Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Toronto Blue Jays

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The top of the Blue Jays system saw an almost complete overhaul with the trades and promotions of the past year. It obviously has been for the best, as many of the organization’s first-year contributors played well last season — even if the minor leagues appear a little barren at a quick glance. Fortunately, the system remains filled with a lot of upside at the lower levels, and recent drafts have only helped to strengthen that depth, even if it is of the higher risk variety.

Anthony Alford is the only impact bat I see, with a few potentially useful position players in above the 45+ future-value line. Rowdy Tellez and Richard Urena both have upside with the bats, but each has enough question marks to keep them from being reliable prospects to project at the big-league level. I still like Max Pentecost’s chances of becoming an average producer, though that possibility is very dependent on his ability to return to health.

The pitching side is a bit stronger at the moment, headlined by Conner Greene and Sean Reid-Foley. I like both of their chances of remaining starters and being solid contributors, and there are a slew of lower-level hurlers with interesting qualities that could jump up this list by next year.

The strength of this system may be in the 40+ FV players and those who are just off the list. That group is filled with tremendous raw athletes, bounceback candidates and recent draftees with moderate upsides. While those kinds of profiles are risky for counting on any one prospect, the sheer volume of guys they have in those categories bodes well for a couple of them putting things together and moving toward higher end of the list.

Here’s the primer for the series and my scouting thoughts in general. The grades I put on players heavily weight the functionality of each tool in game situations, rather than just pure tool grades. Here is a table to understand the position player grades:

Scouting Grades in Context: Hitters
Grade Tool Is Called Batting Average HR ISO Baserunning Runs Fielding Runs
80 80 0.320 40 0.300 12 30
75 0.310 35-40 0.275 10 25
70 Plus Plus 0.300 30-35 0.250 8 20
65 0.290 27-30 0.225 6 15
60 Plus 0.280 23-27 0.200 4 10
55 Above Average 0.270 19-22 0.175 2 5
50 Average 0.260 15-18 0.150 0 0
45 Below Average 0.250 12-15 0.125 -2 -5
40 0.240 8-12 0.100 -4 -10
35 0.230 5-8 0.075 -6 -15
30 0.220 3-5 0.050 -8 -20

As well as one to understand what the overall grades approximate:

Scouting Grades in Context: Overall
Grade Hitter Starting Pitcher Relief Pitcher WAR
80 Top 1-2 #1 Starter —- 7
75 Top 2-3 #1 —- 6
70 Top 5 #1/2 —- 5
65 All-Star #2/3 —- 4
60 Plus #3 High Closer 3
55 Above Avg #3/4 Mid Closer 2.5
50 Avg Regular #4 Low CL/High SU 2
45 Platoon/Util #5 Low Setup 1.5
40 Bench Swing/Spot SP Middle RP 1
35 Emergency Call-Up Emergency Call-Up Emergency Call-Up 0
30 *Organizational *Organizational *Organizational -1

One other difference in the way I communicate scouting grades to you is the presence of three numbers on each tool instead of just two. The first number is the current grade. The second number is the likely future grade; or, if you prefer percentiles, call this the 50th percentile projection. The third number is the ceiling grade, or 90th percentile projection, to help demonstrate the volatility and raw potential of a tool. I feel this gives readers a better sense of the possible outcomes a player could achieve, and more information to understand my thoughts on the likelihood of reaching those levels. If you prefer the traditional methodologies of other publications, I would suggest averaging the latter two grades together to get a semi-optimistic view of where a player projects.

In the biographical information, level refers to where they finished the year, unless they were sent down for injury rehab or other extraneous reasons. Ages are listed as of April 1, 2016. You can also find each player’s previous rank from Kiley’s list last year. Below, Dave Cameron shares his thoughts on the general state of the organization. Returning for his popular cameo, Carson Cistulli picks his favorite fringe prospect toward the end of the list.

Organizational Overview
The Blue Jays have an aging core group that is likely making their last run together in 2016, but with some strong young pieces in place and farm system that could add additional pieces in the next few years, the Jays aren’t set for the same kind of crash as some other end-of-their-road contenders. The team will have to figure out how to replace a lot of value when their veteran free agents inevitably cash in elsewhere, but with a solid base of talent to build from, the Jays should be able to hang around in the AL East for the short-term. The long-term will depend on how many more hidden gems the organization can unearth.

