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Minor League Review: 11 Rising and Freefalling Prospects in the Minors

Brad LeClairCorrespondent IAugust 29, 2011

Minor League Review: 11 Rising and Freefalling Prospects in the Minors

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    As we head close to September 1st and the ending of most minor league seasons, we take a look back at some of your Blue Jays prospects that either made their mark in the organization, and others that decided to soil the mattress this past season (to put it kindly).

    Some of these prospects will come as no surprise while others really did come out of left field.

    The biggest surprises could be high ranked prospects, or they could really be nobodies that no casual Jays fan would've ever heard of. While most of the downers this year are likely prospects you've heard of.

    So without further interruption, lets start the show.

Riser: Justin Nicolino

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    Team W L ERA G/GS IP H R ER HR BB K GO/AO OPPBA
    VAN 5 1 1.03 12/9 52.1 28 9 6 0 11 64 1.44 .156
    LAN 1 0 3.60 1/1 5 7 2 2 0 1 4 1.75 .318

    Nicolino exploded onto the scene this past season with just pure filthy numbers to go along with a good three pitch mix. Nicolino wasn't ranked that high coming into the season, but after a year like this, look for him to shoot up the minor league ranks come next season.

Free Falling: Asher Wojciechowski

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    TEAM W L ERA G/GS IP H R ER HR BB K GO/AO OPPBA
    DUN 10 9 4.74 24/21 125.1 148 77 66 15 28 93 1.01 .287

    Wojciechowski's season has been pretty up and down this past year. Coming into the organization as a powerful closer with starter's potential, Asher looks to falling out of favor as a starter within the organization. However, after a slow start, Wojciechowski has started to really come on lately improving his numbers across the board.

    Still, having more hits to IP in a pitchers league and giving up over 75 runs in only 125 innings means you're getting hit. Giving up over 15 home runs means you are getting hit hard. With a pretty low ground ball rate, he could afford to keep the ball down more so he doesn't get hit hard in AA next season.

Rising: Noah Syndergaard

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    TEAM W L ERA G/GS IP H R ER HR BB K GO/AO OPPBA
    BLU 4 0 1.41 7/5 32 23 5 5 1 11 37 1.32 .198
    VAN 1 2 2.00 4/4 18 15 5 4 0 5 22 1.58 .221
    LAN 0 0 1.80 1/1 5 4 1 1 0 1 6 1.00 .222

    Syndergaard's rise has been legendary this past season -- dominating at every level he's been at.

    Syndergaard will surely rise in prospect rankings going into the following season. Relatively forgotten about as a top 10 prospect, Syndergaard will surely be up in the top 10 next season.

    The 6'5" 200 pound starter will look to improve upon an already impressive 2011 season in which he moved three levels in the matter of 55 innings. He's been compared to Roy Halladay, Jered Weaver, and, on the downside, Jeff Weaver. All Jays fans hope for the first two to come true.

Free Falling: Kevin Ahrens

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    TEAM AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
    DUN .248 113 407 54 101 23 0 13 52 163 53 94 0 2 .338 .400 .738

    A high school shortstop heading into the draft, and also a switch hitter, Ahrens has done nothing but disappoint Jays fans since he was drafted.

    Now into his fifth year with the organization, Ahrens has lost the switch hitter tag, opting to hit right handed, and really, nothing much has changed since. He still can't hit for average, he has marginal power, and decent defence.

    He was picked 5 spots ahead of Blue Jays starting catcher J.P. Arencibia, so that should give you all the ammunition needed to keep the kid in the minors. While Arencibia was rising to fame, Ahrens was stagnant sitting in high-A ball in Dunedin. He should get a promotion next year to AA New Hampshire, but was it really that deserving?

Rising: Adeiny Hechavarria

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    TEAM AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
    NH .235 111 464 58 109 22 6 6 46 161 25 78 19 13 .275 .347 .622
    LAS .384 17 73 12 28 3 1 2 8 39 7 13 1 2 .438 .534 .972

    Hechavarria came into the Blue Jays organization as one of the highest rated International free agents available. Teams like the Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox were hot in the pursuit of Hechavarria, however, he chose the Blue Jays.

    Armed with a great throwing arm and a major league ready glove, Hechavarria has made some serious strides this season with the bat. He's absolutely killed AAA pitching this season in 74 at bats, and is really looking like a nice prospect for the Jays.

    He could make his mark with the organization as early as the start of next season, as the Jays do have an open roster spot at second, as well as a back-up infielder position, after the trading away of Aaron Hill and John McDonald.

