Because there sure isn’t anything happening on the Jays front at the Winter Meetings– at least, not that we’re hearing about, or that Alex Anthopoulos is admitting to– let’s take a detour into some delicious prospecting, as John Sickels posted his list of the top 20 Jays prospects today at Minor League Ball, giving a brief scouting note on all twenty, and a lengthier discussion of the organization as a whole.

As we’ve come to expect by now, Travis d’Arnaud tops the list– Sickels calls him “not perfect” but “either the best catching prospect in baseball or the second-best behind Mike Zunino”– with few surprises following him among the top tier.

There’s Syndergaard ahead of Sanchez– and always mildly interesting to see who has which of the remaining “big two” ahead– with Robert Osuna jumping way up to fall in behind them, despite not being “classically projectable due to mature body at age 18.”

Sean Nolin (6th) gets a nice note, as Sickels wonders “why this guy doesn’t get more attention. He’s big (6-5, 235), has a solid fastball, good curve, change coming along, throws strikes, great performance record. Just needs to stay healthy.”

Dan Norris (8th) makes the top ten, because despite the “dismal statistical performance, scouting reports remain pretty positive, pointing to plus fastball, changeup,” while some perhaps-surprises in that they missed out on not just the top ten, but the whole top twenty are Anthony Alford (wonder why), Matt Dean (“who didn’t look anything in the Appy League like the player he was supposed to be”), and Ryan Goins.

All of those guys are hitters, and the Jays lack of success with them seems to be the overriding message here.

“They have strongly emphasized tools and youth recently in the draft and international market,” he writes. “That’s a good thing of course, but frankly they don’t have a lot to show for it yet, possessing a collection of premium athletes who have raw and/or doubtful baseball skills.”

“All of these guys are young enough to improve,” he adds, “but they are starting from a pretty deep hole.”

A collection of Anthony Goses it is! Which… I guess is exactly what Alex Anthopoulos signed up for.

Interestingly, Mike Wilner tweeted last night that the Jays have welcomed back an old employee as their minor league hitting coordinater: Mike Barnett, who was the club’s hitting coach from 2002 until he was fired and replaced with Mickey Brantley just a month into the 2005 season.

Anyway, definitely give John’s full piece a read– there’s a lot more there than I’ve touched on, and it’s great stuff, as always.

Comments (35)

  1. How come you didn’t end this post with ‘So…there’s that.’

    I thought that was your official sign off?

  2. The Nolin write-up is kind of weird to me:

    “Sickels wonders ‘why this guy doesn’t get more attention. He’s big (6-5, 235), has a solid fastball, good curve, change coming along, throws strikes, great performance record. Just needs to stay healthy.’”

    Now, I don’t pretend to be one of those scouting experts, but it seems like he’s explaining exactly why Nolin doesn’t get tons of attention: he’s a 23-year old, two-pitch lefty in Double-A. The strikes, the performance, and the “change coming along” are all nice words, but that same description could be switched around to describe why he’s likely a future LOOGY.

  3. 1-9, B- or higher, not bad at all.

  4. The exciting thing about the Jays system is that even though it’s likely to fall to somewhere in the 10 – 12 range from top 3 or 5, there is a ton of room for improvement and the Jays could be top 5 again by 2014.

    Other than TDA & Gose pretty much everything is at the lower levels from AAs 3 supersized drafts which means a lot of boom or bust potential.

    Also, in regards to the hitting prospects; it’s not as though AA has devoted a lot of high draft picks to hitters and guys like Alford & Dean were really just fliers.

    It should be expected that the majority of talent are young pitchers when that has been the organizational focus.

  5. Baseball America pay article today “Scouts’ Favorites: Eight More AFL Prospects To Watch” listed 2 Jays – Pillar and Tepara. Not glowing reports but speaks to the depth of the org.

    • I’m somewhat of a Kevin Pillar fan. He’s probably not a starter, but he’s going to grind his way to the majors. All he’s ever done is hit, though he has a tweener profile — not enough power for a corner, not enough speed for center field. One of my favorites in the Jays org.

  6. AA just dealt 2 top prospects + Hech to remake the team! And amazingly they still have an envious amount of highky regarded talent and talent that could be B or higher in short time.

    While it would be great to see Snyd, Osuna, Sanchez be pillars of future teams, the fact that Jays have this sort of depth gives AA the ninja ability.

    I would continue to deal the low minors talent whereever any doubt exists for major league proven players.

