SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game - World Team v United States

Several of the usual suspects have posted updated prospect rankings over the past week or so, and as always it’s a fascinating exercise to see how the players the Jays have brought into their system are doing. Of late the scouting stuff been all the more intriguing, of course, not because of our salivating on the arrival dates on some of these kids, but because of the ones that got away in this off-season’s wheelings and/or dealings.

Naturally, the most contentious comparison is between Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard, the club’s top prospect and the top prospect they dealt over the winter, and there is definitely some divergence of opinion on the two.

That’s nothing new, obviously, but what does seem to be new is that in more eyes than we’re used to– at least as far as I can remember– Syndergaard seems to be separating himself from Sanchez and moving up some of the lists. Does that mean a whole lot? I don’t think so, apart from the fact that Sanchez has been hurt and has struggled with command and health a bit this year, I think.

What it makes one wonder, though– or, at least, it makes me wonder– is whether the much-lauded concept of the Jays having a shit-tonne of scouts is maybe a bit flawed. I mean, aren’t there always going to be voices from the scouting department saying one thing, and always voices saying the other? And might that not turn every decision into an either-or proposition in which there essentially is no right answer? I suppose that’s probably be true of scouting departments regardless of size, though, so perhaps I’m overreacting to concerns about Syndergaard having been the true keeper among the Jays’ former “Big Three”– especially since there’s still a lot of love out there for Sanchez.

So… let’s see who is saying what among the five big, recent mid-season top prospect rankings– the ones from John Sickels at SB Nation’s Minor League Ball, Keith Law at, Mark Hulet at FanGraphs, the staff at Baseball America, and Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus.

Sickels has the biggest disparity between the two prospects on his list, ranking Noah Syndergaard as the eleventh-best prospect in baseball, while suggesting that, had Orioles top prospect Kevin Gausman not already graduated from the list, Syndergaard would be ahead of him. Ouch.

“His breaking ball looks good enough to me,” Sickels right, noting the main point of contention among the evaluators looking at Syndergaard. “The stats are there, the stuff is there, the body is there.”

And Aaron Sanchez? He ranks 55th on the Minor League Ball list, not even as the top Blue Jays prospect on the list– Marcus Stroman, who Sickels says “seems oddly overlooked when top pitching prospects are discussed,” ranks 47th– because while there is “no question about the stuff, command is still wobbly and he’s had some arm trouble.”

Despite eighteen prospects who were ahead of him on Sickels’ pre-season top 150 having graduated, Sanchez still manages to drop thirteen spots on the new list, down from 42nd.

Highlighting the divergence, then, is the fact that Sanchez has managed to tread water on Keith Law’s list, moving up one spot, to eighteenth. Law overlooks the injury stuff, which he casts as precautionary, and laments the lack of reps he’s had– in part due to the time on the shelf this year, but in part, one assumes, due to last season’s piggybacking scheme at Lansing– and its impact on his command. “So he’s still more pure potential than results, showing very easy mid- to upper-90s velocity with the chance for two plus secondary pitches.”

Gausman ranks directly behind him on Law’s list, while Syndergaard is way back at thirty-four– which, granted, is considerably higher than he was on Law’s pre-season top 100, where he just cracked the list at 97. The fastball, as we’ve all heard, is there, Law tells us, but “his secondary stuff is just average, both the curveball and changeup, with a fringy slider that’s kind of flat and doesn’t suit his arm slot as well as the curve and change do.”

Baseball America has smaller notes on each player, but is more in line with Sickels, ranking Syndergaard 23rd– “improved breaking ball has made his mid-90s fastball an even deadlier weapon,” they say– and, largely due to the first-half health issues, Sanchez down at number 42. Both have moved up, however, as on their pre-season top 100, Syndergaard was 54th, with Sanchez behind him– but closer– at 65.

Marc Hulet at FanGraphs is slightly closer to Law’s view, ranking Sanchez ahead (18th), but with Syndergaard much closer behind (22nd).

