No, I haven’t misspelled Dustin’s last name in the title, I’m talking about Jason Parks– aka Professor Parks– of Baseball Prospectus, who today regaled us with a (two-fifths paywall’d) Jays edition of his Prospects Will Break Your Heart feature, wherein he details what could go horribly awry for the Jays top five prospects this year.

The only the bottom two of his excellent prospect reports are behind the paywall, so it’s more than worth a click. And interestingly, Justin Nicolino’s segment is in full view, as Parks names him the club’s number two prospect, trailing Travis d’Arnaud, and ahead of Jake Marisnick, Anthony Gose and Noah Syndergaard.

“Nicolino is still flying under the prospect radar, but his skill set will make him a national name by the end of the season,” he says, which… that’s pretty awesome. He sees the potential for his fastball to tick up a few notches as Nicolino ages, and is impressed that he’s already “spotting it and manipulating it like a seasoned veteran.” He adds that “the changeup is his monster, a plus offering that some scouts feel quite comfortable throwing a 7 future on,” and looks at Nicolino as “a quality number two starter waiting to happen.”

However, “what could go wrong is that the fastball continues to work in the average range and Nicolino becomes overly reliant on his changeup, which could lead to struggles after multiple viewings.” He adds that “2012 is going to be a huge year for the young southpaw, so this is just a minor critique, but one to watch as he climbs the professional ladder. If the fastball grows in size and stature, Nicolino could be something special. If it stays the same, he will need to maintain sharp command to remain ahead of the pack at the upper levels.”

If the Jays only had one prospect like that, the chances of a true impact at the MLB level would be pretty low. Of course, they have others, like Syndergaard, who Parks thinks “could emerge as one of the highest rising prospects in 2012.” He tells us that “the 19-year-old has legit top of the rotation potential thanks to the plus-plus fastball and the potential of the secondary offerings. The command profile looks promising, despite the length, and the ability to throw strikes is already present.”

“It took several calls to finally find someone with a legit complaint about the young Texan, and that complaint was about the nuance and touch of his game,” he adds. And later: “I think Syndergaard could
develop into a monster, and the glowing reports I’ve received on him support such a projection.”

Among the position players, catcher Travis d’Arnaud ranks first, as “some scouts believe d’Arnaud has multiple All-Star Games in his future, and could emerge as one of the best all-around players at his position in the majors.”

What could go wrong, he tells us, is largely down to expectations, as he’s afraid “a really good player is being miscast as a really great player,” since he sees a Major Leaguer with “an above-average stick for the position, but more of a .270 hitter with 25+ doubles and 10+ home runs,” mostly because he’s only seen d’Arnaud crush fringy stuff.

“If you think d’Arnaud is a balanced, all-around high-five/low-six type of catcher, he’s probably going to make you happy by playing good defense, hitting for a respectable average, and showing good pop for the position,” he says. “If you are expecting a Gold Glove-quality defensive player with batting champ credentials and 25+ home run pop, you might be in for disappointment.”

I’ll leave Jake Marisnick alone, because I’ve already quoted enough of Parks’ work for my taste, and the Marisnick bit is above the paywall. As for Anthony Gose, “the defensive skill set will make him a major leaguer,” he says, “but the bat can put a ribbon on his star package, and it’s the bat that just doesn’t look the part. “As it stands now, Gose would struggle to hit .220 at the major league level, especially against pitchers who attacked him inside with velocity and/or quality breaking balls, which he struggles to adjust his bat plane/path against,” he adds.

So… mostly nothing we haven’t exactly heard before– especially on Gose– but all in all… did’ja hear? The Jays have themselves some seriously strong looking prospects. Nails! (I could have done without reading the stuff about d’Arnaud, though, to be honest.)

Comments (28)

  1. i think you mean Basbeall Prospectus

  2. I more-or-less agree with what he has to say about D’Arnaud. I think people are creaming their panties expecting a superstar catcher with excellent defense and a middle-of-the-order bat, but I think he will end up being more of a very, very solid catcher. More of a Yadier Molina (although that defensive reputation would be tough to live up to) than a Johnny Bench. That’s not to say that there isn’t a hell of a lot of value in a Molina type, though. I personally prefer that kind of guy as my backstop as opposed to one of these dubiously “offense-oriented” catchers like John Buck or JPA.

    • I should add that when I talk about people creaming their panties, I am referring to the Jays fan-base rabble and not so much the professional prospect prognosticator crowd.

    • Probably right, but I’m ok with it.

      .270 (assuming he also draws a few walks!) along with 35-40 extra base hits per year is pretty damned good from the catcher spot.
      I’ll take it!

    • Im not sure about JP going forward from an offensive stand point as an everyday catcher. As much as he may improve as he gains more experience, the opposition also learns more and more to exploit his big weaknesses…inability to lay off junk low and away..and an inability to handle inside pitches. that is a bad combination to suffer from.

      To me he profiles as a platoon catcher to be played vs lefties. problem is, most of those platoon catchers who hit from the right side are catch and throw/ defensive specialists which JP is not really one of.

      He worries me basically as a “core” player.

