Toronto Blue Jays Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 15: Assistant trainer Hap Hudson of the Toronto Blue Jays walks off the field with starting pitcher Drew Hutchison #36 as manager John Farrell looks on during interleague MLB game action against the Philadelphia Phillies June 15, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Hutchinson left the game in the first inning with an apparent injury. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)

Toronto Blue Jays Top 20 2012 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

Continuing with our reviews of the Top 20 pre-season prospect lists, we finish up the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays. Remember, this is a pre-season list. It is not a new list.

This list was originally published January 19, 2012.

The next team on the list is the Arizona Diamondbacks, then the Miami Marlins to finish up.

1) Travis D'Arnaud, C, Grade B+: Borderline A-: .333/.380/.595 with 16 homers, 19 walks, 59 strikeouts in 279 at-bats for Triple-A Las Vegas. Out with torn posterior cruciate ligament.


2) Jake Marisnick, OF, Grade B+: .263/.349/.451 with 26 walks, 55 strikeouts, 10 steals in 266 at-bats for High-A Dunedin, then .202/.292/.263 with nine walks, 25 strikeouts, seven steals in 114 at-bats for Double-A New Hampshire. Overmatched so far against advanced pitching, hitting .125 in his last 10 games. Tools are just fine, but not ready to deploy them in the majors yet.

3) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade B+: 2.89 ERA with 103/25 K/BB in 87 innings for Low-A Lansing, 74 hits, three homers, 2.02 GO/AO. I love this guy. Just needs to avoid the injury bug.

4) Justin Nicolino, LHP, Grade B+: 2.63 ERA with 97/14 K/BB in 99 innings for Lansing, 92 hits, 1.51 GO/AO. I like him almost as much as I like Syndergaard.

5) Daniel Norris, LHP, Grade B+: 6.28 ERA with 28/11 K/BB in 29 innings for rookie-level Bluefield in the Appalachian League, 31 hits. Command issues are apparent, still has a high ceiling.

6) Deck McGuire, RHP, Grade B+ 5.97 ERA with 80/52 K/BB in 119 innings for New Hampshire, 128 hits, 18 homers. He's had some good games (July 7th, July 13th, July 28th for example) but hasn't been able to develop any consistency. Stock down considerably.

7) Drew Hutchison, RHP, Grade B+. 4.60 ERA with 49/20 K/BB in 59 major league innings, 59 hits, before blowing his elbow and requiring Tommy John.

8) Anthony Gose, OF, Grade B
+:.292/.375/.432 with five homers, 47 walks, 93 strikeouts, 29 steals in 377 at-bats for Las Vegas, .2298/.275/.292 in 48 major league at-bats with 17 strikeouts. Continues to progress with defense and has developed more patience, but contact issues remain apparent, cutting into his offense. Remains a high-ceiling guy.

9) A.J. Jimenez, C, Grade B-: Tommy John.

10) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Grade B-: 2.36 ERA with 84/44 K/BB in 76 innings for Lansing, 48 hits, 2.23 GO/AO. Went on the DL after his last start. Love the K/grounder combo, just needs to stay healthy.

11) Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Grade B-: 3.57 ERA with 76/22 K/BB in 93 innings for Dunedin, 91 hits allowed. Traded to Astros, 2.08 ERA with 16/8 K/BB in 17 innings in Double-A. Was passed by other guys in the Jays system but I think he's still an intriguing prospect.

12) Adonys Cardona, RHP, Grade B-: 6.32 ERA with 20/10 K/BB in 16 innings in the Gulf Coast League, 15 hits. Raw so far, but not unexpected from an 18-year-old Venezuelan.

13) Jacob Anderson, OF, Grade B-: 208/.294/.308 with nine walks, 51 strikeouts in 120 at-bats for Bluefield. Pretty awful so far, contact/discipline issues holding him back and giving credence to high school scouting reports that he had problems with breaking balls.

14) Dwight Smith, Jr, OF, Grade B-: .227/.287/.344 with 10 walks, 22 strikeouts in 154 at-bats for Bluefield. Rated as an advanced hitter in high school but not showing that in pro ball yet.

15) Joe Musgrove, RHP, Grade B-: Traded to Astros, has thrown just 10 innings between the two organizations, all in the Appy League.

16) Matt Dean, 3B, Grade B-: Another Bluefieldian not living up to 2011 high school scouting reports, hitting .232/.295/.393 with eight walks, 39 strikeouts in 112 at-bats. Butcher at third base, 16 errors in 32 games.

17) Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Grade C+: Borderline B-. .312/.363/.424 with six homers, 38 walks, 86 strikeouts in 443 at-bats for Las Vegas. He's made some progress but is still more of a defensive asset than someone who will help much with the bat.

18) Joel Carreno, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. I thought he was ready for the majors, but I was wrong. 6.35 ERA with 10/11 K/BB in 17 innings, then 6.96 ERA with 72/41 K/BB in 75 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. At least he's avoided the knife.

19) Chad Jenkins, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. 4.96 ERA with 57/31 K/BB in 114 innings in Double-A, 145 hits, 17 homers. He avoids walks but has otherwise not done well this year. He was promoted to the majors anyway and has taken a spot in the bullpen. Full profile coming up soon.

20) Carlos Perez, C, Grade C+: Borderline B-: Traded to Astros, hitting .276/.358/.435 overall this year between Low-A and High-A. Passed by D'Arnaud, but still just 21 years old, could be a nice pickup for Houston.

21) Marcus Knecht, OF, Grade C+: .211/.303/.395 with 12 homers, 43 walks, 125 strikeouts in 380 at-bats for High-A Dunedin. I like his power potential, but contact/batting average looks like a big problem.

22) Moises Sierra, OF, Grade C+: .289/.360/.472 with 17 homers, 39 walks, 86 strikeouts for Vegas, just promoted to the majors. Has made progress improving his contact skills and tapping into his power.

23) Michael Crouse, OF, Grade C+: Broken record. Another guy with tools and power but a poor contact approach, .204/.303/.350 with nine homers, 36 walks, 102 strikeouts in 274 at-bats between Low-A and High-A.

24) Roberto Osuna, RHP, Grade C+: 1.77 ERA with 43/12 K/BB in 36 innings between Bluefield and short-season Vancouver, 26 hits. Quite impressive for a 17-year-old, so far he's living up to the reports.

The following comments are impressions, not a full analysis of the system.

Injuries have struck the major league roster and some of the minor league guys too. Syndergaard, Sanchez, and Nicolino have been great, but there are also a lot of disappointments here for a system rated possibly the deepest in the game pre-season. Norris, Anderson, Smith, and Dean have been quite disappointing at Bluefield for example, although there have been some bright spots too (Christian Lopes, Eric Arce, Kevin Comer, Jeremy Gabryszwski). Osuna has been great so far. Javier Avendano, Sam Dyson, John Stilson, and Sean Nolin all bear close watching.

The Jays continue heavy investment in the draft, finding ways to use the new system to their advantage by giving out cheapo bonuses in the middle rounds, in order to budget over-slot signings early in the draft. High school upside talent remains the focus, with guys like D.J. Davis, Mitch Nay, and Matt Smoral leading the way. College arm Marcus Stroman probably won't need a lot of time in the minors.

Upside is great, but high-risk bets are "high-risk" for a reason. Historically, some teams that have adopted this approach end up with a farm system full of great athletes but no real baseball players. Refining the talent is as important as gathering it.

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