Top 38 Prospects: Toronto Blue Jays

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 my own 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 resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

Blue Jays Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Nate Pearson 23.6 AAA RHP 2020 60
2 Simeon Woods Richardson 19.5 A+ RHP 2023 50
3 Jordan Groshans 20.3 A 3B 2023 50
4 Orelvis Martinez 18.3 R SS 2023 50
5 Alek Manoah 22.2 A- RHP 2022 45+
6 Alejandro Kirk 21.3 A+ C 2022 45+
7 Gabriel Moreno 20.1 A C 2021 45
8 Anthony Kay 25.0 MLB LHP 2020 45
9 Thomas Hatch 25.5 AA RHP 2020 40+
10 Miguel Hiraldo 19.5 A 3B 2022 40+
11 Rikelvin de Castro 17.1 R SS 2024 40+
12 Adam Kloffenstein 19.5 A- RHP 2023 40
13 Kendall Williams 19.5 R RHP 2024 40
14 Dasan Brown 18.5 R CF 2024 40
15 Griffin Conine 22.7 A RF 2022 40
16 T.J. Zeuch 24.6 MLB RHP 2020 40
17 Alberto Rodriguez 19.4 R OF 2022 40
18 Kevin Smith 23.7 AA SS 2021 40
19 Leonardo Jimenez 18.8 A SS 2022 40
20 Eric Pardinho 19.2 A RHP 2022 40
21 Estiven Machado 17.4 R 2B 2024 40
22 Julian Merryweather 28.4 AAA RHP 2020 40
23 Reese McGuire 25.0 MLB C 2020 40
24 Otto Lopez 21.4 A SS 2021 40
25 Joey Murray 23.5 AA RHP 2022 40
26 Yennsy Diaz 23.3 MLB RHP 2020 40
27 Riley Adams 23.7 AA C 2021 40
28 Will Robertson 22.2 A- RF 2023 40
29 Jackson Rees 25.6 A+ RHP 2020 40
30 Curtis Taylor 24.6 AA RHP 2020 35+
31 Javier D’Orazio 18.2 R C 2023 35+
32 Patrick Murphy 24.8 AA RHP 2020 35+
33 Roither Hernandez 22.0 R RHP 2021 35+
34 Anthony Alford 25.6 MLB CF 2020 35+
35 Chavez Young 22.7 A+ CF 2021 35+
36 Tanner Morris 22.5 A- LF 2023 35+
37 Naswell Paulino 19.9 A LHP 2023 35+
38 Hector Perez 23.8 AA RHP 2020 35+
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60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Central Florida JC (FL) (TOR)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 245 Bat / Thr R / R FV 60
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
80/80 60/60 50/55 55/60 45/50 95-100 / 102

Finally, a healthy season from Pearson who had yet to throw more than 20 pro innings in a season until 2019, when he threw 101 across 25 starts. I wasn’t worried about Pearson being a true injury risk because his maladies (an intercostal strain, a fractured ulna due to a comebacker) have been unrelated to the typically concerning elbow and shoulder stuff. Instead, I wanted to see if he could hold his elite velo under the strain of a full-season workload, and what his secondary stuff would be like when he was forced to pitch through lineups multiple times. Not only did the velo hold water but Pearson’s repertoire is very deep. Yes, he’ll chuck 101 past you, but he’ll also pull the string on a good changeup that runs away from lefty hitters, dump a curveball in for strikes to get ahead of you before gassing you with two strikes, and tilt in one of the harder sliders on the planet, a pitch I’ve personally seen him throw at 95 mph and that regularly sits in the low-90s. Does he need to throw well above 100 innings to be a true front-end arm? Yes, but that he was able to retain his stuff amid a huge innings increase in 2019 is a sign he’ll be able to do so with even more innings folded in. A source with offseason intel tells me Pearson also remade his body and has gotten a little leaner. We won’t truly know until he reports to camp, but if that’s true, it bolsters my confidence in him sustaining this level of stuff for several years.

