Stock Up, Stock Down for Toronto Blue Jays' Top 10 Prospects for Week 21
With the Toronto Blue Jays fading from contention in the American League playoff race—the club is 5.5 games out of a wild-card spot and must pass four other teams to get there—fans may begin turning their attention to the club's top prospects.
As September nears, so, too, does the conclusion of the minor league baseball season.
Major league rosters are also set to expand from 25 players to 40. That means prospects have a limited time frame to impress their parent clubs and earn a September call-up.
Here's a farm system stock report for each of the Jays' top prospects for the past week. Based on their performances, they'll receive a "Stock Up," "Stock Down" or "Even" grade.
*Note: Prospect rankings are based on those from BlueJays.com. No. 2 prospect Aaron Sanchez has been replaced, as he's received a promotion to the major leagues. No. 4 prospect Jeff Hoffman and No. 6 prospect Max Pentecost have been replaced due to injury.
No. 10: 1B/3B Matthew Dean, Single-A Lansing
5-for-20, 1 XBH (0 HR), 0 RBI, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 0 SB
Selected by the Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 2011 first-year player draft, it took the organization an above-slot signing bonus to convince him to jump right into professional ball.
A shortstop in high school, Dean initially moved to third base and has now settled at first base, partially in deference to Mitch Nay. Dean can be an above-average defender at his new position, though it puts more pressure on his bat.
Dean had a disappointing week, hitting just .250 and striking out in 35 percent of his at-bats, but his overall production this year at Lansing has been satisfactory.
With a respectable .285/.334/.434 slash line in well over 400 at-bats this year, there's a good chance Dean will begin 2015 with Class A-Advanced Dunedin.
A: 107 G, 424 AB, .285/.334/.434 (.768 OPS), 40 XBH (9 HR), 51 RBI, 26 BB, 107 SO, 2 SB
No. 9: SS Dawel Lugo, Single-A Lansing
5-for-21, 1 XBH (1 HR), 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 0 SB
Signed as a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic in 2011, Dawel Lugo's rise through the minor league ranks has been methodical.
After splitting last season between the Appalachian League and Low-A Northwest League—he had a slash line of .284/.301/.437 between the two levels—Lugo made his full-season debut in 2014 with the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts at 19 years old.
MLB.com's Prospect Watch notes that Lugo's bat is his best asset:
Lugo is a natural hitter with a knack for putting the bat on the ball. His exceptional feel for the barrel makes him a good bad-ball hitter and difficult to strike out. He creates good bat speed and has a surprising amount of raw power in his small frame.
His ability to make contact and avoid striking out has been on display this year. His 68 strikeouts in 458 at-bats gives him a strikeout rate of just 15 percent. Not too shabby for a teenager in his first year at a new level.
This past week was a mixed bag for the Dominican native.
He began just 1-for-13 before going a combined 4-for-8 with a home run in two games to end the week.
He may return to Single-A Lansing to begin 2015, but there's no reason to believe he won't end up closing the season out at a higher level.
A: 111 G, 458 AB, .264/.287/.338 (.625 OPS), 23 XBH (4 HR), 49 RBI, 15 BB, 68 SO, 2 SB
No. 8: SP Sean Nolin, Triple-A Buffalo
2 GS, 0-1, 10 IP, 8 ER, 9 H, 6 BB, 2 HR, 7 SO, .237 BAA
At 24 years old, Sean Nolin is on the verge of becoming a "Quadruple-A" type of prospect—a prospect who does very well at the Triple-A level but just can't cut it in the big leagues.
Drafted in the latter stages of the 2008 first-year player draft out of high school by Milwaukee, and then in the late rounds again in 2009 out of San Jacinto College by Milwaukee, Nolin opted to try again in 2010.
That decision paid off when the Blue Jays selected the southpaw in the sixth round—a full 42 rounds before either of his previous draft years.
His first two full seasons of professional ball saw him throw over 100 innings both years and post ERAs of 3.49 and 2.04, as well as WHIPs of 1.23 and 1.07 across three levels, reaching Double-A New Hampshire.
Last season was another successful year. Nolin split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, throwing 110.1 innings with a 2.77 ERA. He did get called up, but he was hit around in the 1.1 innings he threw, allowing eight batters to reach and giving up six runs.
This year, he's started 16 games for Buffalo and has a 3.42 ERA—though his eight earned runs this week inflate that number to a certain extent.
A return to the major leagues in September when the rosters expand is likely, especially if the Buffalo Bisons fail to make the postseason—they trail the Pawtucket Red Sox in the wild-card race by a game.
Nolin's line for the week may not look very good thanks to his getting knocked around in his first start, but he did recover, throwing six innings of two-run ball and allowing just six runners to reach base in a no-decision.
