Top 34 Prospects: Toronto Blue Jays by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel February 8, 2019 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. That can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 20192018ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFGALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Blue Jays Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 19.9 AAA 3B 2019 70 2 Bo Bichette 20.9 AA SS 2020 60 3 Danny Jansen 23.8 MLB C 2019 50 4 Nate Pearson 22.5 A+ RHP 2020 50 5 Jordan Groshans 19.2 R 3B 2022 45+ 6 Sean Reid-Foley 23.4 MLB RHP 2019 45 7 Kevin Smith 22.6 A+ SS 2020 45 8 Adam Kloffenstein 18.5 R RHP 2022 45 9 Eric Pardinho 18.1 R RHP 2021 45 10 Trent Thornton 25.4 AAA RHP 2019 45 11 Billy McKinney 24.5 MLB LF 2019 40+ 12 Cavan Biggio 23.8 AA 2B 2020 40 13 T.J. Zeuch 23.5 AA RHP 2019 40 14 Hector Perez 22.7 AA RHP 2020 40 15 Leonardo Jimenez 17.7 R SS 2023 40 16 Orelvis Martinez 17.2 R SS 2023 40 17 Rowdy Tellez 23.9 MLB 1B 2019 40 18 Gabriel Moreno 19.0 R C 2023 40 19 Griffin Conine 21.6 A- RF 2020 40 20 Miguel Hiraldo 18.4 R 3B 2022 40 21 Chavez Young 21.6 A CF 2020 40 22 Reese McGuire 23.9 MLB C 2018 40 23 Anthony Alford 24.5 MLB CF 2018 40 24 Yennsy Diaz 22.2 A+ RHP 2020 40 25 Samad Taylor 20.6 A 2B 2022 40 26 Patrick Murphy 23.7 AA RHP 2019 35+ 27 Alejandro Kirk 20.3 R C 2022 35+ 28 Kevin Vicuna 21.1 A+ SS 2021 35+ 29 Elvis Luciano 19.0 R RHP 2019 35+ 30 Emanuel Vizcaino 19.5 R RHP 2023 35+ 31 Hagen Danner 20.4 R C 2023 35+ 32 Otto Lopez 20.4 A- SS 2022 35+ 33 Cal Stevenson 22.4 R CF 2021 35+ 34 Alejandro Melean 18.3 R RHP 2023 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 70 FV Prospects 1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (TOR) Age 19.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 70 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 65/70 80/80 65/70 40/30 45/45 60/60 The best prospect in baseball, Guerrero hit a superhuman .381/.437/.636 across 95 games (mostly at Double and Triple-A) despite being about six years younger than the other athletes in the Eastern and International Leagues. The ball doesn’t just sound different off of his bat; when he really lays into one, you can feel a thump inside your chest, as if someone set off a firework at home plate. It’s explosive, beautiful, and paradoxically violent considering that Vladimir is so childlike in his shape and demeanor. He plays with a vivacious enthusiasm, totally unashamed of his own at times bizarre mannerisms, as if the way he feels when playing elite pro baseball is how most of us did with a wiffle ball in our hands during adolescence. (Late during Fall League, he was cranky and petulant with umpires.) But his is not a childlike stature. His listed 6-foot-1, 200 pounds is a farce, and on the few occasions that Guerrero and Peter Alonso (who is listed at 6-foot-3, 245) were standing near one another during Fall League, Vlad was clearly the larger human being. While he reaches an almost shocking top speed on the bases given his size, Guerrero does have lateral mobility issues that impact his range at third base. He is very likely to move to first base or DH at some point in his early 20s, but leaving him at third, even if he’s not very good there, might help motivate him to keep his weight in check for as long as possible, something that could be more important than the quality of his play in the field since Vlad had knee issues during the 2018 season. Really though, it matters very little where he ends up playing. This is the best hitter in the minors and the stick will play anywhere. For at least two years now people around baseball, including the late Mel Didier, swore that Guerrero would be ready for and competing in the majors before he turned 20. Toronto’s desire to maintain control of his talent for as long as possible scuttled that notion late last summer when they chose not to promote him, and Vlad will turn 20 in March before this season even starts. He should be up early this year, and immediately become one of the game’s most exciting, productive hitters. He is the cornerstone of the Blue Jays franchise, and perhaps a cornerstone of our sport. 60 FV Prospects 2. Bo Bichette, SS Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Lakewood HS (FL) (TOR) Age 20.9 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/60 60/60 40/55 45/45 45/50 60/60 There’s some contextual disappointment surrounding Bichette’s 2018 statline because he didn’t recreate his video game numbers from the year before, but he still netted an incredible 61 extra-base hits as a 20-year-old at Double-A. We remain skeptical of his long term viability at shortstop, where he continues to see most of his reps, but his arm is plus and teams are growing increasingly willing to put players with limited lateral quickness at short if it means shoehorning a special offensive talent into the position, and Bichette is one. Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter where he ends up playing defense because his bat is likely to profile. He has scintillating bat speed, and Bichette’s hand-eye coordination and bat control are an effective foil for the garage band noisiness of his swing, which hasn’t negatively impacted his ability to make contact in pro ball. Bichette ditches his leg kick with two strikes, something we’re not certain is all that helpful based on visual evidence. Ideally, Bichette will start lifting the ball more often (he has a league-average ground ball rate right now) and turn some of these doubles into homers, but it’s hard to justify making a change when he has been wildly successful so far. Status quo Bo is still a doubles machine who probably stays on the infield, and is a likely All-Star. 50 FV Prospects 3. Danny Jansen, C Video Drafted: 16th Round, 2013 from West HS (WI) (TOR) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/55 55/55 