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Kempner HS (TX) (NYM)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 55/55 45/55 45/55 45/55 92-94 / 97

An athletic, outwardly competitive two-way high schooler, Woods Richardson would also have been a prospect as a power-hitting third baseman were he not so good on the mound. His vertically oriented release point makes it hard for him to work his fastball east and west, and several teams had him evaluated as a future reliever before the draft because they saw a lack of fastball command. But this vertical release also enables him to effectively change hitters’ eye level by pairing fastballs up with breaking balls down, and he has a plus breaking ball.

Woods Richardson works so quickly that it often makes hitters uncomfortable, though scouts love it. He’s developed a better changeup in pro ball, pronating really hard to turn the thing over and create tailing movement. Though he was one of the 2018 draft’s youngest prospects, his frame is pretty mature, so this is a player who might look a little too good on a pro scouting model.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR)
Age 20.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/65 30/55 55/50 45/50 60/60

Groshans immediately stood out to scouts on the showcase circuit, looking like a Josh Donaldson starter kit with similar swing mechanics, plus raw power projection, a plus arm, and a third base defensive fit. He comported himself well during a 23-game jaunt in the Midwest League (.337/.427/.482) before he was shut down with a left foot injury that kept him away from baseball activity until just after the New Year. The mystery and severity of the injury, combined with Lansing’s tendency to caricature hitter’s stats, has much of the industry in wait-and-see mode here, though the power is for real.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 18.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
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 Víctor Víctor Mesa. We ranked him behind a number of players in his class because of concerns about his contact skills, and those remain due to wild variation in the way Martinez’s lower half works during his swing. His footwork is all over the place and he takes a lot of ugly hacks. But the bat speed, Martinez’s ability to rotate, is huge. He projects for at least 60 raw power, and he should stick somewhere in the infield, but this is a kid with a high-variance hit tool.

45+ FV Prospects

5. Alek Manoah, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from West Virginia (TOR)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 250 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/70 40/50 40/45 94-97 / 98

Manoah is a big-bodied late bloomer from South Florida who wasn’t a top notch recruit out of high school, but developed into an elite prospect throughout his sophomore year in Morgantown. Once softer and relatively unathletic, he’s transformed himself from a high-effort relief type into a possible workhorse mid-rotation starter.

Manoah still leads with his fastball/slider combo, and remains hulking and somewhat stiff-looking. That power fastball/slider approach to pitching and the Sal Romano body comp creates an air of bullpen risk, but that was the case with Nate Pearson once upon a time, and isn’t anymore. Manoah can back foot his slider against lefties and his changeup flashed averge in college, so he has platoon-fighting weapons at his disposal. He showed no ill effects from a big innings increase from 2018 to 2019 and was still 93-96 with his heater late in the summer after he signed. Changeup and command consistency will reinforce the mid-rotation forecast, which is currently a right-tail outcome rather than the likeliest one.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Mexico (TOR)
Age 21.3 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 265 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/50 30/40 20/20 40/45 55/55

A Jeremy Brown situation is brewing here, as Kirk has several elite statistical markers (a tiny 5% swinging strike rate, more career walks than strikeouts, power production in the FSL) and strong TrackMan data (a 91 mph average exit velo, a 48% hard hit rate), but also generates skepticism among eyeball scouts looking at athletes and bodies. Kirk is built like Chris Farley and, like Farley, has moments of surprising grace and athletic brilliance despite his size. But there’s no precedent for someone this big having a robust major league career. The closest comp I could find from a height/weight standpoint is José Molina, who was listed at 6-feet, 250 pounds late in his career. Molina was nearly 40 then, while Kirk — 5-foot-8, 265 pounds — is only 21, and it’s hard to predict what will happen to his build and agility as he ages into his 20s, because pro athletes like this (John Daly, maybe?) don’t really exist.

