Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Prospects

General Manager: Alex Anthopoulos
Farm Director: Tony LaCava
Scouting Director: Andrew Tinnish

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

This is a tough system to rank beyond the Top 3 because the organization had such a down year in ’09 with a lot of prospects (hopefully temporarily) wiping out. On the plus side, there are quite a few talented players who are one good season away from shooting up the depth chart. The loss of Roy Halladay was a huge blow to the organization, as well as baseball in Canada, but the trade did infuse some much-needed talent.

1. Brett Wallace, 3B/1B, Triple-A
DOB: August 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2008 1st round – Arizona State University (St. Louis)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Wallace is the guy that was always destined to be a Blue Jay. The club drafted him out of high school in ’05 even though he was an almost impossible signing due to his commitment to Arizona State. The club then had hoped to grab him in the ’08 draft, but St. Louis got to him first. Finally, the club nabbed him in a deal with Oakland (for Michael Taylor, who was obtained in the Roy Halladay deal). Wallace had a busy year in ’09 and played with three different minor league teams in double-A and triple-A. Overall on the year, he hit .293/.365/.458, which is not bad at all considering it was his first full season and he had a lot of change to deal with. The left-handed hitter fared very well against southpaws with an .897 OPS. Wallace projects to be a 20+ home run hitter with the ability to hit .280-.300. However, he needs to get a little more loft on the ball if he’s going to be a consistent power hitter. His walk rate took a bit of a hit with the promotion to triple-A (6.5%) compared to his double-A rate (11.7%), so he could stand to make some improvements in that area.

2. Kyle Drabek, RHP, Double-A
DOB: December 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 1st round – Texas HS (Philadelphia)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-96 mph fastball, plus curveball, change-up

Drabek had an excellent ’09 season while returning from Tommy John surgery. He began the year in high-A ball and allowed 49 hits in 61.2 innings of work. His walk rate was solid at 2.77 BB/9 and he did not allow a home run, despite an average ground-ball rate. His strikeout rate was a nifty 10.80. Moved up to double-A, Drabek’s FIP rose from 1.82 to 3.83 but his walk rate was still good at 2.90 BB/9. His strikeout rate dropped to 7.10 K/9. He gave up nine homers in double-A, as his HR/9 rate increased to 0.84 and his ground-ball rate dropped a little below average. Overall, he allowed 141 hits in 158.0 innings of work. The right-hander will probably begin the year back in double-A where he can hopefully improve his worm-burning numbers before moving up to the hitter’s haven that is Las Vegas. Drabek has the potential to be a No. 1 or 2 starter.

3. Zach Stewart, RHP, Double-A
DOB: September 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 3rd round – Texas Tech University (Cincinnati)
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-93 mph fastball, slider, change-up

The club’s No. 1 prospect before the Halladay trade, Stewart is more suited to this position on a team’s Top 10 list. The right-hander has good stuff but the jury is still out on if he’s a starter or reliever. Toronto seems committed to him as a starter, which makes sense considering the bullpen depth that the club has at this point. Stewart pitched for four teams and at three levels in ’09. He began the year in high-A ball and posted a 2.63 FIP in seven starts. Moved up to double-A, he posted a 2.77 FIP in another seven starts. Jumped to triple-A with the Reds, he moved to the bullpen and had a 3.42 FIP in nine appearances before moving to Toronto where he had a 3.42 FIP in 11 games. His control dipped with each promotion, going from 1.70 to 2.43 to 4.90, so he clearly has some more work to do. On the plus side, his strikeout rate rose from 6.80 to 7.54 to 10.52. Along with his excellent K-rate, Stewart produces a lot of ground-balls (53% in ’09). If he can sharpen his change-up, he could be a solid No. 3 starter.

