Top 30 Prospects: The Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays
2010 MLB Record: 85-77 (4th place, AL East)
Minor League Power Ranking: 3rd (out of 30)
Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List

The Prospects

1. Kyle Drabek, RHP
Acquired: 2006 1st round (Texas HS)
Pro Experience: 5 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 23
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: The key to the Roy Halladay trade with Philadelphia, Drabek has a chance to break camp in 2011 with the Jays despite lacking triple-A experience. The son of former Cy Young award winner Doug Drabek, the rookie has an advanced feel for pitching given his age and experience level. He held his own during a brief MLB trial (4.08 FIP in 3 starts) in 2010 but still has to sharpen his overall command and secondary pitches after missing time due to Tommy John surgery early in his career. Drabek has a solid repertoire that includes a 90-95 mph fastball and plus curveball. He also has a cutter and changeup, both of which need development. During his time in double-A, Drabek posted a solid strikeout rate (7.33 K/9) with average control (3.78 BB/9) and showed the ability to produce an average to above-average ground-ball rate. I’m not crazy about his mechanics. Drabek has a quick, short-arm action and three-quarter arm slot. He also throws across his body a bit and doesn’t use his legs as much as he should. If everything develops as hoped, though, the pitching prospect could develop into a No. 2 starter.

2. Brett Lawrie, 3B/2B
Acquired: 2008 1st round (B.C. Canada HS)
Pro Experience: 2 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 5.0

Notes: The Jays nabbed the Brewers’ top prospect this past off-season for veteran starter Shaun Marcum. A Canadian, Lawrie was reportedly thrilled with the move to the Jays organization. Along with switching teams, the youngster has also been moved off the keystone position to the hot corner. He spent the 2010 season in double-A despite being just 20 years of age. He produced a solid offensive line of .285/.346/.449 in 554 at-bats. The former No. 1 draft pick showed good power for a middle infielder with an ISO rate of .164, but it remains to be seen if he can produce the pop expected from a third baseman. Lawrie also displayed some instincts on the base paths and stole 30 bags despite average speed. At the plate, he shows a level stroke but it can get long at times. His stance includes a wide, low crouch and he needs to concentrate on keeping more upright through his core. Lawrie also has a very “noisy” load and less bat movement could perhaps help him make even more contact. At times, he looks unprepared to swing on some good fastballs on the inner half. Defensively, the hope is that Lawrie can develop into an average defensive fielder. Lawie could see time in the Majors in the second half of 2011 but the prospect – who carries himself with a lot of confidence – could probably use a full season in the minors to help iron out his overall game.

3. J.P. Arencibia, C
Acquired: 2007 1st round (U of Tennessee)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB
Opening Day Age: 25
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: I don’t really understand the tempered enthusiasm for Arencibia. He has the ability to be at least an average defensive catcher with plus power. Those types of catchers do not grow on trees. Over the past two seasons in triple-A, Arencibia produced 53 homers and an ISO rate of .325 in 2010. Along with that, he also improved both his walk rate (5.3 to 8.3 BB%) and strikeout rate (24.5 to 20.6 K%) over his ’09 totals. He has a nice, solid base at the plate but could stand to track the ball a little bit better. He shows a quick path to the ball at times but his swing also gets long. Arencibia does have warts as a player, including a poor (overly-aggressive) approach at the plate, which leads to low on-base averages and even modest batting averages. Like fellow Jays youngster Travis Snider, the young backstop needs to learn to wait for his pitch without losing his aggressive nature. Because he’s such a hard worker with a solid amateur background, I’m inclined to keep the faith with Arencibia and see him developing into John Buck in a worst case scenario.