50+ FV Prospects

Video courtesy of Minor League Baseball
1. Anthony Alford, OF
Current Level/Age: High-A/21.7, 6’1/215, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 112th overall (3rd round) in 2012 out of Mississippi HS by TOR for $750,000 bonus
Previous Rank: 9

Alford has crazy good athleticism that translates to every part of the game, but it was truly impressive how well he performed in his first full professional season. Every year since 2012 he had played college football during the school year before getting in a handful of games for the Blue Jays each summer, but last year he solely concentrated on baseball. He showed off great center-field defense and tons of upside with the bat up through the High-A level. Being only 21 years old, he still has plenty of time to gain the necessary experience to fine tune his game.

His work at the plate is particularly exceptional given his small number of at-bats. He maintained a solid walk rate to go along with average strikeout numbers, showing an advanced approach for his age. He has great balance at the plate and a line-drive swing. His natural power is limited by some lost whip due to his upper body working mechanically a bit in just one piece, as well as a lack of much natural lift. He’s close enough that it’s not unreasonable to see him making a small adjustment and getting to future 45 power. I have a feeling his strikeout rates are going to end up better than league average as he has more at-bats, so his hit tool could end up being better than a 60, but I’m comfortable waiting to see how he progresses this year before raising it.

With his power representing the only tool that profiles as below average, Alford has the biggest upside in the system. It won’t take much improvement this year for him to be on the brink of a major-league call up. I’ll be watching to see how his balance and pitch tracking fares against better offspeed deliveries when he gets promoted to Double-A, as well as if he starts creating more lift on his drives. His ceiling is as high as nearly any player’s in the minor leagues — and might be within his reach with a solid development year in 2016.

Hit: 35/55/60 Power: 30/40/45 Run: 55/60/65 Field: 55/60/60 Throw: 55/55/55
Overall: 45/60/65-70

Video courtesy of Johnny Greene
2. Conner Greene, RHP
Current Level/Age: High-A/21.0, 6’3/185, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 205th overall (7th round) in 2013 out of California HS by TOR for $100,000 bonus
Previous Rank: 31

Greene was given a longer leash in full-season ball last year and didn’t disappoint. He threw strikes and struck out 115 batters in 132.1 innings split across three levels, going from projectable Rookie-ball pitcher to one of the best pitching prospects in the system in one year. His stuff still needs tightening up, but his command and exceptional changeup give him the weapons to breeze through most minor-league lineups in the meantime.

Having added weight to his athletic frame in recent years, Greene now sits in the low- to mid-90s with good command of his fastball. He can spot it down in the zone with good movement or run it across the letters with “rise” on his four-seam. He throws a changeup that will play at least above-average because of arm speed and command, though it probably won’t be a swing-and-miss offering. His curveball lacks bite despite its good tilt and command.

There is still some physical projection left in his frame, lending hope for another tick or two of sustained velocity on his fastball. His curveball has plus potential if he learns to throw it with the same conviction as his changeup and fastball, perhaps also helped by expected strength gains. He’s athletic on the mound with clean actions. The only thing keeping me from putting his likely future grade above a 55 is the need for a clear out pitch, which would help raise his strikeout potential dramatically.

Fastball: 55/60/65 Curveball: 45/50+/55-60 Changeup: 50/55/60 Command: 50/55+/60
Overall: 45+/55/65

3. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP
Current Level/Age: High-A/20.6, 6’3/220, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 49th overall (2nd round) in 2014 out of Florida HS by TOR for $1.128 million bonus
Previous Rank: 10

Reid-Foley is blessed with amazing core mobility, giving him some of the best hip-shoulder separation and rotational mechanics in the minors. Some have concerns over qualities of his arm action that would normally make a pitcher late getting to release, but his mid-section allows him to utilize a longer timeline without losing out on the force created by his legs or putting his arm in a bad spot. The bigger moves result in easy velocity and movement potential, but he also needs time to learn how to harness his timing accordingly.

His fastball is at least a future 60 offering, reaching into the mid-90s with good run. He locates it very well when his delivery is timed up, flashing plus command in stretches. His changeup is the most consistent offspeed pitch he has currently, looking like an above-average delivery with some upside. His slider and curveball both look flat as often as they show above-average break. The development of both will depend on finding consistency with his rhythm.