40/45 30/30 45/50 40/40 A 2017 Jansen breakout coincided with good health and a pair of prescription lenses. He walked more than he struck out across three minor league levels, and rose to Triple-A and into our overall top 100. He had a similarly strong 2018, which included a Futures Game invite, a .390 OBP at Triple-A, and then a strong 30-game big league stint in August and September, all reinforcing that Jansen’s 2017 breakout was legitimate. A solid if unspectacular defender, Jansen’s pop times were depressed during his big league cameo, hovering between 2.05 and 2.10, both below average for a catcher. But he’s an average receiver and ball-blocker, and is a perfectly acceptable defensive catcher without a disqualifying shortcoming. Where Jansen shines is in the batter’s box. His hands work in a tight loop, giving Jansen the capacity to catch velocity and still lift the baseball, and he’s strong enough to muscle out balls to his pull-side, though to this point his approach has yielded more doubles than homers. He is a pull-only plodder and he’ll likely always be a low BABIP guy, and it’s possible major league pitchers will find ways to attack him in ways that limit his power output, but he’s going to make a lot of contact and reach base, which, at catcher, could make him an All-Star. 4. Nate Pearson, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Central Florida JC (FL) (TOR) Age 22.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 70/80 60/65 50/55 45/55 35/45 95-100 / 104 We still know very little about Pearson compared to most 22-year-old pitching prospects. He popped up seemingly out of nowhere as a sophomore at a lesser Florida junior college but quickly entered the first round discussion when JuCo ball kicked off in January of 2017. As the draft approached, Pearson was showing better secondary stuff in games and bumping 100 mph in bullpen sessions for scouts. He forced his way up draft boards even though teams had little history with him, and some were skeptical of the new velocity or concerned it would lead to injury. Pearson made seven short but dominant appearances in the Northwest League during the summer and was poised to begin 2018 at Hi-A Dunedin (an aggressive assignment), but he suffered an intercostal strain and began the season on the DL. In his final extended spring rehab start, he was sitting 94-96 and touching 98 with the fastball. He finally toed a Florida State League rubber that week and lasted 1.2 innings before a comebacker struck his wrist and forearm and fractured his ulna. The injury ended his regular season after just five outs. After rest and some rehab during instructs, Pearson went to Arizona for the Fall League. His stuff was electric there, his fastball always sitting 95-99 and cresting 100 mph often. He threw a 104 mph fastball and a 95 mph slider during the Fall Stars game, and he was able to dump his upper-70s curveball in for strikes throughout his six-week tenure, though he threw no changeups. Pearson was also horribly wild at times. It’s fair to conclude that rust was to blame for his occasional wildness but because the pro side of the industry has seen so little of Pearson, it’s impossible to know for sure. There’s a strong possibility that he just ends up in the bullpen, but if he does and he breathes one-inning fire like he did during Fall Stars, he basically has Aroldis Chapman’s stuff (though perhaps not the same extension or approach angle). Provided he stays healthy, Pearson’s future is bright, albeit unclear. He’s likely to be handled with care for a while in order to keep him healthy and manage his workload after what was essentially a lost 2018, but given the wide variance and top shelf stuff, there is still frontline starter potential. 45+ FV Prospects 5. Jordan Groshans, 3B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR) Age 19.2 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 60/65 20/55 55/50 45/50 60/60 Groshans immediately stood out to scouts on the showcase circuit, showing a Josh Donaldson starter kit with similar swing mechanics, a plus raw power projection, a plus arm, and a third base defensive fit. He essentially held serve on that first impression and went 12th overall to the Jays out of the same Texas high school as the Jays’ second round pick, Adam Kloffenstein. Groshans isn’t quite the same level athlete as Donaldson, and there are contact concerns with an active swing like that, but there are some bat-to-ball skills and plenty of mistake power he can already tap into, as shown in a loud debut in the GCL. Many of the pro scouts who saw Groshans weren’t fans and saw below average tools in their looks when he fatigued late in the pro season, but the things to watch for here are the plate discipline and contact skills, because the position and power aren’t really up for debate right now. 45 FV Prospects 6. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Sandalwood HS (FL) (TOR) Age 23.4 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 55/60 50/50 45/50 45/45 91-96 / 97 Reid-Foley has been a similar pitcher from his junior year of high school all the way to his fifth year of pro ball in 2018. His arm action and delivery are a little stiff, and his command isn’t quite enough to be a traditional starter, but he’s stayed healthy and flashes two plus pitches with knowledge of the right way to sequence them, if not always execute them flawlessly. The Jays will continue to run him out there as a starter — he made 31 starts and threw 163 innings last season across three levels — but most agree this is more of a multi-inning or high-leverage reliever, as opposed to a traditional starter. The pure stuff would fit any role on a staff, but the quality of the strikes (his command) is the issue, rather than the amount of strikes (his control), which was evident from his 5.13 ERA in his major league debut in 2018. 