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. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

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Toronto Blue Jays

A year into their new regime, the Blue Jays already were beginning to see results. Alex Anthopoulos took over as general manager last October and quickly began a much-needed rebuilding process. Toronto had been treading water as the fourth-best team in the American League East, and one of the worst farm systems in baseball wasn't going to provide nearly enough help for a quick turnaround.

Anthopoulos quickly made his mark by trading franchise icon Roy Halladay to the Phillies in December. In return, the Blue Jays received three quality prospects in righthander Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor (who was flipped to the Athletics for first baseman Brett Wallace) and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. That was just the first of several moves that infused young talent into the system.

Anthopoulos vowed to focus more on scouting and player development, and he made good on that promise. He doubled the size of the scouting staff and appointed Andrew Tinnish as scouting director, replacing Jon LaLonde, who was reassigned. Armed with more scouts, nine picks in the first three rounds and the go-ahead from management to spend, Tinnish and his crew had one of the best drafts in 2010.

The Blue Jays spent $11.6 million on bonuses, the third-highest amount in draft history, handing out 20 six-figure bonuses, including $2 million for first-rounder Deck McGuire and $1.5 million for fifth-rounder Dickie Joe Thon. McGuire and sandwich picks Asher Wojciechowski and Aaaron Sanchez all cracked this Top 10 Prospects list.

Toronto also made a splash in the international market. In April, the Jays signed Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to a $10 million major league contract that included a franchise-record $4 million bonus. They later landed a pair of top international amateurs from Venezuela in righthander Arodis Cardona ($2.8 million) and third baseman Gabriel Cenas ($700,000).

The Blue Jays did some more dealing at the trade deadline as well. Toronto initially tried to pry outfielder Anthony Gose from the Phillies in the Halladay trade but were rebuffed. They got a second chance when Philadelphia sent him to the Astros as part of a package for Roy Oswalt. The Jays sent Wallace to Houston for Gose, and also got younger at shortstop by swapping Alex Gonzalez to the Braves for Yunel Escobar.

At the major league level, Toronto finished fourth in the AL East for the third consecutive year. However, the Jays won 85 games (up from 75 in 2009) and received some promising glimpses of the future. Jose Bautista crushed 54 homers, leading the major leagues and erasing George Bell's franchise record of 47. The Jays topped the big leagues with 257 homers, with seven different players hitting at least 20.

Brandon Morrow was a revelation after arriving in a trade than sent Brandon League and outfield prospect Johermyn Chavez to the Mariners just before Christmas. Morrow threw a 17-strikeout one-hitter against the Rays and won 10 games, one of four Toronto pitchers to reach double digits in victories—none of whom were older than 28.

Catcher J.P. Arencibia had a big league debut to remember, giving fans a taste of his power by going 4-for-5 with a double and two homers against Tampa Bay. Drabek earned a September callup and acquitted himself well in three starts.

The rebuilding process is only beginning in Toronto. While the Blue Jays won't return to contention overnight, 2010 was a pretty good start.

1.  Kyle Drabek, rhp   Born: Dec. 8, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—The Woodlands, Texas, 2006 (1st round)Signed by: Steve Cohen
Kyle DrabekBackground: The son of former Cy Young winner Doug Drabek, Kyle led The Woodlands (Texas) High to a national title as a senior in 2006 by going 14-0 on the mound and belting 12 homers as a shortstop. Some teams believed he had the best pure stuff in the 2006 draft, but he lasted until the 18th overall pick because his makeup worried clubs. He had separate incidents which resulted in a public-intoxication charge (later dropped) and a single-car accident in which he struck a tree. Drabek signed for $1.55 million and had a rough pro debut, then blew out his elbow early in the 2007 season. He used his rehab time to mature, improve his conditioning and refine his delivery. He broke out in 2009, pitching in the Futures Game and reaching Double-A at age 21. His name started to come up in trade rumors as Philadelphia looked for pitching help. The Phillies balked at giving him up for Roy Halladay at the 2009 trade deadline, but pulled the trigger in mid-December, sending him to Toronto along with catcher Travis d'Arnaud and outfielder Michael Taylor. Drabek spent 2010 at Double-A New Hampshire and won Eastern League pitcher of the year honors, leading the league with 14 wins and throwing a nine-inning no-hitter on Independence Day. The Blue Jays gave him a September callup and while he didn't earn a win in three starts, he didn't allow more than three runs in any outing.

