Editorial Note: We’re pumped to bring you the first of a season’s full of weekly prospect-y dispatches from Dunedin, FL, home of the Jays’ FSL High-A affiliate, and some of their best prospects, courtesy of the awesome Bradley Ankrom (@BradleyAnkrom) of Baseball Prospectus. Awesomeness awaits!

It’s an exciting time to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan. Despite their competing in baseball’s toughest division, many pundits have embraced Canada’s Team as their “dark horse” or “sleeper” or “ballsy pick” of 2012, and for good reason. The Blue Jays scored the sixth-most runs in all of baseball last year, and project to do even more damage with third baseman Brett Lawrie in the lineup all year. Rotation anchor Ricky Romero has established himself as one of the league’s best starting pitchers, earning AL Cy Young votes for the first time in his career after going 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA and 178 strikeouts last year.

The big-league roster is undoubtedly shaping up nicely, but it’s what Alex Anthopoulos & Co. have done on the farm that should tickle Jays fans about the future. In his annual review of organization depth, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked the Blue Jays 20th, 24th, 10th, and 22nd between 2007-10. A bumper draft in 2010 revitalized the farm system, and players taken that year account for nearly one-third of the team’s top 30 prospects listed below and, more importantly, five of the top 11. In his first winter as Blue Jays general manager, Anthopoulos traded franchise icon Roy Halladay to Philadelphia in a deal that netted the organization’s current top prospect, catcher Travis d’Arnaud, as well as right-hander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor, who was flipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace, who was subsequently traded to Houston for Anthony Gose, Toronto’s third-best prospect.

 

I haven’t personally seen the majority of players in the Blue Jays organization, therefore I’m uncomfortable throwing together what would ultimately be an arbitrary and derivative ranking of Jays prospects. Instead, I’ll average the rankings of five talent evaluators whose opinions I respect and value, and who are much, much smarter than I am: Nathan Rode at Baseball America (BA), Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus (KG), Keith Law at ESPN (KL), Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com (JM), and John Sickels at MinorLeagueBall.com (JS).

