2013 Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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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.

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Toronto Blue Jays

The Yankees and Red Sox long have dominated the American League East, while the Rays have bucked the financial odds and consistently contended for the last five seasons. With the Orioles' surprise run to the playoffs in 2012, the Blue Jays are the only team in the division that hasn't made the postseason in the last four years. Toronto hasn't visited the playoffs since 1993, when it won the second of consecutive World Series championships.

The Blue Jays planned on contending in 2012 but injuries piled up and contributed to a 9-26 run from late July to early September that destroyed their chances. Jose Bautista, Kyle Drabek, promising rookies David Cooper and Drew Hutchison and trade acquisitions J.A. Happ and Sergio Santos ended the season on the disabled list. Toronto finished 73-89 for its fifth straight fourth-place finish and worst record since 2004.

After spending his first two seasons on the job mostly trading veterans for prospects, GM Alex Anthopoulos tried to make moves to immediately bolster the big league club this time around. In the offseason, he sent righthander Nestor Molina to the White Sox for Santos. With the Jays still trying to contend in July, they parted with four prospects (righthanders Kevin Comer, Joe Musgrove and Asher Wojciechowski, plus catcher Carlos Perez) to get Happ, David Carpenter and Brandon Lyon from the Astros. Toronto also gave up on two outfielders, shipping Travis Snider to the Pirates for Brad Lincoln and Eric Thames to the Mariners for Steve Delabar.

The Blue Jays' most significant acquisitions may have come in the June draft. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement radically changing the draft, Toronto came out swinging with the most aggressive approach of any team. The Jays took high-upside, high-dollar players with their seven picks in the first three rounds and then extremely cheap college seniors in rounds four through 10.

The biggest bonus went to supplemental first-rounder Matt Smoral, a big lefthander who signed for $2 million. The Blue Jays also gave seven-figure bonuses to power righthander Marcus Stroman ($1.8 million), athletic outfielder D.J. Davis ($1.75 million) and power-hitting third baseman Mitch Nay ($1 million). They got the best athlete in the draft, outfielder Anthony Alford in the third round, and paid him $750,000 with no guarantee the Southern Mississippi quarterback will one day give up football.

Toronto also made a splash in the international market, signing Venezuelan shortstop Franklin Barreto for $1.45 million and Dominican shortstop for Richard Urena for $725,000. Barreto was the top prospect available in the 2012 summer crop. The Blue Jays landed another Venezuelan shortstop, Luis Castro, for $800,000 but voided the deal when he failed his physical.
.After the draft, Toronto promoted scouting director Andrew Tinnish to assistant GM. The Jays promoted professional crosschecker Brian Parker to replace Tinnish, who ran their last three drafts.

They made another significant personnel change in mid-October, trading manager John Farrell to the Red Sox for Mike Aviles. Boston showed interest in Farrell, their former pitching coach, a year earlier but those talks broke down when Toronto asked for Clay Buchholz in return. The relationship between Anthopoulos and Farrell reportedly chilled in 2012, and the manager was entering the final season of his original three-year contract.


1. Travis d'Arnaud, c Born: Feb 10, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Lakewood (Calif.) HS, 2007 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Tim Kissner (Phillies)
Travis d'ArnaudBackground: The Phillies made d'Arnaud the 37th overall pick and signed him for $837,500 in 2007, one year before the Pirates took his older brother Chase in the fourth round out of Pepperdine. While Chase made it to the majors first, debuting in 2011, Travis has a much brighter future. Had Philadelphia gone a different route, the Blue Jays would have chosen d'Arnaud with the 38th selection in 2007, but they managed to acquire him two years later. He came to Toronto in a package with Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor for Roy Halladay in December 2009. Slowed by back problems in his first year with Toronto, d'Arnaud broke out in 2011 by overcoming an April concussion to hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers at Double-A New Hampshire. After winning the Eastern League MVP award and helping the Fisher Cats to a championship, he joined Team USA for the World Cup in Panama but tore a ligament in his left thumb. D'Arnaud came out swinging again in 2012, batting .333/.380/.595 with 16 homers in 67 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. On track to get his first call to the majors, he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while trying to break up a double play in late June. At the time, he ranked third in the Pacific Coast League in home runs and seventh in OPS (.975). He didn't require surgery but did miss the rest of the season.

