Jonathan Mayo and the folks at MLB.com have posted their top 100 prospects list for 2013– complete with an MLB Network announcement-and-making-insane-Barry-Bonds-comps extravaganza– and while, for obvious reasons, there are a lot of names on the list who will be familiar to Jays fans, only two of the club’s prospects actually make this year’s top 100.
They are, it may come as a small surprise, right-handed pitchers Aaron Sanchez, who ranked 35th, and Roberto Osuna, who ranked 90th.
The mild surprise here is Osuna, who was behind Sean Nolin and DJ Davis on the Jays’ organizational list from Baseball Prospectus, though he was behind only Sanchez among the remaining prospects at FanGraphs and Minor League Ball. At just 17-years-old, he’s the youngest player on the list, four months younger than last June’s first overall draft pick, Houston’s Carlos Correa (30), and the handful of other 18-year-olds on the list– Albert Almora of the Cubs (39), Colorado’s David Dahl (58), and the pitcher Washington pulled just from under the Jays’ noses, Lucas Giolito (74).
So, just in case you weren’t clear on the notion that he’s crazy advanced for his age, there you have it. Which isn’t to say that he has that much extra time to blast through his ceiling– it just doesn’t work that way– but it’s still, it’s impressive, and it doesn’t hurt to see in mini scouting report that “his overall command and pitchability … should enable him to continue to be young for his level, even if he’s developed cautiously.”
They give present and future scouting grades on him as well, which rate his fastball a present 6/future 7, his slider a 4/5, changeup a 5/6, his control a 4/5, giving him a 4/6 overall. (For an explanation of the grading system, BP has you covered).
I’ll totally take that. If you want some real glowing praise, though– albeit of the major grain of salt variety, which I think is especially warranted here in the wake of the Jays’ DFA of Sam “best stuff in the organization” Dyson– why not turn to Ismael Cruz, the Jays’ International Scouting Director. He spoke about Osuna, among several other prospects, in an interview posted this week behind the paywall at Scout.com.
“It’s been like watching a Major Leaguer player against rookie (level) guys,” Cruz said of Osuna. “His feel for pitching is extremely advanced. He’s a great kid with a great attitude. Obviously he has a plus-plus changeup to go with an above average fastball and nothing rattles him. It can be the fifth inning with the bases loaded and it’s like the first inning for him. I have a great feeling about this kid. He’s going to be special. Actually he is special right now and he’s going to take off quick.”
And Cruz saved the best line of all for when he was asked what Osuna still needs to work on, quipping, “He doesn’t need anything, just leave him like that. Right now he’s perfect.”
Moving on, we have Aaron Sanchez, who, at 35, was ranked behind former organization-mates Travis d’Arnaud (6) and Noah Syndergaard (29), though considerably ahead of Jake Marisnick (70), Justin Nicolino (72) and Adeiny Hechevarria (82).
Their present/future grades are 7/7 for the fastball, 6/6 for his curve, 4/5 for his changeup, 4/5 for the control, and 5/6 overall, but it’s the mini scouting report that’s really going to get the heart racing:
If you wanted to build a prototype of what a big, strong, projectable pitching prospect should look like, starting with Sanchez might not be a bad idea. The Blue Jays had aggressively stockpiled young arms via the Draft in recent years. Some of them were used as trading chips, but Sanchez remains, and for good reason. His pure stuff is outstanding, with a plus fastball and an outstanding curve to give him as good a one-two punch as any pitching prospect. His changeup projects to be at least an average offering. He throws downhill and there’s room for him to add some strength. Sanchez needs to cut down on his walk rate to succeed as he moves up, but he has all the makings of a frontline starter if that happens as the Blue Jays start to take the kid gloves off.
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, in wholly unexpected news, the Jays’ reign atop the farm system rankings at John Sickles’ Minor League Ball came to an abrupt end, thanks entirely to the losses of d’Arnaud, Syndergaard, Nicolino, Marisnick, Hechavarria, Anthony DeScalfani, and Wulimer Becerra.
Of course, the ridiculous Cardinals and Mariners systems may have slipped ahead of them regardless, even if they’d kept all those guys, but… yeah, the Jays have completed an astonishing drop, and now rank twenty-second.
“Another system gutted by recent trades by a team pushing to win in 2013,” writes Sickels, referring also to the Kansas City Royals, who rank just ahead of the Jays. “Remaining strengths: pitching, with Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Marcus Stroman, and underappreciated Sean Nolin a nice quartet at the top and more live arms behind them. Weaknesses: they have a lot of tools guys who haven’t shown they can play baseball yet. If they pan out, the Jays will move back up the list quickly.”
So… it’s not all bad news. Remembering that the Jays have the tenth overall pick in next year’s draft will help replenish the system as well should help ease the pain, but better still, I think, is contemplating all the ridiculous current MLB talent the Jays used those prospects to acquire. And shit, if even that doesn’t do the trick, just pretend it was actually Nicolino in the Mets trade, and Syndergaard in the Miami one. Feels a bit better, doesn’t it?