Overall, Reid-Foley already shows close to average command, with a ceiling in the plus range if things come together. He’s a sufficiently strong athlete to expect more consistency in the future, which will have an exponential effect on his arsenal and continued effectiveness against advanced hitters. I don’t see his arm action being a harbinger of injury problems, especially with a relatively low-stress look to it when he’s going good.

He is very projectable even with his high walk rates in the early going, enough to have a high third/low second starter ceiling. If he can harness his delivery enough to produce average walk rates, he won’t have any problem reaching at least a mid-rotation role. Should that prove too difficult, he has shown better control and command early in his outings, leading to a possible future as a lights-out reliever.

Fastball: 55/60/65 Curveball: 40/45/50 Slider: 45/50/55 Changeup: 50/55/60 Command: 45+/50/60
Overall: 45/55/65

4. Max Pentecost, C
Current Level/Age: Low-A/23.1, 6’2/191, R/R
Acquired: Drafted 11th overall (1st round) in 2014 out of Kennessaw State by TOR for $2.888 million bonus
Previous Rank: 5

Having now undergone two shoulder surgeries since the 2014 draft, Pentecost’s arm strength may never be quite the same again. Fortunately, he has very soft hands and smooth actions with his receiving, and could end up a plus catcher without even considering opposing base-runner’s success rates. His great hands and solid-average raw speed could allow him to move off the position should his arm not come back, but that would obviously cut into his value tremendously.

Pentecost is a low line-drive hitter with a flat swing plane and quick hands. He doesn’t show a ton of potential for generating consistent home-run power, but he should sustain pretty solid contact rates. An over-aggressive approach in his pro debut led to bloated strikeout rates and few walks, but that’s likely to correct itself a bit over time. His on-base percentage will be dependent on hitting himself on, which I think he will do well enough to get to an average hit tool.

As long as the Blue Jays feel comfortable with his arm recovery to keep him behind the plate, Pentecost is a safe bet to be a solid-average catcher in the big leagues. The value he loses with his lack of power is mostly made up for by his defense behind the plate, which will be harder to envision should he switch positions. Hopefully his recovery continues to go well, and we should see him in game action sometime this season.

Hit: 35/50/55 Power: 30/35-40/40 Run: 55/50/55 Field: 50/55/60 Throw: 50/50/55
Overall: 20/50+/65

45+ FV Prospects
5. Rowdy Tellez, 1B, VIDEO, High-A

Tellez reminds me a lot of David Ortiz athletically. Sew a super athletic upper body with good rotational mechanics onto a stiff, unathletic pair of legs, and you get Ortiz and Tellez. They may even have comparable raw power, the difference being Ortiz’ ability to utilize that power effectively with a better swing path for putting the ball in the air.

The ball jumps off Tellez’ bat, but he’s very choppy getting to contact, limiting his power mostly to pitches up in the zone, where his plane is forced to level out more. What may save him from being a slugger who doesn’t slug enough is his raw hitting ability: Tellez has shown better contact rates than you’d expect and, partially as a result, the potential for a plus hit tool. Also, though his speed is extremely limited, he’s a smart base-runner who won’t kill you with poor decisions when he gets on.

Though he’s not a sure thing with the bat yet, I could very easily see him in the 50+ group without having to squint. I felt more comfortable with him here until he can make some swing adjustments. His bat will get him some kind of opportunity either way.

Hit: 45/55+/60 Power: 50/55/65 Run: 35/35/40 Field: 35/40/40 Throw: 45/45/45
Overall: 35/45+/60

6. Richard Urena, SS, VIDEO, High-A

Urena is all over the place when it comes to future projection. He could be a plus-fielding shortstop who hits for power, or he could be an average-ish defender who doesn’t hit enough to be more than a bench player. Some are concerned about his ability to stick at his position, but I think he ends up an above-average contributor overall on defense, regardless of where he ends up. I like elements of his swing from both sides of the plate, as well, but his approach is pretty abysmal, and I’m not sure he has the pitch recognition to tap into his above-average raw power.

