2012 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

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has been on the job for just two years, and already he has presided over a dramatic makeover of his organization. Toronto still has to settle for the title of the best fourth-place team in baseball, which it has held for the last four seasons, including the final two under the reign of former GM J.P. Ricciardi. But the Jays are getting better in baseball's toughest division, and Anthopoulos has brought in as much young talent as any GM since he took over in October 2009.

His first big move was to deal Roy Halladay to the Phillies for three blue-chip prospects: Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Michael Taylor. Drabek ranked as Toronto's No. 1 prospect a year ago before graduating to the majors (where he struggled mightily) and has been succeeded by d'Arnaud. Taylor was flipped immediately to the Athletics for Brett Wallace, who was traded seven months later to the Astros for outfielder Anthony Gose, currently No. 2 in our Blue Jays prospect rankings.

Anthopoulos continually has shown a deft touch on the trade market. He has acquired Yunel Escobar, Brandon Morrow and Colby Rasmus for the big league club without giving up anyone who was a key part of the franchise's future. He miraculously dumped Vernon Wells and the $86 million remaining on his contract on the Angels and got Mike Napoli back in the deal, though Anthopoulos then traded Napoli for Frank Francisco.

The GM's best move may turn out to be the December 2010 deal that sent Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for Brett Lawrie, who should be Toronto's third baseman for years to come. Lawrie ranked as the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's top prospect in 2011 before hitting .293/.373/.580 in two months in the majors.

The influx of young talent has extended to the farm system as well, thanks to the Blue Jays' aggressive approach to the draft and international markets. Toronto spent a club-record $11.6 million on the 2010 draft and nearly matched that with $11 million in 2011, when first-round pick Tyler Beede turned down a $2.4 million offer to attend Vanderbilt.

The 2010 draft stocked the system with several promising pitchers, including five who made our Jays Top 10 Prospects list: Justin Nicolino, Aaron Sanchez, Deck McGuire, Noah Syndergaard and Asher Wojciechowski. All were part of Toronto's bounty of nine picks in the first three rounds.

The Blue Jays had eight choices in the top three rounds last June, and hauled in their best current pitching prospect (Daniel Norris), three more quality arms (Kevin Comer, Joe Musgrove, John Stilson) and a pair of intriguing bats (Dwight Smith Jr., Jacob Anderson). They also gave sandwich-round money to a couple of later-round position players, second baseman Christian Lopes and third baseman Matt Dean.

Toronto has asserted itself just as much internationally, starting with a $10 million major league contract for Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in April 2010. The Blue Jays also have handed out seven-figure deals to Venezuelan righthander Adonis Cardona ($2.8 million in 2010), Venezuelan outfielder Wilmer Becerra and Dominican shortstop Dawel Lugo ($1.3 million each in 2011).

The White Sox took note, hiring away Marco Paddy, who had been Toronto's director of Latin American operations the last five years. The Jays replaced him with former Mets supervisor of Latin American operations Ismael Cruz.

1. Travis d'Arnaud, c Born: Feb 10, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 195
Drafted: Lakewood (Calif.) HS, 2007 (1.5 round).  Signed by: Tim Kissner (Phillies)
Travis d'ArnaudBackground: The Phillies signed d'Arnaud out of Lakewood (Calif.) High for $837,500 as the 37th overall pick in 2007, one year before the Pirates selected his brother Chase in the fourth round out of Pepperdine. Chase, an infielder, reached the majors first when Pittsburgh called him up last June, but Travis should get there at a younger age and has a brighter future as one of the game's top catching prospects. The Blue Jays were set to take him one pick after the Phillies grabbed him in 2007, and they finally got him, along with Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor, by sending Roy Halladay to Philadelphia in December 2009. After missing much of his first year in the Toronto system with back problems, d'Arnaud had a breakthrough year in 2011. He hit just .188 and sustained a concussion in April, then rallied to set career highs across the board and led the Double-A Eastern League with a .542 slugging percentage. He helped New Hampshire win the EL championship and reeled in the league MVP award as well as the inaugural Captain's Catcher's Award. Following the season, d'Arnaud joined Team USA because his brother had played for the squad in 2010 and he wanted to experience it as well. He played in just four games before tearing a ligament in his left thumb at the World Cup in Panama. He had surgery on the thumb in October and is expected to be ready for spring training. Toronto added him to its 40-man roster in November.

