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.”
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.