Prospecting: BP’s Top 10

While there are many, many reasons to have a subscription to Baseball Prospectus, and many posts that will motivate folks to get one, yesterday was one of the big days on the calendar that I’m sure got Jays fans ponying up in numbers– or if it didn’t, it should have, because Jason Parks posted the Jays instalment of his Prospects Will Break Your Heart series, giving us all kinds of scouting gold behind the paywall.

I don’t want to give too much of his excellent work away– he broke down strengths, weaknesses, ceilings and risks for the organization’s top ten prospects, and also looked at some names on the rise (Santiago Nessy could be a top 10 guy next year he says, 2012 second rounder Chase DeJong gets a glowing review, as does small, toolsy 2012 international signing Franklin Barreto), some guys we’ll likely see in the Majors this year, and also gave a ranking of the club’s best talent under 25 (still headlined by Brett Lawrie)– but there are some definite highlights worth… uh… highlighting.

Travis d’Arnaud, naturally, is the top ranked player on the list, and while you’d think listing his virtues would be redundant, there has been enough of a “meuhhhhh unproven prospect” crowd around here lately that it’s probably worthwhile to point out that Parks suggests that he could “develop into top-shelf bat at position, with .275-plus batting average and 17-25 HR power potential.”

He notes that moving up to face big league pitching will be a big adjustment for d’Arnaud, but calls his a “mature bat” and sees him as a potential All-Star, “if his tools find full utility.”

JP Arencibia, it should be noted, posted an on-base of .275 in his second year in the bigs, hitting .219 and .233 in his first two seasons, and didn’t display an ability to accumulate walks at the rates d’Arnaud has done throughout his minor league career until his magical 2009 repeat year in Las Vegas.

And defensively, d’Arnaud is a “quality receiver; good catch and throw skills; arm strength is 6,” and Parks dismisses the injury factor, calling him a “low risk” prospect at this point, noting “some injuries on resume” but not herp-derping about unprovenness and Travis Snider. There’s nothing not to like in what we hear about d’Arnaud, but, y’know, he doesn’t pose for pictures holding hockey sticks and isn’t liable to crush quite as many mistakes as Arencibia, so…

Moving on, Parks– and, really, the team of writers at BP– has Nose Snygen ranked ahead of Aaron Sanchez, both of whom profile as high-end number two starters “on a championship-level team,” if they hit their ceilings, and are listed as having an ETA of 2014– presumably the end of that campaign, but still… getting closer!

Despite the current ranking, we’re told that “Sanchez makes it look easier, with a faster arm and a more fluid release. His command profile is a blemish, but not one that is destined to be a scar, as the athleticism is present to eventually find more consistency in the mechanics. If the command improves, and the secondary offerings can do the same, the profile can jump Sanchez to the top of this list by next season, making him one of the premiere pitching prospects in the minors.”

Big ifs, of course, and both of them are “high risk” prospects still, with many hurdles to cross, but things are certainly looking bright.

Other bright spots are almost exclusive to the pitching front (with apologies to fifth-ranked DJ Davis), with two that especially jump out being Alberto Tirado (10th) and the surprisingly-high fourth-ranked Sean Nolin– who has already thrown more innings at High-A, and only 16 fewer Double-A innings than Drew Hutchison had under his belt when he was called up.

Nolin is just ten starts behind where Henderson Alvarez was when he first got the call to the Majors– at 88 innings deep into his New Hampshire career, a whopping number compared to Hutchison’s 31.2 over six starts at the level– so it’s not entirely crazy to believe that he could be the club’s real sixth starter. Parks sees him as close, suggesting that “Nolin looks to be on the fast-track, and if he performs well at the Double-A level, he could reach the majors at some point during the season. Some sources think his arsenal is on the way up, especially if the slider develops into a consistent plus offering.”

We’re told that his stuff “doesn’t need major grade jumps” to compete at the highest level, and while he lacks a “high-end out pitch,” he spent 2012 “maturing with each start at the High-A level,” and has the look of a number three starter– and a close one at that.

