When it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays farm system, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette get all the love.
Who can blame them? Guerrero is the clear-cut top prospect in baseball, while Bichette, a Top-10 prospect in his own right, hit .362 last season.
While the young Jays look to be the future core of the team, the current, and former Blue Jays weren't always the same way.
Josh Donaldson, the 2016 MVP, was never a top prospect. Neither was Jose Bautista, who was a six-time All-Star in Toronto.
However, the Blue Jays have gotten valuable production from their top farmhands as well. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, both high draft picks and former top prospects, anchored the Blue Jays rotation to back-to-back playoff berth
The Blue Jays equation for success is simple. Production from the expected producers (top prospects, free agents), plus production from unexpected producers equals a perennial playoff team.
We’ve found those top prospects in Guerrero and Bichette. Time will only tell what the Blue Jays do in the coming years of free agency.
Now, lets get to know where that unexpected production might come from.
Chavez Young erased a Burlington lead with his first career grand slam, Ryan Noda had another enormous day at the plate, and the Lugnuts outslugged the Bees, 11-8!— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) July 13, 2018
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Single-A Sleeper Prospect: Chavez Young
Little is ever expected of draft picks past low double-digit rounds, much less the 39th round.
2016 39th-rounder Chavez Young has done nothing but produce in his professional career.
A native of the Bahamas, Young has hit .287 in 665 minor-league at-bats. ranging from rookie ball to Single-A.
Young has followed up a strong start to his career with an even stronger 2018 season, already surpassing career highs in home runs, RBIs, hits, doubles and stolen bases.
At the age of 21, Young will certainly need more time to develop, especially as a raw, underdeveloped late draft pick.
The left side of the Blue Jays infield looks set for the next decade. However, Young, if he continues his steep upwards trend, may have an opportunity to man center field in Toronto with Guerrero and Bichette one day.
Continuing the trend of 30th-round picks, 2017 34th-rounder Maverik Buffo has had a great year in 2018. going 11-3 with a 3.87 ERA in 16 starts on the year. After a 5-1 record with a 0.53 ERA in rookie ball last season, Buffo continues to trend in the right direction midway through year two.
High-A Sleeper Prospect: Patrick Murphy
Contrary to the previous two sleepers, Patrick Murphy was picked early in the 2013 draft, going in the third round.
Murphy’s pro career got off to a rough start, as the 23-year old went 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA in just three appearances, before missing all of 2015 due to injury.
Murphy would bounce back strong in 2017, going 5-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 20 appearances between three minor league levels.
Finally in 2018, Murphy has had his breakout season. Thus far, Murphy is 6-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 18 starts. Murphy has allowed just two home runs all season, while walking just 37 in 103 innings.
Murphy has since been promoted to Double-A, due largely in part to his pinpoint control. With a career ERA of 3.11, Murphy has the consistency to make it to the major league level, and possibly produce at a high level.
A 2016 fourth-rounder, 22-year old center fielder Joshua Palacios has hit .290 in 893 career professional at-bats. With 48 RBIs and 38 runs on the season, Palacios has thrived as a facilitator for the Dunedin Blue Jays. However, Palacios lacks a power stroke, with just seven career home runs.
Double-A Sleeper Prospect: Harold Ramirez
On a team where Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio get all the attention, Harold Ramirez is quietly producing in his own right.
The 23-year old Colombian leads the team with a .304 average. In a day and age where strikeouts are on the rapid rise, Ramirez has stayed consistent, with just 52 strikeouts in 280 at-bats.
Additionally, Ramirez has stroked 19 doubles, with six home runs. Ramirez has driven in 36 runs, while scoring 35 of his own.
In his seventh minor-league season, Ramirez looks to be just about ready for the big leagues. The Blue Jays could decide, if his plate discipline and consistency hold up, to promote him straight from New Hampshire, rather than having him make a stop in Triple-A.
Going against baseball’s negative trends, Harold Ramirez has little left to prove. An impressive 2018 could be the beginning of a career of overachievement.
The bullpen has been the 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Achilles heel, but 24-year old righty Zach Jackson could provide some late-season aid. At 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 29 games, Jackson has put together a great 2018 season out of the pen. With 51 strikeouts in 42 innings, Jackson could thrive in a high-leverage role.
Roemon Fields uses his speed on the bases (2 SB, GW-R) and in the field to secure #Bisons 5-4 win in Pawtucket today.— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) May 16, 2018
back to the B-lo for a fridaynightbash! homecoming!
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Triple-A Sleeper Prospect: Roemon Fields
Once he’s off the disabled list, Vlad Jr will be heading to Triple-A.
Guerrero figures to drive in many runs during his tenure in Buffalo. One of those most frequent runners will be Roemon Fields.
A 27-year old center fielder, Fields is hitting just .250. However, Fields’ calling card is his speed. His 22 stolen bases lead all Blue Jays minor leaguers.
In his debut season of 2014, Fields stole a whopping 48 bases. After stealing 49 in 2015, and 50 in 2016 Fields has risen up to Triple-A as a major facilitator for the Buffalo Bisons.
While Fields’ future might not be as a starter, he could provide serious value as a late-inning pinch runner, or as a speedy fourth outfielder.
Every team needs their late-inning speedster, and Roemon Fields has all the makings of being just that for the Blue Jays.
In his age-25 season, Justin Shafer has emerged as an elite relief ace for the Bisons. In 32 appearances, Shafer is 5-3 with a minuscule 0.91 ERA. With just one home run allowed, Shafer’s consistency and balance will define his future production in the major leagues.