    Hopefully we see continued succession of strong farm systems from which to feed or deal to supplement a new run of many competitive and winning years!

  7. Anyone else want a “Free Kevin Pillar” shirt cuz I think i’ll have to get one printed up…gotta love no (physical) tool low draft guys who can just flat out play baseball…

  8. This: Francona: “Being totally honest, I think Boston’s biggest weakness is their manager.”

  9. I am intrigued to see what happens with #9 Matt Smoral on the list this season. He’s got a huge body, and if things go well for him he’ll be getting mentioned in the same grain as those other high-ceiling arms. He was 6’8, 230 in high school for christ sake.

    It put a dent in the Jays system by losing Niccolino – but Osuna seems to have jumped up, Nolin has gained some ground – but to me Smoral could be a HUGE steal for the Jays.

    • A lefty- Jeff Nieman I think. Not bad but not great

    • Scouts have compared him to Bumgardner. If he gets anywhere close to that it will be awesome.

      • I am a little tentative to buy into high school pitchers right off the hop… ie Norris. But I love the upside, would be nice to see the Jays develop a nice crop of pitchers internally. That is how they will find the ace of the staff in the end.

  10. Kevin Pillar gets no fucking love.

    “Put his head on Marisnicks body” – For real?

    I believe in Pillar!

    • Wasn’t a slight on Pillar. In fact, it was a compliment of Pillar’s skill and how developed they are relative to the plethora of raw, toolsy athletes playing baseball in the Jays system. But seriously imagine Pillar’s slash line being produced by a physical specimen like Marisnick. Top 5 prospect right there…

    • Basically saying if Pillar was stronger/faster/more durable, he would be an elite prospect. Not sure how that is a slight…

      It would be like saying if only Batman (due to his smarts and gadgets) had Supermans strength and Superpowers… he would be the ultimate superhero. Not really a slight on Batman…

  11. If there’s a story here, I guess it’s that going into this season, the Jays had a bunch of highly-rated prospects with only 5 (TD, Gose, Hechavarria, Niccolino and Cooper) being anywhere near major-league ready. And with the trade, we’re down 2 of those guys, and both pitchers who graduated last year (Nestor Molina and Alvarez) are no longer with the team (or Snider or Thames). Plus, of course, Hutchison and Drabek won’t be back until 2014.

    Post-trade, we have even less in the pipeline that’s anywhere near major-league ready, particularly in the area of pitching.

    • Expect to see Sean Nolin sometime in 2013, as per AA’s words last week.

      Also expect to see Stilson, (my words/guess) in 2013.

    • who’s this highly-rated (drafted yes, rated, no) Cooper you speak of?

    • Jenkins, McGuire, Stilson, Nolin, Stroman, Cecil are the hopes (short term) with Hutchinson/Drabek available late in the season to relieve the burden.

      As for 5 prospects last year close to major league ready… (Hutch also graduated last year so he could be considered major league ready in that group you listed)

  12. First thing that sticks out for me, Sale was drafted two slots after Deck Maguire.

  13. Also should add that Pillar was playing in leagues where the competition was 2 years younger than him on average. Yeah, people need to dampen their expectations a bit. He didn’t look like anything special when I saw him. Scrappy I guess, but people seem to like the low-talent players for some reason.

    • Agreed, but at the same time Pedroia wasn’t considered much of a prospect (undersized/scrappy) he turned into an ok prospect…

      People just like to cheer for the guy with a work ethic. Have you ever seen the movie Rudy?

  14. Perfect world this is what I would like to see out of the system:
    TDA- replaces JPA, becomes the second best catcher in the league slash of .270/.330/.415
    Gose- Starts making contact and or more BB’s
    McGuire- Builds up some trade value in AA
    Hutch- Comes back in August and replaces Happ in the rotation low 4 ERA
    Stroman- Comes up and pitches the 7th inning in Aug/Sept and makes playoff roster
    DJ Davis- Ends season in AA, makes Gose expendable at deadline
    Syndergaard/Sanchez- Get to AA for more then half the season
    Norris- Starts his own Lansing 3 with Smoral (after some time in rookie ball)+Osuna this season
    2 of the international signings (Cardona, Lopes, Barreto, Nessy, Tirado) take a big jump this season
    1 of- Nay, Dean, Anderson, Smith Jr. develop into something other than a lost cause.
    Jays draft a college 1B bat with the 10th pick in the draft Kris Bryant. Can replace Lind next year.

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