His power is more a product of a pretty good swing path than raw strength. That usually bodes well for squaring more balls up because of time spent in line with pitch flight, but he seems to struggle with making adjustments mid-swing. He is also extremely aggressive to a fault, to the point that his 15 home runs last season actually exceeded his walk total (13). If his power were more guaranteed, he might be able to get away with that kind of approach, but as is, he needs to make an adjustment to profile as a lineup regular.

Blue Jays sources are big fans of his future development, and though I list a bunch of reasons why he’s a bit shaky, it’s important to recognize he’s only 20 years old. I remain more confident in his defense reaching the average-to-above plateau than his offense, but the potential is there for five average tools if his plate discipline improves.

Hit: 30/45/50 Power: 35/45+/50-55 Run: 50/50/50 Field: 50/55/55+ Throw: 60/60/60
Overall: 30/45/55-60

7. Jon Harris, RHP, VIDEO, Low-A

After a surprising drop to the 29th-overall pick in June, Harris struggled with his command and control in his first taste of pro ball. Though most are willing to brush it off as the product of being exhausted after a long year, I’m not sold on that reason yet. He has a very “wide” arm action, in that he lets the ball get away from him early, leading to some extra lag that he has to correct by speeding up his arm. I see more effort in his delivery as a result, and his command doesn’t seem to be as good as advertised.

I like his stuff plenty, headlined by three potential above-average pitches in a fastball, slider and changeup. His curveball requires too much of a change in release point to make it effective, and though it has good shape and bite, it won’t fool advanced hitters. His future really comes down to his command developing, which could happen with some tightening up of his arm mechanics. I’m inclined to think he will improve enough to be a solid back-end starter with upside, but that will still require legitimate work to translate his college success to the pro scene.

Fastball: 50/55/55 Curveball: 40/45/45 Slider: 45/50/55 Changeup: 45/50/55 Command: 40/45/45+
Overall: 35/45/55

40+ FV Prospects
8. Justin Maese, RHP, VIDEO, Rookie

Maese acquitted himself nicely in his pro debut, showing off a heavy, sinking fastball and a projectable frame. His slider and changeup are very early in the development process, as are his command and delivery. He’s a great overall athlete, having also been a standout high-school quarterback, but I won’t be completely sold until we see him using his body to throw the ball rather than just his arm.

The arm speed is there with a unique release and good movement on his fastball, so his future is very much tied to what the Blue Jays’ player development staff can get out of him. The lack of finer qualities on the mound leave his likely future grade a bit low, but he’s another possible mid-rotation starter if he can turn potential into reality.

Fastball: 50/55/60 Slider: 40/50/55 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 40/45/50
Overall: 35/40-45/55+

9. Angel Perdomo, LHP, Single-A

Perdomo’s story is still relatively unchanged: he’s a hard-throwing left-hander with command issues and physical projection left in his 6-foot-6 frame. He continues to pile up strikeouts at lower levels, but the command hasn’t stepped forward yet, and it’s looking more likely it moves him out of the rotation. Both his slider and changeup could be average offerings, but it’s his fastball that’s going to keep him moving forward. There’s interesting upside here in the almost 22-year-old that will start to flesh out more over this season and next. Some big-framed pitchers take a bit longer to control their bodies, but he has a ways to go before looking like a big-league starter.

Fastball: 50+/60/65 Slider: 40/45/50 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 40/45/45+
Overall: 35/40-45/50+

10. Roemon Fields, OF, VIDEO, Triple-A

Fields boasts 80 raw speed and good contact skills, with steady improvements coming in the form of a stronger approach and great eye at the plate. His pitch recognition is solid, and he’s a good fighter when he gets two strikes on him. He doesn’t have any power, with breaking balls making his swing even choppier than it normally is. With the tools to stick in center, he isn’t that far away from being a starting option in the outfield, though that would take another jump forward in his approach to get him there. More likely, he’s a solid fourth outfielder.

Hit: 40/45/50 Power: 25/30/30+ Run: 70/70/75 Field: 55/55/55+ Throw: 45/45/45
Overall: 35/40-45/50

11. Clinton Hollon, RHP, VIDEO, Single-A

Hollon has a live arm with low- to mid-90s velocity and an excellent curveball, also showing the ability to throw strikes in his limited pro experience so far. Potential above-average offerings in his slider and curve give some hope he can start, but the bullpen is his long-term home. A combination of violence in his arm action and trouble staying healthy are likely to keep him from piling up innings in the rotation. His fastball alone is good enough to make him an intriguing reliever, and hopefully the switch in the next year or two helps keep his arm in shape. He has late-innings potential if/when he makes the move.

