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.
Kelly (St. Cloud, MN):
In a recent BA podcast, John Manuel and Jim Callis described Toronto's
system as "not as good as we thought it would be". Can we assume you
would beg to differ with this assessment? Would you consider it to be
the best in the A.L. East?
Good afternoon everyone. It's that
wonderful time of year at BA. We've got Top 10s coming out just about
every other day and we'll have some draft/college recruiting content for
you next week. Without further ado let's get this chat rolling. Kelly's
question is a great place to start. I don't know that I'd necessarily
beg to differ on their opinion though I've had longer discussions with
my co-workers than what may have been on the podcast. We all like the
Blue Jays system very much. There's good depth in the organization with
good pitching and up the middle guys with upside. But I think it tails
off a bit after No. 9. Finding the 10th guy was a challenge. There were
several players in the mix, but they all had some kind of significant
concern. Stilson's role is likely as a reliever, albeit a very good one,
but he has health concerns too. Daniel Norris has excellent upside, but
he had an awful season that raised a lot of questions. A.J. Jimenez is
showing he can handle the bat on top of his supreme defensive skills,
but he had Tommy John surgery this season. Matt Smoral also has big
upside, but he made two appearances in the spring before being injured
and didn't see time on the mound until very late this year. I do think
it's at or very near the top of the AL East though.
Brad (Montreal): Where did Yan Gomes rank on your top 30, now that he's departed for Cleveland's system? Your thoughts on him overall?
The recently departed Yan Gomes was on my
Top 30 that I sent to Jim Callis. He's versatile, with the ability to
play catcher, third and first. He has bat speed and strength that lends
to power. It's a solid acquisition for the Indians.
Fred (Illinois): Do you see Syndergaard developing an effective change up? Do you see him as a starter without one?
Yes I do. I saw him pitch in 2011 and it
seemed he had a little bit of feel then. It's just a matter of finding
consistency for a young pitcher like him. Without it, it's harder to see
him as a starter, but I don't think it'll be an issue. He's a
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): What was the deciding
factor in ranking Jake Marisnick above Aaron Sanchez and Noah
Syndergaard? Industry consensus appears to favour the two right handers
over Marisnick, who struggled adjusting to Double-A.
This is a good question and one I
definitely pondered before turning the list in. I know Marisnick
struggled after his promotion, but there aren't a lot of guys that hit
right away in Double-A. His hit tool was a question in high school and I
think he's shown so far that he should be able to hit enough to be an
everyday player. In the end, I gave him the edge because he was just a
tick further along and still has that high ceiling. There's very little
space between those three and you could mix them up in any order and
have a very good defense.
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): How tough was it to
rank the "Lansing 3" of Nicolino, Sanchez and Syndergaard? It's been
discussed all year long, but how close was the final decision for you?
This seems like a good one to follow up
with...the Lansing 3 are all very good, but the toughest part of the
ranking was Syndergaard vs. Sanchez and that was probably the biggest
discussion Jim Callis and I had. I've loved Sanchez since I saw him at
the Tournament of Stars a few years back. If he can find average
command, he's right there with Syndergaard and maybe a tick ahead. If
his command develops better than that...look out.
Fran (Hawaii): What have scouts said about Osuna's command?
There's a lot of love out there for Osuna.
For a pitcher his age, he's very polished and has good command. When I
saw him he was really working on fastball command so I didn't see a lot
of offspeed stuff, but he located to both sides of the plate very well
and that's what I hear from evaluators as well. His conditioning and
body was a concern when he signed, but it looks like he's done a very
good job of keeping that in check so I'm sure those worries have been
tempered a good bit.
Gary (Queens, NY): Could D.J. Davis pose a serious threat to Hamilton's stolen base record in the foreseeable future?
In a word...no. D.J. Davis is very fast
and some scouts in the draft thought his speed would rival Hamilton's,
but Davis doesn't have the same quickness as him. Davis could be a very
good base stealer, but I don't think we're going to see someone approach
Hamilton's record for a long time.
Carly Rae Byron (New York, Maybe): Im suprised
to see Christian Lopes as the second base of the future. Does he have
the bat and glove to be a regular, or is this just a testament to how
little the Blue Jays have as up the middle infield prospects? Thanks!
I do think Lopes has the bat and glove to
be a solid player, but him in the lineup is more a testament to the lack
of options the Blue Jays have there. Yunel Escobar's troubles are well
documented and Mike Aviles was in that slot until he was traded
obviously. Although, take this into account...I heard Dwight Smith Jr.
was given some short looks at second base in instructional league. It
wasn't nearly a long enough trial to make a fair judgement on his
abilities there, but it's at least a thought in the organization that's
Tom (San Francisco, CA): Nathan, does your gut tell you Sean Nolin is a starter, or a bullpen guy? Thanks.
I think he profiles as a starter, but for
an organization like the Blue Jays he might crack the rotation with the
depth and options they have to fill one out. He has an average fastball,
plus changeup and solid curveball that shows some potential.
