After an exciting week of Top 100 Prospect coverage following my list dropping last Wednesday, it’s back to the system reviews this week with the Toronto Blue Jays. An often underrated system, America’s Hat’s favorite team has 4 Top 100 Prospects amongst their ranks, with two exciting new comers to their organization in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and T.J. Zeuch. It will be interesting to see what former Red Sox GM and scout Ben Cherington does in his first draft, and international period. For now we discuss the system he inherited. Cherington certainly made his bones in the Boston organization, drafting, signing, and identifying amateur talent. Can he do the same in the T Dot? Hopefully, because the Jays are a team that could use a youth movement. With the core of their lineup (Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Jose Bautista) all on the wrong side of 30, the time to build up is now. Luckily there are some exciting hitters at each level of the minors, and a depth of boring right-handed strike throwers who should battle to fill out the bottom half of the Toronto rotation in coming years. It’s the Top Toronto Blue Jays Prospects!
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Rowdy Tellez, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
Ranked number 52 on my top 100 list, Tellez is a polarizing prospect. Some look at the production, and ignore the ugly moments at the plate, and others don’t. I can’t blame you if you’re not a believer in Rowdy, he can look horrific at times. On the other hand, this is 21 year old that hit .297/.387/.530 with 23 homers and a 12.3% Bb% rate at AA. The best part is he does all that, and rarely strikes out. While he’s more than likely DH bound long term, he should see some time at first early in his career. If you’re not a fan of utility only prospects I’d stay away from Tellez. Then again, when it comes down to it, how can you root against a kid named Rowdy?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B | Age: 17 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
Ranked number 54 on my top 100 and in all honesty if proximity wasn’t a factor what so ever, he’d be in my Top 25. and would easily be ahead of Tellez for tops on my Blue Jays list. Slashed an impressive .271/.359/.449 with 8 homers as a 17 year old in rookie ball. His strike zone awareness, and ability to recognize a breaking pitch set him apart from other prodigious teenage sluggers. He looks like his father at the plate, but compares favorably to another former Blue Jay, Edwin Encarnacion. Has the potential to hit 30 homers a year, and be a perennial all-star, though he’s a long ways away from making that reality.
Anthony Alford, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+/Rk
Ranked 63rd overall in the Top 100, mostly due to the development of the power stroke late in the season and in Arizona. His season started out rocky as he sustained a concussion and also dislocated his knee cap in separate incidents. He’s outfielder, not Evil Kenevil after all. Alford posses elite 70 grade speed and top of the scale athleticism. As I mentioned earlier he began to tap into his raw power late last season, which could lead to a breakout, and potential value bump for his dynasty owners. His defense should push his ETA, but he’s still raw enough that I don’t expect him till 2019.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A-
Ranked 73rd on the Top 100, Reid-Foley is the king of hyphenated prospects, Sorry Ray-Patrick Didder. He offers my favorite pitching profile, a groundball pitcher with K per inning stuff, and solid control. Took a huge step forward in 2016 after learning a curveball from his older brother, a former Dodgers farmhand. His season ended prematurely after an elbow flare up (CRINGE), so there’s some obvious injury risk here. Overall I really like the player, plus he’s got a sweet stache reminiscent of one Grey Albright.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Lourdes Gurriel, INF/OF | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: N/A
The younger brother of Yuli Gurriel is a tough nut to crack, there are reports that tout his defensive versatility, and raw power; and other that make him sound like a utility infielder with enough hitting to stick in the bigs but never really be a must own fantasy player. After breaking in at 16, his early results weren’t great in the Serie Nacional, and many saw him comparing more to his brother Yunieski than Yulieski. I know, who the hell is Yunieski? A utility infielder with a weak bat, that’s who! I would discount those numbers, especially when you consider he was the age of a high school kid playing professional baseball. Ya know what I’m saying? However, he did turn a corner in his age 20 season slashing .308/388/.466 with 8 homers, 42 RBIs, and 7 steals. He followed up his strong 2014 with an even better 2015 going off with a .344/.407/.560 line with 10 homers, 53 RBIs, and 8 steals. They play a lot less games in Cuba, so that projects out to 27 homer, 145 RBI, and 21 steal season over a 162 games. Let’s not tell the guys that did Eric Thames projections that though. So at the end of the day there’s a lot of questions marks, and a great deal of upside. A true risk/reward pick in your first year player drafts. Early returns on his value in my dynasty leagues play that out, as he’s typically going after the top 15 draftees/J2 names.