Fastball: 50/55/60+ Curveball: 45/50/55 Slider: 45/50/55 Changeup: 40/40-45/45 Command: 40/45/45+
Overall: 35/40+/50

12. Jose Espada, RHP, VIDEO, Rookie

Espada performed admirably in his pro debut, throwing strikes and showing off a decent breaking ball. He doesn’t have much velocity or physical projection, but his age and command give him more upside than most with that profile. Look for how his changeup and consistency come along over the next couple years before we can get a real sense for how he ends up.

Fastball: 45/50/55 Slider: 45/50/55 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 45/50/55
Overall: 35/40+/50

13. Ryan Borucki, LHP, High-A

With a Tommy John surgery on his resume and a stiff arm action, Borucki needed another healthy season last year to really get on track. Instead, he missed almost the entire campaign with elbow and shoulder woes. He is going to have trouble getting enough innings to find his way into the rotation, though contacts are intrigued enough by his stuff to warrant more chances. He still has upside as a fourth starter, but until he can string together a few productive seasons in a row, that’s a tough sell.

Fastball: 50/50+/55 Slider: 45/50/55 Changeup: 45/50/55 Command: 45/50/50
Overall: 35/40+/50

14. Dwight Smith, Jr, OF, VIDEO, Double-A

Smith has quick hands and a flat swing that give him some power on pitches left up in the zone. Otherwise, he’s mostly a ground-ball hitter who can shoot some gaps, though he is notable for having maintained great contact rates. He has a solid glove in the outfield, though sources with whom I spoke have him as a tweener type, but more so because of his lack of power than defensive skills. I think he can be a decent center-field option, though left field is where his arm strength may ultimately put him. His on-base skills give him some upside if he can translate his walk numbers and good contact to the big leagues, but he is most likely a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Hit: 40/45+/50 Power: 35/40/45 Run: 55/55/55 Field: 50/50/50+ Throw: 45/45/45
Overall: 35/40/45-50

15. Yennsy Diaz, RHP, Rookie

Signed during the 2014 international period, Diaz shows decent command considering he can get his fastball up to 97 as a 19-year-old. He’s a wild card at this stage because of a lack of clear upside with his secondary pitches, but he has plenty of time and arm strength to work things out. It was emphasized to me by one contact that he has great makeup, and hopefully he can take another step forward this season toward rounding out his arsenal.

Fastball: 50/55/60 Curveball: 40/45/50 Changeup: 40/45/50 Command: 40/45/50
Overall: 35/40/45-50

16. Brady Dragmire, RHP, VIDEO, High-A

Dragmire is another hard sinker-baller with some ground-ball upside as a reliever if he can continue harnessing his command. His secondary stuff needs work still, but there is enough funk to his release and heavy sink to his fastball to see a useful arm in some capacity at the major-league level.

Fastball: 55/60/65 Slider: 45/45/50 Changeup: 45/45/50 Command: 45/45/45
Overall: 40/40+/45

17. Taylor Cole, RHP, VIDEO, Double-A

Cole’s success in 2014 might have been easy to disregard as an older prospect succeeding in a pitchers’ league, but his 2015 season in Double-A was another solid step toward possibly contributing at the major-league level. He gave up a few more homers than one might have expected from his track record, but otherwise put together a good foundation year. He has regained fastball velocity he lost while on a religious mission a few years back, and his above-average changeup and average slider give him the tools to be at worst a useful reliever. He throws strikes around an average rate and can miss some bats, so a back-end starter role could be in his future.

Fastball: 50/50/55 Slider: 45/45/50 Changeup: 50/50+/55 Command: 45/45+/50
Overall: 40/40+/45

18. Andy Burns, INF/OF, VIDEO, Triple-A

Burns primarily plays second and third base, but has shown he can handle nearly every position on the field. With fringy power and overall hitting ability, he likely doesn’t have a future as a starting option. His overall kit and defensive versatility should make him a valuable utility man should he get the opportunity.