Jack (Geneva, IL): I'm dumb, Derek Norris not making the list is not much of a surprise. No Daniel Norris, eh?
Glad you caught yourself Jack...there's a
few questions about Norris. I honestly don't really know what to make of
his season and I got that feeling from several others too. The stuff is
there, despite his velocity being down quite a bit this season, and if
you look at the stats he's striking guys out a good clip and not walking
a lot of batters. He just got hit, hard and frequently. There were some
delivery concerns on him in high school and he seemed to get out of
sync this season which led to poor command and leaving the ball up in
the zone too much. I think he has the stuff and mindset to turn things
around, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned.
gerry (Toronto): How were the opinions on Chris Hawkins? At times he hit very well, other times he struggled.
He makes consistent contact, though it's
not always with authority. He tends to expand the zone and put balls in
play that he can't drive. He needs to be more selective.
Horatio (Toronto): Hi Nathan, thanks for the
chat. I am wondering which you heard anything of note about any of the
Jays late round 2012 draft picks, any interesting sleepers in that
Keep an eye on Ryan Borucki out of
Mundelein (Ill.) HS. Toronto took him in the 15th round and signed him
for $426,000. He has some injury history that will give you pause, but
when he's healthy he's a lefty with a lively 90-93 mph fastball and
developing offspeed stuff.
Andrew (Connecticut): Nathan, I remember
sitting next to you watching Asher Wojciechowski pitch in a game at Elon
a few years ago. He had impressive stuff with some good velocity but I
recall his velocity dropped off some in 2011. Any word on what his
stuff looked like in 2012 and what to project for him down the road? It
looks like he made some progress this season.
He was pretty filthy that night wasn't he?
Dominated my alma mater...and Elon's head coach Mike Kennedy gets a lot
of credit for the development of Wojo's slider thanks to their time
with Team USA. Pretty ironic. Since he wasn't in the organization I
didn't really get into Wojo with anybody, but from what I hear it seems
his stuff may have come back a little bit. He didn't dominate, but the
numbers look good. I still think he fits better in the bullpen. Let the
fastball/slider combo play up in short stints.
Feng (New York): I understand that Osuna is
labeled as really mature for his age, which seems to be why No.3 ceiling
is given to him in most place. However, his velocity has ticked up
this year and I've heard that he hits 96/97 and sits at 92-94. Isn't it
conceivable for his fastball to tick up even higher given his age? Why
is there such pessimism about his projection?
I don't think anyone is really shocked his
velo has increased since signing. He was so young and had some
projection so when he turned some baby fat to muscle it figured to bring
the fastball along. The thing about his remaining projection is that
there's just not a ton left. He's not your typical 6-foot-4+, lean
pitcher with room to fill out. He's listed at 6-2, 230 and there isn't
much room to fill out. But he's shown he's capable of staying in shape
so far so it's not as big of a concern as it was.
Dan (TO): What was the industry reaction to the
Blue Jays aggresive approach to the first draft under MLB's new rules?
Was there much shock that they basically punted the latter half of the
top 10 rounds?
I don't think there was much shock that
they did that just because they had to if they had a prayer of signing
those top guys. I've talked to a few people that see both sides of it.
They like the gamble on upside, but the best point I heard from a front
office person was that they're looking for big leaguers in each round at
the prices slotted. So they'd rather take a guy with maybe a lower
upside because he fits into the cost and they might have him as a safer
bet to contribute in the big leagues. The Jays' draft is really boom or
bust. There's a ton of upside in those top picks and it could go very,
very well for them. But at the same time, it could go really poorly.
Stroman is about as safe a bet as you can get. Davis has a high ceiling
and feel for hitting, but the track record of Mississippi high schoolers
isn't very good. Smoral has excellent upside, but he hasn't pitched
much this year so there's still a lot of projecting on him. Who knows if
Alford will ever see a baseball field again. Tyler Gonzales has
electric stuff, but scouts were already talking about him being a
reliever (albeit a setup man or closer) during the draft.
Jack (Toronto): How many of the Jays top 10 would make the MLB top 100 prospects list? 5 for sure and a few maybes?
We're all still a ways off from putting
our lists together, but the first four are in for sure for me. Then
Nicolino, Osuna and Stroman would be in consideration.
Dale Smith (Toronto): If Anthony Gose and Drew Hutchison were still eligible for the list, what would their ranking be?
Both would be in the Top 10. Gose would be
in that mix with Marisnick, Syndergaard and Sanchez. Hutchison I'd have
behind the Lansing 3, maybe behind Osuna and Stroman too though not for
Jerry (Toronto, ON): Travis d'Arnaud is widely
considered as perhaps the best catcher in the minors. Yet, you gave the
title of "Best Defensive Catcher" to A.J. Jimenez this year. What does
he possess that Travis doesn't?
