Kevin Prospectus of Baseball Goldstein has been layin’ down some Jays-related prospect talk over the last few days, and I’m here to scoop it up…

In Wednesday’s Future Shock column for Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein tossed out ten names as potential minor league players of the year, including the Jays’ own Travis d’Arnaud.

With Jesus Montero–a catcher in name only–now a big leaguer, d’Arnaud will begin the 2012 season as the best catching prospect in the game,” he writes, “and after winning Eastern League MVP honors last season with a .311/.371/.542 line, he’s moving to Las Vegas, where the ball flies out of the park. Two years ago, J.P. Arencibia hit 32 home runs and slugged .626 in 104 games before being called up to Toronto, and one wonders if d’Arnaud can force some difficult decisions with an equal performance.”

The previous day’s Future Shock piece had some Jays content as well, behind the paywall, as Goldstein provided an AL East Prospect Preview, in which he says he’s down on Anthony Gose, and sets Jake Marisnick at 2-1 odds to be the club’s 2013 top prospect, leaping ahead of d’Arnaud, presumably because of the likelihood that the young catcher graduates to the Majors at some point this season.

He calls “either of the A-ball affiliates” the Jays’ minor league teams to watch, “as no team in the game can match Toronto’s lower level talent. Low-A Lansing should have a monster rotation, headed by Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino and Aaron Sanchez, while the High-A Dunedin outfield will have Jake Marisnick and Michael Crouse, who is coming off a huge camp.”

Side note: we’re currently working on getting some weekly dispatches from Dunedin for this season, which I’m very excited about, as it will give us a chance to hear a lot more about a lot of the Jays best prospects, including Crouse, who Goldstein calls his breakout candidate. “After hitting .261/.352/.475 last year in Lansing, Crouse is showing more signs of converting his tools into skills this Spring, and his athleticism is off the charts,” he writes.

“Still not quite ready to compete,” he adds, speaking to the possibility of the club dealing some of its young talent, “the Blue Jays are likely to stick to the long-term plan as opposed to being big players in July.”

Lastly, as I mentioned in yesterday’s Afternoon… er… Morning Snack, Bluebird Banter recently posted a lengthy interview with Goldstein on a variety of Jays-related players and topics. I’ll encourage you to read the whole thing– it’s not really that lengthy– but here are a few things that stood out to me.

On the subject of the Jays being competitive in the AL East, he says, “I think this year’s a little silly. I don’t think next year’s crazy at all.” (Just like everybody said about the ’08 Rays, AMIRIGHT???)

He sees the possibility of some sort of a time-share at catcher in 2013, between d’Arnaud and JP Arencibia, with d’Arnaud spending more time behind the plate, and JPA making up at-bats at DH. I’ve said before that I just don’t see how it’s possible Arencibia’s bat will play as even average at DH, so I’m not sure it’s the ideal plan, but I suppose it may be necessary while the younger, reportedly better catcher is breaking in.

As I’ve heard him done before, he excellently tempers expectations on Anthony Gose, while simultaneously giving a thrill to the fan base by comparing him with Devon White, “which is a damn good player obviously,” he says. “He does have power, he does have speed, he does have an arm, he does play a hell of a center field.”

Speaking of the potential of Colby Rasmus, though a good general rule for all prospects, he explains that “the further we’re removed from it the lesser the chances we have of him reaching it. I think that’s important.” He adds that “we can make a million excuses for him or we can be concerned and I’d rather be in the concerned pile.”

That’s largely because he thinks “it’s dangerous to act like [a turnaround is] going to happen because he has a new attitude or because he’s a Blue Jay and Alex is the GM and Tony’s not his manager any more. You get stuck in these very dangerous kind of causal relationship traps.”

That said, he admits he’s “the guy who’s been holding onto Travis Snider as a guy I believe can really, really, hit and not make outs and all that good stuff, for a long time and I’m still somewhat on that bandwagon. I still think there’s a chance he could be a well above average offensive player, but this is the last year I’m willing to stay on that bandwagon.”

Lastly, on a more he says this: “I think everything’s kind of lined up for this to be Brandon Morrow’s year. If I was to pick a break out guy for the Blue Jays this year I would pick Brandon Morrow.”

Depends if you think Brett Lawrie’s not broken out yet, I suppose. But it makes sense. All of what he’s saying does. And for Jays fans who are mature enough to take the long view, they’re some pretty fantastic words.

Comments (46)

  1. “And for Jays fans who are mature enough to take the long view, they’re some pretty fantastic words.”

    Agreed. I’d say flipping an entire organization’s farm system in less than 2 years is pretty fucking quick in itself. So quick that it may have placed an extra burden on AA and the front office. Fans (and Toronto Star columnists) have been spoiled with AA’s and the scouting dept’s great work that we expect a division winning team right away. We all just need to simmer the fuck down. I know 19 years is a long time to wait, but this is the right path.

