Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Matt Eddy

Toronto Blue Jays: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

Moderator: Thanks for stopping by. Let's get started with the Blue Jays questions.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
Justin Jackson = Ian Desmond Give me 2 good reasons why not
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Interesting comparison. Both are strong defensive players, but Jackson already has demonstrated that he can work a count. The strikeouts a concern, sure, but Desmond didn't collect his 62nd walk — Jackson's total this season — walk until his third season.

Matt Eddy: And Jackson's .368 SLG actually was impressive in the context of a 19-year-old shortstop in the Midwest League. Desmond's career mark, .373, isn't much better.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Tim Collins - prospect or suspect?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: For now, Collins is classified as a prospect, as he should be for leading all minor league relievers in opponent average as an 18-year-old. Most players his age and with his performance (at Low A) would get the benefit of the doubt, but 1) Collin stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 155 pounds, and 2) he went undrafted out of a Worcester high school.

Matt Eddy: Collins could run into trouble if advanced batters begin laying off his curveball and sit on his 88-90 mph fastball, which he likes to throw up in the z0ne.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Has Eric Eiland's stock fallen in your eyes, and is he still in the Top 30? What is your evaluation of his tools at this point?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Eiland, the Jays' second-round pick in 2007, is off to a 3-for-41 start in Hawaii Winter Baseball, but in his Midwest League stint he showed impressive plate discipline, speed and defense. Of course, the hit tool is most important, so there's plenty of room to debate Eiland's prospects status. But to answer your question, yes, he did retain a spot in the top 30 — the top 20, in fact.

Matt Eddy: Keep in mind that it took the Cardinals' Daryl Jones a few seasons to get his bat on track. Like Eiland, Jones was a Division I football recruit out of a Texas high school who happened to be a raw baseball player.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Did Adam Amar and Scott Campbell get consideration for the list?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Scott Campbell absolutely did. In fact, it came down to him vs. Brad Emaus for the last spot in the Top 10. Both players have a strong case, and normally I'd give the tie to the lefthanded batter (Campbell), but in this case, since neither is more than average defensively at second base, I liked Emaus' power potential a bit more if he has to shift to third base.

Matt Eddy: And though we weren't armed with the knowledge at the time, Emaus is tearing the cover off the ball in HWB: .338/.457/.500 with 7 extra-base hits in 74 at-bats, with 16 walks and 6 strikeouts.

 Q:  Nora from Toronto asks:
Did Tolisano fall far since last year in your opinion?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Second baseman John Tolisano, a second-rounder in 2007, did fall, but not too far. After leading the GCL in homers in his debut, he scuffled through a trying season in the Midwest League (sound familiar?), where his season spiraled out of control in July and August, when he batted .173 and .151.

Matt Eddy: People still liked the switch-hitting Tolisano's potential to hit and hit for average power. The emergence of second basemen Scott Campbell and Brad Emaus, though, has made it imperative that Tolisano get his bat back on track in 2009.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Will Balbino Fuenmayor stick at third base? I heard talk that he would be moved to first.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: In all likelihood, yes, Fuenmayor will need to shift to either first base or left field. Even at age 18, he's a hefty 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and his lateral movement already is poor.

 Q:  Carlos M. from MIA asks:
Love the chats man, keep it up. What are the Jays' saying about catcher Antonio Jimenez? I saw him in instructs and he looked real good.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: We've got a run of questions about Jimenez, Toronto's ninth-round pick from Puerto Rico, so here goes . . . No, he doesn't have the ceiling of J.P. Arencibia, but he could develop into a Brian Jeroloman type of catcher, a solid defender with an average-to-plus arm. Jimenez is far away offensively, and it probably will take his bat a few years to catch up with his glove.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Any DSL Blue Jays to keep an eye on?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: If you're looking for a DSL sleeper, catcher Carlos Perez is your man. Signed in January, the 17-year-old batted an impressive .306/.459/.378 in his first taste of pro ball. He clearly has a feel for hitting and a feel for the strike zone and he receives high marks for his makeup. Perez has a chance to be an above-average receiver with an average arm. He'll be one to watch in his stateside debut, which probably will happen next year.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
A former top thirty prospect guy, hugh pitcher Tracy Thorpe, was pretty effective last year in the minors. Is this the year he finally makes it to the bigs?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: The Mariners claimed Thorpe on waivers in May, and though he's still on Seattle's 40-man, he has yet to play in the big leagues.

 Q:  Keith from Fort Dix NJ asks:
I have two questions about Brad Emaus... What is his ceiling and I'm in a dynasty league, would you drop Mark Rogers for Brad Emaus? BTW.. Love Baseball America!!! Thanks
 A: 

Matt Eddy: The absolute ceiling for Emaus is a starting second baseman capable of starting on most teams. Now, he may not reach that because he may not have the defensive chops to play second regularly. But there's no shame in being a third baseman. Emaus can hit.

Matt Eddy: And what are you waiting for? Drop Rogers for Emaus right away.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
I know it is speculation since he did not play, but where does Eric Thames rate as far as Blue Jays prospects, and what does he bring to the table when healthy?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Thames potentially could be a starting left fielder on a good team if he can carry over to pro ball the gains he made as a junior at Pepperdine. Though he doesn't offer much in the way of speed or defense, he has big-time power and has shown a feel for hitting at times.

