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

Comments (53)

  1. how fucked is it that the only 2 players who stuck from the 2008 projections are Arencibia and Lind?

    mind blowing really

  2. What I don’t understand is many of these rankings have Osuna in the top 10, yet he only projects as a #3 starter in many of their eyes. If he were truly thought to be a future #3 starter, with him being so young and so far down the depth chart, would it make more sense to have him not ranked at all?

    I can’t remember where I read that. It may have been Baseball Prospectus though.

    • I’ve seen his ceiling projected as a #2 in many places. The fangraphs rankings from last week for one.

    • Probably because a #3 starter is a pretty valuable commodity…

    • GimpedPimp is spot on.. You talk as though a solid 3 guy is a piece of shit? Teams are producing Verlander aces on a yearly basis man…

    • a number 2 or three starter projection, especially for a guy who will likely hit the bigs before he’s finished his age 21 season, is a pretty fucking nifty thing to have in the system. especially when it looks like number 3 may end up being a floor as his stuff has developed.

    • If Osuna develops into a solid number 3, the Jays would be over the moon, and the ranking from BA would be conservative.

      Nothing wrong with a number 3 rotation guy.

    • 30 teams * 3 pitchers on each team who are >= “#3 starter” (and that’s being generous as some teams don’t actually have this – like the Jays!)
      = 90 pitchers in the whole world who are actually that good.

      30 teams * 10 “top ten prospects” for each of them = 300 players who are “top 10 prospects).

      My fuzzy Math says it makes sense that even a #3 pitcher would make your top 10.
      (yes I realize this is overly simple)

    • I dont know anything about scouting, but the idea that you can tell the difference between a future #1 or a #3 MLB starter when looking at a 16 year old kid sounds kinda ridiculous.

      This kids got 3 more years of seasoning at the bare minimum, probably more like 4, who knows where he’ll be in his development then.

  3. Fack.

    Ah well, its good theres a vibe of despair around the team. Thats usually when things start going right.

  4. Some of this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

    Whatever worth there is in having the #1 farm system, the Jays are likely 2 or 3 years away from that until AA’s picks hit the upper minors.

    • Who does the projections for #1 farms system ?

      Is there a standard analytical calulation done to determine this ranking?

      Are there potential conflicts of interests if the publication talk to the scouting staff of the team that drafted the players??

      Do they analyze the team win-loss records throughout the minor leagues?

      I am genuingly curious how these rankings are determined.

      • do you pay any attention to the actual compilation of these lists or just enjoy shitting tout of your mouth all over them. because it seems to me that you’re one of the most vocal critics of the Jays organizational strategy, so you must actually pay attention to what goes on between and beyond buck and tabby broadcasts.

        unless you’re just the Greg Zaun of DJF commenters.

        • @Paul.

          I have a vague idea of how these various publications come up with rankings but I never did a thorough analysis of prospect porn publications.

          A Stoeten reported, the projected lineups 3 or 4 years from now of the starting lineups, expected usually don’t pan out.

          When I started following the Jays the #1 prospect was Travis Snider.

          I know this site is very excited about prospect rankings, draft picks etc.

          Thanks for the Greg Zaun shoutout. He’s funny , but you cant take him too seriously.

      • generally each publication has a different methodology around putting together its lists, be they draft rankings, prospect rankings or system rankings. Baseball prospectus generally uses writers who have relationships with members of various scouting departments as well as in person scouting trips to see guys, while BA utilizes more of a team approach, with its various members group thinking its way through the process. They both rely on external scouting more than a team’s internal systems when it comes to learning about individual players, although they do contact teams to get a feel for guys as well, and at least listen when their contacts tell them stuff about their own systems.

        With minor league players there is so much variance between levels of competition and park factors from league to league, level to level, that it is nearly impossible to evaluate based on statistics. MLEs (minor league equivalencies) attempt to filter out some of this noise, but the number of factors being measured (and changing) in real time makes them extremely unreliable as a true measure for players true talent level (especially as it is changing as it develops). So scouting reports are still the major contributing factor in the analysis. A writer may see that player x struck out 10 guys in a Sally League game, or hit home runs in three consecutive games in the Midwest League (a notoriously pitcher friendly league), but rather than trying to just incorporate that into a report, they’ll call up a scout who covers that area and ask “so what’s the deal with player x… seems to be lighting it up” and get some tool grades and info.

        Hope that was more informative than my last comment lol.

        • @Paul.

          Thank you very much.

          I was confused about how players /teams were ranked because there was conflicting rankings. There isn’t one list.

      • I always take these rankings with a grain of salt. Was it not a couple of years ago that the Jays’ farm was ranked #3 overall? I know McGuire has since shat the bed, but otherwise, how did they drop off so badly?

        • Well they haven’t really “dropped off” per se, as we don’t really know at this point where the prospect gurus are going to have them going forward. Part of the issue is the graduation of players such as Arencibia, Lawrie, Drabek, Hutch and Gose from prospect to rookie or tweener status which has really stripped what high level talent there was from the ranks of “prospects” (which begs the question of “what is a prospect anyways”).

