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Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects


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The Blue Jays’ 2013 season was as disappointing as the prior offseason was exciting.

The Jays considered the winter following a moribund 73-89 season in 2012 a transformative period for the organization, which had seemingly been working with a more long-term time horizon.

For three years, general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his crew worked to purge onerous long-term contracts (such as Vernon Wells and Alex Rios), acquire cost-controlled position players with impact potential (Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus) and spent heavily to acquire amateur talent, both domestic and international.

TOP 10 PROSPECTS
1. Aaron Sanchez, rhp
2. Marcus Stroman, rhp
3. D.J. Davis, of
4. Mitch Nay, 3b
5. Franklin Barreto, ss
6. Daniel Norris, lhp
7. Roberto Osuna, rhp
8. Alberto Tirado, rhp
9. Dawel Lugo, ss
10. Sean Nolin, lhp
BEST TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Kevin Pillar
Best Power Hitter Rowdy Tellez
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Mitch Nay
Fastest Baserunner D.J. Davis
Best Athlete D.J. Davis
Best Fastball Aaron Sanchez
Best Curveball Aaron Sanchez
Best Slider Marcus Stroman
Best Changeup Sean Nolin
Best Control Roberto Osuna
Best Defensive Catcher A.J. Jimenez
Best Defensive Infielder Jonathan Berti
Best Infield Arm Dawel Lugo
Best Defensive Outfielder Kenny Wilson
Best Outfield Arm Jesus Gonzalez
TOP 15 PLAYERS 25 AND UNDER
No Player, Pos (Age) Peak Level
1. Aaron Sanchez, rhp (21) High Class A
2. Marcus Stroman, rhp (22) Double-A
3. Brett Lawrie, 3b (24) Majors
4. Drew Hutchison, rhp (23) Triple-A
5. D.J. Davis, of (19) Rookie
6. Mitch Nay, 3b (20) Rookie
7. Franklin Barreto, ss (17) Rookie
8. Anthony Gose, of (23) Majors
9. Daniel Norris, lhp (20) High Class A
10. Roberto Osuna, rhp (19) Low Class A
11. Alberto Tirado, rhp (19) Rookie
12. Dawel Lugo, ss (19) Short-season
13. Sean Nolin, lhp (24) Majors
14. Chase DeJong, rhp (20) Rookie
15. Jairo Labourt, lhp (20) Rookie
TOP PROSPECTS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 Alex Rios, of Rangers
2005 Brandon League, rhp Dodgers
2006 Dustin McGowan, rhp Blue Jays
2007 Adam Lind, of Blue Jays
2008 Travis Snider, of Pirates
2009 Travis Snider, of Pirates
2010 Zach Stewart, rhp White Sox
2011 Kyle Drabek, rhp Blue Jays
2012 Travis d’Arnaud, c Mets
2013 Aaron Sanchez, rhp Blue Jays
TOP DRAFT PICKS OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos. 2013 Org.
2004 David Purcey, lhp White Sox
2005 Ricky Romero, lhp Blue Jays
2006 Travis Snider, of Pirates
2007 Kevin Ahrens, 3b Blue Jays
2008 David Cooper, 1b Indians
2009 Chad Jenkins, rhp Blue Jays
2010 Deck McGuire, rhp Blue Jays
2011 *Tyler Beede, rhp Vanderbilt
2012 D.J. Davis, of Blue Jays
2013 *Phil Bickford, rhp Cal State Fullerton
*Did not sign
LARGEST BONUSES IN CLUB HISTORY
Adeiny Hechavarria, 2010 $4,000,000
Adonys Cardona, 2010 $2,800,000
Ricky Romero, 2005 $2,400,000
Felipe Lopez, 1998 $2,000,000
Deck McGuire, 2010 $2,000,000
Daniel Norris, 2011 $2,000,000
Matt Smoral, 2012 $2,000,000
Blue Jays Team Page
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Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects

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Toronto invested its resources toward building internal assets. Then Toronto, with one of the game’s best farm systems, traded from considerable depth to acquire a cadre of veteran talent, led by 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey (acquired from the Mets) and shortstop Jose Reyes (acquired from the Marlins). Those trades, which also added Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, increased payroll by 42 percent.

But the Blue Jays would never take flight in 2013. Seemingly everything that could go wrong did.

After losing Reyes to an ankle injury, the team finished April seven games under .500. The Jays only had one winning month on the year, June, when they climbed up to .500 on the strength of an 11-game winning streak—only to lose 19 of their next 26. Toronto, outscored by 44 runs on the season, ultimately finished in last place in the American League East, with one more win (74) than in 2012.

Although Toronto employed a league-average offensive attack, an improvement over the past two seasons of below-average production, the pitching was a disaster. The problems began with the rotation, marred by injuries (Johnson and Brandon Morrow) and ineffectiveness. The rotation had the second-highest ERA in the AL (4.81), 16 percent higher than league average, and threw the second-fewest innings (899). In their search for reliable starters, the Blue Jays used 13 pitchers in their rotation, the second-highest figure in all of baseball. Toronto’s rotation compiled below-average strikeout, walk and groundball rates. Buoyed by frequent waiver claims, Toronto used the most pitchers (31) in the majors for the third year in a row.

The farm system still has high-ceiling arms, but after the wave of trades the talent is concentrated at the lower levels of the organization. The trades left the upper minors short on prospects and long in the tooth. The pitching staffs for Triple-A Buffalo, high Class A Dunedin and short-season Vancouver were the oldest in their leagues.

A single staff, Rookie-level Bluefield, was young for its level, and four pitchers from that club are among the organization’s Top 30 Prospects, with three (Alberto Tirado, Chase DeJong and Jairo Labourt) in the top 15. The Jays are arguably as deep and as talented as any organization at the lower levels, with a strong contingent of Latin American pitchers and infielders and early-round draft picks from 2012 and 2013. That’s even after failing to sign their first-round pick, California high school righthander Phil Bickford—the second time in three years Toronto has not signed its first-rounder.

The current regime continues to invest in building pitching depth. In the past four drafts, Toronto has used 74 percent of its top-five-round picks on arms, versus a league-wide average of 49.7 percent. Toronto will have two-first round picks, Nos. 9 and 11, in the 2014 draft after failing to sign Bickford.