Toronto Blue Jays Top 20 Prospects for 2012
THIS WAS UPDATED JANUARY 19, 2012
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine of course. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2012 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 in the book 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.
1) Travis D'Arnaud, C, Grade B+: Borderline A-: He would be an A- or maybe even an A if he was more effective at throwing out runners and struck out less often, but he can really hit and is still a superior prospect even with those weaknesses.
2) Jake Marisnick, OF, Grade B+: Speed, defense, and a greatly improved bat. More power development would get him into the A-range.
3) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade B+: I'm a believer in his stats, his size, his command, and his fastball, and I think the secondary stuff will come around. Can easily be in the A-range next year.
4) Justin Nicolino, LHP, Grade B+: I think Syndergaard's ultimate ceiling is a bit higher, but Nicolino isn't far behind, and is more polished with his secondary pitches. Could also be in the A-range next year.
5) Daniel Norris, LHP, Grade B+: Higher physical ceiling than Nicolino, but I want to see him in pro ball before ranking him ahead.
6) Deck McGuire, RHP, Grade B+ Doesn't have the ceiling of the younger guys, but should be a solid inning-eater at worst and won't need much longer in the minors.
7) Drew Hutchison, RHP, Grade B+. You can't argue with his results even if he doesn't have as much physical upside as the guys ahead. Like McGuire, an efficiency expert who should chew through innings.
8) Anthony Gose, OF, Grade B+: Other people will probably rank him higher due to his tools. He's made a lot of progress, but his hitting approach remains quite raw and the strikeout rate still bothers me. Made big strides refining his defense and baserunning. Grade A tools, Grade C+ skills.
9) A.J. Jimenez, C, Grade B-: Superior defensive skills and hits for average, even steals a few bases. How much power will he develop?
10) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Grade B-: Very high upside arm, didn't blossom as some of the other guys did, but that could come in 2012 with some command refinements.
11) Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Grade B-: His season was not as bad as you think and he was hot towards the end. Breakout candidate for 2012.
12) Adonys Cardona, RHP, Grade B-: High-upside projectable big-bonus arm from Venezuela, rookie ball performance was spotty but he is very young. Potential for a much higher grade next year.
13) Jacob Anderson, OF, Grade B-: Power bat from California high school ranks, looked strong in very brief rookie ball debut, high power ceiling.
14) Dwight Smith, Jr, OF, Grade B-: Pure hitter from Georgia high school ranks, and I think his tools may be underrated. Need some professional data before ranking higher.
15) Joe Musgrove, RHP, Grade B-: High school arm from 2011 draft looking to repeat what Nicolino and Syndergaard did this year. Big body, good stuff, showed good control in rookie ball debut.
16) Matt Dean, 3B, Grade B-: Another upside guy from 2011 draft that we need to see in pro ball. Potential to hit for power, hit for average, and provide solid defense at third.
17) Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Grade C+: Borderline B-. I like the glove, but I think the Vegas numbers were a fluke. Could turn out similar to the Alex Gonzalezi. I might be underrating him a bit but he's never looked good with the bat when I've seen him.
18) Joel Carreno, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Ready for the majors. Should provide strong middle relief innings and could be a closer eventually.
19) Chad Jenkins, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. In many systems he would be a top ten prospect as an inning-eating number four starter. Here he may end up as trade bait.
20) , C, Grade C+: Borderline B-: Not a great season in the Midwest League, but I still think he has the potential to develop into a regular major league catcher. I had him at 18 originally but I think that was too high and am moving him down a few notches.
21) Marcus Knecht, OF, Grade C+: Prototype right field tools, good power, will have to see about his batting average. You can make a B- case.
22) Moises Sierra, OF, Grade C+: Tools outfielder with power/speed package made progress in Double-A.
23) Michael Crouse, OF, Grade C+: Another power/speed outfielder with a high ceiling but needing work with his approach.
24) Roberto Osuna, RHP, Grade C+: Pitched in the Mexican League at age 16. Tremendous ceiling, but could develop in any number of ways, talent to be in the top ten or higher in coming years if he develops properly.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Eric Arce, OF; Danny Barnes, RHP; Mark Biggs, RHP; Kevin Comer, RHP; David Cooper, 1B; Evan Crawford, LHP (should be a great LOOGY), Anthony DeSclafini, RHP; Jeremy Gabryszwski, RHP; Chris Hawkins, OF; Christian Lopes, INF; Michael McDade, 1B; Griffin Murphy, LHP; Santiago Nessy, C; Sean Nolin, LHP; Tom Robson, RHP; John Stilson, RHP; Mitchell Taylor, LHP, Dickie Thon, SS; Chino Vega, SS.
What can you say? This system has incredible depth, and a year from now it could look even better, depending on how Nicolino, Norris, and Syndergaard perform in full-season ball, not to mention hitters like Smith and Dean who are just getting started. Sanchez and Woj have the natural ability to zoom up the list as well.
Many of the C+ guys (and even some of the Cs) have B or even A-level physical ceilings but need to play and get some experience in, particularly pitchers like Carmona and Osuna.
Overall, I think this list speaks for itself. There is upside with guys who could be stars, there are solid future role players, there are arms, there are bats, there is power, there is speed, there is defense. It will be interesting to see if the Blue Jays are able to keep the talent spigot on full blast under the new CBA.