And it’s pretty good–this system–considering what it graduated to the big leagues last year.
Is it Christmas-morning good?
Like gathering around the prospect fire with your favorite baseball humans good?
Maybe not, but it’s good enough in pitching that help should be coming soon enough to pair with the promising young hitters Toronto’s assembled. Don’t sleep on Tellez and Teoscar, by the way. They aren’t exactly what you’re hoping to find under the tree, sure, but they’re solid stocking stuffers within reach of 30 home runs in 2020.
1. RHP Nate Pearson | 23 | AAA | Mid 2020
There’s probably somebody somewhere who thinks Nate Pearson is the best pitching prospect in baseball. If so, I doubt we’d find a long line of people willing to call it ridiculous.
I used the phrase “bully on the mound” when discussing Luis Frias, and Pearson is a bully to the bullies. I don’t mean to glorify a base evil of humanity but to describe how the combination of a power pitcher’s stuff, pace, pitch mix and demeanor can make him the big kid on the playground. Think Max Scherzer. There’s a momentum to it. At some point you’re fighting gravity in the dugout. Nate Pearson is gravity.
2. SS Jordan Groshans | 20 | A | 2022
He’s hardly played since being drafted 12th overall in 2018, but Jordan Groshans slashed 337/427/482 in 23 games in the Midwest League at 19, which is in line with his profile as a guy who hits everywhere he goes. Could be sunshine and rainbows from here if he can stay healthy. And wash his hands.
3. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson | 19 | A+ | Mid 2021
“Why so many tiers, man!? Gonna scroll my hand off!”
Sorry for the digit strain, but SWR is Dwight Gooden 2.0, so he gets his own tier!
Was discussed as a Doctor K in the making as a prospective Met anyway.
Just a young Metropolitan about Manhattan who became the main piece in a trade for Marcus Stroman. Not sure if the distinction buys him a free slice, but I think he’ll be good enough to have Met fans bemoaning Stroman someday. His dominance (0.88 WHIP) at 18 in High A puts him in extremely rare air.
4. 3B Orelvis Martinez | 18 | R | 2023
5. RHP Alek Manoah | 22 | A- | 2022
6. RHP Adam Kloffenstein | 19 | A- | 2023
Strong tier here. Good case for all three to be list-climbers this season.
I don’t think he’ll be a trivia question someday, but it might be long noted that Orelvis Martinez received a bigger signing bonus than Marco Luciano. The International market is peak wild west, but the top guy is often the most obvious Dude. Might still be the case here, which makes a pretty great case for Orelvis on our fantasy rosters.
Waiting for Alek Manoah to fall their way on draft day might’ve felt a little like Nate Pearson 2.0 in the front office. The 11th overall pick has big enough stuff to cruise through the system if Toronto gives him the green light. Will be interesting to track him at a level where fastball slider isn’t enough, probably not until AA.
Ground ball machine Adam Kloffenstein is just the slow jam baseball might be heading toward if he can keep blending grounders and strikeouts. The uppercutting of swings and the allure of the punch out has led pitchers away from the bottom of the zone. But you can get grounders on the inner half. Guys like Kloffenstein and Luis Castillo do both. Infield shifts and juicy balls should lead us back toward a focus on mitigating airborne contact to some extent. Anywho, Kloffenstein is an arm built for now and later, like the Jays are hoping to be with this Ryu signing.
7. C Alejandro Kirk | 21 | A+ | 2022
Captain Alejandro T. Kirk is pretty cool when he’s not hounding Leonard “Bones” McCoy to do something doctors should not be expected to do. Kirk is 5’9” and 220 pounds but makes it work in the box with a discerning eye and compact swing that adds up to dreamy plate skills numbers (13.8% BB, 11.2 % BB in 72 A+ games) and solid production (153 wRC+) despite a slightly capped upside.
8. 2B Otto Lopez | 21 | A | 2022
9. OF Dasan Brown | 18 | R | 2024
10. RHP Eric Pardinho | 19 | A | 2023
Strike-zone discernment seems to be a strength in Toronto’s scouting, except on the pro side where Randal Grichuk has pictures of the higher ups engaged in illicit endeavors. Otto Lopez will need no such insurance against the whiff, but he could stand to borrow some of Grichuk’s untapped power. Would play well with his .324 batting average and 12.8 percent strikeout rate. As is, he’s kind of a Blake Snell meme.
The top Canadian taken in the 2019 draft at 88th overall, Dasan Brown probably has better healthcare than you, and he’s definitely faster on the bases, where he’s a plus-plus runner right now with a chance to get faster. At the least, his six-foot, 185-pound frame should help him keep his speed even if he fills out a little. He’s a long way off like all these bats, and his 148 wRC+ in 14 games at rookie ball doesn’t tell us much, but you can’t hate a .444 OBP even in a meaningless sample.
Among the tougher players to evaluate, Eric Pardinho makes it look easy on the mound, even as an 18-year-old in the college-age Midwest League, but at just 5’10”, he makes it hard on scouts accustomed to fading guys his size and being rewarded over time for doing so. The odds are against him being an impact starting pitcher, but Marcus Stroman came through this organization, and having people in the building who think a short starter can work because they’ve seen it could someday make a difference in how long a window he gets.