Scouting Report: Drabek has the stuff to pitch at the front of a rotation. His curveball is his best pitch, a power offering with 12-to-6 action and low-80s velocity. It comes out of his hand at the same height as his fastball, giving it good depth and deception that produces a lot of swings and misses. He throws two- and four-seam fastballs, ranging from 90-96 mph and sitting comfortably in the low 90s. He has good life to the two-seamer, using it to induce groundouts. Toronto challenged Drabek to get better against lefthanders in 2010—they had a .924 OPS against him the year before—and he did just that. By adding a cutter that he'd throw 10-12 times per game, he held Double-A lefties to a .227/.301/.350 line. His changeup has shown depth and sink, but he's still refining his arm speed and command with the pitch. Drabek doesn't have pinpoint command, but he throws enough strikes and locates his pitches well enough. Drabek is a better hitter than most pitchers, though that skill will be wasted on an American League club. But his athleticism still is an asset, allowing him to repeat his delivery, field his position and hold runners. He grew up a lot while coming back from Tommy John surgery, and his makeup is no longer a concern.

The Future: After his big league cameo, Drabek will have a chance to make Toronto's rotation out of spring training in 2011. His fastball and curveball already are a wicked combination that will allow him to have success in the big leagues. The development of his cutter and changeup are critical to his development. They give him an edge over lefties, which would put him over the top as a frontline starter.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
New Hampshire (AA) 14 9 2.94 27 27 1 0 162 126 12 68 132 .215
Toronto 0 3 4.76 3 3 0 0 17 18 2 5 12 .295
2.  Deck McGuire, rhp   Born: June 23, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-6Wt: 225
 Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2010 (1st round)Signed by: Eric McQueen
Deck McGuireBackground:A Virginia prep product, McGuire emerged as Georgia Tech's Friday starter and the Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year in 2009. He followed up by winning nine games and becoming the second Yellow Jackets pitcher ever selected in the first round in 2010, going 11th overall and signing at the Aug. 16 deadline for $2 million.

Scouting Report: McGuire combines good stuff and polish. He commands a 90-94 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and compliments it with three secondary offerings that he can throw for strikes. His slider is a swing-and-miss pitch, sitting at 82-85 mph with late life. He can backdoor it against righthanders and sneak it under lefties' hands. His changeup arrives at 80-84 with some fade, and he maintains good arm speed, giving the pitch plenty of deception. His curveball has tightened up since the spring—he threw it at 78-79 mph during instructional league, as opposed to 70-75 during the spring—and could be an average pitch.

The Future: Because he's an advanced college pitcher, McGuire should move quickly. Though he signed too late to make his pro debut in 2010, the Blue Jays probably will start him out at high Class A Dunedin. His arsenal and command eventually should land him in the middle of Toronto's rotation, and he could reach the majors before the end of 2012.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Did Not Play—Signed Late
3.  Anthony Gose, of   Born: Aug. 10, 1990B-T: L-LHt: 6-1Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Bellflower, Calif., 2008 (2nd round)Signed by: Tim Kissner (Phillies)
Anthony GoseBackground:Though his fastball was 97 mph in high school, Gose developed shoulder problems and didn't show much of a desire to pitch in pro ball. The Phillies refused to part with him when the Blue Jays shopped Roy Halladay in 2009. Toronto finally got him a year later, as Philadelphia included Gose in a package to get Roy Oswalt from the Astros, who immediately flipped him to the Jays for Brett Wallace.

Scouting Report: One of the fastest prospects in baseball, Gose led the minors with 76 steals in 2009 but wasn't as successful in high Class A. He's still working on reading pitchers and getting good jumps, and he got caught a minor league-high 32 times in 77 attempts. His center-field defense and arm strength give him two more plus tools, but his bat still needs to come around. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and put the ball in play more consistently. He could develop average power, though he'll be better off putting the ball in the gaps and wreaking havoc on the bases.

The Future: If Gose becomes just an average hitter, his speed and defense could make him a force. His bat is still a work in progress, so a return to high Class A is possible.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Clearwater (Hi A) .263 .325 .385 418 67 21 17 11 4 20 32 103 36
Dunedin (Hi A) .255 .360 .426 94 21 24 3 2 3 6 13 29 9
4.  Travis D'Arnaud, c   Born: Feb. 10, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Lakewood, Calif., 2007 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Tim Kissner (Phillies)
Travis D'ArnaudBackground:The 37th overall pick in 2007, d'Arnaud moved from the Phillies to the Blue Jays along with Kyle Drabek and outfield prospect Michael Taylor in the Roy Halladay trade in December 2009. In his first season in the Toronto system, d'Arnaud missed most of May with back problems that led to him getting shut down at the end of July. His older brother Chase is one of the Pirates' better position prospects.