4. J.P. Arencibia, C, Triple-A
DOB: January 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 1st round – University of Tennessee
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

It was an ugly year for Arencibia, who balked at making adjustments to his approach at the plate, which led to a dismal walk rate of just 5.2% (although it was an improvement over ’08). Arencibia had a breakout year in ’08 by hitting 27 homers and driving in 105 runs between high-A and double-A. However, his wOBA dropped from .402 in high-A to .348 in double-A… and it continued to slide in ’09, down to .316. His strikeout rate has gone from 18.5 to 21.0 to 24.5% during that same span. His BABIP also bottomed out in ’09 at .269, as his triple-slash line was just .236/.284/.444 in 466 triple-A at-bats. It was bad timing for Arencibia, who likely would have been in line for the starting gig in Toronto in 2010, if he had had even an average year at triple-A. On the positive side, Arencibia has made huge strides on defense and now projects to be an average-to-above-average MLB catcher. Unless his hitting improves, though, he could be relegated to platoon work or a back-up gig on a championship-caliber team.

5. Moises Sierra, OF, Double-A
DOB: September 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Late-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

With one of the strongest outfield arms in all of minor league baseball, Sierra made huge strides at the plate in ’09. Just 21, he hit .286/.360/.393 in 405 at-bats at high-A ball. His walk rate has improved each of the past three seasons and it was 7.4% in ’09. His strikeout rate has dropped each year and it was just 16.3% in high-A, as Sierra is obviously becoming more confident at the plate. He also improved his base running in ’09 and stole 10 bases in 12 tries after being successful just 12 times in 23 tries in ’08. On the negative side, his power has yet to develop, although he has the potential to hit for power. His ISO rate has dropped each of the past three seasons from .154 to .118 to .106. The club was obviously happy with Sierra’s performance in ’09, which included a wOBA of .353, and he received a late-season promotion to double-A. After appearing in just nine games at that level last season, Sierra should return there for 2010. He is a breakout candidate for the new season.

6. Brad Mills, LHP, Triple-A
DOB: March 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2007 4th round – University of Arizona
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 86-90 mph fastball, plus change-up, curveball

Mills almost made the club out of spring training in ’09 – after an excellent ’08 season – and his value skyrocketed early in the year. Unfortunately, he had some ups-and-downs at triple-A and also battled injuries, which has caused him to fall out of favor with a lot of prospect watchers. Despite his “off year,” Mills still posted a 3.80 FIP at triple-A and showed acceptable control with a walk rate of 3.74 BB/9 and a good, but not great, strikeout rate at 7.68 K/9. Given two starts in the Majors, Mills tried to nibble and lacked confidence in his fastball and curveball, both of which had negative values in a small sample size (7.2 innings). If healthy in 2010, Mills should open the year back in triple-A but he could be one of the first pitchers called up.

7. Travis D’Arnaud, C, Low-A
DOB: February 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 supplemental 1st round pick (Philadelphia)
MLB ETA: Late-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

D’Arnaud could be ranked higher on this list but I’m taking the conservative approach as he played at low-A in ’09. Like Wallace, the club had tried to acquire this catcher via the draft but he was nabbed with the 37th overall pick by the Phillies. Toronto, picking 38th, ended up with Brett Cecil (a nice compensation). D’Arnaud, who turns 21 shortly, hit .255/.319/.419 in 482 at-bats in low-A ball last year (His numbers were depressed by a .279 BABIP). He showed good power potential with 38 doubles and 13 homers (.164 ISO). The catcher also had a pretty good approach at the plate with a walk rate of 7.6% and a strikeout rate of 15.6%. He has a good defensive reputation but he threw out just 23% of base stealers. The system suddenly has good depth at the catching position with the likes or Arencibia, D’Arnaud, and Carlos Perez.

8. Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Low-A
DOB: April 1990 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Venezuela)
MLB ETA: Mid-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-93 mph fastball, plus change-up, slider

Alvarez is an exciting prospect because his fastball has been gaining velocity over the past two seasons and now sits comfortably in the low 90s, and it has excellent sink. That good downward movement resulted in a ground-ball rate of 51.4% at low-A in ’09. The right-hander gave up just one homer in 124.1 innings of work, while also posting a 2.43 FIP as a teenager. He also showed excellent control for his age with a walk rate of 1.38 BB/9. Still learning how to set up hitters, Alvarez’ strikeout rate was just 6.66 K/9 but his breaking ball has strikeout potential. He’ll move up to High-A ball in 2010 at the age just 20.