Scouting Report: D'Arnaud has the tools to become a big league all-star if he can stay healthy. He's a rare catcher with the potential to be an above-average hitter with plus power. He doesn't walk much but makes consistent hard contact, getting hits even when his timing is off or he gets off balance. He has the bat speed and strength to hit plenty of homers and lets his power come naturally, employing a short stroke and all-fields approach. Though he has played in extremely hitter-friendly home ballparks the last two years, his pop is legitimate, as 18 of his 37 homers have come on the road. D'Arnaud made good strides with his defense in 2011 by working with then-New Hampshire manager Sal Butera, who caught in the majors for nine seasons. Those improvements carried over to 2012, when d'Arnaud threw out a career-high 30 percent of basestealers. He has average to plus arm strength and has refined his footwork and throwing accuracy. He's a solid receiver who moves well behind the plate, and he's a good leader who works well with his pitching staffs. As is the case with most catchers, he's a below-average runner but isn't a liability on the bases.

The Future: The Blue Jays control J.P. Arencibia's rights through 2016 and have Jeff Mathis signed through 2015. Both are still under 30, so the Blue Jays are in no rush for an everyday catcher. That said, d'Arnaud is a better hitter than either of them, has more power than Mathis and plays better defense than Arencibia. D'Arnaud likely will return to Triple-A for a little more refinement at the beginning of 2013, but he's clearly Toronto's backstop of the future and arguably the best catching prospect in the minor leagues. He's on the Blue Jays' 40-man roster, and If he avoids another injury, he may be ready for his major league debut by midseason.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'07 Phillies (R) 141 18 34 3 0 4 20 4 23 4 2 .241 .278 .348
'08 Williamsport (SS) 175 21 54 13 1 4 25 18 29 1 2 .309 .371 .463
'08 Lakewood (LoA) 64 12 19 5 0 2 5 5 10 0 0 .297 .357 .469
'09 Lakewood (LoA) 482 71 123 38 1 13 71 41 75 8 4 .255 .319 .419
'10 Dunedin (HiA) 263 36 68 20 1 6 38 20 63 3 1 .259 .315 .411
'11 New Hampshire (AA) 424 72 132 33 1 21 78 33 100 4 2 .311 .371 .542
'12 Las Vegas (AAA) 279 45 93 21 2 16 52 19 59 1 1 .333 .380 .595
Minor League Totals 1828 275 523 133 6 66 289 140 359 21 12 .286 .343 .474

2. Jake Marisnick, of Born: Mar 30, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Poly HS, Riverside, Calif., 2009 (3rd round).  Signed by: Rick Ingalls
Jake MarisnickBackground: The Blue Jays failed to sign three of their top four picks in 2009, but Marisnick was one of their rare highlights from that draft. Signed for $1 million, he had a .320/.392/.496, 14-homer breakout season at low Class A Lansing in 2011. He found the going rougher in 2012, batting a combined .249/.321/.399 with eight homers while reaching Double-A.

Scouting Report: Marisnick has the potential to be a five-tool player, though questions linger about his bat. He has made adjustments to eliminate a hitch in his swing, but still has a big frame that leads to a long stroke with a lot of moving parts. He needs to do a better job of staying short to the ball, letting pitches travel deeper and avoiding chasing them out of the strike zone. It's hard to find fault with the rest of Marisnick's package. His strength and ability to backspin the ball give him plus power. His speed, center-field defense and arm strength all grade as above average. He has a knack for stealing bases, succeeding on 84 of 100 pro attempts. Even if he loses a step, he'll easily fit the profile for right field.

The Future: Marisnick will return to New Hampshire at age 22 to take another crack at solving Double-A pitching. He's on target to reach Toronto at some point in 2014.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Blue Jays (R) 122 17 35 12 0 3 14 13 18 14 1 .287 .373 .459
'10 Lansing (LoA) 127 16 28 8 2 1 12 9 37 9 2 .220 .298 .339
'11 Lansing (LoA) 462 68 148 27 6 14 77 43 91 37 8 .320 .392 .496
'12 Dunedin (HiA) 266 41 70 18 7 6 35 26 55 10 5 .263 .349 .451
'12 New Hampshire (AA) 223 25 52 11 3 2 15 11 45 14 4 .233 .286 .336
Minor League Totals 1200 167 333 76 18 26 153 102 246 84 20 .278 .351 .436

3. Noah Syndergaard, rhp Born: Aug 29, 1992 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Legacy HS, Mansfield, Texas, 2010 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Steve Miller
Noah SyndergaardBackground: The Blue Jays promoted area scout Steve Miller to crosschecker after he diligently stayed with Syndergaard in 2010. He went from throwing 87-90 mph at the start of the spring to 92-94 mph just before the draft, and Miller persuaded Toronto to draft Syndergaard 38th overall. Signed for a below-slot $600,000, he has posted a 2.35 ERA and averaged 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro.

