Toronto Blue Jays: Ranking the Organization's Top 25 Prospects

Jeff WahlCorrespondent IJune 29, 2011

Toronto Blue Jays: Ranking the Organization's Top 25 Prospects

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    As I researched for this article, I was increasingly reminded just how deep Toronto's prospect pool is.  Right now, the Kansas City Royals are the hot topic as far as young talent goes, and rightly deserved. However, I'd wager our deep (Rookie to High A ball) prospect are the best in all of baseball.

    As I assembled this list, my top five was relatively easy, but after that I seriously struggled with these rankings. The main dilemma I faced was the sheer depth of talent that Toronto's farm possesses.

    So, after No. 5, I ranked these kids with an emphasis on proximity to the show, followed by how high each prospect was projected.  As for 2010 draftees, I knocked a few of them down based on the small sample size they provided in the minors.

    Getting back to the depth I mentioned, Toronto has prospects in the high 20s on this list that would be top 10 for at least half the teams in baseball.  This really is a testament to GM Alex Anthopoulos' commitment to scouting all levels as well as the work Toronto's minor league coaches and instructors have done for the past three to four years (yes, that includes Ricciardi's tenure).

    Graduated: Kyle Drabek, J.P. Arencibia

    Missed the cut: Kellen Sweeney, Nicholas Purdy, Moises Sierra, Deivy Estrada, Chris Hawkins, Joel Careno

    Note: A word about the players I chose for the "Professional Comparison..  By no means am I suggesting that "player x" will end up a Hall of Fame pitcher. The purpose of the comparison is to provide a glimpse as to what kind of professional each particular prospect could resemble if they progress as hoped.  I based these on several qualities including physicality, stuff, style etc.

    Its not a perfect system, but it worked for  this article.

    Also, no 2011 draftees are included.

    Comments are always welcome.

     

    Follow me on Twitter @tdotsportwriter

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    21. Nestor Molina RHP (pictured)

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 1" Weight: 179 lb.

    Born: January 9, 1989 in Valencia, VE (Age 22)

    Draft: None

    An outfielder when signed as a Venezuelan teenager, Molina was quickly converted to pitcher once they realized he had an incredibly live low 90s fastball and a decent changeup.

    Used primarily as a reliever due to his limited experience pitching, Molina has been flying under the radar.

    However, allow me to journey into the ridiculous and compare Molina’s accumulated minor league stats with Roy Halladay’s Cy Young winning 2003 season:

     

    IP

    W-L

    ERA

    WHIP

    K's

    BB's

    Molina

    231.2

    21-7

    2.49

    1.066

    206

    39

    Halladay

    266

    22-7

    3.25

    1.071

    204

    32

    I don’t think Nestor Molina will be anonymous much longer.

     

    22. Adonys Cardona RHP

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 4" Weight: 180 lb. 

    Born: January 16, 1994 in La Sabana, VE (Age 17)

    Draft: None

    When Toronto signed Adonys (best name in baseball btw), the then 16-year-old was 6’3” and could hit 93 mph on the radar. But what really impressed Jays scouts was the already advanced control over his changeup.

    Now 17 and 6'4", Cardona has just begun his pro career so until we get some results to analyze, I can't rank him any higher on this list.  Although, the potential seems limitless at this stage.

    Make no mistake, Adonys is still very raw, but his build and pure stuff are reminiscent of a young Felix Hernandez.

     

    23. Chad Jenkins RHP

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 4" Weight: 235 lb.

    Born: December 22, 1987 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, US (Age 23)

    Drafted: first round (20th) of the 2009 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

    Talk about a fall from grace.  After a very mediocre first season in the minors, Jenkins has been leapfrogged by the addition of some exciting 2010 draftees and hard-charging prospects like Eric Thames, Drew Hutchison and Mike McDade.

    After having a decent start to the 2011 season, Jenkins was recently promoted to Double-A where results are mixed after three starts.  At best, Jenkins looks like a back end starter and could slide right out of the top 25 once the 2011 draftees start their careers.

     

    24. Dickie Joe Thon SS

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 2" Weight: 185 lb.

    Born: November 24, 1991 in Dorado, PR (Age 19)

    Drafted: fifth round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

    Tough to grade Thom as he’s only had 14 minor league at-bats.  However, senior Jays officials see him as a stronger version of Hechevarria with his defense being only a notch or two below that of the Cuban super-prospect.