Hit: 45/45/45 Power: 45/45/45 Run: 50/50/55 Field: 50/50/50 Throw: 60/60/60
Overall: 40/40/45

19. Travis Bergen, LHP, VIDEO, NA

Bergen has a sneaky fastball with average velocity but a tough release on hitters and decent life. He has a crossfire delivery that will make him tough on minor-league lineups in the lower levels while he develops his slider and changeup, the former having the better chance of becoming an average pitch. His command isn’t anything special, though his ability to keep the ball around the zone makes him have some back-of-the-rotation upside.

He doesn’t get much use out of his legs and relies almost purely on arm strength, putting him more on reliever track for me. He did strike out 11 Low-A batters in 5.1 innings, which is nice.

Fastball: 50/55/55+ Slider: 45/50/50+ Changeup: 45/45/50 Command: 40/45/45
Overall: 40/40/45

20. Hansel Rodriguez, RHP, VIDEO, Rookie

Rodriguez has a live arm but a lot of work ahead of him to turn into a pitcher, needing to develop his secondary stuff and find consistency on the mound. Pitch grades on his offspeed pitches are a shot in the dark at this point, as he’s still figuring out what works for him. An improved ability to throw strikes in the Gulf Coast League last season was a step in the right direction.

Fastball: 50/60/65 Slider: 40/45/45 Changeup: 40/40+/45 Command: 40/45/45+
Overall: 35/40/45

Player of Note
Vlad Guerrero, Jr, OF/3B, VIDEO, NA

I felt Guerrero’s status as a prized international signee warranted a longer blurb than the others left off the list, so he gets his own little category here.

First things first, Junior isn’t his dad. He’s a completely different athlete and possesses a completely different body type, to the point that the two best carrying tools of his dad’s skill set are question marks in the younger Guerrero. He has improved his arm strength and usefulness to be an average tool, prompting the Blue Jays to give him a try at third base. Papa Bear’s uncanny ability to barrel up pitches in any location is the counterpoint to Guerrero Jr.’s off-balance hacks and inconsistent swing path.

The third-base experiment is likely to be short-lived, with first base the long-term end point for his defensive journey. He doesn’t have the arm or dexterity, let alone range, to be of much value anywhere else on the diamond. I think his power is for real, but the tightness and effort it takes to use it hurts more than helps against game pitching. It’s just too big of a leap for me to count on him turning into more than a 45 hit-tool guy, which isn’t enough to get his likely future value to a 40 or better. If everything breaks right, he could be a fringe starting option.

He’s still crazy young, only just turning 17 in March; however, were he a high school junior or a young senior eligible for the draft, I’d be writing the same report. Unless his power jumps into generational-type levels, or he reveals undemonstrated feel for hitting and control of his swing, I can’t convince myself otherwise. Maybe physical maturity will be very kind to him, but that’s not a bet I’m willing to make.

Hit: 20/45/50 Power: 30/55+/65 Run: 40/35/35 Field: 35/40/40+ Throw: 50/50/50
Overall: 20/35+/45-50

Cistulli’s Guy
Jonathan Davis, OF, High-A

Davis ought not to be confused either with other Blue Jays outfield prospect (and former first-round selection) D.J. Davis nor Astros third baseman (and 10th-ranked prospect) J.D. Davis nor really any rookie-eligible minor leaguer who’s regarded as a “prospect” at all. Were one tasked with mounting a case against this Davis’s probability of contributing at the major-league level, one would find it difficult only insofar as there are a number of places from which to launch such a case.

Davis, for example, was just a 15th-round selection out of University of Central Arkansas, a school which hasn’t produced a major leaguer since 1991. He is, furthermore, currently in his age-24 season and yet also still a member of High-A Dunedin. Finally, there’s this: Davis stands at just 5-foot-8 and yet is confined to an outfield corner — a rarity at any level, that, but particularly in the majors.

For all this, however, there’s some promise. For one, Davis possesses athleticism atypical of a corner outfielder. For two, he’s showed above-average control of the plate at certain of his (abbreviated) stops upward through the minors, producing a 10:9 walk-to-strikeout ratio, for example, over his first 42 plate appearances of the season.