Toronto Blue Jays Aggregate Top 30 Prospects

RK PLAYER SRC

BA

KG

KL

JM

JS

AVG

ASSIGNMENT
1 Travis d’Arnaud, c TR

1

1

1

1

1

1.0

Las Vegas (AAA)
2 Jake Marisnick, cf D09

3

2

3

3

2

2.6

Dunedin (A+)
3 Anthony Gose, cf TR

2

4

4

2

8

4.0

Las Vegas (AAA)
4 Daniel Norris, lhp D11

4

3

NR

5

5

4.3

Ext. Spr. Training
5 Noah Syndergaard, rhp D10

7

5

7

4

3

5.2

Lansing (A)
6 Justin Nicolino, lhp D10

5

7

6

6

4

5.6

Lansing (A)
7 Drew Hutchison, rhp D09

9

6

2

7

7

6.2

New Hampshire (AA)
8 Aaron Sanchez, rhp D10

6

12

5

8

10

8.2

Lansing (A)
9 Deck McGuire, rhp D10

8

8

10

10

6

8.4

New Hampshire (AA)
10 A.J. Jimenez, c D08

12

16

8

14

9

11.8

New Hampshire (AA)
11 Asher Wojciechowski, rhp D10

10

18

NR

11

11

12.5

Dunedin (A+)
12 Adonys Cardona, rhp FA

18

9

9

17

12

13.0

Ext. Spr. Training
13 Kevin Comer, rhp D11

17

10

NR

15

NR

14.0

Ext. Spr. Training
14 Matt Dean, 3b D11

11

17

NR

NR

16

14.7

Ext. Spr. Training
15 Dwight Smith Jr., cf D11

16

15

NR

NR

14

15.0

Ext. Spr. Training
16 Joe Musgrave, rhp D11

20

14

NR

12

15

15.3

Ext. Spr. Training
17 Carlos Perez, c FA

14

19

NR

9

20

15.5

Lansing (A)
18 Jacob Anderson, of D11

21

13

NR

18

13

16.3

Ext. Spr. Training
19 Christopher Hawkins, lf D10

25

11

NR

13

NR

16.3

Lansing (A)
20 Adeiny Hechavarria, ss FA

13

20

NR

16

17

16.5

Las Vegas (AAA)
21 Joel Carreno, rhp FA

NR

NR

NR

NR

18

18.0

Toronto
22 Moises Sierra, rf FA

15

NR

NR

19

22

18.7

Las Vegas (AAA)
23 Kellen Sweeney, 3b D10

19

NR

NR

20

NR

19.5

Lansing (A)
24 David Cooper, 1b D08

22

NR

NR

NR

NR

22.0

Las Vegas (AAA)
25 Marcus Knecht, rf D10

24

NR

NR

NR

21

22.5

Dunedin (A+)
26 Michael Crouse, lf D08

23

NR

NR

NR

23

23.0

Dunedin (A+)
27 Chad Jenkins, rhp D09

28

NR

NR

NR

19

23.5

New Hampshire (AA)
28 John Stilson, rhp D11

26

NR

NR

NR

NR

26.0

Dunedin (A+)
29 Roberto Osuna, rhp FA

30

NR

NR

NR

24

27.0

Ext. Spr. Training
30 Dickie Joe Thon, ss D10

27

NR

NR

NR

NR

27.0

Ext. Spr. Training

Others Following
Pitchers:
RHP-Danny Barnes, RHP-Chad Beck, RHP-Mark Biggs, RHP-Drew Carpenter, RHP-Manuel Cordoba, RHP-Taylor Cole, RHP-Matt Daly, RHP-Anthony DeSclafani, RHP-Misaul Diaz, RHP-Brady Dragmore, RHP-Sam Dyson, RHP-Alan Farina, RHP-Danny Farquhar, RHP-Jeremy Gabryszwski, RHP-Myles Jaye, RHP-Trystan Magnuson, RHP-Roberto Osuna, RHP-Tom Robson, RHP-Milciades Santana, RHP-Jesus Tinoco, RHP-Ronald Uviedo, LHP-Evan Crawford, LHP-Frank Gailey, LHP-Aaron Loup, LHP-Griffin Murphy, LHP-Sean Nolin, LHP-David Rollins. Catchers: C-Brian Jeroloman, C-Santiago Nessy, C-Sean Ochinko. Infielders: 1B-Art Charles, 1B-K.C. Hobson, 1B-Mike McDade, 1B-Kevin Patterson, 1B-Jon Talley, 2B-Jon Berti, 2B-Ryan Goins, 2B-Ryan Schimpf, 3B-Kevin Ahrens, 3B-Justin Atkinson, 3B-Gabriel Cenas, SS-Andy Burns, SS-Christian Lopes, SS-Dawel Lugo, SS-Brandon Mims, SS-Peter Mooney, SS-Gary Pena, SS-Gustavo Pierre, SS-Chino Vega. Outfielders: LF-Eric Arce, LF-Wilmer Becerra, CF-Derrick Loveless, CF-Darin Mastroianni, RF-Markus Brisker, RF-Brad Glenn, RF-Jonathan Jones, RF-Dalton Pompey.

A quick way to gauge the prospecty goodness of each affiliate is to assign points to each ranking, e.g. 30 points for 1, 29 points for 2, etc. Using that method, the strongest Jays affiliate to open the season is… extended spring training (121 points). Among the full-season clubs, Class-A Lansing leads the way with 102 points, followed by Triple-A Las Vegas (82), Double-A New Hampshire 62, and finally Advanced Class-A Dunedin (62).

