Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Prospects

Toronto Blue Jays





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.

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Nathan Rode
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TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Zach Stewart, rhp
2. J.P. Arencibia, c
3. Chad Jenkins, rhp
4. David Cooper, 1b
5. Henderson Alvarez, rhp
6. Jake Marisnick, of
7. Josh Roenicke, rhp
8. Brad Mills, lhp
9. Justin Jackson, ss
10. Carlos Perez, c
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average David Cooper
Best Power Hitter J.P. Arencibia
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Brad Emaus
Fastest Baserunner Kenny Wilson
Best Athlete Jake Marisnick
Best Fastball Zach Stewart
Best Curveball Tim Collins
Best Slider Chad Jenkins
Best Changeup Henderson Alvarez
Best Control Henderson Alvarez
Best Defensive Catcher Brian Jeroloman
Best Defensive Infielder Justin Jackson
Best Infield Arm Kevin Ahrens
Best Defensive Outfielder Kenny Wilson
Best Outfield Arm Moises Sierra
PROJECTED 2013
LINEUP
Catcher J.P. Arencibia
First Base David Cooper
Second Base Aaron Hill
Third Base Kevin Ahrens
Shortstop Justin Jackson
Left Field Travis Snider
Center Field Vernon Wells
Right Field Jake Marisnick
Designated Hitter Adam Lind
No. 1 Starter Roy Halladay
No. 2 Starter Zach Stewart
No. 3 Starter Chad Jenkins
No. 4 Starter Henderson Alvarez
No. 5 Starter Ricky Romero
Closer Josh Roenicke
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Vernon Wells, of Blue Jays
2001 Vernon Wells, of Blue Jays
2002 Josh Phelps, c Giants
2003 Dustin McGowan, rhp Blue Jays
2004 Alex Rios, of White Sox
2005 Brandon League, rhp Blue Jays
2006 Dustin McGowan, rhp Blue Jays
2007 Adam Lind, of Blue Jays
2008 Travis Snider, of Blue Jays
2009 Travis Snider, of Blue Jays
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Miguel Negron, of White Sox
2001 Gabe Gross, of Rays
2002 Russ Adams, ss Padres
2003 Aaron Hill, ss Blue Jays
2004 David Purcey, lhp Blue Jays
2005 Ricky Romero, lhp Blue Jays
2006 Travis Snider, of Blue Jays
2007 Kevin Ahrens, 3b Blue Jays
2008 David Cooper, 1b Blue Jays
2009 Chad Jenkins, rhp Blue Jays
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Ricky Romero, 2005 $2,400,000
Felipe Lopez, 1998 $2,000,000
Gabe Gross, 2001 $1,865,000
Russ Adams, 2002 $1,785,000
Travis Snider, of $1,700,000
BLUE JAYS
LINKS
Blue Jays' Team Page
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Last Year's Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects
2009 Draft: Blue Jays (Basic Database)
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Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
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Toronto Blue Jays

While Blue Jays fans spent much of the season wondering when or where Roy Halladay would get traded, 2009 actually marked the end of another long run in Toronto.

J.P. Ricciardi took over as general manager after the 2001 season and talked about taking down the Red Sox and Yankees. But the best he could muster was an 87-75 record and second-place finish in 2006—the only time the Blue Jays have finished better than third since winning the World Series in 1992-93. Toronto sank back below .500 in 2009, finishing 75-87 for the second-worst record of Ricciardi's tenure.

Toronto has been unable to build around one of baseball's best and most durable pitchers during his peak years. Ricciardi certainly tried, but his administration didn't develop enough premium talent. His drafts leaned heavily on low-ceiling college players, and his Jays didn't take a high school player in the first round until 2006 (outfielder Travis Snider). They returned to the college route in the first round the last two years, with their 2009 effort torpedoed by a failure to sign three of their first four picks.

Ricciardi's regime did provide building blocks such as Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Ricky Romero, but it wasn't enough. He tried to fill holes with free agents, with some modest successes (A.J. Burnett, though he opted out of the last two seasons of his five-year, $55 million deal) and some expensive mistakes (B.J. Ryan, who was released last July with roughly $15 million remaining on a five-year, $47 million contract).

Ricciardi also overpaid to keep two of the organization's best development success stories in Toronto. He signed Vernon Wells to a seven-year, $126 million contract extension after the 2006 season, then locked up Alex Rios with a seven-year, $69.8 million deal in April 2008. Both players sank under the weight of those contracts, though the Jays were able to shed Rios' salary when the White Sox claimed him on waivers last summer.

Blue Jays interim president Paul Beeston fired Ricciardi on the last day of the season and tapped vice president of baseball operations Alex Anthopolous to replace him. Beeston later decided to drop the "interim" from his title and assume control of the franchise again. He was the Jays' first employee when the franchise was born in 1976.

Beeston and Anthopolous seem intent on relying on player development to get the Jays out of mediocrity. In addition to a huge shuffle in the baseball department, Anthopolous has nearly doubled the size of the team's scouting staff.

The Jays recognize that they need to sign and develop their own premium talent, particularly now that their corporate ownership (Rogers Communications) has become more focused on the bottom line in recent years. Toronto won 86 games in 2008 with a payroll of $98.3 million, and still finished nine games out of the playoffs while losing $15 million. Going forward, their payrolls will be in the $70 million range.

As teams like the Rays and Rockies have shown recently, it's still possible to win at those prices if you develop your own talent and get production out of players when they're young and cheap. That's Anthopolous' mission after Ricciardi failed at it.

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