Scouting Report: Syndergaard's big frame gives him an imposing presence on the mound, and his fastball only adds to it. His heater ranges from 92-98 mph with excellent downward angle and armside run. His curveball has gained velocity since he signed and now sits in the mid-70s with downward action. It's inconsistent and eventually may develop into a slider, but it gets outs and features good spin. He maintains his arm speed well on his mid-80s changeup. He has very good body control for his size, which leads to quality command and control.

The Future: Syndergaard and fellow 2010 sandwich pick Aaron Sanchez have risen through the minors together and will team again in 2013 at high Class A Dunedin. Both have the ceiling of a frontline starter, with Syndergaard not quite matching Sanchez in stuff but outshining him in terms of polish.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Blue Jays (R) 0 1 2.70 5 5 0 13 11 7 4 0 4 6 .216
'11 Bluefield (R) 4 0 1.41 7 5 0 32 23 5 5 1 11 37 .193
'11 Vancouver (SS) 1 2 2.00 4 4 0 18 15 5 4 0 5 22 .217
'11 Lansing (LoA) 0 0 3.00 2 2 0 9 8 4 3 0 2 9 .229
'12 Lansing (LoA) 8 5 2.60 27 19 1 104 81 41 30 3 31 122 .207
Minor League Totals 13 8 2.35 45 35 1 176 138 138 46 4 53 196 .207

4. Aaron Sanchez, rhp Born: Jul 1, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Barstow (Calif.) HS, 2010 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Blake Crosby
Aaron SanchezBackground: With his lanky frame and long limbs, Sanchez drew comparisons to Orel Hershiser on the high school showcase circuit in 2009. The Blue Jays were excited to get him with the 34th overall pick the following June and signed him for a below-slot $775,000. Toronto has handled its young arms with caution, limiting him to just 170 innings in three pro seasons.

Scouting Report: Sanchez has the best stuff in the system and some of the best in the entire minors. His quick arm generates fastballs that range from 94-98 mph with little effort. His curveball has tight spin and gives him a second plus pitch, and even his changeup features effective late movement. There's still projection remaining in his body as well. The knock against Sanchez is his command. He has averaged 5.0 walks per nine innings as a pro, and he has gotten many of his strikeouts when lower-level hitters have chased pitches out of the zone.

The Future: Even if he doesn't add any strength, Sanchez has enough stuff to succeed at higher levels. More advanced hitters will force him to throw more strikes, but he won't need pinpoint command to pitch in the front half of a big league rotation. He'll advance to high Class A in 2013.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Blue Jays (R) 0 2 1.42 8 8 0 19 19 10 3 1 12 28 .250
'10 Auburn (SS) 0 1 4.50 2 2 0 6 4 5 3 0 5 9 .182
'11 Bluefield (R) 3 2 5.48 11 6 1 43 45 27 26 4 18 43 .260
'11 Vancouver (SS) 0 1 4.63 3 3 0 12 8 6 6 0 8 13 .186
'12 Lansing (LoA) 8 5 2.49 25 18 0 90 64 33 25 3 51 97 .191
Minor League Totals 11 11 3.34 49 37 1 170 140 140 63 8 94 190 .215

5. Justin Nicolino, lhp Born: Nov 22, 1991 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 160
Drafted: University HS, Orlando, 2010 (2nd round).  Signed by: Carlos Rodriguez
Justin NicolinoBackground: Armed with extra picks in 2010, the Blue Jays rolled the dice on Nicolino, considered a tough sign away from a Virginia commitment. Since signing for an above-slot $615,000 in the second round, he has dominated pro hitters. Pitching on the Lansing staff with Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez in 2012, Nicolino led the Midwest League in ERA (2.46) and WHIP (1.07).

Scouting Report: His stuff can't match that of Syndergaard and Sanchez, but Nicolino's polish puts him in nearly the same class. He spots a fastball that sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 to both sides of the plate, unafraid to come inside on hitters. His best pitch is a plus changeup that he sells with deceptive arm speed. He gets under his changeup at times but had the aptitude to make corrections quickly. He needs to stay on top of his curveball too, but it's a solid third pitch with good shape. Though there's some crossfire to his delivery, that doesn't prevent him from throwing all three pitches for strikes.