    Thon will take at least four years to develop but he’s a kid to watch.

     

    25. Brad Glen OF

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 2" Weight: 220 lb.

    Born: April 2, 1987 in Cedartown, Georgia, US (Age 24)

    Drafted: 23rd round of the 2009 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

    Currently in Dunedin, Glenn has been crushing the ball with reckless abandon.  He's launched 16 mistakes into the bleachers and has 41 total home runs in barely a season-and-a-half.

    Not bad for a 36th round pick who signed for $1,000.

20. Griffin Murphy LHP

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    Bats: Right  Throws: Left
    Height: 6' 3" Weight: 200 lb.

    Born: January 16, 1991 in Highland, California, US (Age 20)

    Drafted: second round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    I struggled with this ranking perhaps more than any others outside the top 10. The two main factors keeping him from a higher rank are a lack of a reliable change-up and an incredibly small pro sample size (5 IP with zero runs, 7 K’s and 1 BB).

    The top prep southpaw in the 2010 draft, Murphy is now Toronto’s top left-handed pitching prospect, and his fastball control is already plus-plus. He can literally throw the ball to anywhere his catcher asks for it. 

    However, his control with his curveball (which is also plus-plus) is not as acute. Though at just 20 years old, he has ample time to work on it.

    Murphy is a big projectable lefty, and I would not be surprised to see him settle in to a top 10-12 spot by the end of the year.

19. A.J. Jimenez C

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    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 5' 11" Weight: 200 lb.

    Born: May 1, 1990 in Bayamon, PR (Age 21)

    Drafted: ninth round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    When it comes to the wealth of Toronto’s talent at Catcher, we really are the envy of the league.  From Arencibia (AL ROY candidate) to d’Arnaud to Perez and now Jimenez, the Jays have an embarrassment of riches behind the plate.

    Coming in to the 2008 draft, Jimenez was the top ranked Puerto Rican prospect available and had a reputation as a rock solid defender.

    So far he’s been as advertised. Jimenez is not just a great receiver, he can throw a laser from his knees as his 51 percent caught stealing rate last season shows.

    However, it's his offensive growth that has him cracking the top 20 on this list. From 2008, Jimenez’s batting average has increased from .191 to .263 in 2009 to .299 in 2010 and now .321 so far in Single-A Dunedin. 

    When you include his emerging power (.446 SLG% so far) and his ability to run the bases (seven steals this year, 17 in 2010) Jimenez looks like a Russell Martin type in the making.

18. Danny Farquhar RHP

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    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 5' 11" Weight: 180 lb.

    Born: February 17, 1987 in Pembroke Pines, Florida, US (Age 24)

    Drafted: 10th round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    Traded to Oakland as part of the Rajai Davis deal, Toronto reacquired him when they shipped the disappointing David Purcey to the A’s.

    Now that he's back in the fold, I’m including him in this list and arguably higher than others may have him, based on my belief that he will no doubt have a productive career in the pro’s. The only questions are how productive and in what capacity?

    A throwback submarine pitcher, Lord Farquhar has a mid 90s fastball with electric life that looks almost like a cork screw.  Even filthier is his 78-82 mph slider that he uses to embarrass righties.

    The knock on Farquhar is his lack of command which is ultimately what will limit him once he gets the call.  If he can harness his nasty stuff then Toronto might have a dynamite set up man with closing ability. Otherwise, he’ll carve out a career as a situational guy who’ll face only right handed hitters.

     

    Note: thanks to www.mopupduty.com for providing the great pic of Farquhar

17. Jake Marisnick OF

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    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 4" Weight: 200 lb.

    Born: March 30, 1991 in Riverside, California, US (Age 20)

    Drafted: third round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    Quickly becoming one of my favorite prospects, Jake Marisnick is a quintessential five-tool outfielder. Blessed with above-average speed and a strong outfield arm, Marisnick is an aggressive and fearless defender in the mold of Jim Edmonds.

    However, his overall game resembles that of Torii Hunter or perhaps Drew Stubbs based on his quick hands, speed on the bases and developing power.