7. Kevin Smith, SS Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from Maryland (TOR) Age 22.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/50 55/55 40/50 50/50 40/45 55/55 Smith was noticed early in his career at Maryland for showing early round tools as a defender who can stay in the middle infield with above average raw power and some feel to hit. The feel to hit came into question in his draft year, as his swing got a little too pull/power oriented, helping him slip to the fourth round. The Jays rave about Smith’s makeup and preparation, and how he spearheaded the adjustments to his swing to have a shorter path to the ball and increase his contact ability. He now has a flatter-planed swing, and one scout compared his offense to Jordy Mercer, while another thinks Smith is a 50 hitter with 50 game power. Most scouts think he’s fringy at shortstop despite a plus arm, and would shift him to second base long-term for the best fit, where he’s got a chance to be above average. An 85 to 100 wRC+ with solid average defense at second base is worth 2-something WAR, so while it isn’t sexy, there’s some performance here, real changes to explain it, and a pretty good chance to be a 50 or 55 FV big leaguer. 8. Adam Kloffenstein, RHP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR) Age 18.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/60 50/55 40/50 35/50 89-94 / 96 Kloffenstein was the Blue Jays third pick in the 2018 draft from the same high school as Groshans, but it appears the Jays had the 12th and 88th overall picks evaluated much closer in talent than the picks themselves would indicate. Groshans got slightly below-slot bonus (17th highest in the draft) while Kloffenstein was well above-slot at $2.45 million (29th highest bonus). We ranked them 28th (Groshans) and 42nd (Kloffenstein) in our pre-draft rankings. Kloffenstein is a prototypical projection Texas arm, with a lanky frame, loose arm action, occasional mid-90s velo, and an above average breaking ball; some scouts saw parallels to Michael Kopech, projecting Kloffenstein to throw 100 mph in the next couple years. He didn’t pitch much in pro ball or instructs as Toronto was managing his innings and getting him used to the pro schedule. Kloffenstein’s main objectives will be to get more innings, stay healthy, and keep progressing, as he only showed mid-90s velocity and starter feel at times in the spring. Toronto’s bet is a bit speculative, based on projection more than performance. 9. Eric Pardinho, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Brazil (TOR) Age 18.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 45/50 50/55 45/50 45/55 90-94 / 96 Pardinho was one of the more celebrated 16-year-old pitchers to sign in recent memory, drawing a $1.4 million bonus in 2017, which was behind only Shohei Ohtani among his pitching peers in the class. Pardinho grew up in Brazil, which has a large Japanese population and he has some Japanese heritage; his windup clearly points to a Japanese influence. The issue here is that Pardinho is listed at 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds, and isn’t much bigger than that right now, though he has a sturdy build. 18-year-old pitchers need to have big velocity, or projection to add velocity, to be top prospects since they generally start losing velocity in their mid-20s; that innate velocity, or projection for it, offers some margin for error. There are exceptions to this benchmark, like Zack Greinke, cases where a pitcher has been a pitchability type with above average stuff from his teenage days all the way into a big league career, but those instances are very rare. Pardinho will sit 92-95 and hit 96 mph early in outing and settle around 90-93 later. His curveball flashed above average as an amateur and he mixed in a slider that lagged behind, but those two pitches are both average to above now. They’re different pitches but still can run together at times, common for a younger pitcher. Parindho’s changeup is his fourth pitch now and it’s around average, but he separated himself with above average command projection, which helped him post gaudy numbers in his pro debut in the Appalachian League at 17. Pardinho is undoubtedly advanced and projects as a No. 3 or 4 starter if things go well, but he was essentially pitching like a college senior in a league where a college senior can dominate and then never get to Double-A. Pardinho is a prospect because he’s advanced enough to pitch like a 22-year-old when he’s 17 years old. We’d just like to see either his stuff improve — or hold that velocity for the whole game — or see performance against more advanced hitters before we shoot him up the list like he’s the next Greinke. 10. Trent Thornton, RHP Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2015 from North Carolina (HOU) Age 25.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/60 55/60 45/50 40/45 92-95 / 97 Thornton spent 2018 at Triple-A Fresno before he was effectively showcased in the Arizona Fall League. He has bat-missing, big league stuff, sitting 92-95 and touching 96 in multi-inning Fall League appearances, and sitting comfortably in the 95-96 range when he was asked to air it out for a single inning. Thornton also has elite breaking ball spin rates. His 12-6 curveball spins in excess of 3,000 rpm and his firm, upper-80s slider/cutter often approaches that mark, which is rare for a breaking ball that hard. He also has a unique delivery that disorients hitters, during which his arm wraps behind his lower back. His arm action is ugly but, short of a 7-day DL stint this year after he was hit with a comebacker, Thornton hasn’t been hurt as a pro. His usage has been atypical, however. His starts were often spaced out by seven or eight days in 2018, and it’s unrealistic to expect him to have that kind of recovery time between turns on a big league pitching staff. If