The Future: Nicolino profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter with an ultimate ceiling of a No. 2. He'll reunite with Syndergaard and Sanchez in high Class A Dunedin to open next season. Nicolino's savvy could make him the first of that trio to eventually reach the major leagues.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Vancouver (SS) 5 1 1.03 12 9 0 52 28 9 6 0 11 64 .151
'11 Lansing (LoA) 1 1 3.12 3 3 0 9 11 3 3 0 2 9 .297
'12 Lansing (LoA) 10 4 2.46 28 22 0 124 112 41 34 6 21 119 .231
Minor League Totals 16 6 2.09 43 34 0 185 151 151 43 6 34 192 .214

6. Roberto Osuna, rhp Born: Feb 7, 1995 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 230
Signed: Mexico '11 Signed by: Marco Paddy
Roberto OsunaBackground: The nephew of Antonio Osuna, a major league reliever for 11 seasons, Roberto attracted attention by popping 94 mph with his fastball as a 15-year-old in 2010. He made his pro debut at age 16 with the Mexico City Red Devils, who sold his rights to Toronto in August 2011 for $1.5 million. Osuna turned in a strong U.S. debut as a 17-year-old, holding his own against much older hitters in the short-season Northwest League.

Scouting Report: Osuna doesn't have the same projection as fellow Mexican righthander Luis Heredia, whom the Pirates signed in 2010 for $2.6 million, but scouts believe their stuff is similar. Osuna has a plus fastball that ranges from 91-96 mph, not to mention the ability to add and subtract from it as needed. His changeup is a plus pitch, but he's still seeking a consistent grip and release point for his slurvy slider. There was concern about Osuna's thick frame, but he has done a good job of keeping his conditioning in check. He has a clean delivery and enough athleticism to maintain at least average command.

The Future: With his moxie and pitchability, Osuna may advanced more quickly than expected. The Blue Jays have no reason to rush the potential No. 3 starter, however, and he'll spend 2013 in low Class A.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Mexico City (AAA) 0 1 5.49 13 2 0 20 25 15 12 3 11 12 .298
'12 Bluefield (R) 1 0 1.50 7 4 0 24 18 5 4 1 6 24 .200
'12 Vancouver (SS) 1 0 3.20 5 5 0 20 14 9 7 1 9 25 .192
Minor League Totals 2 1 3.23 25 11 0 64 57 57 23 5 26 61 .229

7. Marcus Stroman, rhp Born: May 1, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-9 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Duke, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: John Hendricks
Marcus StromanBackground: After starring in college, with Team USA and in the Cape Cod League during the summer, Stroman became Duke's first-ever first-round pick. The Blue Jays drafted him 22nd overall in June with the pick they received for failing to sign 2011 first-rounder Tyler Beede. Stroman signed for $1.8 million and quickly reached Double-A before testing positive for a stimulant and drawing a 50-game suspension.

Scouting Report: Don't be fooled by Stroman's diminutive frame. He has quick-twitch athleticism and the ball explodes out of his hand. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph when he starts and can reach 98 when he relieves. He has two variations of a breaking ball—a mid-80s slider with big break and a harder, shorter cutter at 88-90 mph. He also mixes in a good changeup. He maintains his velocity well into starts but will need better command to remain a starter.

The Future: The Blue Jays aren't ruling out developing Stroman as a starter despite his size. He relieved in his pro debut to keep his workload light, and if he stays in that role he could surface in Toronto before the end of 2013. He has the upside of a frontline starter or a closer. When his suspension ends in May, he'll probably return to Double-A.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Vancouver (SS) 1 0 3.18 7 0 0 11 8 5 4 0 3 15 .190
'12 New Hampshire (AA) 2 0 3.38 8 0 0 8 8 3 3 1 6 8 .250
Minor League Totals 3 0 3.32 15 0 0 19 16 16 7 1 9 23 .219

8. Adeiny Hechavarria, ss Born: Apr 15, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180
Signed: Cuba '10 Signed by: Marco Paddy
Adeiny HechavarriaBackground: Hechavarria defected from the Cuban junior national team in July 2009. After signing nine months later for a $10 million big league contract that included a Blue Jays-record $4 million bonus, he didn't produce much at the plate until reaching hitter-friendly Las Vegas at the end of his second pro season. He continued to hit there in 2013, earning his big league callup when Brett Lawrie went on the disabled list in August.

