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Toronto Blue Jays Top 20 2015 PRE-SEASON Prospects in review

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Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Toronto Blue Jays.

THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE PRE-SEASON LIST.
IT IS NOT A NEW LIST.
THESE ARE PRE-SEASON GRADES.

This list was originally published December 29, 2014

1) Daniel Norris, LHP, Grade A-/A: 3.86 ERA with 18/12 K/BB in 23 major league innings, 4.27 ERA with 78/41 K/BB in 91 innings in Triple-A. Traded to Detroit Tigers. Still has some inconsistency but upside remains impressive, just needs experience.
2) Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Grade A-: 3.34 ERA with 46/37 K/BB in 70 major league innings, 59 hits, 2.13 GO/AO. Like everyone else I’d like more strikeouts and fewer walks but the overall results remain strong due to the power sinker.
3) Dalton Pompey, OF, Grade B/B+: Slow start in majors (.193/.264/.337) got him sent back to minors, hitting .311/.384/.444 combined between Double-A and Triple-A. Just needs to play in my view.
4) Max Pentecost, C, Grade B
: Out all year with shoulder injury.
5) Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Grade B: Tommy John recovery guy, thus far has 3.11 ERA, 52/17 K/BB in 72 innings between High-A and Double-A, 74 hits. Traded to Colorado Rockies. Scouting reports have been mixed but he’s been pitching better recently as the injury recedes in the rearview.

6) Devon Travis, 2B, Grade B/B-: Very strong rookie season despite injuries, hitting .304/.361/.498 through 217 at-bats. Doesn’t look like a fluke to me.
7) Miguel Castro, RHP, Grade B-/B:
4.38 ERA with 12/6 K/BB in 12 innings in the majors, 3.38 ERA with 30/16 K/BB in 27 innings in the minors, traded to Colorado Rockies. He was in A-ball a year ago but held his own at the highest levels despite lack of experience. Has a bright future.
8) Richard Urena, SS, Grade B-:
Hitting .267/.288/.421 with 13 homers, 12 walks, 80 strikeouts between Low-A and High-A. Very young at 19, good pop for a middle infielder but aggressive approach cuts into OBP production. Young enough to change that.
9) Dwight Smith, OF, Grade B-:
Hitting .263/.325/.358 with 31 walks, 47 strikeouts in 338 at-bats in Double-A. Not a great year, hasn’t carried his 2014 power surge forward against advanced pitching but still makes contact. I like him better than the numbers.
10) Matt Smoral, LHP, Grade B-:
Has barely pitched, just 8.2 innings between rookie ball and High-A.

11) Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Grade B-/C+: 3.82 ERA in 20 starts between Low-A and High-A, 102/53 K/BB in 75 innings, 65 hits. Impressive strikeout and hit rates stand out as big positives but too many walks, granted just 19 years old. Midwest League observers liked his slider.
12) Jairo Labourt, LHP, Grade C+/B-:
4.80 ERA with 75/48 K/BB in 84 innings in High-A, 90 hits. Traded to Detroit Tigers. Impresses with arm strength but command is shaky and he is still more thrower than pitcher.
13) Roberto Osuna, RHP, Grade C+:
Extremely successful jump from A-ball in 2014 to major league bullpen in 2015, 2.14 ERA with 52/11 K/BB in 46 innings, 31 hits, six saves. Jays won the gamble with this one.
14) Mitch Nay, 3B, Grade C+:
Hitting .255/.314/.370 with five homers, 30 walks, 68 strikeouts in 349 at-bats in High-A. I keep waiting for home run power and it keeps not happening. I’d love to see what a different organization can do with him.
15) Alberto Tirado, RHP, Grade C+:
Fine season in High-A, 3.23 ERA with 61/35 K/BB in 61 innings, just 45 hits. Command has taken a large step forward this year, still just 20. Traded to Phillies.

16) Matt Boyd, LHP, Grade C+: Hit hard in two big league starts but excellent in the minors, 1.65 ERA with 108/27 K/BB in 115 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, just 71 hits. Traded to Tigers, should get a rotation shot next year.
17) Dawel Lugo, SS, Grade C+:
Fast start in Low-A (.324/.339/.429) but not in High-A (.210/.258/.292). Glove work well ahead of bat, still has time at age 20 for the hitting to develop.
18) Angel Perdomo, LHP, Grade C+:
2.04 ERA with 26/12 K/BB in 40 innings in Appy League. Live arm but long way of, big lefty (6-6) can hit mid-90s.

19) A.J. Jimenez, C, Grade C+/C: Hit .218/.296/.322 in 23 games in Triple-A, on disabled list since early June.
20) Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Grade C+/C:
Excellent season, hitting .293/.351/.460 with 14 homers, 38 walks, 82 strikeouts between Low-A and High-A. Pure hitting skills better than expected and power was never doubted.

The 2016 list will look much different due to trades (Norris, Hoffman, Castro, Boyd, Rob Rasmussen, Jake Brentz, Nick Wells) and graduations. Farm system assets were cashed in to bring Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, and Mark Lowe and hopefully an American League pennant to Toronto. If it works, great: developing assets is what the farm system is for. If it doesn’t work, system depth takes a major hit.

The Jays have gotten good work out of rookies this year, with Devon Travis, Aaron Sanchez, and Roberto Osuna all showing their value. Pompey will get another chance of course. Among non-traded minor leaguers we find outfielder Anthony Alford standing out as a tools player who has taken a huge step forward with his skills, which will vault him way up the list heading into next year. D.J. Davis is as tooled up as Alford and has also made some progress. LHP Shane Dawson and RHPs Chase De Jong (traded to the Dodgers for international bonus slots and pitching well in High-A) and Conner Greene also bear watching.

On the draft side, the failure to sign second round pick Brady Singer is annoying. First round pick Jon Harris is being handled delicately to avoid arm stress after his college workload but he is likely the top pitching prospect in the system now and could advance quickly in 2016.

Overall, the trades this summer are an aggressive attempt to push over the top in highly-competitive divisional and wild card races. It is a bold gamble but even if it works recharging the system must be a focus going forward.