4. Deck McGuire, RHP
Acquired: 2010 1st round (Georgia Tech U)
Pro Experience: None
2010 MiLB Level: None
Opening Day Age: 21
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: The Jays’ first pick of the 2010 draft, McGuire has the potential to move quickly through the minor league system. He has yet to throw a pro pitch in the regular season but he should open 2011 in high-A ball. The speedy ascent should occur for McGuire if the Jays coaches can teach him to repeat his mechanics on a more consistent basis. The right-hander has a four-pitch repertoire that includes an 89-94 mph fastball, potentially-plus slider, curveball and changeup. He throws with a three-quarter arm angle and doesn’t always finish his pitches. He also slings his pitches at times and needs to make sure he keeps his shoulder closed. Despite signing for $2 million, McGuire is more of a No. 2 or 3 starter than a potential ace. He’s big and strong and has a reputation for being durable.

5. Carlos Perez, C
Acquired: 2008 non-drafted free agent (Venezuela)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: Short-season
Opening Day Age: 20
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Most people prefer fellow catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud but I’m a pretty big Perez fan, who is a few levels behind his fellow backstop. He shows an advanced approach at the plate for his age and experience level. He hits for a solid average, has patience (12.2 BB%), and line-drive power that could eventually lead to 10-12 home runs per season. In 2010 at short-season ball, Perez hit .298/.396/.438 in 235 at-bats. He doesn’t have more than average speed but he’s a plus base runner, which led to seven steals in 10 tries and eight triples. Defensively, he shows potential behind the dish with a good caught-stealing rate (36%) thanks to a solid arm, good release and foot work.

6. Zach Stewart, RHP
Acquired: 2008 3rd round (Texas Tech U)
Pro Experience: 3 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: AA
Opening Day Age: 24
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Part of the Scott Rolen trade with Cincinnati, which has worked out well for both teams, Stewart has yet to settle on a role. It appears as though he’ll open 2011 in the starting rotation and he has the potential to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter if he can improve his command and sharpen his secondary pitches. In 2010, Stewart had a 4.18 FIP while accumulating a career-high 136.1 innings in double-A. After producing an above-average ground-ball rate in ’09, his rate fell back to average levels in ’10. His repertoire includes an 89-94 mph fastball, good slider, and changeup. Stewart produces easy velocity and has a solid delivery with minimal effort. He utilizes a low three-quarter arm angle. At worst, the right-hander should become a successful high-leverage reliever in the eighth or ninth inning.

7. Travis d’Arnaud, C
Acquired: 2007 supplemental 1st round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 4 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: The third catcher on the Top 10 list, it shows just how much depth that the organization has behind the plate. d’Arnaud has a lot of potential but his 2010 season was cut short by back issues. He spent the off-season working on core strength to help hold up over the course of a full season and he has impressed the Jays coaches with his work this spring. Overall, he hit .259/.315/.411 in 263 at-bats at high-A ball. Despite the missed time he should spend much of 2011 in double-A. He has some work to do on offense, which includes improving his patience at the plate and trimming his strikeout rate. It jumped from a career mark of approximately 16.0 to 24.0 K% in ’10. He keeps his feet quiet with a wide stance at the plate but his hands have a lot of unnecessary movement. Behind the plate, he shows a strong arm but needs to tighten up the rest of his skills. He has the potential to become a plus defender.

8. Asher Wojciechowski, RHP
Acquired: 2010 supplemental 1st round (The Citadel)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Short-season
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0

Notes: Wojciechowski has the potential to be one of the steals of the 2010 draft if he can stay healthy. The right-hander pitched just 12.0 innings after signing and there were mixed reports on why he was shut down early: simply as a way to limit his innings in ’10 or because of minor shoulder issues. Either way, Wojciechowski is expected to be healthy to begin 2011 and he could open the year in high-A ball with a strong spring. He has a solid repertoire with an 88-94 mph fastball, potentially-plus slider, and developing changeup. He does throw across his body a bit in his current delivery and struggles with his arm slot at times. A big, strong pitcher, Wojciechowski could develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter with some polish.

9. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
Acquired: 2010 supplemental 1st round (California HS)
Pro Experience: 1 season
2010 MiLB Level: Rookie/Short-season
Opening Day Age: 18
Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5

Notes: Under former General Manager J.P. Ricciardi, the Jays organization shied away from draft picks like Sanchez, a high-risk, high-reward prep pitcher. The youngster had an outside shot at going in the first round, before dropping to the Jays in the supplemental round. He’s raw and struggles with his control (5.68 BB/9 rate in 19.0 rookie ball innings) but this right-hander has the potential to have at least two plus pitches with an 88-94 mph fastball and promising curveball. His changeup remains a work-in-progress. Sanchez could also stand to smooth out his delivery a bit. He has a low three-quarter delivery and there is a little effort to it. The right-hander has a very quick arm and takes a long stride. After a strong showing in his debut, as well as in the instructional league, Sanchez should spend the 2011 season in low-A ball.

10. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
Acquired: 2010 non-drafted free agent (Cuba)
Pro Experience: 1 seasons
2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA
Opening Day Age: 22
Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5

Notes: Two AL East teams nabbed young, skilled Cuban shortstops in the span of a year: Boston’s Jose Iglesias and Hechavarria. The Red Sox infielder possesses a higher ceiling but Toronto’s prospect has the potential to develop into a solid all-around player. Hechavarria already flashes plus defensive tools and has shown glimpses of at least average hitting skills. He struggled initially in North America, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise, but saw his bat wake up with a promotion to double-A, where he befriended manager Luis Rivera, who has since been promoted to coach with the big league club. Hechavarria hit .273/.305/.360 in 253 double-A at-bats but was hampered by an overly-aggressive approach (4.4 BB%). He will never possess 20-homer power but he should develop solid gap power. He shows a solid stance at the plate and does a good job of keeping his eye on the pitches. He utilizes a toe tap for timing. Hechavarria has a simply load and shows a quick bat and path to the ball. He should return to double-A in 2011.

Top 3 Organization Bonus

11. Anthony Gose, OF
12. Jake Marisnick, OF
13. Eric Thames, OF
14. Chad Jenkins, RHP
15. Griffin Murphy, LHP
16. Henderson Alvarez, RHP
17. Kellen Sweeney, IF
18. K.C. Hobson, 1B
19. Adonis Cardona, RHP
20. D.J. Thon, SS
21. Andrew Hutchison, RHP
22. Marcus Knecht, OF
23. David Cooper, 1B
24. Justin Nicolino, LHP
25. Darin Mastroianni, OF
26. A.J. Jimenez, C
27. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
28. Brad Mills, LHP
29. Gustavo Pierre, SS
30. Christopher Hawkins, OF/3B




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

53 Responses to “Top 30 Prospects: The Toronto Blue Jays”

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  1. Matt says:

    Does spring training affect these rankings? Since Thames and Lawrie have been decent so far.

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  2. John says:

    Marc,

    Out of the 11-30, who would you say are the top few guys in terms of estimated peak WAR? Thanks

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    • jkljk says:

      A.J. Jimenez hit: .305 .347 .435 wOBA: .359 in A ball.

      Anthony Gose could be the next Carl Crawford if he learns how to hit a bit better. He has been said to be Ricky Henderson fast.

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      • Sean ONeill says:

        He could also be a total bust if his power doesn’t develop, or if he can’t cut down on his strikeouts, etc. The ceiling is there, but the level of risk is enormous. Personally, I’d take a guy like Eric Thames over him every time. While Thames may not have the ceiling Gose does, I’m more confident that Thames will develop into an above-average MLB player than I am that Gose will become an MLB caliber player, period. It all depends on how risk averse you are in your evaluations.

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    • Jim says:

      Gustavo Pierre has great upside, but is obviously far from it. Pilierre comped his body and upside to Hanley, but that’s going to be nearly impossible to live up to obviously.

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    • Eric says:

      I think Marisnick is gonna be a stud. Jay Bruce-type.