His age makes the statistical track record even more impressive, though, especially when you consider that Kirk missed a year due to a hand injury and has been young for every level at which he’s raked. He has an all-fields, doubles-oriented approach that prioritizes contact and walks. He’s a 20-grade waddler from base to base, and even visual evaluations of his swing (which features conservative footwork) are mixed despite his numbers. He can turn on balls in and hit balls hard the other way, but this isn’t like Andrew Vaughn, who scouts will acknowledge has defensive limitations and whose mobility they’ll knock, but about whose athleticism in the batter’s box they all rave. This is a weird one, perhaps a prospect who will be aided by coming changes to the way balls and strikes are called in the event that he begins a physical regression very early, as most scouts believe he will.

45 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/50 30/45 45/40 45/55 55/55

Lansing is the most hitter-friendly park in the Midwest League and it aided Moreno’s 2019 power output. You can’t fake an 11% strikeout rate, though, which was especially impressive considering Moreno made that much contact as a teenager in full-season ball. Even though he is young, it’s relatively unlikely that he develops much more raw power, both because catching takes such a physical toll on the body that it often dilutes offensive production, and because Moreno is a smaller-framed young man. But I think there’s a chance for relevant game power if he can rotate a little better, which might be accomplished if his stride were a little longer and enabled his front side to have more flex.

Right now, Moreno’s all hand-eye/bat-to-ball, punching airborne contact to all fields and running unusually well for a catcher. He has a shot to be a well-rounded, everyday backstop based on the contact and defensive projection (Moreno converted to the position around when he signed and hasn’t been doing it for very long), even more so if he makes an adjustment that helps create more pop.

8. Anthony Kay, LHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from UConn (NYM)
Age 25.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 218 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/50 50/55 50/55 50/55 91-94 / 96

Twenty-one months elapsed between when Kay signed his pro contract and when he finally threw a pitch in affiliated ball. UConn rode him hard during his junior year in Storrs. He faced 36 hitters in a March game the Huskies won 18-1. During conference tournament play, Kay threw a complete game, then pitched again during the tournament on three days rest; he threw 90 pitches amid an hour-long lightning delay. That heavy usage made it unsurprising when he blew out in the fall of 2016.

When Kay finally returned, he looked markedly different than he did in college, when he was a lefty changeup monster with mediocre velocity. Kay’s fastball ticked up and now sits at about 93 mph instead of peaking there, and his two-plane curveball got better. His once-dominant changeup regressed but is still comfortably average, and he has great feel for locating it down, and to his arm side. He was shut down late last year with a back/side issue, so perhaps there’s some extra injury risk here, but otherwise this is a major league-ready, strike-throwing No. 4/5 starter look.

40+ FV Prospects

9. Thomas Hatch, RHP
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Oklahoma State (CHC)
Age 25.5 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/55 50/55 50/55 91-94 / 96

Hatch started using a cutter more (or perhaps he was altering his slider’s shape) later in his Cubs tenure, then upped his changeup usage after he was acquired from Chicago for David Phelps ahead of the 2019 deadline. He has premium fastball spin, and his heater’s performance might take a leap with a slight axis change. I had previously misevaluated Hatch’s control/command, which is clearly in a fairly stable, starter-friendly realm. He’s also been remarkably durable. He repeated Double-A as a 24-year-old last year and his age dilutes his FV by a shade, but there are several major league-quality pitches here and evidence Hatch can handle the workload. He’s a No. 4/5 starter with heightened risk of hitting his decline phase during his arb years.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.5 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 50/55 20/50 50/40 40/45 55/55

After his dominant 2018 in the DSL, the Blue Jays pushed the physically mature Hiraldo right past the GCL and sent him to the Appy League at age 18; there he hit .300/.348/.481 with 28 extra-base hits in 56 games. He has a short, high-effort swing, and his hands load high and take a curt, direct path to the ball with plus bat speed that Hiraldo generates with effort and violence. It’s a swing-happy, pull-heavy approach to contact that would ideally become more polished, but there’s rare bat speed and vertical plate coverage here, so Hiraldo has a talent-based shot to both hit and hit for power.

