Ranking Toronto Blue Jays' Best Minor League Bargaining Chips
The Toronto Blue Jays desperately need to make some changes after going 16-23 in their last 39 games and falling out of first place in the American League East. The team now faces an uphill climb to get back to the top of the division, as it trails the Baltimore Orioles by four games.
With the July 31 MLB trade deadline now just two weeks away, time is quickly running out for the Blue Jays to make an impact move.
With issues in the bullpen, starting rotation and at second base, Toronto has a lot of holes that it needs to take care of in order to make a run down the stretch.
Like any team with aspirations to contend, the Blue Jays can’t afford to move any of their major league players. This means that all of the team’s best trade chips will come from the minors.
Let’s take a look at some of the Blue Jays’ best minor league bargaining chips.
*All stats are from MILB.com
4. Roberto Osuna, Right-Handed Pitcher
Roberto Osuna was one of the top prospects in Toronto’s system last year until Tommy John surgery ended his season prematurely.
After a year of rehab, he finally made his 2014 debut last week with the Bluefield Blue Jays and threw one scoreless inning while striking out two batters.
While there’s no doubt that Osuna’s value dropped after his injury, there are still several reasons to like the 19-year-old.
The right-hander possesses a low to mid-90s fastball that he throws with good downward sink. His slider is also considered to be a plus pitch. Best of all, Osuna has really good control of his pitches for someone his age. This means that he can move toward the major leagues quickly, despite missing so much time already.
Although he’s being groomed as a starting pitcher, Osuna’s fastball-slider combination and pinpoint command would also translate really well in the bullpen in a late-inning role.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine Osuna being the centerpiece in any trade for a high-profile major league player. But he’s the perfect prospect to package in a trade proposal in order to entice other teams.
3. Dalton Pompey, Outfielder
Dalton Pompey is quickly making a name for himself as one of the top centre fielders in the minor leagues.
The 21-year-old hit .319/.397/.471 with six home runs, 34 RBI, 49 runs scored and 29 stolen bases in 70 games for the Class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays this season before earning a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire.
Pompey—who won a Gold Glove for being the top defensive centre fielder in the minor leagues last year—also shouldn’t have any problems playing centre field at the major league level.
A lot of teams would be interested in Pompey, who profiles as a leadoff hitter with plus speed. Toronto will have to think hard about trading him though, as he’s one of the team’s best position prospects.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Pompey is a Canadian national from Mississauga, Ontario. As the only major league baseball team in Canada, the Blue Jays might be hesitant to trade away a potential local star.
Most of the baseball world just recently got its first glimpse of Pompey, as he was chosen to represent the World team during the 2014 Futures Game. The switch-hitter went 2-for-4 with a run scored during the game.
2. Daniel Norris, Left-Handed Pitcher
In just one year, Daniel Norris has gone from being a fringe prospect to one of the top pitchers in Toronto’s system.
The 21-year-old was absolutely dominant for the Class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays this season, posting a 6-0 record with a 1.22 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 66.1 innings pitched. He was promoted to Double-A New Hampshire last month.
Norris features a low-90s fastball that tops out at 95 mph. He also throws several off-speed pitches (changeup, slider and curveball) that all have the potential to become above-average offerings down the line.
The 6’2” left-hander also throws all of his pitches with a sharp downward angle and has the ability to generate ground balls.
While giving up walks has been an issue for Norris in the past, his command has slowly improved as he’s matured. After walking 46 batters in 90.2 innings pitched last season, he’s only given up 26 free passes in 83.1 innings pitched this year.
Norris—who was selected to represent the United States team in the Futures Game this year—has drawn plenty of interest around the league with his breakout season. He would almost certainly be a part of any major trade that the Blue Jays decide to make.
1. Aaron Sanchez, Right-Handed Pitcher
While Aaron Sanchez may be having a bit of a down year in the minor leagues this season, he still remains the Blue Jays’ best bargaining chip.
The 22-year-old has front-of-the-rotation stuff. His best pitch is an upper-90s fastball that he throws with movement. The right-hander’s power curveball is also considered to be a plus pitch and his changeup has the potential to be an above-average offering in the future as well.
While there’s no question that he has the stuff to be an ace in the major leagues, Sanchez’s command has yet to catch up with rest of his development. He has already walked 57 batters in 98.1 innings pitched this season.
There has been some improvement on that front lately, though, as Sanchez has given up just five walks during his last three starts.
Aside from his command, there isn’t a whole lot holding Sanchez back from the majors. He’s already pitching in Triple-A Buffalo and is a candidate to be called up to the big leagues as soon this season.
Unless they’re getting a top player back, it’s highly unlikely that the Blue Jays will look to trade Sanchez at the trade deadline. His upside is simply too high for him to be traded for a veteran rental or a non-impact player.