Scouting Report: D'Arnaud  is a good athlete and has the all-around ability to become an all-star catcher. He has the bat speed and strength to hit 20 or more homers on an annual basis in the big leagues, and he has the best present power in the system. His career-best 21 homers weren't a product of New Hampshire's hitter-friendly ballpark, as he hit 11 of them and slugged .571 on the road. He has quick hands, a compact swing and an all-fields approach that should allow him to hit for a solid average to go with his pop. His offensive improvement stemmed from calming down at the plate and not trying to hit everything out of the park. D'Arnaud also made strides defensively working with New Hampshire manager Sal Fasano, who caught for 11 seasons in the majors. Managers rated d'Arnaud the best defensive catcher in the EL. He shows solid to plus arm strength, though he's still refining his footwork and throwing accuracy. He doesn't rush throws as much as he had in the past and threw out 27 percent of basestealers in 2011. He has improved his receiving skills and moves well behind the plate thanks to his agility. He has fine leadership skills and has shown improvements in running a pitching staff. While he's a below-average runner like most catchers, he doesn't clog the bases.

The Future: J.P. Arencibia smacked 23 homers as a Blue Jays rookie in 2011, but d'Arnaud is a superior hitter and defender. While he's not quite ready to take over Toronto's catching job, he should be knocking on the door soon after getting in some Triple-A seasoning at Las Vegas, where his numbers may see another boost thanks to the offensive nature of the Pacific Coast League. He could make his debut late in the 2012 season and push Arencibia to another position or even team in 2013.

'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
Minor League Totals 1549 230 430 112 4 50 237 121 300 20 11 .278 .336 .452

2. Anthony Gose, of Born: Aug 10, 1990 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Bellflower (Calif.) HS, 2008 (2nd round).  Signed by: Tim Kissner (Phillies)
Anthony GoseBackground: While Gose ran his fastball up to 97 mph in high school, shoulder problems and his desire to play every day in pro ball prompted the Phillies to take him as an outfielder in the second round of the 2008 draft. The Blue Jays coveted him during Roy Halladay trade talks in mid-2009, but Philadelphia balked. Toronto wound up with Gose a year later when he went to the Astros in a package for Roy Oswalt and Houston immediately flipped him for Brett Wallace.

Scouting Report: Gose has three tools that rate at least at 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale in his speed, center-field defense and arm. He led the Eastern League with 70 steals in 2011 while succeeding at a career-high 82 percent clip. Gose dramatically raised his walk rate in Double-A, though he has yet to hit for a high average because he's overly aggressive and racks up plenty of strikeouts. The Blue Jays believe he'll hit better as he gains experience and quiets his approach. He has enough strength to have average power, and his 16 homers in 2011 nearly doubled his total from his first three pro seasons.

The Future: If Gose can be just an average hitter, his other tools would make him a valuable major leaguer. After a season in Triple-A, he could find himself patroling center field at Rogers Centre at some point in 2013.

'08 Phillies (R) 39 4 10 2 1 0 3 1 12 3 1 .256 .293 .359
'09 Lakewood (LoA) 510 72 132 24 9 2 52 35 110 76 20 .259 .323 .353
'10 Clearwater (HiA) 418 67 110 17 11 4 21 32 103 36 27 .263 .325 .385
'10 Dunedin (HiA) 94 21 24 3 2 3 6 13 29 9 5 .255 .360 .426
'11 New Hampshire (AA) 509 87 129 20 7 16 59 62 154 70 15 .253 .349 .415
Minor League Totals 1570 251 405 66 30 25 141 143 408 194 68 .258 .334 .386

3. 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 2009 draft was disappointing for the Blue Jays, with three of their top five picks declining to sign. The lone bright spot from that class is Marisnick, who signed for $1 million as a third-rounder and had a breakout season when he returned to the low Class A Midwest League after finishing there in 2010. He hit .320/.392/.496 at Lansing this season after batting .220/.298/.339 the year before.

Scouting Report: One of the best athletes in the 2009 draft class, Marisnick has the upside of a five-tool center fielder. He has strength in his frame and swing, producing plenty of backspin and solid raw power. A hitch in his swing previously had scouts concerned about his ability to hit, but he has ironed out his mechanics and is less susceptible to offspeed stuff. His speed, range and arm are all above-average. He has a knack for stealing bases, succeeding on 60 of his 71 attempts (85 percent) as a pro. His quickness also enables him to glide to balls in the gap with ease.

The Future: Anthony Gose has louder tools, but Marisnick is a quality athlete and a better hitter. If Gose entrenches himself in center field, Marisnick has enough offense and arm to play in right. The Blue Jays won't rush him, but he could force a midseason promotion if he continues to produce in high Class A Dunedin in 2012.

'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
Minor League Totals 711 101 211 47 8 18 103 65 146 60 11 .297 .372 .461

4. Daniel Norris, lhp Born: Apr 25, 1993 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Science Hill HS, Johnson City, Tenn., 2011 (2nd round).  Signed by: Nate Murrie
Daniel NorrisBackground: Norris entered 2011 rated as the top high school lefthander in his draft class and a projected mid-first-round pick, but his commitment to Clemson scared teams off. Armed with extra picks, the Blue Jays popped him with their sixth selection (No. 74 overall) and handed him a $2 million bonus at the Aug. 15 deadline.