Scouting Report: D'Arnaud has the tools to do it all at catcher. He has a quick bat and does a good job of using the whole field. His swing usually stays compact, and he should hit for a solid average with 15-20 homers per season. Defensively, he has a plus arm and threw out 30 percent of basestealers in high Class A in 2010. He sometimes rushes his throws, which affects his accuracy. He has quick feet and the athleticism and agility to stay behind the plate. He's a below-average runner, typical for a catcher.

The Future: J.P. Arencibia may have had a more spectacular 2010 season, but d'Arnaud has better all-around skills. A winter of rest should resolve his back problems, though his missed time may dictate a return to high Class A to start 2011 with an opportunity to be promoted during the season.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Dunedin (Hi A) .259 .315 .411 263 36 68 20 1 6 38 20 63 3
5.  Zach Stewart, rhp   Born: Sept. 28, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 205
 Drafted: Texas Tech, 2008 (3rd round)Signed by: Jerry Flowers (Reds)
Zach StewartBackground:The fourth trade acquisition among the first five players on this list, Stewart came to the Blue Jays along with Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke in a mid-2009 deal that sent Scott Rolen to the Reds. Cincinnati broke him into pro ball as a reliever in 2008, started him at the beginning of 2009 and shifted him back to the bullpen shortly before the trade in an effort to keep his innings down. Toronto kept him in the rotation to finish 2009. Stewart returned to the rotation in 2010, and he pitched well in Double-A.

Scouting Report: Stewart works with two plus pitches in his fastball and slider. His fastball sits in the low 90s and routinely reaches 95-96 mph, featuring above-average sink. His mid-80s slider has depth and misses bats. The slider sits in the mid-80s and is a good swing-and-miss pitch with depth. He commands both pitches well. Stewart also developed some feel for a changeup last season, and it has the potential to become an average offering. With a third effective pitch to go with his durability, Stewart could become a mid-rotation starter.

The Future: Stewart is in the mix to win a big league rotation spot in 2011. If he can't cut it as a starter, he has the stuff and makeup to become a set-up man or a closer.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
New Hampshire (AA) 8 3 3.63 26 26 0 0 136 131 13 54 106 .255
6.  Asher Wojciechowski, rhp   Born: Dec. 21, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 235
 Drafted: The Citadel, 2010 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: John Hendricks
Asher WojciechowskiBackground:Wojciechowski benefited from a stint with Team USA in 2009, working off his fastball more often at the urging of pitching coach Mike Kennedy (Elon). His velocity increased, and he ranked second in NCAA Division I in strikeouts with 155 in 126 innings last spring. He also became the highest draft pick in the history of The Citadel, going 41st overall and signing for $815,400. The Blue Jays limited him to 12 innings in his debut to keep his workload down.

Scouting Report: After throwing his fastball more frequently and refining his mechanics, Wojciechowski now pitches at 92-94 mph and touches 96. He maintains his velocity into the late innings and controls his heater well. Before his velocity spiked, he was known for his big, durable frame and his slider. It's a hard-breaking pitch that grades out as above-average. Wojciechowski had little use for a changeup in college, but he has made some strides with it since turning pro.

The Future: Wojciechowski has similar stuff to Zach Stewart and likewise could develop into a quality starter if he can refine his changeup. Stewart is a little more polished, but Wojciechowski has a slightly higher ceiling as a potential No. 2 starter. Even without the changeup, he could be a mid-rotation innings eater. He should start 2011 in high Class A.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Auburn (SS) 0 0 0.75 3 3 0 0 12 6 0 4 11 .146
7.  J.P. Arencibia, c   Born: Jan. 5, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 210
 Drafted: Tennesse, 2007 (1st round)Signed by: Matt Briggs
J.P. ArencibiaBackground:The 21st overall pick in 2007, Arencibia has hit 82 homers in three full pro seasons since signing for $1,327,500. LASIK surgery improved his night vision and helped him raise his Triple-A numbers from .236/.284/.444 in 2009 to .301/.359/.626 last season, earning him Pacific Coast League MVP honors. Called to Toronto in August, he became the first player in modern baseball history to collect four hits and two homers in his big league debut. Afterward, he went 1-for-30 with 11 strikeouts.

Scouting Report: Arencibia's carrying tool is his power to all fields, which is at least above-average and draws 70 grades on the 20-80 scale from some scouts. He overswings at times and isn't terribly disciplined at the plate, so he may not hit for a high average. His defense also is in question. He has solid arm strength but threw out just 23 percent of PCL basestealers. His receiving and blocking skills are improving though just average at best, and he can get lackadaisical at times. He has below-average speed but isn't terrible for a catcher.