    Speaking of his quick hands, the knock on Marisnick coming in to the 2009 draft was his predicted inability to hit for a high enough average in the pros.  Not only has he proved his detractors wrong, he’s starting to embarrass them.  So far this season, he’s slashing .310/6/47 with 18 SB’s in 58 games for Lansing and pushing Blue Jays officials for a promotion to Dunedin.

    This time next year, Jake Marisnick might find himself challenging Anthony Gose for Toronto’s top OF prospect.

16. David Cooper 1B

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    Bats: Left  Throws: Left
    Height: 6' 0"  Weight: 200 lb.

    Born: February 12, 1987 in Stockton, CA (Age 24)
    Drafted
    : first round (17th pick) of the 2008 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    David Cooper has ping-pong’d his way through the Blue Jays prospect rankings over the years.  After he was drafted and signed in 2008, he was a top 10 guy.  That improved to top five on some lists after Cooper tore up three levels of A-ball that same season. 

    However, after a disappointing 2009 in Double-A, his stock took a fall and almost bottomed out after another failed season in 2010.

    Although after closer consideration, Cooper made a significant improvement after the All-Star break last year, hitting .317 and finishing the year with 22 home runs and 78 runs batted in.

    This season in Triple-A Las Vegas Cooper is hitting .371/6/54 in 57 games with a very tasty 1.011 OPS; earning him a brief 13-game stint in Toronto earlier this year.

    Ultimately, Cooper will have to keep slugging if he’s going to carve out a career because he’s a terrible defender and athlete.  If he’s not the DH then he’s on the bench.

15. Asher Wojciechowski RHP

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    Club: Dunedin Blue Jays

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 4" Weight: 235 lb.

    Born: December 21, 1988 in Hardeeville, South Carolina, US (Age 22)

    Drafted: first round (41st) of the 2010 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    Asher (I’m not spelling his last name again) is an intriguing prospect.  A huge young man with significant potential, Asher is a true power pitcher with a sledgehammer for a fastball and a nasty slider.  However, the question is where does his future lay, closer or starter?

    For now, Toronto has done the right thing and started Asher’s career in the rotation.  In doing so, coaches have been helping him develop his changeup which in time should make his fastball/slider combo much more effective.

    Virtually unhittable while playing for the Auburn Doubledays, Asher has been smacked around in Dunedin. In 73.2 innings, he’s slashed 5.86/1.588 while striking out a paltry (for him) 55 batters.

    If Asher can’t find his groove then he’s in danger of being buried in the rankings by 2011 draftees and fast risers like Griffin Murphy, Adonys Cardona and Nestor Molina. However, if he straightens himself out he could easily become a top 10 prospect.

    Although that may only manifest itself with a switch to the pen which is where I think his true potential points to. With his imposing mound presence and filthy pitch repertoire, he looks like a Health Bell or John Papelbon type of closer.

    The remainder of the 2011 season just may dictate Asher's future with Toronto.  Pen or Rotation?

     

    Potential: No. 1 Starter or All-Star Closer

    Professional Comparison: John Lestor (starter), Heath Bell (closer)

14. Markus Knecht OF

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    Club: Lansing Lugnuts

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 1" Weight: 200 lb.

    Born: June 21, 1990 in Toronto, Ontario, CA (Age 21)

    Drafted: third round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    The second Canadian on this list, Marcus Knecht (pronounced ki-nect) is a toolsie outfielder who will most likely settle in at RF.

    At 21, Knecht is still quite raw as he’s only played one season of junior college ball at Connors State. Knecht transferred there from Oklahoma State after they gave him all of 12 at-bats in 2009 so there is a year of his development virtually missing.

    Nonetheless, the young outfielder had no trouble with low-A ball as he ended up hitting .268/5/24 with seven stolen bases in just 61 games.

    Promoted to Lansing to start the 2011 season, Knecht has shown a bit more power while improving his eye at the plate, hitting .313 with a .410 OBP.

    In addition, Knecht’s defense is already above average, and he has shown a very strong and accurate arm as his nine outfield assists in 103 games clearly shows.

    If he keeps this up, Marcus could force his way on to the Dunedin roster by July. This young man is yet another fast riser and could challenge for a top 10 rank next season.

     

    Potential: Career RF, possible All-Star

    Professional Comparison: Jesse Barfield

13. Mike McDade 1B

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    Club: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

    Bats: Both Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 1" Weight: 255 lb.