          A large part of the reality is that the system, devoid as it was of impact players coming out of the safe drafting, college focused JPR era, was always going to have to experience a gap between the higher level (lower ceiling) guys left over from that era and those drafted under the new regime. We’re hitting that gap now.

          Younger prospects, especially pitchers, may be high ceiling, but unless they explode, can have way too many developmental twists and turns to truly inflate an org’s ceiling on their own without proof in the upper minors that the system can develop player effectively and that they aren’t just selecting pretty tool-shed athletes and no control fireballers, or safe high pitchability college arms who can’t strikeout a soul above A ball due to a straight 88 mph fastball (why hello Brett Cecil).

          Thus I feel like this is going to be a year where a lot of evaluators are going to play it safe and have the Jays ranked in the high mid, low upper tiers of the org rankings, with a codicil that if everything goes right they could well be in the top five easily next season due to the development of a ton of high ceiling prospects in the low to mid minors.

  5. Rasmus was looking so good at one point last year. So good. And then so bad. For so long.

  6. I haven’t felt this disheartened about the team in a long time.

  7. Apparently the dbacks are willing to listen on bauer as well as upton. That has to sound pretty intriguing to AA. Mega deal for upton and bauer?

  8. Most interesting thing from the chat was that Dwight Smith Jr. took reps at 2B in the instructional league this year.

    • There isn’t much in the system for potential 2nd baseman with bats. Christian Lopez is the best one I can think of. Dwight Smith Jr is supposed to come around with the bat and before this year was known to be a good hitter for his age. I like the idea of moving him to 2nd.

      • Franklin Barreto as well (potential 2nd baseman with a good bat)… of course he’ll be 17 so I imagine they’d like some potential MLB middle infielders in the levels inbetween.

    • not to mention the amount of CF talent that the Jays have.

      Dj Davis
      Alford (potentially)

    • Kinda makes sense… IIRC the book on Smith Jr. was that he profiled as just a leftfielder defensively (lacks the range for center and arm for right) without the power profile that teams like at LF. Given the shallow depth the org has in the middle infield (and very decent depth they have in the outfield) why not move Smith there now early in his pro career to develop the defensive skills and into a position where his bat will profile much better.

  9. Pynchon down, DFW to go.

  10. 2012: The year our collective buzz was killed.

    Very little went right, lots went wrong. Odds are this organization bounces back in 2013, me thinks. Nowhere to go but up now.

    • Call me crazy, but I kinda agree.

      • Me too.

        I also think it’s natural for BA and the other evaluators to be a little more down on the Jays system this year, because of the bias of the shitty jays big league season. It’s like how in some fields of academia where names are placed in alphabetical order on papers. In those areas, having a name that’s early in alphabetical order slightly increases your chance of getting tenure. It’s just a 10% bias based on bad presentation that humans don’t really recognize. We’re freaking apes after all.

        I suspect these evaluators are even more subtlety influenced by presentation (meaning play at the big league level) without knowing it.

      • I’d feel better if we had actually hit on one of the prospects in the upper minors by now. Starting to lose faith in our scouts.

        • AA did the bit scout hire as soon as he became GM at the beginning of the 2010 season. So the players that got drafted that year started playing in 2011. So essentially none of them are in the high minors yet. That’s the Lansing 3 group as the first cohort.

  11. What would you give up for Trevor Bauer?
    One of the Lansing three perhaps plus low level prospect possibly?

  12. I guess it wasn’t Scott Cousins and right-hander David Herndon dream job to play in toronto. Lol

  13. If the Jays actually want to accomplish something this offseason, I have a feeling it’s going to have to sting a fair bit.

    I’m guessing either A) they’re likely going to have to give a good, not great pitcher (Jackson, Sanchez, Dempster) a big overpayment or B) we’re going to see some prospects dealt who’ve we’ve had boners about for a while. Or maybe both!

    I think I’d rather see the Jays overpay with money than with prospects, but I guess it depends on the details.

  14. I’m not saying that the Lansing 3 are untouchable, but one would hope that the real value of a top ranked system would be that you could put together an attractive package for trades that wouldn’t even touch your best prospects because the ones you give up still have huge value. I think the hype on the L3 is potentially harmful if they’re the only ones GMs want in a trade.

    • Although if you can sell high on a guy if you think he’s fading that’s good too.

    • The problem is, other GMs will concern themselves with system rankings as well as ability. Even if our #7 prospect is better than another system’s #3, he will not look as appealing

  15. I know everyone wants to win now and they may mean that trading away young pitchers is inevitable. My thinking is I may keep as many young arms as possible and continue adding to them due to the high flame out rate. I know it would be tempting to add a proven arm…but would it be worth it to trade a couple young arms for a guy we get for 2 or 3 years…and then see one of the young guys we traded become an all star for a decade? Not in my mind. I say keep the youngsters and add what we can to the big club through free agency.

  16. Its fun to talk about prospects and see where they end up.

  17. Saw some of those guys in a game in Vancouver this year…Kellen Sweeney was in middle of everything (dropped a popup, made a nice play to get out of the jam, game-winnnig hit.) Got me wondering how high people are on him, he was a reasonably high pick but I haven’t seen him mentioned in anyone’s top 30.

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