Free Falling: Carlos Perez

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    TEAM AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB K SB CS OBP SLG OPS
    LAN .255 90 365 56 93 16 5 3 39 128 35 70 6 3 .319 .351 .669

    Perez came into the season as one of the Jays top 10 prospects after a pretty productive minor league career up to this point. Averaging near .300 for batting average and .800 in OPS before the start of the season, Perez was one of the most underrated Jays prospects going.

    However, this season Perez has really struggled with the bat only hitting .255 with limited power numbers. He still has good wheels for a catcher and a great feel for calling the game. This could just be a bad season, or this could be the beginning of the end for Perez in the Jays organization. With better catchers now in the organization, the Jays may use him in an attempt to get a pitcher or a second baseman down the road.

Rising: Jake Marisnick

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    TEAM AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB K SB CS OBP SLG OPS
    LAN .323 111 436 65 141 26 6 13 76 218 43 84 35 8 .396 .500 .896

    Marisnick has all the tools to become a star centerfielder for the Jays in the coming years. Marisnick is Toronto's best five-tool outfielder at this time in the organization and he really is starting to look like a legitimant prospect who will push both Colby Rasmus and incumbent Anthony Gose for the starting center field job down the road.

    He compares favorably to Hunter Pence, so look out for Marisnick in a few years. He should begin next year in Dunedin with the possibility of a promotion to AA New Hampshire near the end of the year.

Free Falling: Travis Snider

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    TEAM AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB K SB CS OBP SLG OPS
    LAS .327 61 248 47 81 22 2 4 42 119 25 44 12 1 .394 .480 .873
    TOR .229 49 187 23 42 14 0 3 32 65 11 56 9 3 .269 .348 .616

    Snider, coming into the season, was the Jays best outfield prospect with the highest upside, despite already playing a few years with the big club. He's been optioned to Vegas twice this season where he has really just annihilated minor league pitching down in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.

    Right now however, Snider is not hitting for any power in either location, and is starting to look like one of those quad A players, the ones that are too good for AAA but show nothing in the majors.

    Snider will likely need to revamp a loopy, long swing, and likely get guidance from someone not named Dwayne Murphy if he ever hopes to make it back the the Majors with a regular job.

Rising: Drew Hutchison

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    TEAM W L ERA G/GS IP H R ER HR BB KK GO/AO OPPBA
    LAN 6 2 2.63 14/14 72.0 68 29 21 1 19 84 1.39 .245
    DUN 5 3 2.74 11/10 62.1 42 20 19 3 14 67 1.57 .194
    NH 1 0 0.00 1/1 5.0 2 0 0 0 2 7 1.00 .118

    Hutchison was the Jays highest riser this year for pitching prospects. He vaulted himself ahead of many prospects like Deck McGuire, Aaron Sanchez, and Asher Wojciechowski, and his pure control and power gives him an edge into possibly getting a September call-up next season.

    Hutchison reminds many Jays fans of Shaun Marcum, so down the line, look for Drew to really give the Jays a new dynamic to their already developing rotation.

Free Falling: Kyle Drabek

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    TEAM W L ERA G/GS IP H R ER HR BB K GO/AO OPPBA
    LAS 4 3 6.51 13/13 65 95 55 47 9 37 37 1.35 .354
    TOR 4 5 5.70 13/13 72.2 78 47 46 9 52 48 1.20 .283

    Drabek was undeniably the Jays best pitching prospect heading into the season. He's dominated every level he's been at, and even got a chance to show his worth last season with the Jays holding his own.

    However, this season Drabek has been the poster boy for mental breakdowns and meltdowns has his ability to throw strikes coming into serious question.

    If he ever gets control again, look for Drabek to secure a top of the rotation spot for the Jays, but right now, the Jays may be wise to look and move him while he still has some serious value.

Rising: Travis D'Arnaud

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    TEAM AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB K SB CS OBP SLG OPS
    NH .313 109 403 70 126 32 1 19 71 217 32 94 3 2 .375 .538 .913

    D'Arnaud has vaulted himself now as the Jays top hitting prospect after a wonderful year with the FisherCats in New Hampshire. He handled a very good pitching staff nicely, and won the Eastern League MVP award, while Manager Sal Fasano won Manager of the Year Honors in the Eastern League.

    D'Arnaud will move onto AAA next season and hit in the very hitter happy PCL. Look for a September call-up next year, if not sooner--if JP Arencibia continues to struggle with his batting average.

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