and will see a lot of action in the minor leagues.
As one of only three position players in the Blue Jays Top 10 prospects, hopes for Davis are high but the Jays will need to see marked improvement before promoting him within the organization.
Marcus Stroman, RHP, New Hampshire Fisher Cats
When Stroman was drafted to the Blue Jays, expectations were that he could be major league ready in two years.
The fast track to the majors was halted briefly when he was suspended 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program last year.
If Stroman can return to the team and continue to be effective, his stock should rise quickly.
In eight games with the Fisher Cats last year, Stroman had a 3.38 ERA and picked up two wins out of the bullpen. His fastball can run up to the mid-90s despite standing just 5’9’’, and he has shown that he can throw it past professional hitters.
Deck McGuire, RHP, New Hampshire Fisher Cats
But let me qualify that by saying his stock is only slightly up.
Deck McGuire has been a bit of a stressful situation for Blue Jays fans watching the minor league system. He was once an exciting prospect, who dominated single-A ball and was promoted to New Hampshire last year. Unfortunately that is where the train has appeared to stall.
Last year, McGuire had a 5.88 ERA and he has only shown marginal improvement this year. However, his last start on May 2showed a glimpse of the old Deck McGuire that fans were hoping to see.
McGuire pitched six innings, giving up just two runs and striking out six. He was able to lower his ERA substantially to 5.34 and his opponent’s batting average to .231.
Although McGuire has struggled this season, his performance last week is something to build on and his stock is rising ever so slightly. Keep an eye on him to see how he fares over the rest of the year. Players are often promoted after rebounding from poor outings because teams want to make sure the player can handle the adversity.
If McGuire can continue to pitch well, this may be the opportunity that he needs.
Chris Hawkins, OF, Lansing Lugnuts
Chris Hawkins, the right fielder for the Lansing Lugnuts, has enjoyed a decent season at the plate in his second full year of Single-A baseball. He is hitting .267 in 24 games this season and has shown decent power with five extra base hits.
This past week has been kind to Hawkins as he has hit .348, including going four-for-five in his last game with two RBI.
The one knock on Hawkins is that he has only drawn five walks this year, and his OBP has reflected his struggles to get on by way of the base on balls.
Regardless, Hawkins has enjoyed a good week. He is 21 years old, and still may develop into a decent major league player.
Christian Lopes, 2B, Lansing Lugnuts
Christian Lopes has been an extremely pleasant surprise this season for Lansing and this past week was no different. Lopes had 12 hits this week, which was good for an average over .400 for the week.
The 20 year old is batting .339 this year with 12 RBI in his first year playing in Lansing.
If he can continue at this pace, the Blue Jays will have no problem promoting him to Double-A and to see if they found themselves a diamond in the rough in the seventh round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
It is not like second base is spoken for at the Major League level, so keep an eye out for Lopes.
AJ Jimenez, C, Dunedin Blue Jays
AJ Jimenez’s stock is up based solely on the fact that he is now playing. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012 and saw his first action of the season this week.
He has only played three games for the Class A Dunedin Blue Jays.
Depending on how Jimenez responds from his injury, he may see time in both Single and Double-A ball this year.
Dwight Smith, OF, Lansing Lugnuts
Dwight Smith has done nothing to improve his stock over the last nine games with the Lansing Lugnuts. The left fielder is hitting .281 on the season; just ten points higher than his average this week.
Smith is batting just .143 with runners in scoring position, and has yet to record a hit off a left handed pitcher this season.
The Blue Jays have a number of promising prospects, and although their farm system is a fraction of what it used to be, they still have the talent to impact a MLB lineup in the coming years.