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Toronto Blue Jays 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Toronto Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie (photo by John Sickels, SB Nation)
Toronto Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie (photo by John Sickels, SB Nation)

Toronto Blue Jays 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

I am reviewing my PRE-SEASON list of Top 20 prospects for 2011 for each organization, continuing today with the Toronto Blue Jays. This list was originally published January 9, 2011. We will look at the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, the San Diego Padres on Thursday, the New York Yankees on Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, and the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

This is a review of the 2011 Pre-Season Top 20 list. IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.

The 2012 list and new grades won't be ready until the season is over and I start writing the book.

1) Kyle Drabek, RHP, Grade A-: In my book I warned that his command could be an issue if he was pushed to the majors without Triple-A exposure. It was more than an issue; his command killed him (5.70 ERA, 48/52 K/BB in 73 innings) and he's pitched even worse since going back to Triple-A (6.93 ERA, 27/22 K/BB, 52 hits in 38 innings). Still too young and talented to give up on, but has a lot of work to do.

2) Brett Lawrie, 3B, Grade B+: Would be in the majors now if he hadn't broken his hand. Hitting .357/.420/.679 for Triple-A Las Vegas, 12 steals, 18 homers. Hitting .368/.438/.684 since coming off the DL. He's ready.

3) Deck McGuire, RHP, Grade B+:   2.75 ERA with 102/38 K/BB in 105 innings for High-A Dunedin, 89 hits. Just promoted to Double-A New Hampshire. So far, everything is going according to plan.

4) Zach Stewart, RHP, Grade B+:  He hasn't lived up to my expectations, but he can still be a useful inning-eater type. 4.20 ERA with 79/27 K/BB in 101 innings for New Hampshire, 116 hits. Made three major league starts. Traded to White Sox.

5) Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Grade B: 5.42 ERA with 72/28 K/BB in 96 innings for Dunedin, 118 hits. Throws strikes but not as dominant as pre-season scouting reports predicted. Just went on DL.

6) Carlos Perez, C, Grade B:  Hitting .274/.336/.374 with 29 walks, 61 strikeouts in 305 at-bats for Low-A Lansing. Blah season with the bat. Has caught 28% of runners, passed ball and error rates rather high. Still young at 20.

7) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Grade B:   6.07 ERA with 31/15 K/BB in 30 innings, 35 hits, for rookie-level Bluefield. Sample small of course, good strikeout rate.

8) J.P. Arencibia, C, Grade B-.  Hitting .222/.284/.457 with 17 homers, 23 walks, 89 strikeouts in 293 at-bats for the Blue Jays. Exactly as predicted: lots of power, but a poor batting average and OBP.

9) Travis D'Arnaud, C, Grade B-: Hitting .321/.392/.545 with 14 homers, 28 walks, 68 strikeouts in 308 at-bats for New Hampshire, has thrown out 30% of runners. Breakthrough campaign.

10) Anthony Gose, OF, Grade B-:  Hitting .255/.357/.401 with 48 steals, 52 walks, 110 strikeouts in 384 at-bats for New Hampshire. Stellar defense. Starting to develop some power, plate discipline gradually coming around.

11) Eric Thames, OF, Grade B-:  Hit .352/.423/.610 with 23 walks, 41 strikeouts in 210 at-bats for Las Vegas. Hitting .285/.326/.48 with nine walks, 41 strikeouts in 165 major league at-bats. He needs some strike zone adjustments but overall his rookie season is going quite well.

12) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, Grade B-:   1.41 ERA with 37/11 K/BB in 32 innings for Bluefield in the Appy League, 23 hits. Looks great in a small sample.

13) Dickie Joe Thon, SS, Grade B-:  Hitting .286/.433/.429 with 19 walks, 28 strikeouts, four steals in 77 at-bats for the GCL Blue Jays. Looks good, sample small.

14) Kellen Sweeney, 3B, Grade B-: Went 4-for-35 (.114) in nine games for Bluefield before going on DL with a hand injury.

15) Griffin Murphy, LHP, Grade B-:  6.58 ERA with 25/9 K/BB in 26 innings for Bluefield, 36 hits. Good strikeout rate, other numbers not too hot, sample small.

16) Jake Marisnick, OF, Grade C+: Hitting .310/.383/.481 with 10 homers, 25 steals, 33 walks, 66 strikeouts in 335 at-bats for Lansing. He's successfully turning his tools into skills and his stock is way up with me, at least a Grade B prospect at this point.

17) Chad Jenkins, RHP, Grade C+:  3.07 ERA, 44/14 K/BB in 67 innings, 71 hits for Dunedin. 4.43 ERA with 41/19 K/BB in 63 innings, 63 hits for New Hampshire. Still looks like a workhorse type.

18) Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Grade C+: Hitting .228/.265/.333 with 21 walks, 70 strikeouts, 19 steals but 11 caught in 430 at-bats for New Hampshire. I am still doubtful that his bat will be good enough for him to play regularly no matter how strong the defense is.

19) Marcus Knecht, OF, Grade C+:  Hitting .302/.397/.491 with 48 walks, 85 strikeouts, 11 homers in 328 at-bats for Lansing. Impressive campaign.

20) Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Grade C+:   2.82 ERA with 61/16 K/BB in 83 innings for New Hampshire, 74 hits, 1.60 GO/AO. Throws strikes, picks up grounders.

21) Drew Hutchison, RHP, Grade C+: Breakthrough prospect, 2.63 ERA with 84/19 K/BB in 72 innings for Lansing, 68 hits, then 3.43 ERA with 38/10 K/BB in 39 innings for Dunedin, 32 hits. Overall, a combined 122/29 K/BB with a 1.49 GO/AO and two homers allowed. Moving quickly up prospect lists.

22) Joel Carreno, RHP, Grade C+:   3.45 ERA with 136/59 K/BB in 115 innings for New Hampshire, 84 hits. Control needs some work, but very impressive K/IP and H/IP marks.

23) Alan Farina, RHP, Grade C+:  1.56 ERA with 16/7 K/BB in 17 innings for New Hampshire, went on DL in late May.

24) Justin Nicolino, LHP, Grade C+:   1.22 ERA, 51/10 K/BB in 37 innings for short-season Vancouver, 21 hits. Excellent performance, stock is rising.

Well, I don't see how Blue Jays fans can be anything but happy. Even with Drabek being a disappointment, there is a lot more good than bad here, headlined by Lawrie and Thames, and there is more pitching on the way up.