The top prospects lists keep on rolling, as Baseball America has released their 2013 top 10 prospects list for the Toronto Blue Jays, and… as you’d expect, it’s a variation on the usual suspects.
Marisnick is higher than some, Osuna is lower than others, but it’s about what you’d expect.
There are some projections about the future lineup and rotation, as they always have, and as always, they’re fun, but pretty useless– in 2008 it was suggested that the Jays lineup for the 2012 season that just passed would have been Arencibia, Cooper, Hill, Ahrens, Jackson, Snider, Wells, Rios and Lind, with a rotation featuring Halladay, McGowan, Marcum, Cecil and Litsch, and BJ Ryan closing things out. So… yeah.
There is some scouting of tools, which is always interesting, with Travis d’Arnaud coming up as the system’s best hitter for both average and power– though Kellen Sweeney has better plate discipline, they say. Aaron Sanchez has both the best fastball and curve, while Nicolino has the best change and the best control.
More interestingly, for those with BA subscriptions there was a Jays-specific chat this afternoon, and yesterday John Manuel and JJ Cooper did a second podcast on the top prospects in the AL East, having focussed almost exclusively on the Yankees and Red Sox in their podcast from earlier in the week.
There were some excellent tidbits in the Jays’ segment of the podcast, which I’d love to quote here, except, while I’m hardly one to talk about tangents and twisted podcast thought-forming, um… holy shit, these guys interject and talk over each other so often that a transcription would read something like Gravity’s fucking Rainbow. So here are some bullet point highlights:
- Neither Manuel nor Cooper is ready to call the Jays’ system “elite,” agreeing that the reputation overrates the club a little.
- The Cardinals and Rangers both have better systems, and for St. Louis a big part of that is hitting on college talent that other teams don’t see a lot of projection in. So, they like the high school guys the Jays have been drafting, but college guys, not so much.
- This brings them to Deck McGuire, whose name comes up as they talk about guys who “pro scouts who didn’t do the amateur side” evaluate and go, “what did they see in this guy?” or, more kindly, “he didn’t seem like a first rounder to me.” He’s a guy where people didn’t want to talk about much, so as not to get in trouble or throwing the scouting department under the bus, they suggest. A big miss– as we know by now.
- “What do you do with Daniel Norris?” they ask. “He should be in their top ten, but you can’t do it, because he got hammered in the Appalachian League.”
- That said, they make clear that rookie league stats are the last kind of stats you want bother with. “But there is a floor of statistical performance that is acceptable,” and Norris was hit hard in the Appy League, despite reports on him suggesting potentially four plus pitches.
- “Appy League guys are not squaring up ‘plus stuff’ like that,” they say. “Especially if you have four of them.” It should be noted, however, that his fielding independent numbers look far better than things like his straight-up ERA, for whatever that’s worth– though I certainly can’t fault anyone for not chalking his 12% walk rate or .450 BABIP up to dumb luck.
- You see a lot of upside in the Jays’ top 10 and top 30, but to be an elite farm system you have to see that kind of upside in guys who are close to the Majors. You’d also like to see your upside guys actually perform, they say, which Norris didn’t and Marisnick didn’t either.
- The big upside guys who did perform were a little farther from the Majors– Sanchez, Syndergaard, Nicolino and Osuna all lived up to their pedigree this year, which is why it’s still at least a top ten system, we’re told.
- Though closer to the bigs, with huge upside, Marcus Stroman presents an issue, too. “I love Marcus Stroman, I’ve seen it three years at Duke, I’ve seen the electricity. I don’t think it’s because of the PEDs, but I also can’t be naive,” says Manuel. “It’s 2012, JJ, and you just never know. I want to see him do it. I want to see him have that hard slider with depth– a premium slider, the best slider in the draft– I want to see him do that when he’s passed some drug tests. I hate to say that, because I really like Marcus Stroman.”
- “Love that upside,” Manuel says of DJ Davis, who Cooper agrees is very interesting.
- Jake Marisnick, too, is fascinating, but not in such a positive way. They look at him in much the same way they do Anthony Gose– it really comes down to what the bat is going to be, and that remains the big question.
- “Jake Marisnick sounds like a better version of what Jeff Francoeur was supposed to be”– as in, he walks a bit more, but doesn’t keep the speed, ends up with some power. Jarring, disappointing comp, perhaps, but here’s the thing about prospecting: I’d so fucking take that in a second.
- They eventually move to the big league Jays, wondering how it’s even possible to make assessments based on last year, because of all the guys hanging in the lineup and rotation despite being hurt because everyone was so banged up. Bautista and Lawrie and Encarnacion– though on Lawrie, “that was not the droid I was looking for.”
- They lumped Rasmus and Lind into the same category, which I think says about all you need on Rasmus. All the other guys from Colby’s draft, they note, we know what they are. Upton, Maybin, McCutchen, Bruce, Ellsbury, Justin Upton and Rasmus. And Maybin was the long-developing one of that group, and is probably better. Um… fingers crossed, I guess?
- “I don’t think Colby Rasmus can do that,” one says of the possibility of Rasmus hitting even the .250-.260 he needs to provide value along with his defence.
- They aren’t ready to list Travis d’Arnaud among the franchise cornerstones, but can he be an above average catcher? They think yes. Take a look at what an average catcher’s line looks like before you get too damn excited about that, by the way. And beyond that, there aren’t a lot of guys who are going to help them soon.
- Hechavarria, they say, looks like a Cesar Izturis with a little better bat– though they’d take Hech over the Red Sox’ Jose Iglesia (who at one point they may have called Julio).
- “I like what the Blue Jays have been trying to do, but they seem like they just can’t get all the wheels going in the same direction as an organization,” Manuel tells us.
- The counter from Cooper: “If the Orioles can do it this year, the Blue Jays are way, way closer– if you said to me before the season this year that the Orioles were going to go to the playoffs, I’d go, ‘I can’t map out how it’s going to get to that.’ If you told me right now that the Blue Jays were going to get to the playoffs this year, I can at least map it out. Because what happens is, the cornerstone guys we just talked about– Jose Bautista is healthy and he hits 40, Encarnacion hits 40, Brett Lawrie hits 30, and there are enough pitchers healthy. I can at least with them, I can see a path.”
- “There’s the talent there in Toronto, but the recent track record has been dismaying.” Uh… tell me about.
Image via the Toronto Sun