Scouting Report: An outstanding athlete, Norris played quarterback until his senior year of high school, and he showed easy power as a hitter. His future is very much on the mound, however, where he has four pitches that project to be at least average. His fastball sits in the low 90s and can get up to 96 mph with good life. He shows feel for a changeup and throws both a curveball and slider. Both breaking balls have a chance to be plus pitches but vary in effectiveness. Like most high schoolers, Norris needs to clean up his mechanics, though his delivery has no red flags. He's a tough competitor and mature, with very good makeup.

The Future: Norris' stuff and makeup give him the potential of a frontline starter. He could handle beginning his pro career in low Class A, though Toronto likes to ease its prep arms into pro ball. It wouldn't be a surprise if he starts 2012 in extended spring training and debuts at short-season Vancouver in June.

Did Not Play

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: Nicolino's commitment to Virginia had teams wary of picking him early in the 2010 draft, but the Blue Jays had extra picks and rolled the dice in the second round. He signed for an over-slot $615,000 bonus, too late to make his pro debut in 2010. He dominated the short-season Northwest League in 2011, ranking as the circuit's top prospect, and earned a promotion to low Class A, where he posted a 3.00 ERA in five starts (including the playoffs).

Scouting Report: Nicolino's fastball sits at 89-92 mph and touches 94. He has baffled inexperienced hitters with an advanced changeup that could become a true plus pitch. He maintains good arm speed when he throws his changeup and commands it to both sides of the plate. His curveball is his third pitch, yet could become an average offering. It was slow and loopy early last summer, but he tightened it up as the year progressed. Nicolino shows exceptional pitching acumen for a youngster. He isn't afraid to pitch inside and will change his approach after going once through an order.

The Future: Nicolino profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter with the ceiling of a No. 2. If he continues to make pitching look as easy as he did in his first pro season, he won't stay at Lansing long in 2012.

'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
Minor League Totals 6 2 1.33 15 12 0 61 39 39 9 0 13 73 .176

6. Aaron Sanchez, rhp Born: Jul 01, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Barstow (Calif.) HS, 2010 (1.5 round).  Signed by: Blake Crosby
Aaron SanchezBackground: Sanchez drew Orel Hershiser comparisons while starring at the Area Code Games and Aflac all-star game in the summer of 2009, looking like he was setting the stage to go in the first round of the 2010 draft. The Jays were glad he lasted until the 34th overall pick, and they signed him for a below-slot $775,000. Toronto has handled him cautiously, limiting him to 25 innings in 10 starts in 2010 and 54 innings in 14 outings in 2011.

Scouting Report: Sanchez offers plenty of projection with his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, and he has present stuff to go with it. His fast arm generates fastballs that sit in the low 90s and touch 95. He adds in a high-70s curveball that has crisp rotation when it's on. He shows feel for a changeup, though it needs refinement. Sanchez's numbers don't jump out because his command has been inconsistent. He took a step forward in his short time with Vancouver by working with pitching coach Jim Czajkowski to speed up his delivery and make an adjustment with his back foot.

The Future: If he does a better job of locating his pitches, Sanchez can become a frontline starter. He'll make it to full-season ball and get a longer leash in 2012, when he's ticketed for Lansing.

'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
Minor League Totals 3 6 4.28 24 19 1 80 76 76 38 5 43 93 .241

7. Noah Syndergaard, rhp Born: Aug 29, 1992 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Legacy HS, Mansfield, Texas, 2010 (1.5 round).  Signed by: Steve Miller
Noah SyndergaardBackground: The Blue Jays give area scout Steve Miller credit for his work following Syndergaard leading up to the 2010 draft. Miller saw him at 87-90 mph early in a March 2010 start, but stuck around to see him finish the game at 92-94. When Syndergaard starred in the Texas 4-A state playoffs, Toronto decided to not take any chances in the draft, selecting him 38th overall and signing him for a below-slot $600,000. .

Scouting Report: The athletic Syndergaard has sound mechanics for his size and already operates at 94-96 mph with his fastball, which hit 100 mph while he was at Vancouver. He uses his height to get good downhill plane on his fastball and it rides in on righthanders, consistently inducing weak contact. He has a power curveball with nice shape and plus potential, but he tends to overthrow it. His changeup sits in the mid-80s with sink and has good separation in velocity from his heater.

The Future: Syndergaard's fastball and projection give him a No. 2 starter ceiling, which he should reach as long as his secondary pitches progress as expected. He pitched well after reaching low Class A shortly before his 19th birthday, and he'll return there to begin 2012.