T.J. Zeuch, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
A 2016 first round pick is a 6’7 righthanded giant with a penchant for groundballs, racking up a 70% GB rate in his first 34 pro innings. He was a stand out at Pitt, riding his plus fastball to the highest draft position of any Panther in history. The heater is a thing of beauty, touching 97, but working in the mid 90’s with arm side run, heavy sink, and a downhill plane. It was truly one of the best fastball’s in the draft. Mixes in three secondary pitches, in his curve, slider, and change, but none of them are a true weapon. Though he does throw all of them for strikes consistently. I prefer Zeuch in the quartet of he, Harris, Green, and Maese. Projects as a number three starter with some upside for more.
Richard Urena, SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
A better real life prospect, Urena is a solid up the middle player, who could move off of short in the big leagues, at least until Tulo inevitability dislocates/sprains/snaps/tears something. Problem is Devon Travis is at second, and Josh Donaldson is at 3rd. So where does he play? He cut down on the strikeouts in 2016, but rarely walks, and doesn’t bring much speed or power to the table. Looks like a contact hitter, who’s greatest value will be his batting average. Reminds me of Starlin Castro, more the player he is now, not the guy who broke through with the Cubs.
Max Pentecost, C | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A-
Coming off a solid season between low and high A ball, Pentecost is an oft-forgotten catching prospect with above average pop, and bat to ball skills. I far prefer him to the more defensive focused Reese McGuire, problem is Pentecost has dealt with shoulder injuries for two years, and spent his time in 2016 as a full-time DH. Much of Pentecoast’s potential fantasy value is tied to a return to catching. Monitor spring training reports to see if he moves back behind the dish.
Connor Greene, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
A very decisive picthing prospect, as there’s some that look at how hard he throws, the quality of the change, and his loose delivery, and see a top of the rotation arm. Others, like myself, look at the lack of an average third pitch, as the slider lacks consistency, and see a BORP. Only struckout 97 batters in 146 innings between AA and High-A, and according to scouts there’s some real work ethic questions as well. Not a prospect I’m interested in owning until some advancements in swing and miss stuff.
Jon Harris, RHP | Age: 23 |ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A-
A true floorbored starter, Harris is a back end of the rotation innings eater with above average control. He doesn’t have the upside of say a Connor Green, but ultimately may not end up being all that different five years from now. He works in the low to mid 90’s on his fastball, on occassion snapping off cheese that touches 97. He mixes in two above average secondary offerings in his curve and change, and a below average cutter. A true BORP type pitcher, unless he develops a better secondary offering.
Harold Ramirez, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
A hit tool first player who showed a lot less speed in 2016. He’s a line drive machine with the ability to spray the ball to all fields so I don’t doubt that he’ll hit for a high average, however with little power upside, and diminishing speed he’s a tough sell as a fantasy prospect.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Bo Bichette, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
You know I love these bloodlines guys, and I get two good ones to discuss today. Bo is the son of former Rockies slugger Dante Bichette, and brother of Yankees farmhand Dante Jr. He raked in his pro debut slashing .427/.451/.732 with 4 homers, and 3 steals in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. Missed a month with a weird case of appendicitis that didn’t require surgery. Seriously google it, his body eat his appendix or something. He has an unorthodox swing, but it generates hard contact, and power at a young age where that’s still coming along for most specs. Has elite bat speed, great hands, elite pitch recognition, and approach for a prep pick fresh out of the draft. One of the less touted but more talented prospects of last season’s draft.
J.B. Woodman, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A/A-
A second rounder in 2016 out of Mississippi, Woodman is a slugger with average speed, and contact concerns. He isn’t all that different from fellow 2016 2nd rounder Bryan Reynolds with scouts split on who they prefer. Personally for me it’s Woodman, if only because of the walks, which is ultimately the big difference between the two. Slashed a robust .297/.391/.445 with 4 homers and 10 steals in 63 games between two levels of A ball. You’ll see Woodman in my updated first year player draft rankings next Wednesday.
Justin Maese, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: A-/Rk
A young sinkerball pitcher with prototypical starter size, athleticism, and strength. The strikeouts aren’t there, so his fantasy upside is limited, but he’s a groundball machine, generating a 60% GB rate across two levels last season. The Blue Jays have a history of developing sinkerballers into solid major league starters, most recently Aaron Sanchez. He relies heavily on his fastball, and the hope is that a changed grip on his slider last season, might lead to some projection for the pitch. If Maese can develop an out pitch to match his sinker he could really take off.
Angel Perdomo, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A-
A big lefty who throws hard from a thin, but strong 6’6 frame. He’s got major K upside, easily identified by a glance at his 11.06 K/9 in 2016, but that comes with serious wildness. He has trouble repeating his mechanics, typical of a big guy, and can look like a different pitcher from start to start. He’ll get plenty of time to work it out as a starter though, but I look at Perdomo and see a reliever.
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