Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays' Farm System

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 3, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays' Farm System

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    Up until the recent blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays possessed five consensus top-100 prospects in Travis d’Arnaud, Aaron Sanchez, Jake Marisnick, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino. Even with Marisnick and Nicolino no longer in the mix, the organization still boasts one of the finest and more projectable farm systems in the game.

    Although d’Arnaud is only player regarded as nearly big-league-ready, their depth of high-upside pitching prospects has the potential to yield one of the best homegrown rotations in recent memory. Furthermore, as an organization that’s also loaded with depth behind the plate, the Blue Jays could conceivably execute a trade to land additional talent at the major-league level, if needed.

    Here’s a look at the Toronto Blue Jays’ top 10 prospects.

10. OF Kevin Pillar

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 1/4/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 200

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: 32nd round, 2011 (California State University-Dominguez Hills)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats: .322/.390/.451, 29 XBH (5 HR), 35 SB, 53/35 K/BB (86 G, Low-A Lansing); .323/.339/.415, 11 XBH, 16 SB, 17/5 K/BB (42 G, High-A Dunedin)

    Scouting Notes: Say what you want about his age (23) and lack of projectable size (6’, 200 pounds), but Pillar can flat-out hit; thrived this past season at the plate and on the basepaths, even in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League; outfielder possesses intriguing blend of above-average-to-plus hit tool and plus speed; has the ceiling of a solid fourth outfielder.

    Right-handed hitter has compact, level swing that allows him to even drive pitcher’s pitches; uses the whole field and never tries to do too much at the plate; will never hit for much power but is able to shoot to the gaps and should tally plenty of doubles and triples; above-average plate discipline caters to his impressive on-base skills; rangy outfielder with solid-average arm strength; plus runner and smart base-stealer who has been successful in 59 of 72 chances.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A New Hampshire

9. C A.J. Jimenez

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    Position: C

    DOB: 5/1/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’, 210

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Ninth round, 2009 (Academia Discipulos de Cristo, P.R.)

    ETA: 2014

    2012 Stats: .257/.295/.371, 7 XBH, 14/5 K/BB (27 G, Double-A New Hampshire)

    Scouting Notes: A nagging elbow injury hurt his draft stock and cut his 2012 campaign at Double-A New Hampshire short when he required Tommy John surgery in May; superb, defense-first catcher who’s bat has slowly been catching up over the last few seasons; blocking and receiving skills are highly advanced; excellent catch-and-throw skills and he knows how to streamline his throws with consistency.

    Right-handed hitter drives the ball to all fields with ease; doesn’t draw a lot of walks, but his pitch recognition skills have steadily improved; above-average bat speed yields solid gap power that may result in double-digit home runs by the time he reaches the majors.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A New Hampshire

8. LHP Sean Nolin

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 12/26/1989 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 235

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2010 (San Jacinto College North, Texas)

    ETA: 2014 (2013 as reliever)

    2012 Stats: 9-0, 86.1 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (17 G; 15 GS High-A Dunedin); 1-0, 15 IP, 1.20 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5.4 H/9, 10.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (3 GS, Double-A New Hampshire)

    Scouting Notes: Perennially underrated southpaw who may be a steal as a former sixth-round draft pick; tall, physically mature pitcher with repeatable mechanics, deception and deep arsenal; expect him to start moving quickly this next season as he’ll be 23 with considerable experience.

    Adept to adding and subtracting from his 88-95 mph fastball and commands it well to both sides of the plate; changeup is a second plus offering thrown with deception, especially when used off his well-located fastball; slider has the makings of a legitimate out pitch and he’s comfortable using it to back-foot right-handed hitters; curveball has some depth and he’s comfortable using it to get ahead in counts.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A New Hampshire

7. LHP Daniel Norris

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 4/25/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2011 (Science Hill HS, Tenn.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats: 2-3, 35 IP, 7.97 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 11.3 H/9, 1.0 HR/9, 9.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 (11 G; 10 GS Rookie-level Bluefield); 7.2 IP, 10.57 ERA, 2.48 WHIP, 16.4 H/9, 5.9 K/9, 5.9 BB/9 (2 GS, Short-Season Vancouver)

    Scouting Notes: 6’2” left-hander showed the pure stuff in pro debut that had him regarded as the top prep southpaw in 2011 draft class; mechanics are highly inconsistent and he struggles to repeat his delivery and release point; obvious lack of feel for controlling running game; can unravel with runners on base.

    Norris’ fastball works in the low-90s, though he’ capable of reaching the mid-90s when his mechanics are in sync; curveball has plus break though he lacks the command to make it a effective at the moment; has the makings of an above-average changeup but command and feel will need considerable refinement moving forward; it may take him much longer thane expected to reach the major leagues, but it should be worth it once he does.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Short-Season Vancouver

6. RHP Marcus Stroman

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 5/1/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’9”, 185

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Duke)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats: 11.1 IP, 3.18 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 6.4 H/9, 11.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (7 G, Short-Season Vancouver); 8 IP, 3.38 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 6.8 BB/9 (8 G, Double-A New Hampshire)

    Scouting Notes: 5’9” right-hander’s diminutive frame doesn’t involve much future projection, but his explosive arsenal is undeniable; mixed reviews coming out of Duke whether he had brighter future as starter or reliever; Blue Jays used him as a reliever in professional debut in which he reached Double-A New Hampshire; was handed a 50-game suspension in late-2012 for ingesting a performance-enhancing substance, which will carry over to the 2013 season.