Sanchez, he says, “has electric stuff but he’s struggled to command it at times,” and has also had the injury concerns, but he has “the chance to be a frontline starter if he can avoid the knife and continue to refine his changeup.” As for Syndergaard, as usual, “the development of his breaking ball is the only thing holding him back at this point,” Hulet tells us.

Syndergaard has made a big jump, though, rising from 46th on Hulet’s Hulet’s pre-season top 100, with Sanchez up only slightly, from 23rd.

And lastly, at Baseball Prospectus, Jason Parks doesn’t separate the two, with Syndergaard checking in at 23– as he notes that “a strong second half could propel him into top 10 discussion this offseason”– and Sanchez directly behind him at 24. “A healthy Sanchez has one of the highest upsides of any arm in the minors,” he writes. “Potential to be top pitching prospect if everything clicks.”

It’s a slight rise for Sanchez, who was 32nd on BP’s pre-season top 101, compared to Syndergaard, who was previously 28th.

So… uh… yeah. There you have it! Rankings! Sounds like both guys are still pretty good prospects, and that the jury remains long out on either of them. Funny that, eh? Y’know, seeing as we’re talking about two players who’ve combined to make five starts above A-ball (all Syndergaard). Whatever though… content!


Other Jays and ex-Jays on the lists:

Travis d’Arnaud – 22 (Sickels), 28 (BP), 24 (FanGraphs), 25 (BA)
Jake Marisnick – 68 (Sickels), 39 (Law), 40 (BP), 46 (FanGraphs)
Roberto Osuna – 43 (BP)
Marcus Stroman – 47 (Sickels)

Comments (65)

  1. is it possible there’s a ‘big media’ aspect to this, now that syndergaard is in a new york farm system?

    • no. Klaw, Sickels, Parks and Hulet are solid. they only pay attention to their own reports and scouts’ they trust. i doubt they even read the blowhards in the NY Daily News and Post.

      as the lists mention – the biggest difference this year is the emergence of Synd’s breaking ball + Sanchez’s lack of reps with the injury. makes sense.

    • I think it’s possible. But I base that on absolutely nothing but my own feelings.

    • very unlikely. Thats more of a MSM thing. These guys are really niche and theres onky a handful of guys who look at peospects as their primary focus. I cant imagine theyd be swayed by something like that.

      Besides, nobody likes the Mets.

    • why did we hire an idiot that we fired to coach

  2. Law mentioned, in either the chat, or the podcast, can’t remember, that Noah is still likely a future reliever. At least in his opinion.

    • id be curious in that link, if you find it. thanks.

      • Not really just one link. Law has never been high on Syndergaard.

      • Can’t remember his exact comments on the reliever thing, he either used to think or still does. He mentioned that he personally talked to Syndergaard on either his Behind the Dish or Thursdays fantasy focus which he was on.

        Both were good listens.

  3. D.J. Davis is going to be a monster

    • he’s repeating Rookie ball. it’s a little soon.

      • In prospect porn, they are never too young.

      • He sure is to the tune of .294/.388/.529 in his first 100 PA. He’ll be here in Vancouver for the 2nd half of the short season A.

      • He played 12 games at his current level as a 17/18 year old last year. I don’t think that really qualifies as repeating a level.

        • um, yeah it does.

          if they thought he had figured it out, he’d be in Lansing like his 2012 17 year-old Vancouver pitching counterpart

          • Or maybe they just felt he would be better served getting more than 50 PAs at that level before moving up, or that he just wasn’t ready for full-season ball yet? It’s not as cut and dry as “He played rookie ball last year and he’s playing rookie ball this year, so he can’t be that good.”

            Between his two stints in Bluefield, he has an OPS of .920. He’s been one of the best offensive players at his level, and he’s still one of the youngest.

          • In all fairness, if he went to Lansing at age 18, he would be on pace for making the bigs by age 20. Despite what we have seen from the likes of Trout, Harper, and Machado, it is stupid to hold all prospects to that standard. “If they aren’t in A+ ball by age 18, AA by 19, and then the show by age 20, they are being held back and not good” would be a dumb philosophy (not that you are saying that though).