    Born: May 8, 1989 in Las Vegas, Nevada, US (Age 22)

    Drafted: sixth round of the 2007 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    A converted Catcher, Michael McDade has begun to set himself apart from the other corner infield prospects. With a Tony Gwynn/Terry Pendleton physique, the squat yet powerful Mcdade has really impressed Blue Jays management with his work ethic, attitude and dedication to improving all aspects of his game.

    McDade is without a doubt Toronto’s best defensive first base prospect and could play in the show right now…if only he didn’t strike out at an alarmingly high rate of 25 percent of his at-bats.

    However, McDade is showing signs of improvement in his first taste of Double-A ball.  In 310 at-bats, he’s slashing .304/11/52 with a .509 SLG%.  Although still striking out too much, McDade has cut down to roughly a K for every five at-bats and his OBP is .035 points over his career at .352.

    From a strictly selfish Jays fan perspective, the downside to all the improvement he’s making is McDade now becomes a trade chip with Adam Lind playing so well for Toronto. Hopefully, he stays because this kid brings his lunch pail to work and would become and immediate fan favorite.

     

    Potential: Gold Glove 1B

    Professional Comparison: a fat JT Snow

12. Henderson Alvarez RHP

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    Club: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 1" Weight: 195 lb.

    Born: April 18, 1990 in Valencia, VE (Age 21)

    Draft: None

     

    It seems like Alvarez has been a prospect in Toronto’s system for ever but remember that he was only 16 when the Jays signed him back in 2006.  Now a five-year minor league veteran at 21, Henderson Alvarez is beginning to emerge as a legit professional prospect.

    A ground ball, control type of pitcher, Alvarez does a great job keeping the ball low in the strike zone.  After adding a bit of muscle weight to his frame (he was 160 at best when signed), he’s been able to get his 4-seam fastball up to the 93-96 range with the ability to hit 98mph at times.

    As impressive as that is, Alvarez throws what is arguably the best change-up in the Jays system.  It’s a bit fast at around 85-87 mph, but it dances like a screwball, and his arm action is virtually identical to that of his fastball.

    Ultimately, if Alvarez is to become more than the next Jesse Litsch then he’s going to need an increase on his pedestrian 6.3 K/9 ratio.  However, with that fastball/changeup combo and his still very young age, Alvarez has the time and talent to make the required improvements.

     

    Potential: No. 2-3 starter

    Professional Comparison: Jaime Moyer

11. Noah Syndergaard RHP

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    Club: Bluefield Blue Jays (rookie ball)

    Bats: Left  Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 5" Weight: 200 lb.

    Born: August 29, 1992 in Mansfield, Texas, US (Age 18)

    Drafted: first round (38th) of the 2010 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    Noah Syndergaard is a prospect who’s metrics project so far off the charts that his potential ventures into hyperbole.  Jays fans old enough to remember the mid 90s may find the following scouting report familiar:

    Eighteen-year-old high school RHP, tall and lanky at 6’5” and 200lbs. He throws a hard and accurate fastball that runs 92-96 mph and can reach back for 98.  Plus-plus changeup with an emerging splitter/slider. Currently working on his curveball and it looks promising. Syndergaard is intelligent, determined and highly competitive.

    Replace “Syndergaard” with “Halladay” and the report remains the same. Clearly at just 18 years old, this young man has a long way to go to achieve the level of success of the player I’ve compared him too. However, he’s off to a promising start after 22.1 innings of rookie ball with a slash line 1.61/1.075 and 19 K’s vs. 6 BB’s.

    Don’t be shocked if the hard throwing Texas Viking ends up a top five prospect by 2012.

     

    Potential: No. 1 Starter—Ace

    Professional Comparison: Roy Halladay

10. Drew Hutchison RHP

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    Club: Low A Lansing Lugnuts

    Bats: Left Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 2" Weight: 165 lb.

    Born: August 22, 1990 in Lakeland, Florida, US (Age 20)

    Drafted: 15th round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    Talk about getting ultimate value for a late pick.  Taken with the 460th pick in 2009, Hutchison was signed for $400,000 which is way above slot. Although, it seems that Toronto knew what they were doing as Hutchison has skyrocketed from organizational afterthought to blue chip prospect in only a season and a half.

