D.J. Davis

Lately, if you listen to certain sorts of Jays fans, particularly the negative suckholes, you’ve probably heard a good amount of pissing and moaning about the club’s lack of prospects, with radio call-in muffins and blog comment trolls bleating nonsense like, “They blew it all up! They went all in on failure! We’re doomed forever!”

It’s undeniable that the Jays dealt away several of their most visible prospects last winter– some of the guys who fans had been dreaming on the longest. Jake Marisnick was a Ricciardi draft pick; Travis d’Arnaud came in the Halladay deal; Noah Syndergaard was one of the “Lansing Three”; and Adeiny Hechavarria was a splashy Cuban pickup for the hefty price of $10-million.

But does that mean that the Jays have no prospects left? Pffffft.

In fact, as one might completely expect, this season a new group of talent began to emerge from the lower levels of the club’s minor league system. They’re not as visible, yet, but they’re about to be get a little more notable, as bunch have been highlighted– in some cases spectacularly so– as Baseball America has started rolling out its league-by-league Top 20 lists, bringing chats and a podcast along with them.

Even if you don’t have a B.A. subscription, you can see the names on each list on their index page.

This morning it will be the New York-Penn League list that is revealed, which doesn’t impact us, as the Jays don’t have an affiliate in that league. Friday it was Midwest league, and while the Jays do have the Lansing Lugnuts that played there, none of their prospects were able to crack the top 20– fuel for the negative suckholes, one might believe. But don’t worry, it gets better.

And it’s not like the Jays had nobody in the Midwest League– which is much deeper than some of the other leagues we’ll look at here, having 16 teams in it. Roberto Osuna, at just 18-years-old, made ten starts there before being shut down for the year due to Tommy John surgery. There were others of note at Lansing, too, as J.J. Cooper addressed in the chat the accompanied the release of this particular list.

Ben (Leland Grove)
Was Daniel Norris considered for your list? He made marked improvements this season, from what I’ve read.

J.J. Cooper
He was considered. In a thinner league I think he could have made it, but there are enough concerns to keep him off the list in a very deep league. Generally scouts were projecting him as a likely No. 4 starter. He has a chance to have three average or better pitches, but he’s likely to never have better than tick-below average to average command which limits his ceiling.

Norris certainly seemed to turn things around in the second half of the year, but I don’t think the comment is unfair– even post-turnaround he walked 30 in 63.2 innings, though he also struck out 83.

gerry (Toronto)
Did any Lugnut hitter get consideration? which has the best potential between Nessy, Lopes, Guerrero, Smith Jr. or Pompey?

J.J. Cooper
Smith, Pompey and Lopes got the most consideration. None of the three were all that close to cracking the top 20, but all three are decent prospects.

I had a few notes about Dwight Smith Jr. in my post on the Webster Awards, but this certainly isn’t quite so glowing.

You want glowing? Well then, we can do that. All we have to do is skip the Northwest League list– the Vancouver Canadians landed only Tom Robson and L.B. Dantzler on that one, coming in at 13 and 19 respectively– and head straight for the Appalachian League.

Now, there are only ten teams that play in the Appy League, and so you’d expect to see at least a couple guys from the Jays’ affiliate in Bluefield show up on the list. You might even expect a little more than that, given that the average age on the… uh… B-Jays was the lowest in the league, which might indicate an inordinate presence of “real” prospects.

You probably wouldn’t expect the Jays to have landed seven of the twenty, though. But that’s what they did, with D.J. Davis (2), Mitch Nay (4), Dawel Lugo (5), Chase DeJong (6), Alberto Tirado (9), Jairo Labourt (12), and Adonys Cardona (16) all making the cut.

It’s Davis whose name really sizzles, though, especially when Jon Manuel gets talking about him on the B.A. podcast in conversation with Matt Eddy:

Manuel: I’m a big D.J. Davis fan– he’s very exciting. Got some Carl Crawford comps, in that league.

Eddy: That one made sense– I like that comp.

Manuel: I like it quite a bit. He’s that athletic and– I actually think…– D.J. Davis, the thing that stuns me is that, again, put him in context– high school raw kid from Mississippi. The scouts in Mississippi swear that D.J. Davis’ straight line speed is as fast or faster than Billy Hamilton.

Eddy: Wow.