Here he is hitting one home run ever:

Quick Hits
Upper-level hitters: OF DJ Davis (VIDEO) isn’t likely to be a big threat with the bat despite his solid offensive season last year, with good bat speed but a messy swing and some contact issues. He hasn’t yet developed his base-running skills to fully utilize his top-of-the-scale speed. More upside than many guys left off the main list, but nowhere near a sure thing even as a bench option yet. 3B Mitch Nay (VIDEO) hasn’t been able to solve the pitcher-friendly environment of the Florida State League, putting too many balls on the ground to take advantage of his raw strength. He makes alright contact and still hits the ball hard in BP, but he needs to put the ball in the air more if he’s going to make any kind of impact.

1B Matt Dean (VIDEO) has some whip to his swing that gives him above-average to plus power potential, but poor plate discipline and limited utility as a first baseman make him a fringy option. 3B/OF Emilio Guerrero (VIDEOhas a great arm and big swing, but a combination of contact issues and the Florida State League stagnated his growth in recent years. He’s still so wiry that I wonder how things will look when he grows into his body more, as there are a lot of athletic qualities to his actions in the field and the batter’s box.

Lower-level hitters: OF Reggie Pruitt (VIDEO) has plus-plus speed and should stick in center field with no problem, but he’s extremely raw offensively. Strength gains may help him get to a below-average hit tool, which will be necessary to get him onto the radar as a big-league option. If not, he still has the possible future of a fifth outfielder because of his speed alone. 2B Deiferson Barreto is a contact hitter without much pop that may see Low-A ball by the end of the year. He might not have much upside, but could sneak up on everyone with his hit tool potential.

C Danny Jansen has shown decent raw power and doesn’t strike out much, but his offensive upside is still relatively limited. He has improved his catching enough to project as a potential average defender, giving him some backup upside. 1B Ryan McBroom (VIDEO) has a chance to make his way onto this list with his bat, showing potential to hit for power and average. Neither tool may be big enough to make up for being a first baseman with absolutely no speed, and his advanced age relative to the competition he has beat up is cause for caution. Very slight of build, OF Rodrigo Orozco has produced excellent numbers in the Jays’ lower levels over the last three years. With a cap on his home-run power, he still has around average speed and a slight chance to stick in center. His hit tool may be good enough to push him onto this list with further development against better pitching.

2B Lane Thomas (VIDEO) had a down year in 2015, but still possesses some offensive upside with a nice swing and sneaky pop. Contact issues and questionable defensive skills keep him off the list for now, but he has the athletic ability that could move him up quickly should he find his groove at the plate. 3B Carl Wise (VIDEO) has the raw power to be interesting, but defensive shortcomings and a low-upside hit tool leave him with a lot of risk.

Upper-level pitchers: LHP Shane Dawson (VIDEO) has a unique ability to throw strikes for a young hurler, and heading into Double-A this season he will have to start showing that isn’t his only weapon. None of his pitches look to be above-average, but there is some hope for him to turn into a major-league pitcher should he develop a solid offspeed pitch. RHP Joe Biagini (VIDEO) was a Rule 5 pick this offseason from the Giants, with a heavy fastball being his primary weapon. He doesn’t have much in the way of secondary stuff, but getting ground balls could be his ticket to situational relief life.

LHP Chad Girodo (VIDEO) has a low three-quarters delivery that is tough on lefties but lacks much movement on his offerings. He throws enough strikes that he could end up a decent LOOGY in the future. RHP Jeremy Gabryszwksi (VIDEOpounds the strike zone and has an alright breaking ball, but his muscled delivery leads to limited command potential.

Lower-level pitchers: RHP Tom Robson (VIDEOhas awkward body coordination on the mound, but a heavy sinking fastball gives him some upside as a ground ball-generating reliever should he learn to consistently throw strikes. RHP Guadalupe Chavez stifled DSL and GCL hitters with his solid changeup, and will look to improve his fastball velocity and breaking ball to move up the ladder over the next couple years.

Dan is Fangraphs Lead Prospect Analyst, living in New York City. He played baseball for four years at Franklin & Marshall College before attending medical school. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @DWFarnsworth.

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6 years ago

Just waiting for you know who to compare these to the Red Sox projections….

6 years ago
Reply to  Beer

nah, I’m still observing the pompey-swihart comp with a smile.