I think you're running into some semantics
there. I think d'Arnaud is the best catching prospect in the minors in
that he's the best prospect that plays catcher. He's a good defender and
I don't see any major reasons why he won't stay there, but Jimenez is a
superior defender. He has better arm strength, is quicker, is a better
receiver. He's thrown out 42 percent of base stealers so far in his
career while d'Arnaud is usually hovers in that 25-30 percent range,
which is obviously good. If d'Arnaud can do that in the big leagues
while hitting what he's capable of then he's an all-star. But in the
very specific category of best defensive catcher, Jimenez is the guy.
And he received that vote overwhelmingly from Jays personnel too.
Greg (ohio): Any concerns about Justin Nicolino's size & future workload, durability? 6'3" 160 lbs is a very slight build.
I haven't heard any concerns over it, but
160 is the only slight part of that frame. He may weigh more than that
now. Sometimes those listed heights and weights don't get updated
quickly or even frequently. He has the height and projection to fill out
and add strength.
Warren (New London): Thanks for the chat. Can you please reassure me that Marcus Stroman isn't the new Jeremy Jeffress?
Don't know how much I can really convince
you simply through a chat, but he's not. Jeffress has gotten into
trouble for recreational things. Stroman's was performance enhancing,
but I don't think it really made a difference in his game and I like to
think it won't be an issue for him moving forward.
Tom (San Francisco, CA): Mike McDade seems to be the last man standing from the 2007 draft. Any chance he sees the big leagues next year?
I do think there's a chance, but I don't
think he's really going to be a factor for them unless a lot of guys get
hurt (which is obviously possible as evidenced by 2012). Encarnacion
and Cooper are ahead of him right now and then you factor in the
possibility that someone like d'Arnaud might force his way into a lineup
that would cause some shifting among positions.
Wes Iredale (Cincinnati, OH): Has Brett
Lawrie's projected ceiling dropped a little bit from what was seen
before the 2012 season started? Or was it just a matter of injuries
limiting his results last year? Thanks.
I don't think his ceiling has necessarily
dropped much. Injuries have bitten him some, but I also think he's still
in that adjustment period. Pitchers probably figured him out after his
debut and he's now at that point where he has to make his own
adjustments at the plate. I wouldn't be concerned.
Paul (Denver CO): Did Deck McGuire's stock fall in your eyes this past season? About how far down the list did he fall?
It certainly did. It took a little hit
even last year, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt in the rankings.
He's just not commanding his pitches like he needs to. When his command
is on, he's good, but it's been far too inconsistent for him to find
success. He's in the Top 30, but he took a sizeable hit. You'll have to
buy the book to see exactly where he landed!
Mike (Tampa, FL): What exactly did Stroman test
positive for, to those uninformed? Is this likely to delay the plan to
aggressively promote him to the bigs by a noticeable margin?
Methylhexaneamine. It obviously delays his
progress since he'll miss 50 games, but I still think he moves quickly
in a relief role and could be in the big leagues by the end of 2013. You
can see our short blog on his suspension here:
@ProspectD2J (Toronto): Hey Nathan, can you
give us an update on some of the young hitters from the 2011 draft,
notably Matt Dean, Jacob Anderson and Dwight Smith Jr.? What are the
odds that each of those players starts the 2013 season with Class-A
Man it was a tough year for those guys.
Dean and Smith were on the list I turned in with Anderson on the outside
looking in, but close enough that he could sneak back in before we
finalize things. While I have concerns about all of those guys, I'm
least concerned about Smith. He hardly swings and misses and the contact
he makes is always hard. I watched 2-3 games of him this summer and he
made loud contact every time, but it was right at guys. Of that group,
Lopes stands out the most. He had fallen out of favor after being
'famous' in high school, but put up good numbers this year, showed good
instincts and has good bat speed.
Ben (Leland Grove): Are you reasonably confident that Alford will choose baseball in the future? How close was he to the top 10?
I thought about him for that 10th spot,
but I just don't know how much he'll see the diamond in the future. I
hope he chooses baseball simply because he's a freak athlete with plus
speed and power. Just look at the photo on his high school's baseball
site (http://www.petalbaseball.com/). He's the one soaring over the dog
pile on the left. But he obviously loves football and might have a
future in that.
Frank (Chicago): Your input on the progress of Adonys Cardona? Is he a future frontline rotation guy to you?
Not a good sign repeating the GCL and having the numbers he did. Signs point to him being a reliever.
Dan (TO): Which of the prospects sent to
Houston in the JA Happ trade had the most upside, and was likely the
hardest for the Blue Jays to part with?
I really liked Kevin Comer. I don't think
the Jays are really sweating over any of those guys, but he'd be the one
I would've had the hardest time parting with. He's a good athlete with a
fastball that could be plus down the road and his curvebal showed a lot
of potential as well. Carlos Perez is a solid catcher with a feel for
the barrel, but he'll need to show he can hit above A-ball. I like Wojo
in some ways too. He'd slide in between Comer and Perez for me I think.
Ok folks that's gonna do it for me. Lots
of really good questions. Much more thoughtful (and civil) than some
Facebook posts I've seen the last 24 hours. Come back Friday as John
Manuel wraps up the AL East with the Yankees Top 10. Don't forget to
follow me on Twitter (@bahighschool) and look for a High School Top 100