Hiraldo is stocky and strong in general, let alone for his age, and even though he’s playing lots of shortstop right now, I think he’ll end up as a shift-aided second or third baseman at physical maturity. He has physical ability to profile every day in that sort of role but the approach needs to develop.

11. Rikelvin de Castro, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 17.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/50 30/45 20/35 60/55 45/60 50/55

All of de Castro’s defensive attributes (his range, footwork, hands, and actions) are fantastic, and he has a chance to be a spectacular, athletic defensive shortstop at maturity. All of what he ends up doing with the bat depends on how his body develops. Right now, like most fresh-faced prospects about to embark on their first pro season, de Castro has room on the frame for 20 or 30 pounds. His swing has good foundation, from both a mechanical and a timing standpoint, but he has to get stronger or that’s not going to matter very much. There’s plenty of time for that, and a chance for an everyday role if it happens.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Magnolia HS (TX) (TOR)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 243 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/50 50/55 40/45 40/50 40/50 88-92 / 94

Some of my and Kiley’s sources projected huge increases in fastball velocity for Kloffenstein while he was a high school prospect, and just a year removed from his draft, he’s now relatively filled out and working with heavy sink in the low-to-mid-90s. There are definite starter components here, led by two breaking balls with different velocities (their shapes are relatively similar) and some nascent changeup feel. The changeup development will be of particular importance because of how it will pair with the sinking action on most of Kloffenstein’s fastballs. Because he doesn’t generate big-breaking spin, Kloffenstein’s slider and curve will depend on his ability to locate them. He’s looking like a backend sinker/slider guy.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from IMG Academy HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 45/55 45/50 35/45 90-93 / 96

Williams had one of the biggest frames among the high school prospects from the 2019 draft, standing in at a very projectable-looking 6-foot-6. He was much older than the typical high school prospect (he and Adam Kloffenstein, who was drafted the year before, were born nine days apart), and that colors the fastball projection, but what is lost there might be gained through a better delivery. Williams had some cross-bodied mechanical violence as an amateur that might be ironed out in pro ball, and already may have been. He had a Mike Clevinger look in the bullpen this spring.

Whether or not more velo comes, Williams is already a big, strong kid whose fastball has been up to 96, and he creates vertical depth on his breaking ball. There’s sizable relief risk here because of the delivery, but No. 4 starter ceiling if that’s corrected or overcome.

14. Dasan Brown, CF
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2019 from Abbey Park HS (CAN) (TOR)
Age 18.5 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/45 40/45 20/35 80/80 40/60 50/50

Perhaps the industry opinion of his ability to hit is warped by the context of its looks (the Canadian Junior National Team often plays advanced competition), but, like a lot of northern high schoolers, Brown has raw feel for contact and is viewed as a high-risk prospect as a result. He does have many electric, catalytic qualities, though. Brown is twitchy and has elite speed, and his swing is compact and has a chance to enable a contact-oriented leadoff skillset if Brown matures as a hitter. His speed gives him a shot to be an absolute black hole in center field, which would take a lot of pressure off the bat.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2018 from Duke (TOR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 70/70 35/60 45/40 45/50 60/60

Conine looked like a sure first round pick after an exceptional 2017 sophomore year and subsequent wood-powered summer on Cape Cod. During his .330/.406/.537 tear on the Cape, he started to strike out more often. That carried into his junior year at Duke in very concerning fashion, as his strikeout rate spiked from 16% the year before to a whopping 26%, a rate that most teams consider a red flag, putting hitters on the wrong side of binary hit tool evaluation.

The strikeouts continued in Low-A but, boy, does Conine have mood-altering power. His exit velos and hard hit rate were on par with Yordan Alvarez’s last year, though Conine is older than Alvarez and played several levels below him. This performance — .283/.371/.576 with 22 homers, 19 doubles, and a 36% strikeout rate — came in just 80 games because Conine was popped for PED’s (ritalinic acid, a stimulant) and served a 50-game suspension to start 2019. He has 35-plus homer power if he hits enough, but typically guys who strike out this much don’t.