asked to throw every fifth day, his stuff may not be as nasty as it was this year. He projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter but may also be deployed in a multi-inning relief role. 40+ FV Prospects 11. Billy McKinney, LF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Plano West HS (TX) (NYY) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 55/55 55/55 50/45 45/50 40/40 McKinney’s batted ball profile shifted dramatically after the Yankees acquired him from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman deal. Since high school, he had been a feel-for-contact corner guy with batting practice power that didn’t manifest in games, but the Yankees got his ground ball rate down from 42% to 30% and he started to mash before they flipped him to Toronto for JA Happ. He hit for power in a prolonged big league look but struggled badly against breaking stuff, something that may be an issue moving forward. McKinney doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive wiggle room because he’s so limited on defense, but the hit/power combo suggests he is a Seth Smith-like corner platoon bat who’s ready right now. 40 FV Prospects 12. Cavan Biggio, 2B Video Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 from Notre Dame (TOR) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/40 55/55 45/50 45/40 40/45 50/50 Biggio opted to attend Notre Dame rather than sign with the Phillies out of high school, and he had two bad years there before turning in a solid junior season. He didn’t hit for power in pro ball until he reached Double-A in 2018, where Biggio exploded for 26 home runs, saw his walk rate climb all the way to 18%, and swiped 20 bags. Nothing about Biggio’s swing is markedly different than it was in college. He’s tightened the circle made by his ritualistic, pre-swing bat swirl, and his hands load a little bit lower now than they used to, but mostly Biggio just has good feel for low-ball contact despite the upright nature of his swing, and has plus bat speed. There’s skepticism surrounding Biggio’s ability to play second base, so the Blue Jays began expanding his defensive horizons last year with time at first and third base, as well as both outfield corners, which is where Biggio saw the most action in the Arizona Fall League. The uppercut nature of Biggio’s swing is going to lead to some strikeouts and his aggregate offensive profile looks much less promising in an outfield corner than it would at second base. If he could indeed play all of those positions, he’d be a very interesting Swiss Army knife with power, but realistically he profiles as a second-division regular or platoon outfielder. 13. T.J. Zeuch, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pittsburgh (TOR) Age 23.5 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 40/45 50/55 45/50 55/60 90-93 / 94 Zeuch doesn’t have dominant stuff but he’s a keen sequencer with a firm grasp on how best to deploy his pitches to efficiently tally outs. He mostly pitches to contact with a low-90s sinker that has very steep downhill plane thanks to Zeuch’s height and fairly upright delivery. It’s helped him generate ground ball rates near 60% as a pro. Both of his breaking balls survive because Zeuch locates them. He’ll get ahead of hitters with his curveball and keep his slider just off the plate away from righties. Offspeed development remains key as Zeuch enters 2019 as a non-roster invitee. He may be a candidate for a true splitter, or modified version of it, rather than a straight changeup if the Jays want to try to turn him into Doug Fister, with whom Zeuch shares several other traits. Barring something unforeseen, like a new grip giving Zeuch a dominant secondary pitch, he projects as a backend innings eater. 14. Hector Perez, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU) Age 22.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops 60/70 50/60 45/50 40/55 30/40 92-96 / 98 Perez was part of the package Houston sent to Toronto in the unscrupulous Roberto Osuna deal. His stuff was down just a tad last year, with his fastball more often 93-95 than 94-97 based on our reports from the previous year. But Perez still has nasty stuff and managed to strike out 133 hitters in 115 innings, mostly at Double-A. His stiff, long arm action significantly inhibits Perez’s ability to throw strikes and he unanimously projects into a bullpen. But because he has three plus pitches (and we have the fastball projected as a 70 out of the bullpen), he could be a dominant late or multi-inning arm. He’s one of many new faces on Toronto’s 40-man and could debut in 2019. 15. Leonardo Jimenez, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Panama (TOR) Age 17.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/45 20/40 55/50 45/55 50/55 Jimenez signed for $825,000 in 2017 out of Panama but is often compared to Venezuelan shortstops (like Vicuna, No. 28 on this list) for his advanced, non-flashy feel for the game. Vicuna is still the best defender in the system but Jimenez isn’t far behind him, with one scout grading his hands as a 70. We’re more bullish on Jimenez than Vicuna because there’s better rhythm, swing mechanics, and strength to his offensive game, so there’s a better chance for viable performance. Jimenez also gets high marks for his intelligence and makeup; he’s already fluent in English as a 17-year-old. 16. Orelvis Martinez, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TOR) Age 17.