* * *

Before we dig in to individual player performances, I want to address sample size. I realize the 2012 season is still very much in its infancy, and that stats accrued over a few innings or a couple of dozen at-bats are relatively meaningless. That said, I doubt Stoeten would pay me if I didn’t say something about the numbers that follow, so when you see me write something like, “Adeiny Hechavarria is off to a hot start,” please remember that I’m only doing it for the money. Let’s begin.

HITTER LVL AVG/OBP/SLG AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO SB CS
Kevin Ahrens, 3b A+ .238/.273/.286 21 5 1 0 0 1 3 0 1
Jonathon Berti, 2b A .100/.400/.100 10 1 0 0 0 4 4 2 0
Markus Brisker, rf A .083/.214/.083 12 1 0 0 0 2 8 4 0
Andy Burns, ss A .286/.267/.571 14 4 1 0 1 0 2 2 0
David Cooper, 1b AAA .348/.423/.391 23 8 1 0 0 3 2 0 0
Michael Crouse, rf A+ .150/.261/.300 20 3 1 1 0 3 5 3 0
Travis d’Arnaud, c AAA .158/.273/.211 19 3 1 0 0 3 2 1 0
Ryan Goins, 2b AA .158/.200/.211 19 3 1 0 0 1 5 0 0
Anthony Gose, cf AAA .143/.200/.143 28 4 0 0 0 2 5 0 3
Brad Glenn, rf AA .375/.450/.563 16 6 0 0 1 3 4 1 0
Chris Hawkins, lf A .333/.368/.611 18 6 2 0 1 1 4 0 0
A. Hechavarria, ss AAA .435/.458/.609 23 10 2 1 0 1 6 1 0
K.C. Hobson, 1b A .444/.444/.446 9 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Justin Jackson, cf AA .375/.375/.563 16 6 1 1 0 0 3 1 0
Brian Jeroloman, c AA .000/.250/.000 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0
A.J. Jimenez, c AA .235/.316/.235 17 4 0 0 0 2 4 2 0
Jonathan Jones, rf/dh A+ .304/.360/.304 23 7 0 0 0 2 1 2 1
Marcus Knecht, lf A+ .222/.391/.556 18 4 3 0 1 5 7 0 0
Jake Marisnick, cf A+ .273/.370/.455 22 6 4 0 0 3 6 1 0
Mike McDade, 1b AA .389/.400/.500 18 7 2 0 0 1 3 0 0
Kevin Patterson, 1b A .364/.417/.727 11 4 1 0 1 1 3 0 0
Carlos Perez, c A .200/.294/.200 15 3 0 0 0 2 4 0 0
Moises Sierra, rf AAA .238/.360/.571 21 5 1 0 2 4 5 0 0
Kellen Sweeney, 3b A .286/.412/.357 14 4 1 0 0 2 1 0 2
Jon Talley, 1b A+ .176/.263/.235 17 3 1 0 0 2 6 0 0
Chino Vega, ss A .125/.125/.125 8 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0

It isn’t much of a surprise that the hottest bat in the organization belongs to a player that calls Las Vegas’ Cashman Field home, but it probably would have taken a few guesses to get to Adeiny Hechavarria. After a disappointing (.235/.275/.347) four months at Double-A last year, the 22-year-old shortstop has torn up the Pacific Coast League since being promoted in August, hitting .397/.436/.550 in 140 plate appearances. Has he figured something out or is this just another altitude-driven aberration? Put your money on the latter. Hechavarria has taken a few more walks, but his strikeout percentage has also risen by nearly 30 percent.

Despite opening the season at home, a few Hechavarria’s Las Vegas teammates are off to slow starts. Travis d’Arnaud, Toronto’s top prospect, began the year in a 1-for-15 slump, but collected a pair of hits, including his first double of the season, last night.

It took 30 games for Anthony Gose to be caught stealing for the third time last year, but he’s already 0-for-3 in stolen base attempts this season. While he’s only gone hitless twice, he’s also yet to record an extra-base hit or multi-hit game.