Manuel: I mean, he’s fast – and second of all, there’s real strength there. I don’t think any amateur scouts who saw him in Mississippi would be shocked that he hit for the power that he hit for in the Appy League. And in terms of his hitting ability, he wasn’t that far removed from a David Dahl. He’s a lot less polished– and then David Dahl had kind of a disastrous first pro season in the Rockies organization. D.J. Davis is a little bit more raw, but he’s kind of caught up to David Dahl already. So, those two guys are going to be linked in my head– I just remember talking to scouts who saw them play together on a travel-ball team in the fall that played junior college teams, and that just raked against older pitching when those were rising high school seniors. I’m going to keep my eye on D.J. Davis– kind of a personal favourite. I really like him quite a bit.

Holy shit!

Not only that, but in talking about the Appy League list as a whole, Manuel explained that this “was a league top prospect list that stood out to both of us for its depth.” And the Jays landed seven guys on the list– but they have no prospects, right?

And the David Dahl stuff? Not only was it a disastrous first pro season for the Rockies 2012 10th overall pick last year, but this year he was limited to just 10 games due to a torn hamstring. But before the season? B.A. had him at number 53 on their top 100, one spot ahead of Noah Syndergaard and one spot behind Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado. Dahl ranked 40th on the Baseball Prospectus list, and was at 37 on the pre-season list for Keith Law, ahead of Nick Castellanos and Jackie Bradley Jr.

“He has first division regular potential as a center fielder that is able to impact the game in all phases,” said Cliff Longenecker of Davis in his Appy League chat. “He could have above-average range in center with improved outfield reads, and will fit the profile of a new age center fielder that can hit with some power.”

That’ll do!

I mean, there are negatives, too– he’s very raw– but… no, seriously, that’ll do.

And, of course, in the Gulf Coast League list there was also great stuff on Franklin Barreto, too– which Longenecker echoes, having heard about Barreto’s brief time in the Appalachian League after he moved there from the GCL for his final fifteen games of the year. “Barreto excited a lot of guys that saw the league,” he said in his chat. “Guys that really liked him said he was up there with all the top Bluefield position players, which is high praise considering 3 of the top 5 guys in the league were on that team.”

On the Gulf Coast League list, however, he’s ranked “only” fifth, but that’s not as unimpressive as it may seem.

“That was just a very exciting top ten, man,” John Manuel said in the podcast. “That GCL really impressed me– it was just short of being a five-star league.”

He also was surprised about the ranking of J.P. Crawford, the 16th overall pick in this June’s draft, who was just below Barreto on the list at number six.

“J.P. Crawford is a six!” he said. “The sixth-ranked prospect in the GCL won the batting title and can play shortstop. And that’s a– that’s usually a one! That’s a number one prospect profile.”

Ben Badler, who did B.A.’s GCL chat, even suggests that he’ll be in consideration for the top 100 heading into 2014– and with D.J. Davis ahead of him, and Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman already there, things in the Jays’ system are already quickly starting to sound more respectable than maybe a lot of people want to believe.

And there are still all kinds of intriguing prospects floating around the system too. To wit, from the GCL chat:

Ben (Toronto)
How close were Hollon & Tellez to making your list for the Blue Jays? Seems like Hollon pitched very well in brief time – also looks like Tellez did well after a slow start. His stats look pretty solid from his last 100 AB’s. Thanks.

Ben Badler
Hollon was in and out of the league quickly, but Tellez was a close cut at the end. You can see the raw power in BP, the contact frequency is there and he has a good hitting approach for his age. He’s going to have to mash as a 1B-only prospect, but he could be a breakout guy next year.

But- but- but the cupboard is bare, right???

Sure, most of these guys are still a long way off, but there’s still more than enough here to dream on– especially with the ninth and eleventh picks in what’s a well-regarded 2014 draft on their way as well.

There is tonnes more about the guys mentioned in this post that I haven’t lifted, so if you’re into all this kind of prospect goodness, go and subscribe to B.A. and help fund their outstanding work– especially if you really did think that there wasn’t anything left in the system beyond Sanchez.

Comments (66)

  1. wow. did you:

    a) have someone post this for you?
    b) pull an all nighter?
    c) somehow figure out a way to have something automatically posted at a certain time of day?


  2. hopefully we can pick and sign a couple of great future players with 9 and 11. that would help wash some of the stain from this depressing season.

