Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Prospects

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects 
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Matt Eddy
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1. Travis Snider, of
2. Brett Cecil, lhp
3. Kevin Ahrens, 3b/ss
4. J.P. Arencibia, c
5. Ricky Romero, lhp
6. Justin Jackson, ss
7. John Tolisano, 2b
8. Curtis Thipgen, c/1b
9. David Purcey, lhp
10. Ryan Patterson, of
Best Hitter for Average Travis Snider
Best Power Hitter Travis Snider
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Brian Jeroloman
Fastest Baserunner Eric Eiland
Best Athlete Eric Eiland
Best Fastball David Purcey
Best Curveball Ricky Romero
Best Slider Brett Cecil
Best Changeup Ricky Romero
Best Control Josh Banks
Best Defensive Catcher Brian Jeroloman
Best Defensive Infielder Luis Sanchez
Best Infield Arm Sergio Santos
Best Defensive Outfielder Eric Eiland
Best Outfield Arm Moises Sierra
Catcher J.P. Arencibia
First Base Adam Lind
Second Base Aaron Hill
Third Base Kevin Ahrens
Shortstop Justin Jackson
Left Field John Tolisano
Center Field Vernon Wells
Right Field Alex Rios
Designated Hitter Travis Snider
No. 1 Starter Roy Halladay
No. 2 Starter A.J. Burnett
No. 3 Starter Dustin McGowan
No. 4 Starter Brett Cecil
No. 5 Starter Shaun Marcum
Closer Jeremy Accardo
Year Player, Position 2007
1998 Roy Halladay, rhp Blue Jays
1999 Roy Halladay, rhp Blue Jays
2000 Vernon Wells, of Blue Jays
2001 Vernon Wells, of Blue Jays
2002 Josh Phelps, c Pirates
2003 Dustin McGowan, rhp Blue Jays
2004 Alex Rios, of Blue Jays
2005 Brandon League, rhp Blue Jays
2006 Dustin McGowan, rhp Blue Jays
2007 Adam Lind, of Blue Jays
1998 Felipe Lopez, ss Nationals
1999 Alex Rios, of Blue Jays
2000 Miguel Negron, of Mets
2001 Gabe Gross, of Brewers
2002 Russ Adams, ss Blue Jays
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
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, 2006 $1,700,000
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Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays’ pitching took a giant step forward in 2007 only to be sabotaged by a sagging offense, resulting in a five-game drop in the win column. But more vital to the organization’s long-term health, Toronto had the type of draft that could shape its player-development outlook for years to come, the type of draft its farm system desperately needed.

Compensated for the loss of free agents Frank Catalanotto, Ted Lilly and Justin Speier, the Blue Jays held seven of the top 88 picks and put them to good use, selecting high-ceiling prospects at critical defensive positions, such as third baseman Kevin Ahrens (16th overall), catcher J.P. Arencibia (21st), shortstop Justin Jackson (45th) and second baseman John Tolisano (85th). All four shot to the top of Toronto’s depth chart at their respective positions, as did center fielder Eric Eiland (88th), a raw talent on whom the Jays could afford to gamble with its extra picks.

Most talented of all was lefthander Brett Cecil (38th), a closer at Maryland whom Toronto will develop as a starter, as they will righthanders Trystan Magnuson (56th) and Alan Farina (third round), relievers while at Louisville and Clemson. The Blue Jays successfully developed two other college relievers, Shaun Marcum and since-traded David Bush, into major league starters.

At the big league level, Toronto pitching allowed the second fewest runs in the American League—and it wasn’t all the doing of Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett. Dustin McGowan announced his arrival by one-hitting the Rockies on June 24. He lost the no-hit bid in the ninth that day, but he ended up taking the second-most starts on the staff and won 12 games. Marcum and Jesse Litsch also took regular turns in the rotation and were similarly effective.

McGowan, Marcum and Litsch all were 25 or younger last season, as were bullpen stalwarts Jeremy Accardo and Casey Janssen. Acquired from the Giants for a declining Shea Hillendbrand in 2006, Accardo thrived in the closer’s role after B.J. Ryan succumbed to Tommy John surgery. Janssen, who posted a 5.07 ERA as a rookie starter the year before, sliced that mark to 2.35 working in relief.

The fine work turned in by Marcum, Litsch, Janssen and second baseman Aaron Hill was especially noteworthy, as they represent the only productive players drafted and developed by the Blue Jays since general manager J.P. Ricciardi came aboard in 2002. Outfielder Travis Snider, a first-round pick in 2006, continued to crush minor league pitching, suggesting he might one day provide an emphatic counterpoint.

Toronto’s offense sputtered to a disappointing 10th-place AL finish in scoring, and few young players appeared ready to provide the boost the pitching staff got. Adam Lind, the No. 1 prospect on this list a year ago, hit just .238 with 11 homers in 89 games, though he was much better during a September callup. Outside of having Lind live up to expectations, the Jays have to hope the likes of Troy Glaus, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells can rebound in 2008.

The new talent infused via the draft will need a few years to develop, though. And the Jays signed just one player to a six-figure bonus during the international signing period, but they believe 22-year-old Cuban righthander Kenny Rodriguez can move quickly as a reliever.

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