 Q:  Travis from Austin, TX asks:
What happened to Ryan Patterson, he really struggled in AA this year? Thanks.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Patterson did not make this year's list. Part of it is improved organizational depth, but a bigger part is that Patterson has been done in by his approach. He has strong hand-eye coordination and likes to swing the bat, and Double-A righthanders took full advantage, holding him to a .211/.251/.335 line in 313 at-bats as he frequently got himself out.

Matt Eddy: The flip side is that he fared quite well versus lefthanders and he can handle all three outfield spots. He turns 26 next season, so 2009 will be a make or break year.

 Q:  Kyle from Middletown asks:
If Jackson's bat doesn't come around, could his glove still make him a big league regular? Do you think he winds up being closer to the next Pokey Reese or Barry Larkin?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Yes, I get the feeling that Jackson will carve out a big league role, whether or not his bat develops. He'll wind up well south of Larkin but probably a better offensive player than Reese.

 Q:  Gerry from Toronto asks:
Are you concerned about the level of strikeouts for Jackson and Ahrens?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Absolutely. But because both players also are drawing walks, it means they're at least learning to work the count and sharpening their pitch recognition skills.

 Q:  Gerry from Toronto asks:
Robert Ray did not make the top 30 last season. After a very good year in 2008 I assume he made the top 30 this year. Do you see him as a successful major leaguer?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Ray, a seventh-round pick from Texas A&M in 2005, returned from two injury-plagued seasons to re-establish himself as a prospect. Assuming he's added to the 40-man roster this winter, he should get a look or two in the big leagues in 2009. He projects to be a solid back-end starter or middle reliever.

 Q:  Rick from Amherst asks:
What type of numbers do you expect Snider to put up next year?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Don't expect a .300 average right out of the gate, and especially not at age 21. On the other hand, 20-25 home runs are a possibility.

 Q:  Ian from Georgetown PA asks:
Your evaluation of Moises Sierra's arm and bat prowess? Top 30 material?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Sierra was a late omission from the Top 30, but it wasn't for a lack of raw ability. He has a terrific arm — at least a 70 — and a compact and strong frame with power to all fields. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much of a plan at the plate right now.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
I've heard that David Cooper has an above-average arm; what holds him back defensively? His footwork? His hands?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Amateur scouts seemed to think it was a matter of motivation. Regardless, Cooper needs more reps at first base to smooth out his footwork and hone his reactions. And, yes, he does have a good arm.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
I was surprised that Markus Brisker demonstrated an ability to hit for average. Does he have a better approach than Kenny Wilson at this point? I thought Brisker was relatively new to baseball as a full-time pursuit.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: It was a pleasant surprise. Brisker did not play basketball during his senior season of high school so that he would be ready for the start of baseball season. He's the most athletically-gifted of Toronto's '08 high school draftees, and if he doesn't actually have a better approach than Wilson (second round) then he's at least more adept at putting the ball in play.

 Q:  Tim from Proctorville,Ohio asks:
Marc Rzepczynski,provided he stays healthy, future back of the rotation starter, lefty specialist or middle reliever?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: He projects to have a three-pitch repertoire that should serve him either as a starter or middle reliever.

 Q:  META from Atlanta asks:
How good can David Purcey be? He made the top ten last year, and then blew away AAA the whole year. Where would he rank on this list?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Pitching at full strength after offseason surgery, Purcey learned to command his fastball and curveball enough to post the best ERA among Triple-A hurlers. Had he spent more time at Syracuse and still qualified for this list he would have ranked somewhere between No. 5 David Cooper and No. 8 Ricky Romero, probably at No. 6.

 Q:  Sean from London England asks:
Where do you rank JP Arencibia among catching prospects and what probability do you see for him sticking at the position. Could you also provide an ETA given the team's lack of depth at the position? Thanks.
 A: 

Matt Eddy: For most, Arencibia probably ranks among the top five catchers in the minors, and certainly behind Wieters, but aside from that it depends on your take on Carlos Santana, Jesus Montero, Buster Posey, Jason Castro and Kyle Skipworth.

Matt Eddy: Arencibia is a stone-cold lock to stick at catcher — he's a plus receiver, thrower and leader — and he should be up by the end of the 2009 season.

 Q:  Jim from RI asks:
Who would you say are the two biggest sleepers in the Jays' system (hitter/pitcher)?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: As for position players, go with right fielder Moises Sierra (arm, power) or left fielder Eric Thames (hit, power). For a pitcher, how about righthander Dustin Antolin (11th round, Hawaii high school), who pounds the zone with very good low-90s sinker.

 Q:  nelson from nova scotia asks:
i'm generally surprised by the lack of hype around brett cecil as a guy that misses bats and gets ground balls. how great are the concerns about his stamina? has he been pulled from games because the jays have been ulta conservative about his pitch/inning counts or because his stuff lost a tick?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: I hear you. Cecil either will be a quality No. 3 starer or a dominant reliever. Look for his strict pitch count to relax in 2009, when he'll be two years out from relieving in college.

Moderator: Thanks for the questions. Be sure to check out our Prospect Handbook for the full Top 30 ranking, complete with scouting reports. Stay tuned next week as we begin our AL Central Top 10s next week on BaseballAmerica.com.