  3. Thanks for sharing these Stoeten – definitely a nice spirit-lifter!

  4. Great stuff. Love the prospecting. Nice to see the resources piled into the scouting department is reaping dividends at the low minors. Will be interesting to see how some of these guys progress.

  5. Great post Stoeten
    Much appreciated
    Great to see there are more prospects on the way to fill in the future cracks so to speak.

    • Which according to John Farrell, they won’t progress because the Jays only look at “tools” instead of the person. What a douche.

  6. spirit lifter….I was looking at EEE’s stats…he only had a .247 BABIP this year. I still think he has some upside next year considering he is in his prime now. With a bit of luck and some good health we could potentially have a powerhouse offense next year.

    Cabrera (if healthy and back to his old OBP form)
    Lind (vs RHP)
    new catcher

    • I believe it was Dave Cameron on FanGraphs who talked about how amazing Edwin’s skills are – how he strikes out so little and walks so often for a guy with elite power – that one of these years with some BABIP-luck he’ll go Miguel Cabrera on us.

      • I remember reading that article. He’s one of only four qualified hitters this year with a BB/K over 1.00. He’s at a ridiculous 1.32. He’s the only one of the four that even resembles a power hitter (Aoki, Scutaro, Callaspo).

        Walk king Joey Votto is at 0.98.
        Likely MVP Miguel Cabrera is at 0.96.

        Edwin just has an extremely rare skill set, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

    • Old OBP form for Melky? Guy rarely walks (ever) and his two good years average-wise are very likely PED-enhanced.

      • so how many points of average do you think the deer antlers added? maybe you are making a bit too much of his PED use?

        • well, i’m just looking at his consistency at being sub-mediocre until two outlier years. even then he wasn’t walking much. heck, even in that first “big” year,his OBP wasn’t that good.

          i guess it would be pretty difficult for us to quantify how much the PEDs helped.

          • very difficult. there are a lot of factors at play, including having a tumour lodged in his spine this year.

            • yeah, he looked just awful running around. i hope the tumour removal helps him regain some mobility.

    • Probably a total coincidence, but if you take the top 30 home run hitters in baseball this year, and arrange them by their BABIPs, then you discover…

      that the two worst BABIPs among baseball’s power hitters last season were Edwin Encarnacion, at .247, and Jose Bautista, at .259.

  7. ok so Mike Trout should win the AL MVP this year and it isn’t even close. looking at the total package he is head and shoulders better than anyone else in baseball.

    • Obviously.

      And the defensive metrics didn’t even really like him so much this year– still above average, but not as high as I think he really is.

    • People don’t really value defense. Or haven’t had a convincing way to measure it (which now seems to be rapidly getting better).

      Look at how much batting influences Gold Glove selections.

      It seems to be changing though when you look at how much more work is going into defensive positioning, how few errors most teams are committing, etc. It seems like the new market inefficiency. Unfortunately we went backwards this year in that regard.

    • Donaldson is also a boss. I hope he gets at least some MVP votes (likely won’t).

      • Also, I wonder if Gomez had some value added from “showing up” the barves, which was clearly a political protest regarding the offensiveness of their moniker.

  8. Thanks for the prospect porn, Stoeten… great insight. Is it April yet??????

  9. Still a pretty thin stable. Sure, there’s some good pieces, but every team can say the same thing. So I guess relative to the other teams they are pretty weak.

    I’m not bitching as this would be expected considering the past off-season and it’s all fine and good to point at Low A guys but they’re Low A guys. They have 4 levels to excel at before we can to excited.

    • You’re right, every team has 7 of the top 20 prospects in one of the strongest leagues in the minors.

    • Most teams don’t have 4 top 100 prospects. If that really is the case, then the Jays likely have an above average farm team. (Yeah, that oversimplifies it but it’s all I can work with now).

      • The major knock on their farm in my opinion is the lack of upper level depth. The low minors, as pointed out by this post, are very strong.

        • Upper level depth of Drabek, hutch, nolin, stroman, goins, pillar, jiminez is not bad at all. And 7-20 in low minors kinda kills the no depth talk down there.

      • Well, you could say that a large number of teams could easily have 4 top 100 prospects, since the average number of top 100 prospects per team is 3.33. Having four is just slightly better than average.
        Still though. Better than average!

  10. I already have an irrational attachment to Rowdy Tellez.

  11. Good news on Davis. Guess it’s time to trade him for Bartolo Colon.

  12. The thing that makes this so uplifting is literally only one of these guys really need to hit big to have something to build around. What is seattle with hernandez? or the white sox without Sale? fuck even the angles without trout? Can you imagine the last few years of tampa bay had longoria not come around?

    • um, why did you say uplifting and then give examples of three shitty teams to emulate? that was weird.

      • lol fair enough,
        what about Pittsburgh without mccutcheon
        or the dodgers without Kershaw

        • okay, the pittsburgh one makes me feel good (probably because I don’t know any of their other players), but from what i remember, the dodgers also have hanley ramirez, yasiel puig and matt kemp (although a bad year), who could all perhaps be said to be superior to any of the jays’ players right now, not to mention several other all-stars.
          but i see your point, i also think the jays could be one guy away from something special.

          • better than EE he had a terrific all around year. all 3 are better than EE?

            • well, matt kemp and hanley ramirez at their best are two of the top players in all of MLB. Yes, even better than EE, though he is fantastic. Puig? Well, his partial year extrapolated over a full year is better than EE’s best year, no? I don’t know if that says too much. Brett Lawrie’s first partial year has been followed by complete offensive mediocrity.

    • Textbook perfect swing with a lot of loft and no obvious holes. Quick wrists, good defense and a nice, projectable build.

    • a lot of scouts comped dahl to rasmus coming into his draft…

    • Thank you for the responses, but it was in relation to the terrible first year part..

      • I suspect he meant first full year… dahl killed it in his draft year.

        this year he got sent back to extended ST from the SAL league team for disciplinary reasons… then got hurt and ended the year with 42 PAs…

  13. When the season’s over, it’s never too early to rosterbate!

  14. I hate to shit on everyone’s cornflakes… I like davis quite a lot but consider this… anthony gose played his age 18 season in the sally league (low A) and k’d 19.2% of the time. davis played his age 18 season in the bluefield of the appy league (rookie ball) and k’d 29.5% of the time.

    they are not the exact same type of player: davis has more power and less defense… but these were both CFers regarded as raw coming out of HS.

    suffice to say davis has a LONG way to go.

  15. [...] see coming up is the battle between now and the future. As Andrew Stoeten pointed out over at DJF (, the low minors are looking really solid for the Jays. Led by DJ Davis, Baseball America put seven [...]

  16. Nothing all that impressive in this article at all.

    What a lame spin job by a Rogers stooge.

  17. I love this stuff!

  18. excellent article! this made my day!

  19. *shrugs* I’ll believe it when I see it.

    How many top 100 prospects do we have in the system? Three? We had two or three last year, and one of em went down with TJ surgery.

    These articles are fun to read, but I don’t think they provide any sort of proof that the Jays are somehow ahead of other clubs when it comes to minor league talent, nor can you claim that the cupboard isn’t bare because our prospects rank well in ONE ten-team league.

    • There are 30 teams in baseball. That makes 3.3 top 100 prospects about average. The Jays have Sanchez for sure, Davis and Barreto sound like they have pretty good shots, Osuna, if not for TJ, would be there, and Stroman too, mostly for those who think he can start.

      Hey, but the cupboard’s bare, right idiot?

      I’m sure the two top ten picks in a loaded draft in June won’t help that either, right?

      • But Sanchez is a below-average #1 prospect, most teams have better top guys. I’d argue a top 10 overall prospect is worth two or three 75-100 prospects.

        The Jays probably have a slightly below-average farm system. Not great, but the cupboard also isn’t ‘bare’.

      • My point is, not only are our prospects fringy, they’re not even playing full season baseball yet (obvious exceptions of Sanchez, Stroman).

        It’s an extreme reach to talk about guys with the ceiling of potential platoon partners or MLB bench players as “the cupboard not being bare”. Yes, a guy like Barreto may turn into more than that, but he’s VERY young, and frankly, the Jays don’t have a great track record of developing minor league talent over the last ten years.
        I do appreciate the optimism, but I’m sort of responding to the smarmy, patronizing stuff you say like;
        “Lately, if you listen to certain sorts of Jays fans, particularly the negative suckholes, you’ve probably heard a good amount of pissing and moaning about the club’s lack of prospects, with radio call-in muffins and blog comment trolls bleating nonsense like, “They blew it all up! They went all in on failure! We’re doomed forever!”
        One can be optimistic about the minors while acknowledging the fact that the Jays, as of PRESENT DAY, are significantly behind other teams in terms of minor league talent.

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