    21-year-old features tons of raw arm strength and unleashes fastballs in the mid-to-upper-90s; some concern about the plane of his fastball given his 5’9” frame and lack of downward plane; breaking ball is a second plus pitch with jelly-legging break and thrown with same intense arm speed as fastball; has ability to mix in a changeup though it’s a less effective pitch than straight fastball-slider combination.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A New Hampshire

5. OF D.J. Davis

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 7/25/1994 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Stone County HS, Miss.)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats: .233/.339/.374, 13 XBH, 18 SB, 54/18 K/BB (43 G, Rookie-level Blue Jays); .340/.415/.511, 5 XBH, 6 SB, 10/4 K/BB (12 G, Rookie-level Bluefield); .167/.348/.167, 6/5 K/BB (Short-Season Vancouver)

    Scouting Notes: 6’1”, left-handed hitter has an upper-body-oriented swing with wiry, explosive strength; features above-average bat speed with a relatively compact bat path; hit tool should improve as he fine-tunes his swing and gains experience; projects to have above-average power; his plus-plus speed and ability to get out of the box will make him a regular extra-base threat; struggles with pitch recognition of breaking balls out of the pitcher’s hand, but can drill fastballs with authority.

    Davis’ defense in center field is raw and he’ll need time to develop a true feel for the position; premium athlete whose tremendous speed and range should compensate for poor routes in the interim until he reaches higher minor-league levels; arm strength is fringe-average and best suited for center field.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Short-Season Vancouver

4. RHP Roberto Osuna

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 2/7/1995 (Age: 17)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 230

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Aug., 2011 (Mexico)

    ETA: 2016

    2012 Stats: 24 IP, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 6.8 H/9, 9.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (7 G; 4 GS Rookie-level Bluefield); 19.2 IP, 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 6.4 H/9, 11.4 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 (5 GS, Short-Season Vancouver)

    Scouting Notes: Excelled as a 17-year-old this past season against significantly more advanced hitters; doesn’t involve much physical projection at 6’2”, 230 pounds, and will have to emphasize conditioning in future seasons; “The kid has an outstanding feel for pitching at a young age and is a bulldog on the mound,” said one NL talent evaluator.

    Right-hander has present plus fastball that works in the low-90s and scrapes 95-96 mph; is comfortable manipulating the pitch and tweaking the velocity as needed; changeup already serves as a second plus pitch with excellent fade and is thrown with similar arm speed relative to his heater; he’s still learning a feel for his breaking ball, a slider, and tends to get around it too much at the moment; nothing that can’t be refine with more experience.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Lansing

3. RHP Noah Syndergaard

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 8/29/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 200

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Legacy HS, Texas)

    ETA: 2015 (2014 as reliever)

    2012 Stats: 8-5, 103.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 10.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 (27 G; 19 GS Low-A Lansing)

    Scouting Notes: 6’5” right-hander has a power pitcher’s frame and frontline starter upside; physical presence on the bump who throws everything on a solid downward plane; repeats mechanics well given his size and features a strong core; fastball sits in the mid-90s with late, arm-side life and he’ll even flirt with triple-digits in shorter stints; uses to amass a healthy mix of strikeouts and groundball outs.

    Curveball has plus potential as it’s a tight-breaker with late, downward bite; command of the pitch is inconsistent and will be challenged at higher levels; features better command of his changeup, though it’s not as dynamic of a pitch; offering is thrown with deceptive arm speed; if breaking ball doesn’t develop as planned, he still has an incredibly high ceiling as a late-inning reliever.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Dunedin

2. RHP Aaron Sanchez

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 7/1/1992

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Barstow HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2015

    2012 Stats: 8-5, 90.1 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.4 H/9, 9.7 K/9, 5.1 BB/9 (25 G; 18 GS Low-A Lansing)

    Scouting Notes: The top pitching prospect in the Jays’ system is also a consensus top-50 prospect; organization finally allowed greater workload this past season with excellent results; effortless and fluid delivery with a quick arm, though he’s still learning how to beat it with consistency; Highly athletic and projectable at 6’4” with ideal frame to add a bit more strength.

    Pure stuff is excellent and sets him apart from most pitching prospects; fastball registers at an easy 94-98 mph and explodes out of his hand; plus curveball has tight spin and sharp downer break, and he showed an improved feel for it this past season; changeup has some nice fade and is a viable third pitch, but is not as advanced as other two offerings; right-hander’s command still has a way to go after walking just over five batters per nine innings last season; will need to refine command as he begins to move up the ladder.

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Dunedin

1. C Travis d'Arnaud

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    Position: C

    DOB: 2/10/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2007 [Phillies] (Lakewood HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2013

    2012 Stats: .333/.380/.595, 39 XBH (16 HR), 59/19 K/BB (67 G, Triple-A Las Vegas)

    Scouting Notes: D'Arnaud would have likely served as a September call-up had he him suffered a season-ending knee injury in June; defense has vastly improved over last two seasons; quiet athleticism allows him to move well laterally behind the plate; has become a more aggressive blocker who boxes balls with more consistency; receiving skills continue to improve and he gives umpires a good look at pitches; has been lauded for pitchers and managers alike for putting down good fingers; plus arm is strongest defensive asset that, when combined with improved footwork, led to a career-best 30-percent caught-stealing rate prior to injury.

    Solid defensive catcher but true upside comes from offensive prowess; 6’2” right-handed hitter has above-average bat speed and impressive raw power; power frequency has increased over last several years; short, compact swing doesn’t inhibit power; makes loud contact to all fields; has some swing-and-miss in his game and doesn’t walk a lot.

    The top catching prospect in the game, if d’Arnaud is healthy entering spring training—which he should be—the 23-year-old has an outside chance of making the Opening Day roster, even if it’s only as a designated hitter.

    2013 Opening Day Level: Triple-A Las Vegas (or MLB with a strong spring training)

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