    • 19 years isnt really a long time, actually. Especially considering we won two. People do know there are 30 teams right? So really waiting 60 years would be the average, not considering the obvious imbalance.

      • Sorry, we forgot to include the fucking shallow fans who can’t comprehend that AA has only been at the helm for 2 years.

  2. I would just like to say that I’ve been comparing Gose to White since the trade (and I learned he existed). If he comes close to it, that’ll make it the first accurate baseball-related prediction I’ve made since calling Junior Felix’s 1st pitch, 1st AB home run.

    I don’t think 2 such instances in 25 years is dumb luck, do you?

  3. The fact that Damien Cox was covering baseball this spring training is a good example of how fucked up the Toronto Star can be. He should stick to hockey and curling.

    • No. He should give up curling. His speculations about performance enhancement are ruining the game.

  4. “I just don’t see how it’s possible Arencibia’s bat will play as even average at DH”
    I think it’s too early to tell. He’s still a developing player too. What a guy does in his rookie year is not necessarily reflective of what the end product is going to be (thank god). There are countless examples of this and some of those examples are cited frequently on a certain couple of blogs that I read.

    I think it’s POSSIBLE that JP turns into the kind of player who could be very suited in a Napoli type of role. It is also quite possible that he doesn’t, in which case the scenario discussed doesn’t have to happen.

    • I don’t doubt he can be better. Problem is, he has a LONG way to go just to get to average. Arencibia’s .309 wOBA would have been second last among qualified DH’s last year. His 92 wRC+ would have been last.

      The median wOBA among the 11 was .350– so he has to pull his up by over 40 points just to get to the middle of the pack.

      • Agreed. I guess I’ve just decided to stop worrying about all this future stuff and just enjoy the season. I don’t know how Rasmus will do, I don’t know if Hech will turn out. i don’t know if McGowan will ever be an effective SP anymore. I don’t know if Thames or Snider will be the better LF long term. But I don’t have to worry about any of that stuff.

        … I guess as a baseball blogger in March, you kinda do…. sucker.

      • Or just be Lind’s platoon-mate in 2013 when the Jays finally use Lind as a DH against righties because everything else is too strenuous.

      • You have to remember those stats are going to be tainted by his injuries that he played through last year. That’s why I think it’s too early to say how well his bat will eventually project. He had a rather low BABIP last year and if he can even boost that by 20 points and cut down on the k’s a little bit you’re easily looking at an .800 ops with his power. One more full season where he is hopefully healthy will go a long way towards showing his true skill level.

    • I hope you’re right, but JPA has essentially never gotten on base. His career minor league OBP is .319 and that is boosted by .359 his second time in AAA (his 1st year in Vegas: .284…).

      JPA’s value as a DH would come from being able to catch when needed. Unless he really takes a step forward then it will have to be a short-term thing while TdA crosses the MLB barrier (shut up, I like that damn acronym… er TdA, not MLB… I don’t mind MLB… are you sure this is coffee?).

      • What sucks is you’d still need a 3rd C on your roster for the days that both guys are in the lineup and someone gets hurt.

        TdA – TADAH!!!

        • I’d say use Mike McCoy… but I might be taken seriously… and you’re right.

        • Not quite true. If for example Arencibia is DHing and the catcher gets hurt, he can move from DH to catcher. The problem being that you then lose your DH spot and the pitcher must bat.
          To me not really a necessity to have a third catcher. Not only is it fairly unlikely to lose a catcher mid-game, it is also really only a problem in the first 5 or 6 innings. Any later in the game and you can simply pinch hit for the pitcher.

    • I don’t think Goldstein was suggesting that JPA becomes a pure DH next season, assuming that d’Arnaud breaks down the outfield walls in Vegas and forces his way onto the MLB roster.

      Its quite possible that we will see a form of platoon at catcher with some DH at bats spread out during the course of the season to keep JPA’s bat from getting stale. I like this option over a sudden trade that would leave d’Arnaud as the starting catcher and some other organization filler as his back-up. Unless of course the Jays get blown away with a trade proposal.

      I much prefer seeing a gradual transition between JPA and d’Arnaud. Say what you will about JPA’s very mediocre defense, he has been able to handle the rigours of calling games and handling the pitching staff fairly well. The learning curve is fucking steep between AAA and the MLB level.

    • DH is not a hard position to fill. Heck I’d rather trade JPA for the best available package and sign Jack Cust to be our DH next year. There’s all sorts or Jack Cust types kicking around that can put up a .370 OBP and absolutely suck at fielding.