    Baseball America and Keith Law have both compared Hutchison to former Jay, Shaun Marcum due to his mechanics and fastball/changeup combo.  Hitting 90-92mph on the gun, Hitchison’s fastball has a hard and heavy sink to it.  He throws it in any count with plus control in both a 2-seam and 4-seam.

    As for his change-up, at the tender age of 20 he may already have the organization’s best off speed pitch (although Henderson Alvarez may have something to say about that). The only thing he needs to work on now is improving his breaking stuff.

    Hutchison has been pitching very well this season with a 2.68 ERA and 1.208 WHIP to go along with K:BB ratio of 4.42 (and a 10.5 K/9).  If he keeps it up Hutchison could finish the season in Dunedin.

     

    Potential: No. 2 starter

    Professional Comparison: Shaun Marcum (this one was easy)

9. Adeiny Hechevarria SS

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    Club: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 5' 11" Weight: 180 lb.

    Born: April 15, 1989 in Santiago De Cuba, CU (Age 22)

    Draft: None

     

    The first foreign signing by GM Alex Anthopolous, Cuban native Adeiny Hechavarria was touted as a light hitting, slick fielding shortstop.

    So far, the young man has been performing as advertised. Currently hitting a paltry .238, Adeiny has shown some projectable strength as his 17 doubles and .362 SLG% (which is actually quite high considering his low BA) illustrates. Throw in his 16 SB’s, and at times, it looks like Toronto might have the next Tony Fernandez on their hands.

    Nonetheless, if Hechevarria hopes to make it to Toronto, he’ll need to sharpen that batting eye: 15 BB’s in 300 AB’s just won’t cut it.

    On the other hand, the kid’s defense could play in the pro’s right now, which is why his problems at the plate are so frustrating.  Hechevarria has Gold Glove potential but may never be able to realize it if he can’t figure it out offensively.

    Note: for those paying attention, Adeiny is throwing sidearm in that picture.  Homage or are we really looking at the next Tony Fernandez (this author's BFF, btw)?

     

    Potential: Gold Glove SS

    Professional Comparison: Edgar Renteria

8. Anthony Gose OF

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    Club: Dunedin Blue Jays

    Bats: Left Throws: Left
    Height: 6' 1" Weight: 190 lb.

    Born: August 10, 1990 in Bellflower, California, US (Age 20)

    Drafted: second round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies

     

    To quote Alex Anthopolous:

    “(Gose is) an athletic center fielder with outstanding competitiveness, makeup, leadership skills. He’s someone who’s in a tough league at a young age, but really a guy who is a game changer.”

    “All of our scouts came back and raved about him. From a consensus standpoint, every one of our scouts thought this was going to be an above-average, All-Star-caliber center fielder. We don’t have too many reports that are unanimous that way.”

    As a former high school pitcher with a 96 mph fastball, Anthony Gose has a plus-plus arm from the outfield as his 35 career assists illustrate.  However, if Gose is to become an All-Star as AA feels he can be, he'll need to work on his offense because once he gets on base, he's deadly.  In just shy of two and a half minor league seasons, Gose has stolen an eye popping 156 bases.

    Getting his first taste of Double-A pitching, Gose has struggled to hit as he’s posting a .244 BA which sets up as a career low.  However, even though his K rate remains static, Gose has been drawing more walks and remains lethal once on base with 32 stolen bases in 68 games.

     

    Potential: All-Star CF

    Professional Comparison: Grady Sizemore

7. Travis d’Arnaud C

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    Club: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 2" Weight: 195 lb.

    Born: February 10, 1989 in Long Beach, California, US (Age 22)

    Drafted: first round (37th) of the 2007 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies

     

    The "other" guy Toronto received in the Roy Halladay trade (along with Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace), Travis d'Arnaud has been impressing scouts and fans alike since his arrival.

    From day one, d'Arnaud immediately became Toronto's top catching prospect from a defensive standpoint.  Since 2009 when Travis started the season in High-A ball, he only has 10 errors behind the plate in 1,718 defensive chances along with a .994 fielding percentage.  All the while steadily increasing his caught stealing percentage to the 32 percent it's at currently in New Hampshire.

    What really has everyone excited is his developing ability with the bat.  So much so that he has been ranked No. 46 on Baseball America's 2011 prospect list. Thought d’Arnaud will never hit for the kind of power the Arencibia does, his offense projects as a much more rounded hitter.