16. T.J. Zeuch, RHP
Drafted: 1st Round, 2016 from Pittsburgh (TOR)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
55/55 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 his height and fairly upright delivery. It has helped him generate groundball 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. He may be a candidate for a true splitter, or a 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.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.4 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 25/50 45/40 40/45 50/50

A physical, lefty corner bat with some thump, Rodriguez generated average big league exit velos as a teenager in the GCL last year. Some of his swings are beautiful, left-handed uppercut hacks. He’s not all that projectable and will have to have a potent hit/power combo to profile. That appears to be in play.

18. Kevin Smith, SS
Drafted: 4th Round, 2017 from Maryland (TOR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 188 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/55 45/50 55/55 40/45 55/55

Though not remotely similar to him as a prospect, Smith projects to produce similarly to Freddy Galvis on offense. He has above-average raw power and speed, a rare combo at short, with the thump created by really explosive, lift-friendly hitting hands. But Smith’s grooved swing limits his ability to make contact. He’ll hit for power but be a low average, low OBP middle infielder without the excellent glove work of Galvis, who has been a 45-grade big leaguer.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Panama (TOR)
Age 18.8 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 40/45 20/30 50/50 45/55 55/55

A heady, workmanlike multi-positional infielder, Jimenez comported himself well in the Appy League last year, hitting an empty .298 with a BABIP-aided .377 OBP. He’s a polished defender with advanced feel for contact, but he lacks an impact offensive tool and there’s not much frame-based projection on the power. Unless he out-hits my projection on the contact skills, he profiles as a utility infielder.

20. Eric Pardinho, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Brazil (TOR)
Age 19.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 45/50 50/55 45/50 45/55 90-93 / 94

Famous at 15 thanks to his World Baseball Classic performance, Pardinho later signed with much fanfare and the second largest bonus among his class’ pitching peers, behind only Shohei Ohtani. At that time, he was more present stuff (he was into the mid-90s at the WBC, which is why he went viral) than physical projection, an atypical look for the J2 market. Based on this, Toronto pushed him to an affiliate quickly, and he pitched at Bluefield as a 17-year-old in 2018, his first pro summer. He dealt with injuries throughout 2019 and his stuff was very average, with the fastball resting in the 90-93 range. He had elbow soreness during the spring of 2019, pitched in Extended for a while, got to Lansing late, made seven starts, then was shut down in mid-August. His elbow barked at him again this spring and Pardinho had Tommy John in mid-February.

What made Pardinho appealing as an amateur — his polish and potential to move quickly — is now gone after the two years impacted by injury, and it’s been a while since his stuff was exciting. What his body and stuff look like coming out of rehab could wildly alter his standing in the prospect landscape in either direction.

21. Estiven Machado, 2B
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 17.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/60 30/40 20/30 55/55 45/60 50/50

Machado is a very flashy, very compact middle infielder with precocious barrel feel for a young hitter, let alone one who switch-hits. The contact ability and defense may need to carry the whole profile because Machado is a smaller-framed player.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2014 from Oklahoma Baptist (CLE)
Age 28.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 40/40 45/45 60/60 50/50 95-97 / 98

He had a breakout 2017, then needed surgery before the 2018 season began, but Merryweather was back late in 2019 and looked ready to make an immediate bullpen impact. He has an unusually deep coffer of pitches for a reliever, and both the fastball and changeup will miss bats. His FV is punished by his age but teams have traded big prospects for high-leverage relievers with lots of team control left, and Merryweather might have proven to be one quite soon.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2013 from Kentwood HS (WA) (PIT)
Age 25.0 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

McGuire projects as a glove-first backup catcher (his 45-game big league statline is impressive, but the visual evaluations still indicate a defense-oriented profile) who might steal a start from Danny Jansen here and there because of his handedness. He has a mid-March court date following an arrest during spring training for misdemeanor exposure of sexual organs, which GM Ross Atkins has said will not impact McGuire’s standing with the team.