RK: 1 G, 1 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 5 SO, .125 BAA
A+: 2 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 3.68 ERA, 7.1 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 9 SO, .143 BAA
AAA: 16 G, 16 GS, 3.42 ERA, 81.2 IP, 68 H, 33 BB, 67 SO, .222 BAA
No. 7: SP Sean Reid-Foley, Rookie Gulf Coast League
2 G, 0-0, 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 SO, .150 BAA
Considered one of the steals of this year's draft, the Jays nabbed Sean Reid-Foley in the second round—some experts, like Baseball America, had him going within the first 30 picks.
Reid-Foley became one of three 2014 draftees to jump right into the organization's top 10 prospects—the other two being injured catcher Max Pentecost and injured starter Jeff Hoffman—per MLB.com's Prospect Watch.
Prospect Watch is high on Reid-Foley's stuff, grading his fastball out to have plus potential, while his three other offerings—a slider, curveball and changeup—all have the potential to be average to above-average offerings.
The youngster out of high school in Jacksonville, Florida, struggled early on in rookie ball but has since picked it up, tossing six innings of shutout ball this week and striking out more batters than he let on base.
Reid-Foley also held hitters to a paltry .150 batting average against in those six innings of work, lowering his ERA to 4.58 in the process.
This kind of production is what Toronto had been hoping for, and there's no reason to believe he can't move up to Low-A Vancouver or Single-A Lansing next year.
However, at just 18 years of age, it's altogether possible that the Jays opt to have him start out 2015 at short-season Vancouver.
RK: 8 G, 5 GS, 1-2, 4.58 ERA, 19.2 IP, 17 H, 10 BB, 19 SO, .230 BAA
No. 6: Outfielder D.J. Davis, Single-A Lansing
4-for-19, 2 XBH (0 HR), 2 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB, 5 SO, 2 SB
Things haven't gone according to plan for Toronto and the high-ceiling, toolsy outfielder D.J. Davis since the club chose him 17th overall in the 2012 draft.
Hitting .250 with an OPS of .741 across two levels of rookie ball and Low-A Vancouver in his draft year at age 17, his production declined in 2013 in the rookie Appalachian League, where he hit .240 with an identical .741 OPS in 258 plate appearances.
2014 marks Davis' first taste of full-season ball, and it, too, has been a struggle.
In over 500 plate appearances, Davis has hit just .212 with a disappointing OPS registering at just .583.
His 155 strikeouts are far too many, and despite possessing legitimate 80-grade speed, per Prospect Watch, he's only been successful on 16 of 35 base-stealing attempts, suggesting his jumps are very late.
The last week wasn't much better for Davis, batting just .211 and striking out five times. He did manage to steal two bases, but he was also caught once.
The silver lining with the young speedster is that he's still only 20 years old and should get another crack at mastering full-season A-ball in 2015.
A: 115 G, 472 AB, .212/.266/.310 (.576 OPS), 26 XBH (7 HR), 49 RBI, 33 BB, 155 SO, 16 SB
No. 5: SS Franklin Barreto, Low-A Vancouver
7-for-24, 1 XBH (0 HR), 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 4 SB
Another one of Toronto's international signings, the 18-year-old Barreto is playing in his second season of professional baseball in North America.
After posting a .276 average and .825 OPS in 2013 between the rookie-level Gulf Coast and Appalachian leagues, Barreto began this season with the Vancouver Canadians in Low-A ball.
This past week, he continued to hit at a respectable rate, notching seven base hits in 24 at-bats for a .292 average.
That's slightly lower than his .317 average for the year, but still very good. He also swiped four bags last week in just six games.
66 G, 262 AB, .317/.389/.492 (.882 OPS), 32 XBH (5 HR), 57 RBI, 23 BB, 61 SO, 24 SB
No. 4: 3B Mitch Nay, High-A Dunedin
1-for-20, 0 XBH, 0 RBI, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0 SB
Mitch Nay was drafted 58th overall by the Blue Jays in 2012.
Now 20 years of age, Nay just recently received a promotion to Class A-Advanced Dunedin last week after hitting an impressive .285 in Lansing.
It's been tough sledding, however, since arriving in the Sunshine State, as Nay has a slash line of just .059/.111/.059 (.170 OPS) in 20 at-bats.
He was hitless in his final game in Lansing as well, giving him a batting average of .050 for the week. Another area of concern has been his power production. Three home runs in 473 at-bats just won't cut it for a corner infielder.
The fact that he was promoted is promising though, and if he can get a feel for the Florida State League in the final stages of this season, he may be able to master it in 2015 and challenge for a spot in Double-A by season's end.