But if Nolin’s is an unexpected name to get excited about– and it certainly is that, I think– even bigger palpitations probably need to be reserved for Alberto Tirado. Granted, the 2011 signing from the Dominican Republic is much, much farther away, and has yet to compete beyond the complex and short-season levels, but there are some fantastic words to be read on him and his arm– which we’re told has a ceiling that looks like that of a “high 6; no. 2 starter.”

Sure, that’s the kind of thing Kevin Goldstein was writing last year for BP about Adonys Cardona and Kevin Comer, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything remotely like a bad thing to hear that Tirado “shows an electric arsenal as a teenager, with bat-missing stuff and some feel. Could be special.”

“The 18-year-old has a long way to go before the short-season hype transforms into an accepted reality,” Parks explains. “2013 will tell us more, and if the limited reports received in 2012 are correct, the Jays might have another monster on their hands. The arm is very fast and loose, and the velocity comes easy. Both the slider and the changeup are already flashing plus potential, and the bow on the package is a feel for pitching that you don’t often find in complex level arms. Keep an eye on this kid.”

Nails much?

There’s an assload of additional gold all over the post, but I think I’ve already given more than enough away. Head over to BP and subscribe. It’s worth it.


Image via Baseball Hot Corner.

Comments (78)

  1. ‘”Nose Snygen”? Haven’t hear him called that before.

  2. Oh dear, *heard* was supposed to be there.

  3. I seriously hope Nolin isn’t on the fast track. I think Hutchison was called up because of injuries and not because he earned it- he was only 21 at the time and had 31⅔ IP above high-A. His K rates were fine with the Jays, and given his age I was even OK with the 3.07 BB/9 (pretty solid, but not very Hutchisonesque). Alvarez was terribly rushed, and while it worked out well for the Jays with The Trade, if he were still on this team, I’d pray he would have been sent back to AA.

    These kids need to be brought along a little more slowly as they reach the upper minors to develop their craft a little more. While only one pitcher to draw proof upon is a very small sample size, Alvarez makes a pretty solid case as to why this should be.

    Nolin should be a September call-up and nothing else IMO.

    • With the Jays AAA affiliate in Buffalo this year, it will allow for the team to better guage the readiness of their prospects.
      If he’s killing it in Buffalo later next year, then why shouldn’t he be called up, if there is a need?

    • Your baseless insistences sound like they should make more sense than they actually do, I think.

      • I forgot to add that Hutchison gave up 8 homers in 58⅔ innings. That was my problem with him.

        Alvarez had 1½ MLB-ready pitches- something that didn’t need to be said.

        Perhaps with that added they make a little more sense because, yeah, it really didn’t amount to much like you say.

      • Tampa Bay doesn’t think the policy is baseless and they seem to produce pitchers that stick at the MLB level.

        • Matt Moore and Hutch had near identical HR/9 rates for the first half of 2012.

          Rookie pitchers tend to struggle. Baseball is hard. Hutch is not all lost, he flashed a lot of potential.

          • Indeed. Coming back from TJ is nothing these days, it’s just a question of time. I expect both Drabek and Hutchison to get some relief innings in September, and then to be competing for a rotation spot for 2014. At worst those are pretty nice arms to be adding to the bullpen in 2014.

            Actually, if neither can bust the rotation in 2014, I’d add Drabek to the pen and keep Hutch stretched out as a starter in Buffalo.

            Yes, I like long-range planning.

          • Hutch actually started to settle in nicely before going down with injury. He looked like he would hang at the MLB level.

  4. I can confirm that a BP subscription is well worth the 5 dollars a month. Every day there is an article worth reading.

  5. havent heard much on cardona

    • He didn’t pitch much….leaving the door open for much speculation on his future being in the bullpen.

  6. nice to see Nolin get some love. Kid is an absolute horse, and had a great year last year.

  7. With Sanchez vs. Syndergaard debate, I think that Jason Parks is always going to come down on the side of the Texan.

    Jason Churchill of BP has a much more positive outlook on Robert Osuna in today’s article. He makes an interesting comp with Profar and Osuna, based on how polished both players are at very young ages.

    After reading the top ten, I feel much better about the farm system after the trade. I have much more respect for the work being done at BP than Baseball America, andI trust their judgements.

  8. “We’re told that his stuff “doesn’t need major grade jumps” to compete at the highest level, and while he lacks a “high-end out pitch,” he spent 2012 “maturing with each start at the High-A level,” and has the look of a number three starter– and a close one at that.”