24. Otto Lopez, SS
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 21.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/55 40/45 20/30 60/60 40/45 50/50

Curiously, the Blue Jays narrowed Lopez’s defensive responsibilities from six different positions (all but catcher and first base) to just three (2B/SS/LF), with most of the reps coming at short, where Lopez is below average. Yes, his numbers were likely aided by Lansing to some degree, but you can’t fake a 12% strikeout rate, which is in line with Lopez’s career rates. Lacking impact power at present and the physical projection to anticipate it in the future, Lopez’s realistic future role is that of a contact-oriented, multi-positional role player. It means Lopez will have to become a playable defender at short and (hopefully) center field, because without more power, he’ll end up in the Eric Young Jr. roster fringe area.

25. Joey Murray, RHP
Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from Kent State (TOR)
Age 23.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 50/55 40/45 45/50 88-91 / 93

A high spin rate, backspinning axis and flat approach angle give Murray’s fastball big time carry in the zone, and it blows past hitters even though it only sits in the 88-91 range. It has enabled Murray to reach the upper-levels of the minors in just one year, and he finished 2019 having made eight good starts at Double-A. He can pair the fastball with both breaking balls, and he throws a lot of strikes. I’m skeptical of it working in a rotation but a Yusmeiro Petit sort of relief role has precedent.

26. Yennsy Diaz, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/55 40/45 40/45 93-96 / 98

The continued development of Diaz in the rotation has improved his changeup enough that it’s a viable third offering on the eve of three-batter minimums. Otherwise Diaz has the look of your standard fastball/breaking ball middle reliever. He held mid-90s heat over a 140-inning workload last year and should live there out of the ‘pen, while his upper-70s curveball has average movement, but plays well because of how Diaz hides the ball.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2017 from San Diego (TOR)
Age 23.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/60 40/50 30/30 40/45 55/55

At a chiseled 6-foot-4, Adams has a rare catcher’s build both in terms of sheer size and in body composition. This creates some issues for him — the lever length has led to strikeouts, and Adams can be slow out of his crouch when throwing to second — but it bolsters confidence in his durability and athletic longevity. I think it’s possible for Adams to simplify his swing in a way that looks like what Alec Bohm has done, which is a contact-oriented approach that derives power from the hitter’s strength rather than a lot of movement. I have him projected as a bat-first backup.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2019 from Creighton (TOR)
Age 22.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 60/60 30/50 40/35 40/50 50/50

You can compare Robertson’s 2018 wood bat Cape statline — .300/.380/.435 — to his mid-major, composite bat power output at Creighton — .307/.401/.560 — and get a feel for what the performance drop-off is like when smaller-school mashers face cream of the crop pitching with pro-style bats. He has corner-worthy power, but Robertson’s swing and general stiffness detract from the confidence that he’ll tap into it in pro ball. He has a 1B/LF/RF platoon projection.

29. Jackson Rees, RHP
(TOR)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
50/50 70/70 45/45 91-94 / 95

Injured several times as an amateur, Rees bounced from a California JUCO to Hawaii, where he had two vanilla seasons as a starter. Undrafted, he signed with Toronto, raised him arm slot, moved to the bullpen, and now has a deception/curveball combo that’s very difficult for hitters to parse in one-inning stints. He’s a likely relief piece.