9. Carlos Perez, C, Rookie
DOB: October 1990 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 non-drafted international free agent (Venezuela)
MLB ETA: Late-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

The organization has not had much luck handing out large contracts to big-named international free agents, but Perez joins Alvarez and Sierra as one of the Jays’ best under-the-radar Latin signings. The catcher is solid defensive (albeit it with the usual youthful development needs), and he’s also becoming quite a force at the plate thanks to his solid batting eye. Perez, 19, made his North American debut in ’09 at rookie ball and hit .291/.364/.433 in 141 at-bats. After walking more than he struck out in the Dominican Summer League in ’08, he posted a respectable walk rate of 9.8% in the Gulf Coast League. He also showed some line-drive pop (.142 ISO) and he is more athletic than most catchers.

10. Danny Farquhar, RHP, Double-A
DOB: February 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 10th round – University of Louisiana-Lafayette
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-94 mph fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, change-up

There are a number of other prospects that could have slid in here such as Gustavo Pierre, Tyler Pastornicky, Justin Jackson – interestingly enough all shortstops – because the system has so many sleepers in it right now (but few “can’t miss” names). Tim Collins was also an option here, but he projects to be a left-handed reliever, so his ceiling is a little lower than Farquhar who could develop into an eighth-inning guy, if not a closer. The right-hander comes at hitters from a variety of arm angles and can reach the low-90s from a sidearm slot. Perhaps because he throws so many different pitches – and with so many angles – Farquhar’s control has suffered and he posted a walk rate of 5.91 BB/9 in double-A. That obviously has to improve before he’ll have much success in the Majors. Despite that fact, he posted a 10.05 K/9 rate and allowed just one homer and 31 hits in 45.2 innings at the double-A level.

Up Next: The Washington Nationals



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Johnny
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Is there any chance Wallace can stick at third? Or is he too defensively limited to handle the hot corner?

BX
Guest
BX
6 years 6 months ago

Strongly doubt the A’s would’ve traded him if it was likely he was passable at 3B.

Renegade
Guest
Renegade
6 years 7 months ago

Alex Anthopoulos has already stated that Wallace will not play 3b.

Matt B.
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

If that is the ceiling for Wallace (.280-300 with maybe 20 HRs) than Drabek should be the #1 prospect no?

I know a lot of people are high on him (Wallace) but to me it seems a little unwarranted for a potential Casey Kotchman type?

dl80
Member
dl80
6 years 6 months ago

Totally agree. I’m certainly not a major league scout by any means, but everything I’ve seen and read pegs Wallace as, at best, Lyle Overbay 2.0.

Overbay has had a decent/good career, and had several seasons of 2 – 2.5 WAR. He’s been roughly an average first basemen for his career, with some years up and some down. That is plenty useful for a team like the Blue Jays. But it certainly isn’t going to help them climb the AL East. And that’s probably Wallace’s CEILING.

.290/.350/.450. Meh. That’s assuming everything basically goes right for Wallace. Then the Jays MIGHT have an average first basemen on their hands. If that truly is their #1 prospect, they’re going to be in 3rd or 4th (5th?) place in that division for a while.

SD
Guest
SD
6 years 7 months ago

What about last years first round pick Chad Jenkins? Or CF Jake Marisnick? I see that these rankings are mostly comprised due to their performance in the minors so I can understand why they aren’t on the list as neither have played, but based off potential I’d put them both easily above Faquhar, at least. That’s the only thing that I disagree with though and I like this list better then others out there, such as Baseball Americas.

jfish26101
Member
6 years 7 months ago

“(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)”

Nelson
Guest
Nelson
6 years 7 months ago

In which world was Kotchman a perrenial 20-30 HR, 280-290 hitter? His career high in a year was 2005 with 17 HRs split between AAA and Anahiem.

Only 25 players players hit above .280 with 25 HR’s in 2009. Wallace probably won’t be an MVP caliber players, but those projections are nothing to turn your nose at.