Outfielder Moises Sierra has clubbed two of Las Vegas’ three home runs and places second on the team, behind Hechavarria, with 12 total bases. After drawing only 37 unintentional walks in 551 plate appearances last year, Sierra has coaxed four free passes in six games.

New Hampshire right fielder Brad Glenn hit the Fisher Cats’ first home run of the season off of Jonathan Pettibone in the second inning of last night’s 3-2 win at Reading. He’s tied with first baseman Mike McDade for the club lead with nine total bases.

The three primary outfielders in Dunedin have each had their ups and downs in the early going, but Michael Crouse, Marcus Knecht, and Jake Marisnick still make up the most athletic outfield trio in the organization. Despite playing together in Lansing last year, Crouse and Marisnick have struggled with communication in right-center field at times, and Knecht appears to have trouble reading balls off of the bat. Offensively, Marisnick has been the star, but Knecht has the Blue Jays’ only home run and leads the team with five walks, while Crouse’s three steals are as many as the rest of the squad combined.

Lansing’s Chris Hawkins went 3-for-4 with a home run and a walk against Dayton on Monday night, raising his slash line to .357/.400/.714. The 20-year-old left fielder has gone hitless with a pair of strikeouts in four plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. A disappointing .256/.320/.355 season earned catcher Carlos Perez a return ticket to Lansing to start the year, but he could find his way to Dunedin if and when his bat picks up.

PITCHER LVL W-L ERA WHIP G-GS SV IP H HR SO-BB GO/AO
Chad Beck AAA 0-0 0.00 1.71 2-0 0 2.1 3 0 1-1 4.00
Joel Carreno ML 0-1 6.00 1.67 1-1 0 6.0 4 2 3-4 2.25
Andrew Carpenter AAA 0-0 3.60 1.40 2-0 0 5.0 5 2 5-2 1.00
Evan Crawford AA 0-0 0.00 1.67 2-0 0 3.0 3 0 2-2 6.00
Matt Daly AA 0-0 0.00 0.00 1-0 0 1.0 0 0 2-0 0.00
Anthony DeSclafani A 0-0 0.00 0.67 1-0 0 3.0 2 0 4-0 1.50
Sam Dyson A+ 1-0 4.50 1.00 1-1 0 6.0 6 1 4-0 1.80
Danny Farquhar AA 0-0 0.00 0.00 2-0 0 1.2 0 0 2-0 0.00
Drew Hutchison AA 2-0 1.64 1.00 2-2 0 11.0 11 0 6-2 1.00
Chad Jenkins AA 1-0 1.50 0.83 1-1 0 6.0 5 1 2-0 1.00
Aaron Loup AA 0-0 0.00 0.00 2-0 1 1.1 0 0 2-0 1.00
Deck McGuire AA 0-1 14.40 2.60 1-1 0 5.0 11 5 6-2 1.67
Justin Nicolino A 0-0 0.00 0.00 1-1 0 3.0 0 0 5-0 4.00
Sean Nolin A+ 1-0 0.00 1.00 1-1 0 6.0 4 0 2-2 0.44
David Rollins A 0-0 4.50 1.75 1-1 0 4.0 5 0 5-2 0.20
Aaron Sanchez A 1-0 0.00 1.00 1-0 0 3.0 1 0 4-2 0.33
John Stilson A+ 0-0 0.00 0.67 1-1 0 3.0 1 0 2-1 4.00
Noah Syndergaard A 0-0 0.00 1.00 1-1 0 3.0 2 0 6-1 2.00
Ronald Uviedo AA 0-0 6.00 0.67 2-0 2 3.0 2 2 4-0 0.25
A. Wojciechowski A+ 0-0 13.50 2.50 1-1 0 4.0 9 0 2-1 0.83

Joel Carreno was called up to take Brett Cecil’s rotation spot after the latter was demoted to New Hampshire. Carreno made his first major-league start at Cleveland on Easter Sunday, taking the loss after giving up four runs on six hits, including a pair of home runs to Carlos Santana, in six innings. Toronto optioned Carreno to Las Vegas after the game, replacing him in the rotation with Aaron Laffey.