'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
Minor League Totals 5 3 2.00 18 16 0 72 57 57 16 1 22 74 .209

8. Deck McGuire, rhp Born: Jun 23, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 220
Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2010 (1st round).  Signed by: Eric McQueen
Deck McGuireBackground: The 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft and recipient of a $2 million bonus, McGuire doesn't have the upside of some of the high school pitchers who have come into the organization over the last couple of years, but he does exude polish and had no problems making his pro debut in high Class A in 2011. He moved up to Double-A in late July but missed most of the final month with a lower-back injury that's not considered serious.

Scouting Report: McGuire's pitches are average to solid across the board, and they play up because he mixes them well and generally throws strikes. His fastball and slider are his best offerings and show plus potential. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph and reaches 94. He has a feel for back-dooring his low 80s slider against righthanders and busting it inside against lefties. McGuire is gaining confidence in his changeup and has a curveball he can get over the plate for early-count strikes. To succeed as he advances, he'll need to command the ball down in the zone more.

The Future: While his arsenal isn't overwhelming, McGuire could be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. He'll return to New Hampshire to open 2012 and it's not out of the question that he could see time in Toronto before the season concludes.

'11 Dunedin (HiA) 7 4 2.75 19 18 0 105 89 38 32 9 38 102 .221
'11 New Hampshire (AA) 2 1 4.35 4 3 0 21 20 10 10 4 7 22 .244
Minor League Totals 9 5 3.00 23 21 0 126 109 109 42 13 45 124 .224

9. Drew Hutchison, rhp Born: Aug 22, 1990 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 165
Drafted: Lakeland (Fla.) HS, 2009 (15th round).  Signed by: Joel Grampietro
Drew HutchisonBackground: While failing to sign three of their top five draft picks in 2009 wasn't the plan, the Blue Jays did have money to spend elsewhere in that circumstance. That included $400,000 in the 15th round for Hutchison, a product of the Lakeland (Fla.) High program that has produced recent big leaguers Steve Pearce and Chris Sale. Hutchison breezed through three levels in 2011.

Scouting Report: Hutchison doesn't blow hitters away, but his 88-93 mph fastball has good life and gets on them quickly. He can sink and cut his fastball, commanding it to both sides of the plate. A short arm stroke and slightly crossfire delivery add deception. Hutchison's No. 2 pitch is a changeup and he also has a slider, which can be a swing-and-miss pitch at times and slurvy at others. He commands and mixes his pitches well.

The Future: Hutchison has moved quickly because of his feel for pitching, which eventually could make him a No. 3 starter. At the same time, his crossfire delivery makes some scouts wonder if he'll hold up in a rotation. If he continues his current pace, he could surface in Toronto in 2012 after starting the season with a return to New Hampshire.

'10 Auburn (SS) 1 1 3.00 10 10 0 45 34 18 15 1 12 44 .201
'10 Lansing (LoA) 1 2 1.52 5 5 0 24 17 7 4 1 7 19 .193
'11 Lansing (LoA) 6 2 2.63 14 14 0 72 68 29 21 1 19 84 .239
'11 Dunedin (HiA) 5 3 2.74 11 10 0 62 42 20 19 3 14 66 .183
'11 New Hampshire (AA) 3 0 1.20 3 3 0 15 10 2 2 0 2 21 .182
Minor League Totals 16 8 2.52 43 42 0 218 171 171 61 6 54 234 .207

10. Asher Wojciechowski, rhp Born: Dec 21, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 235
Drafted: The Citadel, 2010 (1.5 round).  Signed by: John Hendricks
Asher WojciechowskiBackground: The highest draft pick in Citadel history, Wojciechowski went 41st overall after finishing second in NCAA Division I with 155 strikeouts in 126 innings in 2010. Signed for $815,400 and assigned to high Class A for his first full pro season, he posted a 0.87 ERA in April, but it ballooned to 5.42 over the final four months. He lost fastball velocity and battled his secondary offerings and command while getting used to pitching every fifth day.

Scouting Report: After dealing at 92-94 mph and touching 96 with his fastball in college, Wojciechowski worked at 89-93 in 2011. His 80-85 mph slider has hard break and can be a plus pitch at its best, but it flattened out too often at Dunedin. He didn't have much use for a changeup as an amateur and has made strides with the pitch since signing. Wojciechowski is a high-intensity pitcher, and the Blue Jays are trying to slow things down for him. He can rush his delivery, causing his arm to drag behind.

The Future: If his velocity returns and his secondary pitches improve, Wojciechowski has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter. Otherwise, he could fit well in a late-inning relief role, where he could just attack hitters with his fastball and slider. Despite his struggles, he'll likely start 2012 in Double-A.

'10 Auburn (SS) 0 0 0.75 3 3 0 12 6 1 1 0 4 11 .143
'11 Dunedin (HiA) 11 9 4.70 25 22 0 130 156 79 68 15 31 96 .285
Minor League Totals 11 9 4.37 28 25 0 142 162 162 69 15 35 107 .276