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/45 50/60 20/50 45/40 30/45 50/55 Martinez was one of the most explosive talents in the 2018 July 2nd class, getting the second highest bonus at $3.5 million, behind only 22-year-old Marlins center fielder Victor Victor Mesa. Martinez is currently ranked behind a number of players in his class because we still aren’t sure how his contact skills will project. He has big bat speed and projects for at least 60 raw power, along with sticking somewhere in the infield. We aren’t sure how his body will develop, and thus the raw power and the position where he’ll land are open questions. More importantly, he takes a high-effort, torqued-up cut at the ball, and the Jays like that he has eye-hand contact, but there’s still a ways to go to turn this intriguing ball of clay into a more finished product. 17. Rowdy Tellez, 1B Video Drafted: 30th Round, 2013 from Elk Grove HS (CA) (TOR) Age 23.9 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/45 60/60 55/55 40/30 40/45 30/30 Tellez had a successful second tour of Triple-A in 2018, and reached Toronto in September just weeks after his mother, who had been fighting brain cancer for a while, passed away. His first six big league hits were doubles, a record, and then opposing pitchers began to make adjustments, and Tellez cooled, often chasing stuff out of the zone. He’s vulnerable to velocity up and was uncharacteristically tempted by soft stuff beneath the zone. He crushes mistakes and has natural low-ball ability, as well as feel for lacing hard gap liners to left field if fastballs away from him catch too much of the plate. It’s tough to hit enough to profile at 1B/DH, and we think Tellez is more of a platoon or second division regular. He should get an opportunity to be just that if something happens to Kendrys Morales and/or Justin Smoak. 18. Gabriel Moreno, C Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TOR) Age 19.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/50 45/50 30/45 45/40 40/50 55/55 Moreno converted from shortstop to catching right around when he signed out of Venezuela, and while he’s just 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, he’s taken to the change and scouts think he can stick behind the plate. He’s twitchy and has plus bat speed with good bat control but can get over-aggressive at times and needs to tighten his zone. Moreno’s high-energy approach endears him to scouts and teammates, and there’s a reasonable chance he’s a backup, with some possibility these tools can turn into a starter down the road. 19. Griffin Conine, RF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Duke (TOR) Age 21.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/45 60/65 30/55 45/40 45/50 60/60 Conine is the son of former Marlins great Jeff Conine and Griffin looked like a sure first round pick in 2018 after a dominating summer on the Cape. Thing haven’t gone so well for him since then. Conine bulked up and got a bit stiffer, had a brutal start to the 2018 season, but closed well, finding a better approach to make more consistent contact. The Jays scooped him up as another legacy prospect in the system, but he was popped for PED’s (ritalinic acid, a stimulant) in November and will serve a 50-game suspension to start 2019. At his best, Conine has 60 or 65-grade raw power from the left side, a plus arm that helps him fit in right field, and good enough contact skills for a 45 or 50-grade bat to allow him to get to his power. He can get too uphill, aggressive, and pull-happy at times, so there’s some concern, beyond the suspension, about how much of his Cape performance will show up in pro ball. 20. Miguel Hiraldo, 3B Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TOR) Age 18.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 45/50 30/50 50/40 40/45 55/55 Dominican Summer League stats are largely meaningless, but every year there is a prospect or two whose statline is so utterly dominant that it provokes immediate re-evaluation. Hiraldo, who was hitting .366/.429/.560 when July began, was one of those DSL hitters in 2018. When prompted about Hiraldo, pro scouts with coverage in the DSL reiterated what was said about him when he was an amateur. He was physically mature for his age, stocky, and strong, far more muscular than most of his DSL peers. He has plus bat speed, average power right now, and tracks pitches well and has some barrel control, so while Hirlado’s physical maturity should cause one to discount his statistical performance, he is a good offensive prospect. There’s not much room left on his frame for good weight, and he has fairly limited power projection left. Scouts already anticipate a move off of shortstop to either second or third base. Hiraldo’s offensive talent could be sufficient to profile every day at either spot, just probably not as a star and probably not for several years considering the passive developmental track the Jays took with him last year when he probably should have been in the GCL for more than a 10-game August jaunt. 21. Chavez Young, CF Drafted: 39th Round, 2016 from Faith Baptist HS (FL) (TOR) Age 21.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 50/50 40/45 55/55 45/50 60/60 It seems like every year a hitter or two comes out of nowhere and causes quite a ruckus in Lansing. This year it was Young, who hit .285/.363/.445 with 50 extra-base hits and 44 steals for the Lugnuts. The travel ball circuit is not kind to economically disadvantaged families, and part of the reason Young was under-scouted as an amateur, as he told our own David Laurila, was because his family could not afford to attend heavily scouted showcases. Another reason he may have slid toward the end of the draft was because he was constantly moving around. He was under the international scouting umbrella while he was young and living in the Bahamas, then spent his early high school years in Florida before relocating to Georgia for his senior season. It’s likely that three separate scouts in each org were responsible for scouting and gauging Young’s signability. The Blue Jays got a deal done for $200,000 and Young has been a strong early-career performer. Pro scouts see him as a bit of a tweener but think there’s a chance he might be an everyday center fielder if absolutely everything comes together. He’s not a typical center field sprinter (our sources all have either a 50 or 55 on his speed) but he’s instinctive, and fine there for now. If Young does move to a corner, his hit/power combination is on the fringe of profiling. A switch-hitter, Young has power from the right side of the plate but he’s strikeout prone due to a lack of bat control. As a lefty, he has a gap-to-gap approach and good bat control, but not typical over-the-fence thump. It’s possible that, even with middling offensive ability, Young could be such an excellent corner defender that he plays everyday anyway, and his makeup is universally lauded, so we like his chances of reaching and staying in the majors as some kind of role player. 