The Graduate: Jesse Carlson | Born: December 1980 | Left-Handed Pitcher
Southpaw reliever Jesse Carlson finally reached the Major Leagues at the age of 27 and in his second tour of duty in the Jays’ system. Originally a 15th round selection out of college by Detroit, Carlson bounced around the minors for parts of seven seasons and spent four seasons at Double-A. He received his first MLB promotion early in 2008 and ended up appearing in 69 big league games. He allowed just 41 hits in 60 innings of work with rates of 3.15 BB/9 and 8.25 K/9. A fastball-slider pitcher, Carlson actually used his slider more often than his fastball in 2008 (42.7% to 56.1%). Bill James’ projection for 2009 expects Carlson to remain a productive left-handed reliever, leaving the Jays with four quality left-handed relievers: Carlson, B.J. Ryan, Scott Downs, and Brian Tallet.
The Riser: J.P. Arencibia | Born: January 1986 | Catcher
A 2007 first-round draft pick, J.P. Arencibia is arguably one of the Top 3-5 catching prospects in all of baseball, with the Orioles’ Matt Wieters firmly at No. 1. Arencibia split 2008 between High-A ball and Double-A and hit 27 home runs and drove in 105 runs. He also significantly improved his defence and will have no problems remaining behind the plate, which was a concern during his college career. Arencibia needs to work on his patience at the plate if he is going to hit for a respectable average at the Major League level. He walked less than four percent of the time this past season and often swings at the first pitch, which is something experienced pitchers will exploit.
The Tumbler: Trystan Magnuson | Born: June 1985 | Right-Handed Pitcher
A late-blooming college reliever, Trystan Magnuson was nabbed by the Jays in the 2007 supplemental first round as a college senior for his impressive fastball. Moved to the starting rotation in 2008, Magnuson was brutal in the first half and posted an 11.85 ERA in five May starts. He settled down in the second half of the season. Overall, he allowed 91 hits in 81.2 innings and posted rates of 3.86 BB/9 and 5.40 K/9. He’ll turn 24 in June and will probably begin 2009 back in A-ball so it might be wise to converted him back to a reliever in the hopes that he can accelerate his timetable to the Majors.
The ’08 Draft Pick: Tyler Pastornicky | Born: December 1989 | Shortstop
The Jays jumped back into the prep drafting pool in 2008, after finding success in 2007 – the first year the organization had spent heavily on drafting high school players in five years. Taken in the fifth round, Tyler Pastornicky was a little more advanced than the Jays had expected and he hit .263/.348/.356 with 27 stolen bases in 50 Rookie Ball games. He also took 21 walks, while striking out just 21 times. Impressively, his offensive numbers improved in each month, from June to August, as he made adjustments. Pastornicky showed solid hands in the field too, and he made just six errors in 38 games at shortstop.
The ’09 Sleeper: Brad Emaus | Born: March 1986 | Second Baseman
There weren’t many players that improved their stocks more in 2008 than Brad Emaus. The second baseman, in just his first full season, impressed offensively despite skipping over A-ball and beginning the year in High-A ball. Emaus hit .302/.381/.463 with a .161 ISO during the regular season and then dominated the Hawaii Winter Baseball league by hitting .333/.447/.494 (and taking 17 walks compared to just seven strikeouts) in 26 games. The Jays now have some depth up the middle, as fellow second base prospect Scott Campbell also had a breakout season in Double-A. At worst, Emaus should be able to have a similar career to former A’s infielder Scott Spiezio.
Up Next: The Colorado Rockies
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.