    As far as catching prospects go, there may not be a better guarantee in all of baseball of a future (and lengthy) career. 

    However, Toronto is blessed with embarrassment of riches behind the plate with J.P. Arencibia now in Toronto and Carlos Perez biting at his heels in Low-A ball.

    Not a bad problem to have.

     

    Potential: Everyday catcher with Gold Gloves a definite possibility.

    Professional Comparison: Benito Santiago

6. Eric Thames OF

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    Club: Toronto Blue Jays

    Bats: Left Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 1" Weight: 205 lb.

    Born: November 10, 1986 in Santa Clara, California, US (Age 24)

    Drafted: seventh round of the 2008 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    Eric had a rough start to his pro career as he battled injuries and inconsistency. Nonetheless, Toronto saw enough in him to promote Thames to AA New Hampshire to start the 2010 season.

    He responded by hitting .288/27/104 and more importantly, stayed healthy all year.  However, Thames (then in Triple-A Las Vegas) had really made Jays Management take notice as he destroyed PCL pitching to the tune of .352/7/45 with a 1.033 OPS in just 53 games.

    Detractors point to his high K rate as indicative of limited potential as a pro, but you absolutely cannot deny this young man's power.

    On June 23rd, Toronto called up Thames for the second time this season. On June 28th, he went 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs.  After 16 games and 56 at-bats, Thames is hitting .304 with 12 runs.

    He's still striking out too often, but Eric Thames can flat out hit, and hopefully, his recent promotion to the big club is permanent.

     

    Potential: Everyday LF

    Professional Comparison: Brad Hawpe

5. Aaron Sanchez RHP

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    Club: Auburn Doubledays (New  York-Penn League)

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 4" Weight: 190 lb.

    Born: July 1, 1992 in Barstow, California, US (Age 18)

    Drafted: first round (34th) of the 2010 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

     

    This is a bit of an aggressive ranking. His projectability is off the charts, but his sample size as a pro is just so small.

    Regardless, after signing soon after he was drafted, Sanchez was sent to rookie ball to get some much-needed experience against other top 18 and 19-year-old prospects. He was shut down after 25 innings to prevent injury but not after shredding the GCL and Low-A with a 2.15 ERA and a ridiculous 13.3 K/9.

    Already possessing an electric 91-94 mph fastball as an 18-year-old, many scouts are convinced that he can add another two to four mph as he matures and still maintain his late movement. 

    In addition, his low 70s curveball is already a plus-pitch and is only going to get better. Sanchez also throws a nice circle change but it’s still a work in progress.

    Once harnessed, Aaron Sanchez could become our best home grown pitcher since Roy Halladay.

     

    Potential: No. 1 Starter—AceFranchise Cornerstone

    Professional Comparison: Jared Weaver

4. Zach Stewart RHP

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    Club: Toronto Blue Jays

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 2", Weight: 205 lb.

    Born: September 28, 1986 in Wichita Falls, Texas, US (Age 24)

    Drafted: third round of the 2008 draft by the Cincinnati Reds

     

    The jewel of the Scott Rolen trade to the Reds in 2009, Zach Stewart was initially thought of as a future MLB closer. However, after Alex Anthopolous took over as GM, he fully backed Stewart’s wish to become a starter and placed him at Double A to begin that process.

    Armed with a hard, biting slider that has broken more than a few ankles, Stewart also has a fastball that tops off at 96 mph with good late movement. The only concern thus far is a lack of a reliable changeup.

    Although, it seems that Athopoulos is not too worried as Stewart has been called up to replace the struggling Kyle Drabek.

    Results have been mixed after three starts: His first and third, respectively, were seven and six-inning gems where he allowed only two runs while striking out four and walking one in both starts.  However, he was annihilated by Atlanta in 3.2 innings in his next start, allowing five runs and walking three.

    Stewart was sent back to to Double-A today (June 28th) with the recall of Brett Cecil. He'll need to make a significant advancement in his development, otherwise he risks getting buried rather quickly by other pitching prospects.

    Potential: No. 2 Starter or journeyman Closer

    Professional Comparison: Sergio Santos (closer) or Matt Cain (starter)

3. Carlos Perez C

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    Club: Low-A Lansing Lugnuts

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 0" Weight: 193 lb.