22. Reese McGuire, C Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Kentwood HS (WA) (PIT) Age 23.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/50 45/45 20/35 30/30 50/60 60/60 The Blue Jays have a terrific young catching tandem in Danny Jansen and McGuire, who we project to play a glove-centric second fiddle to Jansen’s bat for the next half decade. McGuire has been lauded for his defense since high school, and he remains excellent back there, and has a plus arm. He has struggled in the past to lift the ball, and while he showed some movement in that regard last year, it’s unlikely that McGuire hits enough to profile as an everyday catcher. 23. Anthony Alford, CF Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2012 from Petal HS (MS) (TOR) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/40 60/60 40/45 70/70 50/55 40/40 Alford had a tumultuous and eventful amateur athletic career. He starred as a dual threat high school quarterback in Mississippi, and continued playing football in college even after the Jays, who at the time were able to offer Alford a now defunct two-sport deal structured to incentivize him to eventually commit to baseball, drafted and signed him. His college football career and home life were both tumultuous, as Southern Miss went winless during Alford’s first year under center, and several members of his family had legal troubles. Alford eventually transferred to Ole Miss, where he was asked to play safety, but that didn’t last long and he soon committed full time to baseball. He’s dealt with constant injury as a pro and has issues with quality of contact when healthy. Though he’s a remarkable athlete with huge raw power and speed, we’re bearish on Alford’s ability to hit breaking stuff and do enough damage to play everyday. He projects as a bench outfielder. Because Alford has only been totally devoted to baseball since 2015, there’s a chance some of what currently impairs his on-field production can be remedied, but he has to stay on the field to develop that stuff. 24. Yennsy Diaz, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TOR) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 50/55 40/45 40/45 92-95 / 97 A boiler plate middle relief prospect, Diaz was added to the 40-man this offseason and may debut in 2019. Though he has been developed as a starter to this point, command and repertoire depth limitations have scouts universally projecting Diaz to the bullpen. He has a slightly cross-bodied delivery, and he muscles up and slings in mid-90s fastballs and tilting, two-planed breakers. His changeup is firm, but continued reps in a rotation should help improve his feel for it and better prepare him to deal with left-handed hitters in the big leagues. 25. Samad Taylor, 2B Drafted: 10th Round, 2016 from Corona HS (CA) (CLE) Age 20.6 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/45 20/40 60/60 40/55 45/45 Taylor signed with Cleveland for $125,000 in the 10th round in 2016 out of a southern California high school. The report then was an explosive, quick second baseman with some tools who could use some refinement. That’s still mostly the report, but Taylor’s 2018 full season debut was excellent, hitting above league average in the Midwest League as a 19-year-old most of the year, despite a .270 BABIP. Some players naturally have a lower BABIP, but Taylor is a player who should have a higher-than-normal BABIP given his plus speed (44 stolen bases in 2018), solid plate discipline (11% BB to 19% K), and surprising game power for his size and age (nine home runs and 32 doubles). Taylor can still make a boneheaded play defensively, use improper footwork at the keystone, or try to do too much at the plate, but the tools are here for a low-end everyday second baseman if things continue progressing. 35+ FV Prospects 26. Patrick Murphy, RHP Drafted: 3rd Round, 2013 from Hamilton HS (AZ) (TOR) Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Murphy has persevered through multiple injuries and surgeries (Tommy John and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, just to name two) and finally had a full, healthy season in 2018, and was added to Toronto’s 40-man in November. His fastball is very hard and Murphy throws a lot of strikes, typically in the upper half of the zone. At times his heater has natural cut, he’ll flash an occasional plus curveball, and his changeup got much better throughout 2018. His injury history and violent, somewhat awkward overhand delivery are each of concern to teams, which generally have him projected in a bullpen role. There’s sufficient strike-throwing here for Murphy to continue developing as a starter, and he could pitch at the back of a rotation, especially if his changeup keeps improving. 27. Alejandro Kirk, C Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Mexico (TOR) Age 20.3 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ The first thing anyone talks about when Kirk’s name comes up is his weight. He’s built exactly like former A’s catcher Jeremy Brown, and one source body comp’d him to Chris Farley noting that, like Farley, Kirk is deceptively agile for his size. 28. Kevin Vicuna, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (TOR) Age 21.