35+ FV Prospects

30. Curtis Taylor, RHP
Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from British Columbia (ARI)
Age 24.6 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 55/60 45/50 40/45 93-97 / 98

Taylor has now been traded twice — the Rays acquired him from Arizona for Brad Boxberger then flipped him to the Jays for Eric Sogard — amid a quick climb to Double-A (the Rays moved him quickly after they acquired him) and intermittent elbow soreness. Taylor was shut down and given a PRP injection to remedy a UCL strain without surgery and didn’t pitch the second half of last year. Before he was shelved and traded, he was typically throwing 35 to 50 pitches once every three to five days, seemingly in preparation for some kind of multi-inning role. He works in the mid-90s, generates huge extension, and bends in some above-average sliders.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (TOR)
Age 18.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/55 45/50 20/45 35/30 40/50 45/50

D’Orazio is a lean, projectable catcher with advanced feel for contact. He received a mid-season promotion from the DSL to the GCL and his production sputtered, but I’m in on the frame and bat-to-ball skills.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2013 from Hamilton HS (AZ) (TOR)
Age 24.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 50/50 40/45 45/45 93-97 / 99

After a totally healthy 2018 (he’s endured myriad severe injuries dating back to high school), it seemed like Murphy would finally reach the big leagues and enjoy the spoils of his perseverance last year. But in June, the Umpire’s Association ruled that his delivery was illegal (his front leg would kick up, then come all the way down and make contact with the mound and the front of the pitching runner before he’d stride toward home), and Murphy’s performance fell apart as he tried to make an adjustment that would satisfy them. And that was before he got hurt again (shoulder). Healthy Murphy pounds the zone with upper-90s fastballs and breaks off an occasionally nasty curveball. He profiles in middle relief.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 22.0 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/65 45/55 30/40 30/40 95-98 / 99

Hernandez is an arm strength-only, 22-year-old relief prospect with a shot to develop a viable, bat-missing slider.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2012 from Petal HS (MS) (TOR)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/35 60/60 40/40 70/70 50/55 40/40

The sexy, fantasy baseball-relevant tools remain (power and speed), but Alford’s strikeouts, injury history, and inability to get to his power in games continues to be a problem. He’s now 25 and the two-sport late-bloomer cuckoo clock is nearly at midnight.

35. Chavez Young, CF
Drafted: 39th Round, 2016 from Faith Baptist HS (FL) (TOR)
Age 22.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 40/45 50/50 55/55 45/50 60/60

As is typical of hitters transitioning from Lansing to Dunedin, Young’s surface-level production declined significantly in 2019, but his .247/.315/.347 line was still average for the Florida State League. A lack of pop will likely be a barrier to regular playing time, but Young has rosterable bench outfielder traits. He’s a switch-hitter (better left than right) who can pinch run and play all three outfield positions well (an instincts-driven center field, plus defense in a corner).

Drafted: 5th Round, 2019 from Virginia (TOR)
Age 22.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 50/50 30/40 40/40 40/45 40/40

Morris’ track record of hitting well dates back to high school and he had more walks than strikeouts in his two years at Virginia (he was a draft-eligible sophomore). He doesn’t really have a position — he played shortstop all through college but fits in left field athletically — and lacks impact power, which puts a ton of pressure on the hit tool and plate discipline to carry the freight of Morris’ offensive production. To this point, he’s performed as if they may.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (TOR)
Age 19.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops
40/55 45/55 35/45 88-91 / 93

Paulino is a converted outfielder currently sitting in the low-90s with big time carry on his fastball. He’s a smaller-framed guy, but is loose, and I think there’s a chance more arm strength comes with maturity. His breaking ball has bat-missing action at times but needs to become more consistent. He’s a long-term bullpen prospect.

38. Hector Perez, RHP
Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic (HOU)
Age 23.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Splitter Command Sits/Tops
60/70 50/60 45/50 40/55 30/35 91-95 / 96

Toronto ran Perez out as a Double-A starter in 2019, his first option year on the 40-man, but he continues to project in relief because of control issues. Curiously, while he has several traits indicative of an effective fastball (its spin rate is above average, and it has backspin and plus-plus vertical movement), his heater only generated a 6% swinging strike rate last year. He’s lost a tick on his heater each of the last two seasons and has gone from sitting 93-97 to sitting 91-96, but again this has been as a starter rather than in the short-outing, piggyback-style usage Perez enjoyed before Houston traded him to the Jays in the Roberto Osuna deal. The velo might come back if Perez ends up in relief, but he still probably needs to throw more strikes to stick in the bullpen permanently rather than be shuttled back and forth from Triple-A.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Young Pitching
Emanuel Vizcaino, RHP
Alejandro Melean, RHP
Sem Robberse, RHP
Jiorgeny Casimiri, RHP
Winder Garcia, RHP
Michael Dominguez, RHP
Yunior Hinojosa, RHP
Luis Quinones, RHP
Jol Concepcion, RHP