New Hampshire’s Drew Hutchison struck out six Trenton batters in his first start of the year, but fanned zero in six innings at Reading last night. The 21-year-old righty earned wins in both outings, and has allowed only 13 base runners in 11 innings.

Deck McGuire, the Blue Jays’ first pick in the 2010 draft out of Georgia Tech, had a tough start on April 7, surrendering eight runs on 11 hits, five of which left the park. McGuire averaged less than a home run per nine innings last year, but fell victim to strong winds blowing out to center field in Trenton. He’ll look to rebound Thursday night when he squares off at home against New Britain.

Asher Wojciechowski drew a somewhat-surprising repeat assignment to the Florida State League to open the year. His 11.12 hits-per-nine-innings was the worst in the FSL among pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched last year, and was a partly a consequence of diminished velocity in his first full season after signing as a supplemental first-rounder in 2010.

His velocity remained mediocre against Clearwater in his 2012 debut, and the Threshers roughed him up for nine hits and seven runs in four innings. Wojciechowski touched 93 once in the first inning, but sat at 90-91 for most of the game and didn’t hit 92 after second inning. His slider sat between 82-85 but still lacked the break it had in college. With two strikes, Wojciechowski typically went with his fastball, which Clearwater hitters had little trouble handling.

In an effort to limit the number of innings their promising young arms throw this year, a number of Lansing pitchers are beginning the season in tandems. Justin Nicolino and Aaron Sanchez combined to strike out nine batters over six innings in the Lugnuts’ 8-0 win at Dayton on April 9. Teammate Noah Syndergaard and tandem partner Anthony DeSclafani experienced similar success in their debuts, striking out 10 over six innings.

Comments (14)

  1. Drabek’s a righthander, not a lefthander.

  2. This is awesome! Great work.

    You think either Nicolino or Syndergaard (or both) will be up in AA by season’s end?

    • I don’t think a Drew Hutchison-esque rise can be predicted for any of the Lansing arms, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of those guys in Dunedin in the second half.

      • Thanks. I can see that with Syndergaard as he is only 20 this season, but Nicolino will be basically the same age as Hutch. Both have the “advanced pitchability” tag thrown at them, so what would be the hesitation towards shooting Nicolino up if he dominates at A and Hi-A?

        • Hutchison probably wouldn’t have been promoted to New Hampshire if Deck McGuire hadn’t injured his back and missed the last month of the season. I think Toronto’s decision to open the year with Nicolino, Syndergaard, Sanchez, and DeSclafani pitching in tandem is a good indication that they’re going to handle those guys conservatively this season.

  3. I wish I was able to pay you out of my own pocket, Brad, but credit for that has to go to the fine people at theScore. Awesome work.

  4. Very nice addition to DJF. Great piece of work.

    Thank God for the Score, as Stoeten could probably only pay you in beery smelling pizza sauce encrusted plaid shirts or maybe some TTC tokens.

    • Oh, come on, dude. I ride a bike.

      • True. Just having some good natured fun. Seriously nice addition with all the minor league stuff. Lots of promising baby Jays coming up. If you can garner some inside info, DJF can only see its viewership grow.

  5. Carreno made his first ML start on Sunday. He pitched in relief for the big club in September last year.

  6. Very much looking forward to your reports throughout the season, Bradley. Do you attend many Dunedin Blue Jays games? It will be nice to have someone down there tabbing the progress of the Knecht/Marisnick/Crouse outfield and the arms of Woj & Stilson.

    • I usually see 10-15 Dunedin games each year, but will probably double that total this summer. The Florida State League is strong this year, so I’ll be seeing plenty of games in Tampa, Lakeland, Dunedin, and Clearwater (and Port Charlotte tomorrow night).

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