  5. I’d agree that Arencibia’s bat doesn’t play at DH right now – but he doesn’t have a long way to go considering the power that he has shown over the last few years.

    Obviously the ideal would be to have an elite bat in that spot – but if the plan is currently to have Encarnacion as DH, then if the Jays were to bring up D’Arnaud – he’d only have to be better than E5.

    Over the last few seasons E5 has had low 300 OBP and mid 400 SLG.. I don’t think its out of the realm of possibilities for Arencibia to improve his on-base percentage to get into the same territory as E5. He already has better power. Its about being able to hit to the gaps and to take the occasional walk that would really improve his offensive game. He’s still had less than 600 major league plate appearances.

    I think if he can improve his walk rate, maintain his power, and hit for a few more singles/doubles (no small task obviously) he’d be perfect for a catching/ DH platoon with D’Arnaud and possibly E5 in 2013. The Jays would probably ease D’Arnaud into the lineup the way they did with Arencibia – so this catching “problem” may not even be an issue until 2014.

    • I should also add that if he continues to strike out 30% of the time he could very well fall right out of contention for the catcher or DH spot altogether…

      As of this moment he would be a pretty terrible DH.

  6. Interesting stuff. Just makes me more excited about this season. Lots of good vibes, and it seems like AA has given himself lots to work with if he wants to make trades this summer.

  7. A little off topic, but what are the odds that Yan Gomes gets a shot at 1B this season if/when Lind turns into shit?

    • I’d say somewhere b/n 0 and 1%. Can never rule ANYTHING out entirely, but it ain’t gonna happen.

      • part of the problem, I think, is this: If Lind doesn’t perform, they won’t be able to trade him (who wants a ‘no impact’ first baseman), so they have to play him. If he does perform then they won’t need Gomes up. Also, the first guy up in case of injury would be Cooper.

    • Yan Gomes can catch and play 3B. Even if he can hit well enough for 1B, why give up that value? He hasn’t even played a minute of AAA…

    • If you were fond of Lind constantly swinging and missing, then you’ll LOVE Yan Gomes Ladies and Gents!

  8. The reality is that its almost certain that one of D’Arnoud orJP will be traded at some point. It too much of luxury to carry two major league quality starters unless the rest of your team is totally stacked already. Most people assume that JP will be the one to go but D’Arnoud has more value right now despite never having had a major league at bat.. You know AA is getting a lot more calls on him and he could be the key to brining a top of the rotation type pitcher or killer bat when the time is right.

  9. @FrankiePilierE
    In Jays camp today. Justin Nicolino looking unhittable. Locating three pitches, plus CH

  10. Nice outing by HUTCH. against first string BOS lineup. exciting. Perez is lights out too

  11. Arencibia’s .310/.528 line vs. LHP with a .355wOBA, 123 wRC+ is pretty damn good for a rookie hitter spending the majority of his time adjusting to being a big league C. If the Jays made him the DH vs. LHP and had d’Arnaud and Arencibia split the catching duties vs. RHP everybody wins.

    • Good point. However, given d’Arnaud’s pedigree, I would be surprised if he was placed on the MLB roster and given less than 500 PAs over a year, which is almost the maximum he could get with that arrangement. Unless JPA essentially rides the pine…

    • Yeah…I was going to mention that. Arencibia wouldn’t be a bad option against LHP at DH in the future if he keeps that up (or even improves, as I expect he will).

  12. I wouldn’t want JPA’s 2011 line anywhere near the DH spot. But he WAS a rookie, a catcher, and battling some injuries. As of right now I see him as a straight backup once D’Arnaud gets here but if he really takes a step forward this year that could change.

  13. I just hope that AA doesn’t wait too long in pulling some kind of trigger if Lind or Rasmus start having a repeat of 2011. As much as I keep hoping for those guys to come around – at some point we might have to face the fact that their one big year was the exception, and that last year is more the norm.
    I don’t know AA well enough say anything about him, but I’d hate for him to be the kind of guy who collects all his young stars, and then just hoards them for years. Sooner or later, someone’s gotta go, and we might as well get something for them.

    • Are you serious? Are you saying that a 25 year old CFer who has averaged 2.6fWAR in his age 22-24 seasons and a 1B who has averaged 1.1fWAR in his age 26-28 seasons are in any way in a similar situation? Because that makes little to no sense to me.

  14. Thats news is fuckin’ money.

    I’m poppin’ a 34 inch, 31 ounce bat.

  15. I admit that JPA as long-term DH is a bad idea. But I do agree (and thus disagree with a lot of others) that we probably need to keep him for 2013 while D’Arnaud is figuring things out. If that means making him the DH for that season–a sub-par one–so be it. Should probably make sure D’Arnaud can play before shipping JPA off.

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