Vizcaino, 20, must have gotten hurt at the end of Extended Spring Training last year because he pitched into late-June but never threw a pitch at an affiliate. He’s a lanky relief prospect with a good three-pitch mix, and his heater was in the low-90s when healthy. Melean is advanced from a body and stuff perspective, sitting 90-94 at age 19, but his strike-throwing did not progress last year. Robberse and Casimiri are both medium-framed 18-year-olds from the Netherlands. Both sit in the low-90s; Robberse’s breaking ball has better natural shape and snap. Winder Garcia is a 5-foot-10 18-year-old up to 94, and has an average slider. Michael Dominguez is a physically mature 19 and only sits in the low-90s, but his fastball has plus spin and vertical movement. Hinojosa is similar but he’s 20, sitting 89-93. Quinones, 22, has one of the highest-spinning heaters in the entire org and struck out a lot of guys in Vancouver last year. He needs a grade and a half of command improvement to be a reliever. Concepcion is 22 and has big arm strength (92-96), but little else right now.

Bench/Role Players
Ryan Noda, 1B/LF
Josh Palacios, RF
Santiago Espinal, INF
Forrest Wall, CF
Kevin Vicuña, INF

Noda has elite walk rates, his exit velos are very strong, and he’s hit for power at every level of the minors. He also strikes out a lot for someone older than is usual for his level, which I think is evidence he’ll fall on the wrong side of the Quad-A bubble. Palacios is a lefty stick tweener outfield type who runs well, takes good at-bats, and has doubles pop. Espinal is a multi-positional infielder with below-average power. He might be a 25th or 26th man, but I think the lack of offensive impact means he’s closer to replacement level than above it. Wall can really run and has some contact skills. Vicuña has contact skills and can play all over but is a few years away from a bench infielder role.

Stiff-bodied, Older Relief Types
Maximo Castillo, RHP
Jackson McClelland, RHP
Ty Tice, RHP
Brad Wilson, RHP

Castillo pitched pretty well in a rotation last year. He’s a bowling ball with an upright delivery and two above-average pitches in his heater and split. His slider/cutter is fine, too, but he has a relief-only mechanical and physical look. McClelland throws really hard (up to 100), and also has a good split, but 30 control. Tice and Wilson are both fastball/slider relief sorts. Wilson is up to 96, Tice up to 97.

System Overview

Almost every pitcher the Blue Jays have acquired via trade over the last year or so has had a high spin rate fastball, at or above 2400 rpm. It’s clearly something teams are selecting for more often in general, but not with the same amplitude as Toronto. Hatch, Kay, Juan De Paula (not on the list), Perez, and even some of their waiver tries, like David Garner, have been up there. This proclivity has not been true of the amateur department, which has drafted and signed athletes with good frames, and college hitters with measurable power.

A lot of the relievers in their mid-20s actually need to see big league time this year. From among that unusually large group should emerge the short-term core of Jays bullpen and probably a trade chip or two, especially if Merryweather pitches like I expect he will.

There are lots of changeups and splits in this org, though it hasn’t been one that’s had success developing breaking balls. The org has also had trouble finding complementary pieces to fit around the young core of Bichette, Guerrero, and Biggio (who, as an aside, I was light on — his approach is elite, and he should’ve been on my Top 100 when he was eligible), though the team’s strategy has been clear. The Jays are everyone’s place to ship toolsy, frustrating upper-level players who are squeezed off better rosters, with Socrates Brito and Derek Fisher the new models.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Cave Dameron
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Cave Dameron

Thank you Eric, very cool!