A: 120 G, 473 AB, .285/.342/.389 (.731 OPS), 40 XBH (3 HR), 59 RBI, 39 BB, 79 SO, 6 SB
A+: 5 G, 17 AB, .059/.111/.050 (.170 OPS), 0 XBH, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0 SB
No. 3: SP Roberto Osuna, High-A Dunedin
1 G, 0-0, 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 SO, .231 BAA
Signed by the Blue Jays in August 2011 as a 16-year-old, Roberto Osuna began pitching in the team's system just a year later.
Osuna's age didn't stop him from dominating the competition in the rookie Appalachian League, or short-season ball. He managed to throw for a 2.27 ERA in 43.2 innings, with a WHIP of 1.08 and a strikeout rate of 10.1 per nine innings.
His 2013 season was shortened in July by Tommy John surgery, and he returned to the mound last month.
In one rehab start, Osuna threw one perfect inning, striking out two before the Jays moved him up to Class A-Advanced Dunedin.
He struggled early on, allowing 13 earned runs in just 11.2 innings of work. Batters managed 18 hits in that time span, and the youngster walked an uncharacteristically high eight batters.
For a teenager, his control is supposed to be one of his best assets, per MLB.com's Prospect Watch.
His fastball grades out at 70 on the 20-80 scale, making it a borderline plus-plus pitch, while his two breaking balls grade out as average and above average.
This week marked a turnaround in Osuna's performance, throwing four innings of shutout baseball with a WHIP of just 1.00 and striking out more than a batter per inning.
Also important to note is that he didn't issue a single free pass, indicating he has found that control that has served him so well.
It seems as though he's finally worked off the rust and has gotten back to dominating opposing hitters.
RK: 1 G, 1 GS, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 SO, .000 BAA
A+: 5 G, 5 GS, 0-2, 7.47 ERA, 15.2 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 20 SO, .339 BAA
No. 2: Outfielder Dalton Pompey, Triple-A Buffalo
7-for-18, 2 XBH (1 HR), 4 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, 3 SB
The meteoric rise this season of hometown boy Dalton Pompey has been a shock to everyone in the baseball world.
Ranked as the organization's 19th-best prospect in the preseason by MLB.com's Prospect Watch, Pompey has risen all the way to the top of the rankings, with Daniel Norris representing the only youngster who has yet to play in the major leagues ahead of him.
Not only has the 16th-round pick from 2010 jumped from High-A ball all the way to Triple-A, he was also picked to play for the International team in the Futures Game.
Pompey received his promotion to Triple-A this past week, and he picked up where he left off at lower levels.
Through his first three games, Pompey has hit .429/.467/.500 (.967 OPS) and has also stolen three bases.
With Toronto just almost out of wild-card contention and Pompey's combination of hitting, patience and speed, he may see some major league time in September when the rosters expand if he can keep up this torrid pace.
The only thing that could stop him is experience. Up to this point, Pompey has just 126 career at-bats above High-A ball.
A+: 70 G, 276 AB, .319/.397/.471 (.868 OPS), 24 XBH (6 HR), 34 RBI, 35 BB, 56 SO, 29 SB
AA: 31 G, 112 AB, .295/.378/.473 (.851 OPS), 11 XBH (3 HR), 12 RBI, 14 BB, 18 SO, 8 SB
AAA: 3 G, 14 AB, .429/.467/.500 (.967 OPS), 1 XBH (0 HR), 2 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO, 3 SB
No. 1: SP Daniel Norris, Triple-A Buffalo
1 GS, 1-0, 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 9 SO, .067 BAA
Another prospect who's been racing his way up the organizational ladder this season is starting pitcher Daniel Norris.
A second-round pick in 2011, Norris possesses a bevy of pitches that grade out between 50 and 60 on the 20-80 scale—meaning all four of his offerings have the potential to be average or better pitches.
After 2013 saw him stuck at Lansing for just about the entire season with an unimpressive 4.20 ERA, Norris reworked his delivery in the offseason. To say it has paid off would be an understatement.
The 21-year-old southpaw breezed through High-A, posting a 1.22 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 13 starts.
Double-A gave him some problems early, but he shook them off and earned a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo after just eight starts.
His time with the Bisons, however, has been his most impressive so far.
In three starts, Norris is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 0.60 WHIP through 16.2 innings, all while striking out 17.3 hitters per nine innings.
With Norris dominating the competition in the minor leagues, he may force his way into a September call-up considering he has nothing left to prove in Buffalo, even though he, too, has very little experience above Class A-Advanced Dunedin.
A+: 13 G, 13 GS, 6-0, 1.22 ERA, 66.1 IP, 50 H, 18 BB, 76 SO, .209 BAA
AA: 8 G, 8 GS, 3-1, 4.54 ERA, 35.2 IP, 32 H, 17 BB, 49 SO, .235 BAA
AAA: 3 G, 3 GS, 1.08 ERA, 16.2 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 32 SO, .115 BAA
*All statistics were obtained courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and are current through August 24.
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