      • There are so many question marks just in general with the Jays’ bats. Bautista has slumped since the all-star break. Thames/Rasmus/Escobar/Lawrie/JPA/Lind… all failing. We have two hitters right now, E5 and KJ.

        I really wonder if its just a coincidence or if Dwayne Murphy is just crap. We should fire his ass and give Mottola a chance.

        • ‘We’ are six games into the season. Calm your panties.

          • Even using this argument, “six games into the season”, like I said, Bautista has slumped since the All-star Break. JPA/Lind/Thames/Rasmus were not that good last year. So maybe rebounds from Lawrie/Escobar?

          • hey, captain cant talking big picture here with JP..not six games..try one full season and two other partial seasons.. you do realize he pretty much was an out machine over an entire year dont you?

        • I think after this weekend series against the O’s we will have a better idea of what’s up. If they are still slumping, these types of posts will be tolerated!

          • So 6 games into a season isn’t tolerated, but 9 is? Are you serious?

            Let the season get 40-50 games deep and then evaluate. I mean, why say 25 ST games are meaningless, then go to say that 9 games in the regular season is a sample size worth building a projection on?

            It makes no sense!

          • Fer fuck sakes, the first 3 games where played in a freakin wind chill factor of -10, pitchers are ahead of hitters in the spring, and Boston had some pitchers that are, you know, on the plus side of average. Are you guys Leaf Fans that got lost and found your way here. Com’on!

        • You guys are right of course to get pissed about the 6-9 games into the season alarm and no sane person should have to explain why. I’d like to also mention that Bautista walked the most times in MLB last season by a large matgin…HELLO?…that means the guy you claim is slumping is getting shit to hit.

        • Nothinig happened to Bautista post-all star break that could have affected his ability to hit, then?(*cough*awfulankleinjury*cough*)

    • I’d love it if d’Arnaud became Yadier Molina.

    • I posted a question to Parks about TdA’s future slash lines in the comments on the article. He strongly agreed with my peak years line of 285/350/475 and average years line of 270/330/425. So all in all, a very good hitting catcher, but not a top-3 hitting catcher even in his peak.

  3. I sent Professor Parks a tweet after reading this and got a response… here’s the quick tete-a-tete:

    @ProfessorParks love the notes on nicolino… not trying to force a comp, but he sounds almost like hellickson… is that fair or way off?

    @whatadewitt It’s not way off. Some believe his command profile will achieve that level. Some also think the FB will tick up. Scary.

    … not too bad…

  4. Nicolino sounds like a left-handed Shaun Marcum — fringey velocity, great changeup, good feel, a number two or three starter who flies below the radar. I could deal with that.

    • Marcum was throwing 89 as a 25-year old. Nicolino is 20. I think it’s entirely possible that you will see him tossing at 93-95 comfortably next year, a la Alvarez.

      I will agree that if he does turn out to be a lefty Marcum, that’s still a solid pitcher. But that’s also a low mark to Nicolino’s ceiling.

      • So who would match as a Marcum with more velocity LH pitcher ceiling? I’m thinking Jamie Moyer in his prime back in the 70s

        • I thought that was the 50s..

          Marcum’s ceiling was always a #3 starter. I think Nicolino’s ceiling is dependent on his velocity. If he gains solid control, #3. If he gains an extra 3-5mph, #2. He has the ceiling to be a #1b like Romero IMO, but that scenario is very unlikely at this stage.

          The problem is he’s so far away still that a number of things can go right or wrong. Give him one more season and the picture on him will become fairly clear as to what his true ceiling is.

          As for your question with a serious answer, maybe a David Price of 2011. Good velocity, slightly above-average command, 4 fWAR, not a true ace, but a #1b or great #2.

  5. People need to cool their jets on Gose…all the tools in the world only means so much if the bat is as bad as advertised, and that’s not really an acquired skill. Exciting bench player? No doubt…but if he can’t hit enough to be a marginal starter, I don’t get why people are ranking him so high.

    • I think his fielding, throwing, and base running tools, as well as a good amount of talent on the hitting side of things, even if it never progresses past “raw”, make him at the bare minimum a “meh” option for a full time CFer. And of course, we’ve been having his ceiling shoved down our throats for a while now, so we all know the upside.

    • Hard to cool the jets when you see this 21 year old play. The hitting will come, and when it does look out. Dougie, if you are having a hard time with the expectations now, just wait till he gets close to comming to the big club. My advice – invest in some earplugs now, cause the noise is only going to get louder.

  6. just as an aside … when will Michael Crouse start getting some recognition for his prospect status ? Vis a vis Marisnik, as I understand it , Crouse is more athletic, faster with a stronger arm and hits with more power and is only 3 months older than Jake. Also, he has the Canadian caveat of being behind with baseball experience/at bats having come from BC .

  7. Fuck off, Park(e)s

  8. I work shifts so use earplugs often. My longest lasting ones were custom moulded from a kit, they’re far more hygienic than standard ear plugs and last for ages. It’s much cheaper than having your ears moulded by an audiologist; I would suggest them to anyone who uses them regularly.

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