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    • JayTeam says:

      Sean, have to disagree on Gose busting if his power doesn’t develop. IMO, all he needs is one thing developing – getting his OBP obove .350 (easier said than done I know). Some parts of his game need refinement, but a true CF that can fly and has the arm of a RF is rare and valuable. It’s Thames who has numerous limitations and must hit with consistent power to keep an MLB job.

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  3. Chris says:

    Regarding Deck McGuire: it’s Georgia Tech. There is no U. Just as there is no U in MIT or Cal Tech.

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  4. Grant says:

    Kudos to you for having the balls to put Perez ahead of D’Arnaud. I think he’s been the better prospect all along this offseason, but folks are too afraid to go against popular opinion.

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    • johan says:

      Here here. Everybody sits there and talks about D’Arnaud’s bat as if its a sure thing, and I personally think its far from it. I think Perez is the total package.

      I will say this about the list. I think Arencibia at 3 is way too high. He is going to struggle at the major league level with all the swing and miss in his game.

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  5. The_Beard says:

    I’d be curious to hear more about Thames after his huge year.

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    • jkljk says:

      Hes a bit old for AA and does struggle a lot against lefties.
      I wouldn’t mind him as a platoon outfielder though.

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      • Sean ONeill says:

        The demise of minorleaguesplits is quite unfortunate, but IIRC the platoon splits with Thames were overstated. I’m also not sure the age thing is that big a deal…he was 23, but was only in his 2nd full year of professional ball. He could make the MLB sometime this year, which would make him a 24 year old rookie…that’s not “old”, even by prospect standards.

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      • Paul says:

        I was going to suggest Milb.com for split, but they only do current team, so his splits on there are for AFL only. Small sample, but no power at all. I believe it was Hulett who watched his BP in the AFL and thought he was really advanced at putting nice backspin on the ball. I’m watching him because he has the profile of one of those guys who really pops when everything comes together.

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  6. Andrew says:

    What’s the justification for Toronto over Atlanta and Philly? More depth? More star power?

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    • johan says:

      More depth. Arguable about the star power with Atlanta, but Toronto has just a ton of guys that with some development could explode. Aaron Sanchez, Murphy, Nicolino, Cardona and Syndegaard could really develop into top of the rotation type pitchers.

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  7. Big Jgke says:

    Top 30! I love it. Thanks, Marc.

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  8. Big Jgke says:

    Pretty Big indictment of the JP Riccirdi regime that Kevin Ahrens, Justin Jackson, and David Cooper are all off the top 30.

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    • Big Jgke says:

      Except for Cooper who is in the top 30. Whoops.

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    • johan says:

      Cooper has had a nice spring. Don’t count him out yet. I get your point though. Toronto does seem to be better off with AA.

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    • patmccaw says:

      Yes, but not unwarented, given how far off the map Ahrens and Jackson have fallen.

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    • Dixon says:

      Keep in mind that the year he drafted Ahrens and Jackson, he also drafted Arrencibia, Cecil, Mills, and Rzepczynski. Not to mention Magnuson who was traded for Rajai Davis.

      Ahrens looks like a bust, but he was a high school risk that didnt pan out. It happens. It would still be hard to call that anything but a really good draft by JP. He’s definitely made some mistakes, but that years draft was not one of them.

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    • Steve says:

      A few years from now, there will be people knocking AA and pointing out his busts as proof. Every GM has 1st round busts on his record. I like AA over JP, but overall JP did a good job of drafting. I read on a Blue Jays blog that since 2004 players drafted by JP ranked 4th in total WAR when compared to the other 29 teams. Unfortunately I don’t have a reference, nor would I be willing to do the research myself, but I definitely don’t have a hard time believing the stat when you consider the players drafted by JP who have been enjoying solid careers.