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 140 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Vicuna (pronounced like Acuña) signed for $350,000 in 2014 out of Venezuela and fits the archetype of the Venezuelan shortstop, with excellent feel for the game and instincts to get the most out of his tools. He was considered frail-looking at signing and has put on some strength since then, but still needs to add more to have a chance to make an impact offensively. Vicuna is a plus runner who has above average hands, range, and arm strength, so even just hitting for consistent contact with enough power to be respected would be enough to make him a solid big leaguer. The Jays are encouraged by his 60 PA in the Venezuelan Winter League, where Vicuna had eight walks to 13 strikeouts, but also had just one extra base hit. He’s the best defensive shortstop in the system and, depending on which scout you ask, his makeup grades anywhere from 60 to 80, so we think he’s worth inclusion on the list. 29. Elvis Luciano, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (ARI) Age 19.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 184 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Luciano was acquired by Kansas City in the trade that sent Jon Jay to Arizona, then selected by Toronto in the Rule 5 draft. He was the youngest player picked in the Rule 5 by a significant margin and if he makes the Jays’ Opening Day roster, he’ll be the first player born this century to play in the big leagues. Though he’ll touch 96, Luciano’s fastball sits in the 90-94 range, and he has scattershot command of it, especially late in starts. His frame is less projectable than the typical teenager’s, so there may not be much more velo coming as he ages, but he has plenty of present arm strength and an above-average breaking ball, so there’s a chance he makes the Jays’ roster in a relief role. He has No. 4 starter upside if his below-average changeup and command progress, but Rule 5 selections who stick often put developmental priorities on the back burner and instead lean on what they’re already good at in order to succeed right now. 30. Emanuel Vizcaino, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR) Age 19.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Vizcainno is a fairly standard teenage projection arm, perhaps slightly raw for his age from a strike-throwing perspective, though that’s understandable given the mantis-like length of his limbs. He’s an above-average athlete and there’s a good chance his release consistency becomes refined with more experience, though he may always have limited pinpoint command because his trebuchet-like overhand arm action makes it hard to work east and west. That’s not to say it’s a bad delivery. Vizcaino’s arm action is very efficient, and his vertical slot gives his promising curveball an awful lot of depth. It’s easy to envision Vizcaino working up and down with his fastball and curveball in concert with one another in a relief role, even if he never develops average control. There are lots of promising components here, they’re just a little less polished than is ideal for a prospect who’ll be 20 this year. 31. Hagen Danner, C Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Huntington Beach HS (CA) (TOR) Age 20.4 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Danner burst onto the scouting scene after his sophomore year of high school, showing low-90s stuff and a three pitch mix with the look of a future high pick as a pitcher. He maintained his above average stuff throughout most of his prep career, but the more scouts saw him behind the plate, the more they liked him long-term as a catching prospect. Eventually, the Jays took Danner in the second round of the 2017 draft as a catcher, which marks the first time Danner hasn’t been splitting his focus on the diamond. He’s only played 66 pro games due to some minor injuries, so we haven’t seen as much as we’d like with him being relatively new to this position. He has above average to plus arm strength and raw power projection, and we think he can stick behind the plate, but the hit tool may take a little time, which is the main concern going forward. 32. Otto Lopez, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR) Age 20.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ A dual Dominican/Canadian citizen, Lopez was born in the Dominican Republic but his family moved to Montreal when he was 12, and he plays on Team Canada during international competition. That’s not to be confused with the Vancouver Canadians, the Blue Jays’ Northwest League affiliate for which Lopez also played last year, and played well. He walked more than he struck out, led the team in OBP, and saw action at every defensive position but catcher and first base as the club’s youngest member. A plus runner and above-average athlete, that kind of super utility role is Lopez’s realistic future projection. He has some feel for contact but will probably max out with 40 raw power, if that, so he’s unlikely to make strong enough contact to hit for as high an average as his pure bat-to-ball skills might indicate. Even if typical big league physicality never materializes, Lopez should be a versatile bench piece. 33. Cal Stevenson, CF Drafted: 10th Round, 2018 from Arizona (TOR) Age 22.