    Born: October 27, 1990 in Valencia, VE (Age 20)

    Drafted: none

     

    Carlos Eduardo Perez is our deepest backstop prospect, and according to a growing number of experts, our best.

    What immediately stood out for Toronto scouts when they signed him were his maturity, poise and athleticism behind the plate. If anything those traits have been strengthened after seeing what he can do in the GCL and low A.

    However, it’s his immense potential with the bat that has Blue Jays management giddy.  Although Perez has hit a measly five home runs in 778 at-bats over three-plus seasons, what jumps off the stat sheet is .290 BA with a .390 OBP and 116 RBI.

    If Perez can knock in 116 runs when 221 of his 226 hits failed to go yard, imagine what this young man can do once his power develops.

    Perez still has at least two years until Toronto see's him in Canada, however, in that time, Perez can put his stamp on this organization and end up its best catcher ever.

    Apologies to Mr. Whitt.

    Potential: Everyday catcher and possible All-Star

    Professional Comparison: Sandy Alomar Jr.

2. Deck McGuire RHP

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    Club: Single A Dunedin Blue Jays

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 6" Weight: 220 lb.

    Born: June 23, 1989 in Richmond, Virginia, US (Age 22)

    Drafted: first round (11th) of the 2010 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays

    2011 Stats: 74.2 IP, 5W – 3L, 2.89/1.272 (ERA/WHIP), 74 K’s

     

    When Deck McGuire was drafted, he came with a reputation as a workhorse with a heavy fast ball, poise and an intimidating mound presence. After 74 Single-A innings, it’s clear that the kid comes as advertised.

    McGuire has a four-pitch arsenal that he uses with advanced control. His 92-95 mph fastball lacks movement but comes in heavy. However, his mid 80s slider is nasty, and he uses it as an out pitch for both right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters. His curve is inconsistent but has potential and McGuire’s changeup is proving to be an emerging weapon in his arsenal

    Often looking like a man among boys in the Florida State League, McGuire should find his way to Double-A New Hampshire at some point after the All Star break.

    With the speed and ease that McGuire has ascended through the Toronto farm system, don't be surprised to see him in Canada by spring 2012.

     

    Potential: No. 1 starter (non ace) or No. 2 on a good team.

    Professional Comparison: John Lackey

1. Brett Lawrie 3B

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    Club: Triple-A Las Vegas 51’s

    Bats: Right Throws: Right
    Height: 6' 0" Weight: 215 lb.

    Born: January 18, 1990 in Langley, British Columbia, CA (Age 21)

    Drafted: first round (16th) of the 2008 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers

    2011 Stats: .354/1.092 (BA/OPS),  15/49/11/51 (HR/RBI/SB/Runs), 52 GP

     

    Acquired by Toronto in the Shaun Marcum deal, Brett Lawrie has immediately established himself as Toronto’s top prospect and arguably one of the four or five best in all of baseball.

    Blessed with a tantalizing combo of power and speed, Lawrie could one day become just the fourth third baseman to join the 30/30 club (Tommy Harper, Howard Johnson and David Wright being the others). He is that good.

    The only thing holding him back is a highly suspect glove, however the majority of his 12 errors this season are of the throwing variety. Although this should not be unexpected when considering he switched from second base which he’s played since being drafted.

    Currently nursing a wrist injury, Lawrie is expected to get the call after the All-Star game.

    I realize that I've provided more in depth analysis on other prospects but really, anything I write on Lawrie at this point is redundant. Let's just sit back and enjoy as this Canadian phenom makes his mark.

     

    Potential: Franchise Cornerstone - 3B

    Professional Comparison: David Wright without the gold gloves.

Acknowledgements.

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    The following websites provided a treasure trove of data:

    www.mlb.com

    www.jaysjournal.com

    www.prospectjunkies.com

    www.baseballamerica.com

    www.fangraphs.com

    www.baseball-reference.com

    www.nationalpost.com/sports

    www.theglobeandmail.com/sports

    www.thestar.com

    www.torontosun.com

    www.mopupduty.com

     

    Thanks to all of those involved with these sites. Your work is very much appreciated, and without it, I may not have been able to write this.

    Cheers.

    Jeff