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      • Mike says:

        Key word in your argument is solid. But as AA has stated for the Blue Jays to succeed they need more than just average to above average players. You look at there pitching staff and who besides Morrow has above average stuff yes they have a few solid pitchers in romero and cecil and maybe litsch but that is not good enough when the yankees or redsox are gaurenteed to sign one or two of the top free agents every year. JP was a pretty good drafter and in another division maybe his teams would have competed and made the playoffs but in the AL East with a smaller budget you have to be creative to compete with the big boys.

        Look at the guys AA is aquiring
        Drabek
        Morrow
        Gose
        A. Sanchez
        Lawrie

        These are top talents with the potential to become stars.

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  9. baty says:

    I still like Lawrie over Drabek… When he finds a place defensively, I think he’ll be just fine… Even if he doesn’t develop the home run numbers accustomed with corner positions, I expect him to rack up lots of extra base hits and even solid walk rates. I think the power will come…

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  10. Alan says:

    These WAR projections seem really generous compared to other teams

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  11. gabriel says:

    I’m a little surprised to see d’Arnaud ranked higher than Gose- they both have to prove they can hit at a high level, but Gose is younger and has more tools than d’Arnaud. As an aside, when was the last time the Jays had a true stud prospect, top ten overall?

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  12. Peter Gentleman says:

    I guessing the “tempered enthusiasm” for Arencibia is because he just looks like another Miguel Olivo/Rod Barajas/Bengie Molina/John Buck/Ramon Castro .240/.280/.410 catcher.

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    • johan says:

      .240 might be generous on the batting average. J.P is a hacker to me. Yeah, he has fantastic power at the catching position, but you got to hit it first.

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      • greenfrog says:

        Well, he hit .275 in the minors, so it’s not like he doesn’t have the potential for a respectable BA.

        On the other hand, Jeff Mathis (career MLB BA .199) hit .276 in the minors…

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    • Mike says:

      I think his ceiling might be a Mike Napoli unfourtunatly

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  13. everdiso says:

    the depth there is pretty incredible. 11-20 there could come close to matching some teams’ top-10s.

    heck, there’s guys in the 21-30 range there that are not just filler (I’m thinking Mastro and Jimenez in particular), but legit quality prospects with a very solid shot at being effective MLBers.

    I like Gose a little more than this list shows, though with all the depth here every list varies so much between 1-20 it just goes to show how this system is pretty much impossible to rank.

    Though I have to say that while I can see some reasons for 9 of the guys ranked ahead of Gose, I have a hard time seeing any reason to rank Hech ahead of Gose.

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  14. BWOzar says:

    Marc,

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on Cardona. I know he’s only 16 but I was under the impression he has a monstrous arm. 19 seems a bit conservative for me – is it simply because of age and null experience or do you have significant concerns about his future and projections?.

    Thanks

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  15. jason says:

    what a difference a year makes.

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  16. xdog says:

    Maybe not at the level of talent evaluation, but relevant nonetheless. My Tech friends and in-laws would have a fit at a public mis-designation of their school. Only we Georgia fans are allowed to refer to the Techies as Georgia Vo-Tech or the North Avenue Trade School.

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  17. xdog says:

    I referred to the ‘GTU’ and ‘relevant’ comments in my previous post but the comment box saw fit to remove them.

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  18. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Also a positive reflection on the Phillies’ farm system that still finished 5th despite trading Toronto 3 of it’s top 11 prospects within the last 2 years.

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  19. Jeff says:

    Where do i find the other top 30′s and organizational rankings?

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  20. allan1144 says:

    I’m really surprised Adam Loewen never got a mention. I think he’s a real sleeper in the system.

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  21. Jacob says:

    Where’s Brian Jeroloman(sp)? Top USA prospect, AAA currently, and young. Pretty darn good.

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  22. I delight in, cause I discovered just what I was looking for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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  23. freddy says:

    anthony gose is a rising prospect, the Jays also have infielder Montaous Walton on the rise who showed a ton of potential down at the academy two years in a row, many compare him to BJ upton!

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