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Stevenson was a 10th round senior sign out of Arizona, an afterthought until he went to the Appy League and hit a raucous .359/.494/.518 during the last two months of the season. Rookie-ball pitching is worse than what Stevenson faced in the Pac-12 and that performance should be considered with that fact in mind, but those numbers are exceptional and four corners scouts thought Stevenson, whose 2018 numbers at Arizona were worse than the previous year, was hurt during the spring. It’s possible pre-draft reports on Stevenson — plus runner, above-average bat, no clear defensive position, great makeup — were impacted by injury, and that Stevenson’s true talent is closer to how he performed during the summer, but the physical tools are indicative of a bench outfielder. Lansing is probably not going to clarify the situation next year because it’s so hitter-friendly, and we may have to wait until Stevenson gets a taste of Hi-A to know if the Jays have really found something. 34. Alejandro Melean, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (TOR) Age 18.3 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ The Blue Jays felt Melean was advanced enough for the GCL at age 17, and while he was a little more wild than is ideal, he is rather advanced for his age and has a chance to be a backend starter. Though Melean is less physically projectable than the typical teen, his fastball already resides in the 90-94 range and he has an above-average, upper-70s curveball. He has feel for locating a changeup but it lacks movement right now, so this, as well as fastball command, would seem to be logical developmental priorities moving forward. Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Corner Bats Ryan Noda, 1B Chad Spanberger, 1B Mc Gregory Contreras, RF Josh Palacios, RF Demi Orimoloye, RF Noda is extremely selective and has walked in over 20% of his plate appearances as a pro, but he’s a stiff, below-average athlete and needs to keep performing like this for the industry to view him as more than a statistical curiosity. Spanberger has 70 raw power and went nuts at hitter-friendly Asheville against pitching worse than what he saw in college before he was traded to Toronto. He cooled in the FSL afterward. Contreras has plus bat speed and power projection, a typical, high-risk right field profile, though he’s not a good defender yet. Palacios is also a corner guy with feel to hit but needs to find a way to tap into more power. Orimoloye was born in Nigeria and moved to Canada as a toddler. He was acquired from Milwaukee for Curtis Granderson just before the waiver deadline. Demi has plus raw but lacks feel to hit. Polished Depth Arms Thomas Pannone, LHP Julian Merryweather, RHP Josh Winckowski, RHP Sean Wymer, RHP Justin Maese, RHP Zach Logue, LHP Zach Jackson, RHP Jackson McClelland, RHP Jon Harris, RHP Pannone has excellent changeup command but his limited velo and curveball likely cap his ceiling in the sixth starter area. Then with Cleveland, Merryweather was striking out a batter per inning at Double- and Triple-A in 2017 before he blew out late in the year and missed all of 2018. He’ll likely be back this year and could be a four-pitch reliever who relies heavily on velo. Winckowski may end up in a middle relief role. He sits 90-94 and has an above-average slider. Wymer was the club’s 2018 fourth rounder out of TCU. His stuff plays better out of the bullpen, where he’s 92-93 with command of a 55 curveball. Maese was a popup high schooler in tough-to-scout El Paso whose stuff has plateaued in the 45/50 area. Logue has 60 control of 45 stuff. Jackson has one of the more bizarre deliveries in baseball, and both he and McLelland have the stuff to be 40 FV relievers, but both are also very wild. Harris’ spin rates are strong but his fastball velocity has backed up since college. Bench Types Logan Warmoth, SS Addison Barger, 3B Forrest Wall, LF Riley Adams, C Max Pentecost, C/1B After Warmoth’s pre-draft reports were divisive in 2017, when he was Toronto’s first rounder, they were consistently down throughout 2018. He may end up with an average bat and fringe power but he’s not likely to stay at short based on pro looks. He’s clearly been passed by several shortstops in the system. Barger has a plus-plus arm and played all over the infield last year but may only end up with 40 hit and power. We were too high on Wall last year. He can still run but maybe not well enough to play center field, which means he’s a contact-only left fielder. Adams is a physical beast with a plus arm and big raw power, but he swings and misses a lot due to lever length and his ceiling is that of a toolsy backup. Pentecost, like Wall, has never been quite the same since surgery and he’s a contact-only bat at a position that demands more. System Overview It’s hard to talk about this system and franchise without spending a good bit of time on Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. The previous regime not only landed a generational talent but one with ties to Canada, especially notable because of MLB’s clear marketing shortcomings. Vlad Jr. developed better than anyone expected and is one of the best prospects of recent memory. The organization has hoarded players we consider 45s and 50s who couldn’t crack quality rosters in an attempt to prime the big league club with role players for the arrival of young stars like Vlad, Bichette, and Jansen. Not all of them will work out, but the list of players like this that the Blue Jays have acquired (Brandon Drury, Teoscar Hernandez, Trent Thornton, Randall Grichuk, David Paulino, Billy McKinney) is so long that enough of them should, enabling Toronto to build a competitive club around this wave of young talent. This is almost the inverse of how most competitive sports teams are built, as franchise players are often the first ones in place and pieces are fit in around them. There still needs to be more pitching, though. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez both had down years and this farm system isn’t exactly packed with arms. They can improve in free agency but competitive staffs almost always need a lot of depth to fight through injuries, so we still expect Toronto to be in asset collection mode for another year or two before they feel comfortable pushing their chips in.