            • yeah i agree with you Argos (and you’re right, im not saying he needs to be Machado or Harper or he’s a failur). i just was pointing out that Davis is repeating Rookie Ball and some caution may be in order. after all, if im im not mistaken, DJ Davis is on none of these top prospect lists.

              • I think that others’ points were that even if you want to call this a “repeat” (like you do), it is not the sort of repeat that should cause concern.

    • MONSTER?!! im fucking scared of monsters! i remember when i was 6, a monster drank my last fuckin beer and had to go to school empty handed!! fuckin monster!!!

  4. It’s obviously fun watching Reyes et al but, while we’re doing this shittily, you can’t help but think about how much we’d be salivating over these rankings if the Jays hadn’t made the trades…

    • the Reyes trade was a great trade for the Jays, regardless of whether Marisnick hits his ceiling. AA would’ve been a fool if he turned down that trade.

      the Dickey trade, on the other hand, may turn into a bust. but it happens. Jon Daniels traded Adrian Gonzalez AND Chris Davis away for basically nothing. even great GMs mess up.

  5. Syndergaard was tough to give up. Marisnick & D’Arnaud as well but not so much.

    The Dickey trade was a 50/50 one for me, but if Dickey helps us make it to the playoffs in these 3 years, I don’t think we’ll be complaining much. These guys are several years (except D’Arnaud, & he’d still be a rookie) from being high-level players, and our window began this year,, which is why I would accept trading Janssen plus a 2nd-tier prospect like Tirado for Castellanos, #1 prospect of the Tigers, por examplo, for long-term sustainable success…

    Janssen’s highest trade value is Now, and our biggest needs are long-term position players with solid Hitting ability… We’ve got arms in the pipeline; We need some more bats…

    • Oliver is rightly going to go to a contender in all likelihood. I would love it if we could trade Buerhle’s contract. and if JJ can net us more than a 1st rounder, I would bite. Other than that, I would stand pat & look forward to developing a couple more diamonds in the rough.

      • and Raj. Davis is an expiring contract; Either trade or extend him already. I prefer Davis to Bonifacio because he is intelligent (better baserunner), can steal 2nd AND 3rd pretty easily, and can hit lefties.

      • I’d like to see the Jays trade Oliver, Casey, and Lind. If you can get the first round equivalent of a prospect that is close to the bigs for Johnson, trade him too. Getting out of Buerhle’s contract I would imagine to be close to impossible, unless they eat a lot of it, but would be nice. Also, trade Anthony Gose.

        • I would love if the Jays trade Gose and JP to the Phillies. They both seem like Phillies type players. Plus have a need in CF and the lead-off position (not that Gose can hit well enough to bat lead-off, but Jr. is stupid), and Gose is an ex-Phillie prospect. They also have a need at catcher long-term, once Ruiz is gone after this season.

          Not sure what the Jays could get back, and they don’t have a very good farm system. But I can see Amaro overpaying and giving the Jays something decent back for these two players. And there is (should be) no role for either of them on the Jays, long-term.

        • RE: Gose. One thing I’ve observed in the playoffs is the importance of pinch running speed.

          Say it’s a late in a close game, and a runner gets on firs. As soon as that guy with plus speed comes of the bench, the whole complexion of the game changes.

          I think Gose has value simply as a late-inning pinch runner. If we ever make the playoffs, having his speed off the bench could be deadly. not to mention he plays a great OF, and is only turning 23 in August. If he could ever get his OBP to around .300, maybe learn to bunt for hits, even batting 9th he would have value.

          Right now we have Davis & Bonifacio; But in 3-6 years, and for the next 10 years, I can see Gose being an equal or better threat on the basepaths. He just needs to get his act together & stop sulking down in AAA. He’s a Leo so he has to watch that Ego, but he is already an elite defender with top 3 speed.