    Change the year and that’s a line that could have been said of Alvarez, pre-callup. No out pitch proved to be a bigger problem than thought.

    • Nolan has a curve and a slider. Henderson had neither. Not a “high-end” out pitch, perhaps, but that’s better than NO out pitch.

    • Nolin has had a K/9 over 9 every year in the minors, alvarez never reached 7. Bad comparison

  9. *Nolin

  10. That’s a pretty exciting read, certainly worth the $5.

    Starting in 2014, there should be a steady stream of high ceiling pitchers knocking on the door of the rotation, and at worst being great & cheap relief options or trade bait. Exactly what the Rays have had, except we have the funds to make the most of it. (And this is relatively conservative for time-frame). Obviously not all of these guys are going to work out, but even at a 50/50 rate that would be a great supply.

    2014: Drabek, Hutchison, Nolin, Stroman, Stilson (+ McGuire/Jenkins)
    2015: Sanchez, Syndergaard
    2016: Osuna, Norris
    2017: Tirado, Smoral, DeJong

    Even at a high attrition rate, that’s one potential stud arriving every year. The hardest part may be for AA to evaluate which guy gets to test his mettle at the ML level each year.

    • not sure one guy out of two or three per year is a “high attrition rate”. I’d be happy with two guys out of the whole list

      • Not likely to expect 50/50 to be a success or reach their ceiling, but that seems reasonable to reach the point where they can compete for a place in the big league rotation, where they will either sink or swim.

    • I’m not sure I’d put Drabek there… he’s been pretty god-awful in his stints with the Jays. Personally I’d stash him in Buffalo when his TJ recovery is done and if he doesn’t show well as a starter get him to drop pitches and try him out in relief.

      • I don’t disagree, but he will certainly be knocking at the door. You don’t easily dismiss an arm like that.

      • Chris Capuano is a prime example of having double TJ and coming back as starter. Drabek’s trouble is with his nerve (figurative one), not his arm.

    • Take out Noah, and you still have 13 players, of which let say there is a 25%, chance of success, that would mean you would have 3 possible SP.

      The nicest part of all this scenario is that Now the prospects have two full years of AA and AAA to hone their skills.

      That is good news for the quality of pitcher that the Senior Club will receive, more mature and finished pitching prospect.


    barely get a chance to revel in prospect porn when some more dickey fodder comes along

  12. I would love if Nolin, seemingly coming out of nowhere, somehow gets other GMs as interested in his hype as Nester Molina last year.

    JPA + Nolin for Dickey or Niese would be berry, berry nice.

  13. How long before you have a pay wall stoeten lol

  14. I get that it may be a reflection of a dearth of advanced stats in the minors, but it feels weird to be reading a Baseball Prospectus analysis touting the potential batting average of a player.

    • Well, as long as it’s not the only thing you’re using to judge a players offensive ability, projected batting average can be pretty important – especially since you can usually gauge a players future walk rate, roughly speaking, from their minor league numbers.

      If all his other skills stayed the same, as .275 hitting JP Arencibia is a borderline all star, after all.

  15. anibal meh – when we played against him in miami we smacked him around. he pitched ok in 1 of 2 games while with Tigers and his good start came late August (do we even have to go there and discuss what our lineup looked like then?) whatever… no big deal (actually too big of a deal imo)

  16. I’ve been stoked about Osuna since we signed him a few years back. worst case scenario he should be a solid reliever. best case middle of the order pitcher. As Jays fans there is a lot to be excited about now and in the future.

    • I think you’re selling him short. Best case scenario is a #2. I would like to say worst case scenario is back of the rotation starter, but he’s so young that I guess worst case is he completely flames out in the minors.

  17. Kevin Pillar???

  18. Who do the Jays draft 10th overall?

    Polished college corner bat? College pitcher? To fill needs while making a title run?

    Or does he go with the guy who can run the fastest again?

    • This is a joke right? Had me for a while, but the whole Stanley’s Cup moniker was just too much…right?

    • If I were to guess a name I’d guess Bryant if he’s available. AA liked him enough to offer him a million bucks out of high school and he’s mashed in College. I see a College player as being more likely right now given that the Jays are entering a different phase of the competition cycle and he no longer has the ability to accumulate hoards of draft picks.

