Kyle Drabek of the Toronto Blue Jays throws agianst the New York Yankees during an MLB game at the Rogers Centre September 28 2010 in Toronto Ontario Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Toronto Blue Jays Top 20 Prospects for 2011
UPDATED January 9, 2011
Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2011 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders. Order early and order often!
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise coming from me, and some C+ prospects turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
Toronto Blue Jays Top 20 Prospects for 2011
1) Kyle Drabek, RHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. Looks like he's going to be a workhorse and possibly more.
2) Brett Lawrie, 2B, Grade B+: I have liked him as a hitter since he was in high school. I still see him as more of a right fielder than a second baseman, but if he can manage to stick there he could be a Jeff Kent type.
3) Deck McGuire, RHP, Grade B+: I don't expect that he'll need a lot of minor league time. Number three starter type at worst and could be more.
4) Zach Stewart, RHP, Grade B+: His stock has dropped a little, but I still like him. If he can't cut it as a starter he can close.
5) Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Grade B: You can make a case for B+, but I want to see some additional pro data. I like him a lot, and this is another guy who should be a solid starter at worst.
6) Carlos Perez, C, Grade B: I like the balance of offensive and defensive skills. Very young, will have to avoid Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome. Grade is aggressive.
7) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Grade B: Aggressive grade for a high school arm, but I really like his projectability and his stuff is already strong. Also has high-K, high-ground ball profile in the early data.
8) J.P. Arencibia, C, Grade B-. Power is genuine, but I don't buy a high batting average or OBP. Grade changed from B to B- at press time.
9) Travis D'Arnaud, C, Grade B-: Strong glove, but I think people are overrating his bat. Young enough to improve that.
10) Anthony Gose, OF, Grade B-: I realize other people will think this is too low. I respect his athleticism and potential, but the risk of failure is high enough for me to be a little wary.
11) Eric Thames, OF, Grade B-: I believe in his power.
12) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade B-: Another high school power arm that I like a lot.
13) Dickie Joe Thon, SS, Grade B-: Speculative grade based on tools and scouting reports. Could be much higher (or lower) next year.
14) Kellen Sweeney, 3B, Grade B-: Good plate discipline and I think he sticks at third. Power??
15) Griffin Murphy, LHP, Grade B-: Solid high school lefty from the 2010 draft.
16) Jake Marisnick, OF, Grade C+: Others will rank him higher due to his excellent tools, but I don't buy into the bat yet.
17) Chad Jenkins, RHP, Grade C+: Looks like a workhorse strike-thrower, will need to step forward in '11 to avoid getting buried by influx of new arms.
18) Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Grade C+: Like the glove. The bat...well, I'll wait and see on that.
19) Marcus Knecht, OF, Grade C+: Good balance of tools, skills may need some time but I like his power.
20) Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Grade C+: Like Jenkins, a guy who throws strikes but needs a good year to stay in the picture.
21) Drew Hutchison, RHP, Grade C+: Overlooked strike-thrower from 2009 draft.
22) Joel Carreno, RHP, Grade C+: Excellent K/IP and K/BB in the Florida State League, older for the level but just added to 40-man.
23) Alan Farina, RHP, Grade C+: Intriguing relief sleeper to watch.
24) Justin Nicolino, LHP, Grade C+: Yet another arm from the 2010 draft.
OTHERS: Kevin Ahrens, 3B; Adonis Cardona, RHP; David Cooper, 1B; Sam Dyson, RHP; Brad Emaus, INF; Christopher Hawkins, 3B; K.C. Hobson, 1B; Brian Jeroloman, C; A.J. Jimenez, C; Darin Mastroianni, OF; Mike McDade, 1B; Brad Mills, LHP; Gustavo Pierre, SS; Moises Sierra, OF; Mitchell Taylor, LHP; Daniel Webb, RHP.
The huge influx of talent from the 2010 draft is immediately felt here. Grading some of these guys is tough given the limited professional data available, but I tried to find a balance. The collection of pitching is especially impressive, though keep in mind that injury attrition will eventually take a toll. There is also depth in catching.
They could use a few more impact bats. I'm a big fan of Thames. Tools outfielders Gose, Marisnick, and Knecht are all interesting for different reasons. Gose has the highest upside but also has a high risk of failure. I have similar qualms about Marisnick, but both are young enough to prove the doubts misplaced. Cuban shortstop import Hechavarria is similar; he could be good and can field, but has a long way to go with the bat.
This system could look even better a year from now as we get a better read on the '10 draft class and the mass of B-/C+ types. If the tools guys can learn to hit, look out.