Scouting Report: Hechavarria handled himself fine filling in for Lawrie at third base, but he's a shortstop all the way. He has plus range, hands and arm strength, though he's prone to throwing errors because he tends to flip the ball to first base. He's also an above-average runner though not a prolific basestealer. Scouts still aren't sold on his offensive ability, however. He has a simple swing and some bat speed but is still learning how to put together professional at-bats. While he's strong and has some gap power, he doesn't project as a home run threat.

The Future: His defense alone will allow Hechavarria to carve out a big league career. If his offense is simply adequate, he'll secure an everyday job. With Yunel Escobar wearing out his welcome in Toronto, Hechevarria could open 2013 as the Blue Jays' starting shortstop.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Dunedin (HiA) 161 21 31 7 3 1 7 5 25 7 0 .193 .217 .292
'10 New Hampshire (AA) 253 36 69 11 1 3 34 12 40 6 3 .273 .305 .360
'11 New Hampshire (AA) 464 58 109 22 6 6 46 25 78 19 13 .235 .275 .347
'11 Las Vegas (AAA) 108 16 42 6 2 2 11 8 21 1 2 .389 .431 .537
'12 Las Vegas (AAA) 443 78 138 20 6 6 63 38 86 8 2 .312 .363 .424
'12 Toronto (MAJ) 126 10 32 8 0 2 15 4 32 0 0 .254 .280 .365
Major League Totals 126 10 32 8 0 2 15 4 32 0 0 .254 .280 .365
Minor League Totals 1429 209 389 66 18 18 161 88 250 41 20 .272 .314 .381

9. D.J. Davis, of Born: Jul 25, 1994 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss., 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Brian Johnston
D.J. DavisBackground: With their first of five picks before the second round of the 2012 draft, the Blue Jays selected Davis 17th overall. He signed quickly for $1.75 million. The track record of Mississippi high school prospects is downright poor, but Davis is more athletic and polished than most of them.

Scouting Report: Some scouts believe his pure speed rivals that of fellow Mississippi burner Billy Hamilton, who destroyed the minor league stolen base record in 2012. Davis repeatedly gets from the right side of the plate to first base in less than four seconds, creates havoc on the basepaths and has excellent range in center field. He can use his quickness to get on base too, though he's more than a slap hitter. He has a short, whippy swing and keeps the bat in the hitting zone for a long time. He has strong hands and can pull the ball with authority, giving him the potential for double-digit home run totals. His weakest tool is his arm, which is fringy but certainly playable.

The Future: Davis is advanced enough at the plate to possibly handle an assignment to low Class A at the start of 2013. More likely, he'll hang back in extended spring training before returning to Vancouver in June.

 
Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'12 Blue Jays (R) 163 30 38 7 2 4 12 18 54 18 7 .233 .339 .374
'12 Bluefield (R) 47 9 16 3 1 1 6 4 10 6 2 .340 .415 .511
'12 Vancouver (SS) 18 3 3 0 0 0 0 5 6 1 1 .167 .348 .167
Minor League Totals 228 42 57 10 3 5 18 27 70 25 10 .250 .355 .386

10. John Stilson, rhp Born: Jul 28, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Texas A&M, 2011 (3rd round).  Signed by: C.J. Ebarb
John StilsonBackground: Stilson led NCAA Division I with a 0.80 ERA in 2010 and was pitching himself into the first round of the 2011 draft before hurting his shoulder that May. The injury was initially diagnosed as a torn labrum that needed surgery, but subsequent exams revealed that rest and rehab might suffice. The Blue Jays gambled a third-round pick and $500,000 on Stilson, who stayed healthy and reached Double-A in his 2012 pro debut.

Scouting Report: Stilson has two plus pitches in a fastball that usually ranges from 93-96 mph and a wipeout changeup with tremendous sink. He also has a hard breaking ball that he can manipulate to make it either a curveball or a slider. He throws with a lot of effort and across his body, which adds deception. His delivery also puts stress on his shoulder and hampers his command, so he probably fits best in the bullpen. He has the stuff and competitive demeanor to be a set-up man or closer.

The Future: Toronto shifted Stilson to the bullpen in August to limit his innings in his first pro season. Staying there might be the best way to keep him healthy and could get him to the big leagues in 2013. He got knocked around at New Hampshire, so he may return there to start the season.

 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Dunedin (HiA) 3 0 2.82 13 13 0 54 56 22 17 2 19 47 .256
'12 New Hampshire (AA) 2 4 5.04 17 9 1 50 54 33 28 6 23 44 .265
Minor League Totals 5 4 3.89 30 22 1 104 110 110 45 8 42 91 .261