  6. I’m at peace with it. I was ok with the off-season trades, no point worrying about it in hindsight. If Syndergaard, Marisnik, Nicolino reach potential good for them. I’m even ok if Syndergaard ends up being better than Sanchez, you can only project health and pitch development so much with 20 year olds.

    What makes me sad is seeing Xander Bogaerts so high on these lists. The last thing we need is for those Massholes to have a Machado like SS for the next 10 years.

  7. I wonder what is historically harder to develop… Improved control vs Improve secondary pitches.
    Sounds like each of them has an obstacle to overcome to reach their “potential”, so it’s a question of which obstacle you think is more likely to be overcome…

    • “stuff” is harder to come by. and it can’t really be developed the way control and command can be. alot of it has to do with how a guy has learned to pitch as a kid and his body frame.

      that’s why even though Syndy has had a statistically superior season in a higher league without any injury issues he has only fought Sanchez to a draw after Sanchez’s injury-shortened year and his on-going command issues.

      in fact, teams probably have very little impact on “stuff.” they can clean up a guy’s delivery. teach him a new pitch. help him strengthen his arm. but alot of it is already there when a guy is drafted.

      • Yep, some guys just have more wrist elasticity so theyre able to throw better curves.

      • But you can also find other ways to get dudes out, right?
        Like Mo finding his cutter, or… whoever finally finding a change-up grip that works for them. Or that dude who played for TO last year who found that crazy throw back florkball and is kicking ass out west.

        • Robert Coello. And yeah that thing is fucked.

        • yeah definitely but let me put it this way. i just looked up the scouting report on Mariano Rivera from 1995. it says he had overpowering stuff but needed to add a breaking ball. he never did and still became a hall of famer. his stuff was (is) that good.

          if a guy has a shitty fastball it’s possible he can find a way to command enough breaking stuff to get guys out but that’s really rare. you need to have pinpoint control and exceptional command – that’s really the exception (mark buerhle, im looking at you). makes sense though, right? it’s really f’in tough to throw a baseball, let alone hit a precise spot in the strike zone.

  8. In 15 years who will we say had the better career? Dickie Thon or Dickie Thon jr?
    I hope he makes it up just so we can continue to hoard all the penis related names in baseball.

  9. Where is nicolino on these lists? He seems to have dropped out completely. Thats why im not crazy about these experts ranking players that far away from the majors. I remember norrris was ranked on these lists before he even threw a pitch in pro ball. I think the time to get excited about a prospect is when they perform well in AA. Before that, its way premature.

    • Nicolino was never on these lists. Maybe as a fringe guy? But I don’t even think that.

      Door’s on the left, regardless, if you really need to have the stick up your ass on this.

      • Nicolino has always been seen as a fringe guy. Viewed as a low ceiling player. Always seen, and still is, as a solid back-end of the rotation guy. Doesn’t have great stuff, but the “knows how to pitch” type thing is said about him a lot.

      • He’s always been in the 50-75 range.

      • Well that’s a harsh reaction to a guy who is just stating he isn’t convinced by the ranking of lower level prospects, which from virtually every single indication is a perfectly valid stance to take.

        • That’s not really what he’s saying, I don’t think.

          Seriously, though, he doesn’t have to read it if he doesn’t put any stock in these lists. Of course that’s valid. Just never a fan of these sorts of comments directed at free content nobody coerced anyone to read. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, I can admit that.

          • Admittedly, I don’t know the “characters” who comment on this blog, but, then again, without any bias, that guy’s comment reads to me just like someone saying, “The draft is a crapshoot,” but one level higher – i.e. it’s very hard to know anything about low-level minor league guys.
            Then again, maybe this adfg fellow is a shit-disturber. You’d know more about that than me.

          • Jesus Stoeten, block me if you want, but what’s your problem? All of us “shit disturbers” are just looking for a forum above the level of an ESPN board where we can make critical judgments (good or bad) of the players and teams we follow. I’ll grant you, there a couple of guys who get on here and are completely distasteful and vulgar, but in your own writing you don’t seem to have any aversion to vulgarity. The first word of the site is “Drunk” for the love of God.