      Or if AA still want’s to go with his toolsy high school athlete type guy maybe Oscar Mercado.

      • I get the logic but I dont see them straying away from drafting high ceiling players.

        Just because they traded for some All Satrs outta Miami isnt gonna change their drafting philosophy

        • The All Satyrs–the new market inefficiency.

        • It’s not just the Mathis Trade though (although that is part of it). If you regularily have 7ish 1st round picks and a large draft budget it’s a lot easier to take a gamble on the raw athlete high bust probability HS types. With 2 picks in the same range, a limited budget, and the expectation that you’ll have a lower draft ranking going forward then IMO it’s a lot more difficult.

      • Bryant could certainly be a possibility, the top part of the draft seems to be a bit heavy. Plus, there are lots of high upside prep lefties scattered on the board. Might be a better idea to go after those in the later rounds.

    • Can’t teach speed…

  19. One day someone will have to explain to me why people have such strong opinions about prospects they couldnt’ have possibly even see play. And, even if they had, they probably do not pay attention with the detailed focus necessary to make relevent judgements about skill, talent and potential. This applys to major league talent also: last week I mentioned how I thought Rasmus had amazing defence and was hit with a barrage of statistics that any critical thinking person can realize are not very accurate that appearently demonstrate that he is barely above average. Now, my eyes may decieve me due to confirmation bias, but at least I am actually basing my opinion on things I have seen. Maybe Gose is faster, but if he is a visably better defender then I might as well be an astronaught. No one has seen play enough to make that judgement, unless they are an actual paid scout. And even if he is – and im not saying he isnt – whats that worth? Half an out per game? My point is just that watching people argue things like they are speaking the gospel is hilarious when you actually consider all the factors. Just food for thought, please feel free to indulge in some hilarious internet bullying!

    • haha lmao – Just food for thought, please feel free to indulge in some hilarious internet bullying!

      Gose is a little more then maybe faster the cleatus – replace maybe with: is – rasmus is scared of walls which allows a potential out to be a double (single if lucky) Gose arm is superior without a doubt – rasmus imo reads a ball better then gose off a bat but gose makes up for it with speed. outside of power their O #’s (albeit small sample size) are fairly identical – replace half and out per game with half a run…

    • Well what you are talking about is potentially 80 runs saved a season. That seems like a ridiculous amount but I figure a run saved is worth as much as a run scored so now you are talking about Gose scoring 80 runs before he even picks up a bat. Seems pretty valuable to me. Think before you type dipshit

      • Damn it I shouldn’t have had a drink at lunch. Now I’m not thinking. 80 outs does not equal 80 runs saved but regardless still quite valuable.

      • Well thanks for missing the irony and being a complete – to use your words – dipshit, but half an out per game would, I think, be an over estimation, but regardless its certainly not equatable with 80 runs saved. Maybe 8. But again, I am the dipshit who didnt think things through, right? So theres that. Zing.

    • i’m slow clapping for you right now.
      Social Media has made a bunch of keyboard warriors who have never played basell feel comfortable with throwing out the terms ceiling, projection, labeling teenagers as ranked arms in a major league rotation.
      It’s hysterical.

    • If you’ve heard scouts talk about baseball, sorry to disappoint you, but they don’t have much of a keen eye either.

  20. subscribe to these NUTS

  21. off topic – I still think the Jays best defensive play of the year was sierra fielding a ball, tossing a gem to mathis who took out johnson at the plate to end the game. love rajai catch and all but that imo is second to the play referenced…

    • Ya that was a bullet throw. That kid has a real strong arm. Timing of that throw was what was so clutch about the play.

  22. not that what they received back was amazing or anything but it’s great to see the numerous guys they sent to the Astros last summer aren’t even listed on Houston’s page. so i take it AA shipped out a bunch of low ceiling guys for JA Happ and two months of Brandon Lyon.

  23. My favourite part of the whole BP article was Parks’ “Parting Shot:”

    “The Jays have more legit pitching prospects than should be legally allowed, even after trimming off some prospect meat for use in recent trades. “

  24. Gotta love the pay sites.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *