Editorial Note: We’re pumped to bring you the first of a season’s full of weekly prospect-y dispatches from Dunedin, FL, home of the Jays’ FSL High-A affiliate, and some of their best prospects, courtesy of the awesome Bradley Ankrom (@BradleyAnkrom) of Baseball Prospectus. Awesomeness awaits!
It’s an exciting time to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan. Despite their competing in baseball’s toughest division, many pundits have embraced Canada’s Team as their “dark horse” or “sleeper” or “ballsy pick” of 2012, and for good reason. The Blue Jays scored the sixth-most runs in all of baseball last year, and project to do even more damage with third baseman Brett Lawrie in the lineup all year. Rotation anchor Ricky Romero has established himself as one of the league’s best starting pitchers, earning AL Cy Young votes for the first time in his career after going 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA and 178 strikeouts last year.
The big-league roster is undoubtedly shaping up nicely, but it’s what Alex Anthopoulos & Co. have done on the farm that should tickle Jays fans about the future. In his annual review of organization depth, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked the Blue Jays 20th, 24th, 10th, and 22nd between 2007-10. A bumper draft in 2010 revitalized the farm system, and players taken that year account for nearly one-third of the team’s top 30 prospects listed below and, more importantly, five of the top 11. In his first winter as Blue Jays general manager, Anthopoulos traded franchise icon Roy Halladay to Philadelphia in a deal that netted the organization’s current top prospect, catcher Travis d’Arnaud, as well as right-hander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor, who was flipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace, who was subsequently traded to Houston for Anthony Gose, Toronto’s third-best prospect.