            I was going to say the same thing as afdg, that its not that all that prudent to get hung up on rankings for prospects that haven’t even played any college yet, let alone professional baseball. But apparently that is an insult to your profession. If you feel like people are needling you, its because you’re so GD sensitive.

            Like myself and others have said, we appreciate the forum, the connections you’ve made, and the writing skills, but we’re not here to discuss rainbows and kittens and doilies. Baseball, or any sport, brings out people’s passions and emotions, and as long as people aren’t attacking you on a personal level (i.e. looks, integrity, family) I’m really having a hard time seeing why you’re taking such umbrage to people who are passionate Jays fans running up your hit counter. If you want me to go away, just say the word – no hits for you.

            • You’re right, I don’t care about the vulgarity, I care about the stupidity. I’m not blocking you or afdg, though, despite your having atrociously wrong opinions and saying nonsense like “I love it how Stoeten calls anyone who disagrees with him an idiot and clings to his narrative like a dog on a bone, then after a couple of months comes out and does an about face and pretends like he’s coming up with something new all by himself” as though it’s not a dog whistle for every troll and piece of shit around here who just wants to be a fragile little negative suckhole like yourself, patting himself on the back for dumbly not being able to resist every negative thought that comes into his head. You at least seem to believe genuinely in whatever it is you’re seeing that far up your own asshole. Pretend you’re a being truth-teller all you like, but I’ve seen your kind of commenter before and they’re usually just a waste of everybody’s time.

              • Just one more comment and then I’ll leave you alone….. I don’t fancy myself a truth-teller, but I do reserve the right to an opinion that may not always align with that of Your Highness. The Jays have played shittily this season despite the highest expectations in two decades, hence the negativity on my part. If they were my nephew’s t-ball team and not a group of highly paid professionals, I wouldn’t be critical at all, but I guess I still haven’t quite grasped the fragility of the egos of the Gen Y crowd.

      • In his Feb 2013 Keith Law had Nicolino ranked 62 (above Syndergaard, Hultzen, Marisnick and a bunch of other guys that have sense by-passed him). KLaw thought of him then as having “above-average starter” potential. He never had ace potential – but saying he is a fringe prospect is a bit much.

    • Prospects lists would be really boring if only AA players qualified. I want these guys to stick their necks out a bit and actually do some, you know, scouting. Everybody knows the importance of the jump to AA. It would be cowardly to not at least attempt to identify the players who seem poised to successfuly make that jump. At least in theory, that’s what should seperate these guys from Joe Blow fan who looks up AA stats on Baseball Reference. Prospects lists already pretty much ignore the International Free Agents signings until they reach A ball. There’s definitely a lot of hedging going on just not to the ridiculous degree that you are calling for.

  10. Klaw has pretty good list but he did not have TDA billy hamilton or kolton wong. I guess TDA will probably never live up to his potenial for being injuried all the time

  11. Jays could trade casey and use delabar or cecil as the closer i do not think it will hurt us if we were to trade him.

  12. Chris King ‏@StatsKing 16h
    Jays fans will also be happy to hear that Matt Smoral was better today. FB 90-93 topped out 94. Threw a couple nice back door sliders
    Retweeted by Zach Mortimer

    • Have a lot of faith in this pick. Word was he had the stuff to be a top 5 overall pick if he went back to school, got healthy and pitched to his potential.

      Instead the Jays signed him to a huge bonus and will take their chances. He could really fly up some prospect lists this year.

      6’8″ lefties with nasty sliders and 95 mph heaters are kind of OK.

  13. bittersweet i guess.

    good that our scouts drafted some good ball players. bitter that they were traded away.

    It would obviously be easier to handle Marisnick and Synder ‘s praise if they weren’t traded for players who have shit the bed so far this year.

    if the jays were in first or 2nd place we would say oh well cost of doing business. instead we weep. oh my how we weep

    • You literally could not understand the way sports work any less, so good job on that at least; you’re as good as you can be at something even if its being bad at something.

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