Matt B.
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I meant more the projected career path for Kotch when he was ascending the BA Angels prospect lists… We all see how he turned out, very similiar scouting reports (potential to hit 20+ HRs).

DavidCEisen
Guest
DavidCEisen
6 years 7 months ago

So every prospect that is projected to hit .280 and 20+ HRs should be ignored because Kotchman didn’t pan out?

Matt B.
Guest
6 years 6 months ago

Yes DavidEicen, that is PRECISELY what I said…. Good call…

opisgod
Member
opisgod
6 years 7 months ago

And Brad Mills looks more and more like Barry Zito with each passing day.

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
6 years 7 months ago

I’ll take the Oakland years of Zito (what i assume would be his BJ’s equivalent) any day of the week from Mills.

philkid3
Guest
philkid3
6 years 7 months ago

What order are these being unveiled in. Random? When are the Rangers going to be listed?

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
6 years 7 months ago

Is Josh Roenicke no longer a prospect? There was a lot of buzz around him when the team acquired him.
Also, you may have covered this somewhere, but, where would the OF that was traded to Seattle for Morrow rank? Was he a similar player to Sierra?

Matt B.
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Age and being a relief pitcher I assume are working against him.

Jake Silver
Guest
Jake Silver
6 years 7 months ago

i remember hearing that he would not have been in the top 20 jays prospects let alone the top ten. dang, i need to remember where i heard that from

Peter Longfield
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Fascinating!

BATTLETANK
Member
BATTLETANK
6 years 7 months ago

Who ranks better:

Taylor or Wallace?

Matt B.
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I would have to say Wallace based on everything I have read over the past couple years… Different players though, Taylor is supposed to an athletic Jermaine Dye type OFer, Wallace possibly a poor mans Morneau? That could be generous.

INFO
Guest
INFO
6 years 7 months ago

Look at all the prospect lists available, all of them put Wallace ahead of Taylor..

BATTLETANK
Member
BATTLETANK
6 years 7 months ago

they’re a year apart in age.

but everything else says that they’re about equal and taylor is a better fielder.

wallace is now stuck at 1b for his career, while taylor is an athletic specimen who plays a very good OF.

and taylor is a better baserunner.

i don’t get it.

jfish26101
Member
6 years 7 months ago

What lists are you looking at that all have Taylor behind Wallace? Last years lists?

I’m going to guess most lists this year will have Taylor ahead of Wallace.

Kampfer
Guest
Kampfer
6 years 7 months ago

A 1B Wallace is not going to be ahead of Taylor.Now Taylor is most likely a better prospect.

Renegade
Guest
Renegade
6 years 6 months ago

Yup. Two lists that came out this week (MLB Mayo’s and ESPN’s Law) had Wallace far ahead of Taylor. We’ll see what BP and BA’s lists say.

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
6 years 7 months ago

One more question: Is there any hope for the group of highly drafted high-ceiling offensive players from a few years ago (Ahrens, Jackson, Tolisano, et al) that drew so much praise from the prospect watching communtiy?

Patrick K
Guest
Patrick K
6 years 7 months ago

No David Cooper?

Mylegacy
Guest
Mylegacy
6 years 7 months ago

Marc – as usual – good work.

By this time next year the Jays will have a much different looking minor league system. Guys like Jenkins (who I’m over the moon high one), Manisnick, Pierre, D’Arnaud and Perez – not to mention one or two of Jackson’s “Class” – I expect to almost ALL come on strong. Throw in 8 (9 if Barajas signs a Major League contract) newbies in the Draft before the fourth round AND who knows what on international signings and I’m wired about the Jays going forward.

AL
Guest
AL
6 years 6 months ago

What do you guys think about Tim Collins? I though he might have been somewhere on this list.

gnomez
Guest
gnomez
6 years 6 months ago

What do people who follow the Jays’ system think of Ryan Page? 3.0 K/BB ratio, 51% GB rate. Yes, his strikeout rate is really low (only 4.8 K9), but I’d imagine there will be some improvement as he develops, and he’s pretty effective as-is as a pitch-to-contact pitcher. He’s also LH, which gives him plenty of options.

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