Blue Jays Loaded with Prospects

Last year myworld rated the Blue Jays as the eighth best farm system. Based on what I see it could be higher this year. We will give our 2019 rankings after the Top 100 is finished. You have to go back to 2011 to find a higher prospect class, but those players never reached their potential. The Blue Jays hope the 2019 class perform better than Kyle Drabek, Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencebia, Travis d”Arnaud and Deck McGuire. Last year the players who made top 100 lists were Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford, Danny Jansen and Nat Pearson. A lot of good blood lines in the Blue Jays system.

It all starts with the infield. Vladimir Guerrero Jr is probably the top prospect in baseball. He is the son of Vladimir Sr. A different player, he plays third base and will not garner the reputation as a bad ball hitter. He makes solid contact with a 37/38 walk to whiff ratio in 95 games and actually is content to take walks. A knee injury in June put him out of commission for a couple months. There appears to be quite a bit of power in his bat with 20 homeruns and a .636 slugging percentage. The big issue to watch is his conditioning. If he gets too big and immobile he may have to move to first, which would take away his value. His bat will play anywhere. He should start the season with the Blue Jays in 2019 but service time will prevent his callup until May.

Bo Bichette is the son of Dante. He may not have the skills to play a gold glove shortstop, but the talent in the infield will not allow him to play anywhere else. The Blue Jays love his bat. There is a possibility he could move to third if the Jays have to move Guerrero to first. Currently the power is restricted to the gaps, with 43 doubles last year. Eventually he could be a 20 plus homerun shortstop, a valuable commodity for any team. After his AA performance last year he will start the season in AAA. The Jays need a shortstop so expect him to be called up quickly if they are still searching. Lourdes Gurriel is not the answer.

Another son of a major leaguer Cavan Biggio had a break out season. He has come a long way since we first watched him in a high school All Star game in Durham. Last year he had a break out season with 26 homeruns. That put him on the prospect map. Second base is his primary position, but if the infield gets too crowded he could move to the outfield. His ability to get on base (100 walks) will make him a valuable commodity at the top of the order. Because his defense at second is not great a move to the outfield would not be a great loss.

Kevin Smith may be the best defensive shortstop. The 2017 fourth round pick out of Maryland has good hands, solid range and an average arm with a quick release to stay at shortstop. Like Cavan his bat really broke out last year with 25 homeruns and a .302 average at the two A levels. He showed off a little bit of that power his first year when he hit eight homeruns for a .466 slugging average. He could start next year in AA. If he continues to hit for power a move to left field or a super utility role could be in his future.

The Jays continued their middle infield glut drafting Jordan Groshans in the first round last year. At 6′3″ his best position may be third base, but the Jays drafted him as a shortstop. His bat showed some power at the rookie level, slugging .500 in the Gulf Coast League.

The Jays have not given up on first baseman Rowdy Tellez. In 2016 he slugged 23 homeruns. The next year he slumped to six homeruns and a .333 slugging percentage. That would give him no future as a first baseman and his lack of speed leaves the outfield out of the question. Last year his power was better (.425 slugging) but still not great, but then he made his major league debut and slugged .614 with four homeruns. His defense is not great and losing some of his 250 plus pounds could improve that. A good spring could see him splitting the first base/DH spot.

Danny Jansen appears to be their catcher of the future and present. Injuries prevented him from playing full seasons early in his career, but last year and 2017 he was able to play over 100 games. His bat makes solid contact, creating over the fence pop on occasion. The defensive tools are there to make him a two way catcher. Last year he made his major league debut, hitting .247. He should see the bulk of the Jays catching duties in 2019.

Reese McGwire was a first round pick of the Pirates in 2013. The Blue Jays acquired him three years later expecting him to be their starting catcher in a couple years. Health has been an issue, but his best hope now is to be a backup for Jansen. His defense may be better but his bat is not as strong.

The Jays are not as strong in the outfield. At one point everyone thought Anthony Alford was going to be a superstar. Injuries have stalled his career. The ex-football player looked as if he carved out a starting spot in 2017 but an injury after four major league games put him back on the prospect highway. The power is there and his speed is explosive but barrel on ball contact is still a mystery. He did get 13 more games in the major leagues last year but only hit .105. His .238 average and .339 slugging was not deserving of a major league promotion. He will see another season in AAA in hopes his athletic tools will result in a breakout year.

Billy McKinney was a first round pick of the Athletics in 2013 but his career has stalled. He made a splash last year with six major league homeruns in 38 games after hitting 16 dingers in AAA. The Blue Jays are his fourth team, having played for the Athletics, Cubs, Yankees and now Blue Jays. His underwhelming defensive play will make him a leftfielder. If his bat continues to develop he could be used as a pinch hitter off the bench.

Demi Orimoleye has some of the most impressive tools in baseball. At 6′3″ he runs like a deer and can hit for impressive power. The Brewers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and traded him last year to the Blue Jays. He was born in Nigeria but grew up in Canada. His biggest issue is making contact with the ball. If he can refine his tools he is a player to watch.

Forrest Wall does not have a strong arm, but his defensive play at second base was a struggle. So the Rockies moved their supplemental 2014 first round pick to the outfield, then traded him to the Blue Jays. His bat has been slow to develop and unless he can find some power he lacks a real position. His arm limits him to left field but he does have the speed to play center. A fourth outfielder role could be his calling.

Nat Pearson is the Blue Jays premier arm. The 2017 first round pick hits triple digits with his fastball. At 6′6″ the hitters do not have a lot of time to react to the pitch when it looks like his hand is about to slap them in the face. A back injury delayed his season and in his only outing he was hit on his pitching arm by a line drive ending his season. He did dominate in the Arizona Fall League so that should be enough for a return to the Florida State League in 2019.

Erik Pardinho is a pitcher the Blue Jays found in Brazil. He stands only 5′10″ but his fastball is electric, hitting the high 90s but sitting mostly in the low 90s. His secondary pitches (curve and change) are quality offerings resulting in a lot of swings and misses. Last year in the rookie league hitters could only muster a .199 average against him. His smaller frame could make him destined for the bullpen, but next year will be a big test for him as he eats up innings in the full season league.

Sean Reid Foley was born in the Northern Marianas Islands. He was a second round pick of the Blue Jays in 2014. The 2017 season was not kind to Sean with a 5.09 ERA. Last year he recovered (3.26) which opened up the gates for his major league debut. The fastball is good, with the capability of reaching north of 95. He may have to focus on one breaking pitch but the secondary offerings will allow him to stay in the rotation. A good spring should see him in the Blue Jays rotation in 2019.

David Paulino was a stud for the Astros. An inability to stay healthy allowed them to trade him to the Blue Jays in the Roberto Osuna trade. Paulino throws hard and at 6′6 is an intimidating presence. His best use may be out of the bullpen. David has had Tommy John surgery and an 80 game drug suspension so he is a risk with lots of upside. A good spring could see him in the Blue Jays bullpen in 2019.

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