The Future: While John Buck made his first all-star team in 2010, he's expected to depart as a free agent, making Arencibia the favorite to win the catching job in 2011.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Las Vegas (AAA) .301 .359 .626 412 76 124 36 1 32 85 38 85 0
Toronto (MLB) .143 .189 .343 35 3 5 1 0 2 4 2 11 0
8.  Carlos Perez, c   Born: Oct. 27, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-0Wt: 193
 Signed: Venezuela, 2008Signed by: Rafael Moncada
Carlos PerezBackground:Signed out of Venezuela as a 17-year-old, Perez has been named MVP of his team in each of his first three pro seasons. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2010, adding to the system's impressive depth behind the plate.

Scouting Report: Perez doesn't possess loud tools, but his fundamentals and instincts help him play above his pure physical ability. His arm is a tick above average, and he enhances it with quick feet that allow him to get into a good throwing position. He caught 36 percent of NYP basestealers. He has soft hands, though he's still working on his receiving and blocking skills after committing 13 passed balls in 44 games. At the plate, Perez has a quiet lower half and consistently puts the bat on the ball. He has gap power now and could develop average power to the pull side. He draws his share of walks and holds a career .412 on-base percentage in 167 games. He has average speed, surprising for a catcher, and the Blue Jays insist he has the best baserunning instincts in their system.

The Future: With J.P. Arencibia at the major league doorstep and Travis d'Arnaud showing plenty of potential, the Blue Jays have no problem taking it slow with Perez. He'll make his full-season league debut with low Class A Lansing at age 20.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Auburn (SS) .298 .396 .438 235 44 70 11 8 2 41 34 41 7
9.  Aaron Sanchez, rhp   Born: July 1, 1992B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Barstow, Calif., 2010 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Blake Crosby
Aaron SanchezBackground:Sanchez projected as a possible first-round pick after starring on the showcase circuit in the summer of 2009, and the Blue Jays were delighted to get him with the No. 34 overall choice in June. After signing for $775,000, he pitched well in 10 pro starts, though Toronto kept him on a tight pitch limit that prevented him from earning his first pro victory.

Scouting Report: Scouts love Sanchez's prototypical, projectable frame. He has long, loose limbs with wiry strength and plenty of room to add more. There's plenty of reason to think that he'll add more velocity as he fills out, and it already has started to happen. His fastball worked at 89-92 mph in the spring, sat in the low 90s during his pro debut and touched 95 during instructional league. Sanchez is able to spin a breaking ball and flashes a plus curveball. His changeup is a work in progress right now, as he throws it a little too hard, but he has shown some feel for the pitch. A wandering arm slot affected his command in high school and pro ball, so repeating his delivery will important.

The Future: Sanchez created a lot of buzz at instructs, and the Jays are excited about his potential as a frontline starter. He'll likely begin his first full pro season in low Class A.
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
GCL Blue Jays (R) 0 2 1.42 8 8 0 0 19 19 1 12 28 .271
Auburn (SS) 0 1 4.50 2 2 0 0 6 4 0 5 9 .182
10.  Jake Marisnick, of   Born: March 30, 1991B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 200
 Drafted: HS—Riverside, Calif. 2009 (3rd round)Signed by: Rick Ingalls
Jake MarisnickBackground:The Blue Jays signed just two of their first five 2009 draft picks, first-rounder Chad Jenkins and Marisnick, who agreed to a $1 million bonus at the signing deadline. One of the best athletes available in the 2009 draft, he made his pro debut last season. After he performed well in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Toronto gave him a taste of his 2011 assignment by jumping him to low Class A.

Scouting Report: Marisnick has five-tool potential, though concerns about his bat dropped him to the third round and continue to linger. He has improved his timing at the plate and the ball jumps off his bat when he makes contact. However, he can get too aggressive at times, and the Jays are working with him to stay tall and drive through the ball. Marisnick has a long, wiry frame with plenty of strength and raw power. His speed, range and arm are all above-average. Should he have to move from center field, he also profiles well in right.

The Future: Marisnick looked overmatched at Lansing, and he'll probably spend the entire 2011 season there. His development will require patience, but the payoff could be worth it.
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
GCL Blue Jays (R) .289 .376 .463 121 17 35 12 0 3 14 13 18 12
Lansing (Lo A) .220 .298 .339 127 16 28 8 2 1 12 9 37 9

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Photo Credits:
Drabek (David Schofield)
Gose (Mike Janes)
Wojciechowski, Perez (Glenn Gaston)
Sanchez (Brian Fleming)