2023 Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects Chat

Geoff Pontes answered questions regarding the Blue Jays system today. You can read the transcript here.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):

     Of the top 30 Blue Jay prospects in the 2022 Handbook – which player do you think will move up the most slots when the 23 book comes out?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Karl and thanks for the question. Outside of Barger and Zulueta who both ranked 38 and 39 respectively, it’s Gabriel Martinez who was on the cusp of the Top 10. He’s a bat-first corner outfielder with contact and power but a somewhat aggressive approach.

Matthew (Toronto):

     Who is an arrow-up guy outside the Top 10 who you think will end up on the Top 10 by mid-2023? Thanks in advance for your answer.

Geoff Pontes: Hi Matthew, thanks for the joining. Dahian Santos to me has a chance to push into the top 10 with a good season and some added power on his four-seamer. He already has a wicker slider, it’s a low-80s sweeper with spin rates north of 2700 rpm. feel for a mid-80s changeup too. Blue Jays have had some wins on the pitching side of late, so I’d place my bets on it being a pitcher.

Nolan (Toronto):

     Last year we saw guys like Barger, Gabriel Martinez, Tiedemann break out, who are some of the guys that can do that next year?

Geoff Pontes: I think there’s maybe some more obvious guys from the recent draft class, one being Tucker Toman and another being Josh Kasevich, who’s just outside the top 10. If Kasevich hits for a little more impact and Toman shows consistency against full season competition they could both breakout. Another name is Devonte Brown who was a NDFA out of NC State this summer who showed well in a small sample. Pitching wise it’s like more obvious with someone like Barriera or Santos.

Lee (Seoul):

     I’m surprised Gabriel Martinez didn’t make the top 10. I thought he did well in High-A at a young age, but what is lacking?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Lee, thanks for the question. He was in the Top Ten at points, and he’s certainly in the conversation with the last few players ranked. Evaluators are split on Martinez, some love the bat and think he’s going to be a legitimate major league bat in a corner spot. Others think it’s power and contact but not enough to carry a defensive profile at the edges of the spectrum now. So he’s in the 11-13 range because of the downside. It was a big development season for Martinez and he’s certainly one of the arrow up players for the Jays coming out of 2022.

Hudson (NY):

     Any lower level guys in the minors (DSL, FSL) to look out for?

Geoff Pontes: Eliander Alcalde is a name that came up inn my conversations, he’s an undersized 19 year old Venezuelan Righthander with an interesting four-pitch mix. He’s 90-92 mph T94 mph on the fastball but he’s got a nice slider at 82-83 mph, a harder cutter and a changeup.

Ryan (Ontario):

     Orelvis has a hit tool of 30, which obviously isn’t good. Any chance he can bounce back and become at least a 40 hit tool guy?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Ryan, thanks for the question. Definitely, he needs to cut down on his swing heavy tendencies and learn to wait for his pitches. He has contact skills, his swing decisions just far too often betray him.

Geoff (Vancouver):

     Bluejays top international signing last year, Luis Meza, had a tough debut last year in the DSL, any updates on him?

Geoff Pontes: The reports have been tough overall. Still young and things can go a lot of different directions. Doesn’t seem like he’s on par with some of the lofty comps.

Gerry (Toronto):

     I thought Gabriel Martinez might have been in the top 10. What kept him out of the top ten?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Gerry, went into detail above but it’s the pressure on his bat to preform as a fringy corner outfield defender. He has contact and power but the approach is aggressive.

Fred (Hamilton):

     Manuel Beltre has long been a guy who has been seen as having a high baseball IQ but maybe not the best physical tools. He had an okay season in rookie ball but looked like he turned a page when he went to low A. What are your thoughts on him?

Geoff Pontes: He’s a standout defender and does all the little things well. I’ve always felt like he has bat speed and that he might grow into more power. The exit data isn’t great even for his age but he has contact skills, approach and takes good angles to the ball. Could be in for a breakout in 2023.

Brendan (Boston, MA):

     How close is Ricky Tiedemann to the other top pitching prospects in baseball? Top tier? Second tier? Below that? How does his ceiling/floor compare to some other top names? Thanks in advance for all you do!

Geoff Pontes: Hi Brendan – I think he’s arguably one of the best, if not the best lefthanded pitching prospect in the minor leagues. He’s ranked behind Kyle Harrison of the Giants but I know there’s many that prefer him to Harrison. It’s a legit three-pitch mix, a power lefthander with command and a starter’s frame.

Evan (New York):

     Has the ship sailed on Miguel Hiraldo as a viable prospect? He’s now struggled in back to back years and has only reached High A. Any idea on what went wrong when he looked so promising a few years ago?

Geoff Pontes: I think tools just didn’t translate to game skills, and it it never clicked. It’s a really tough adjustment from rookie ball to full season.

Moses (Topeka):

     Adam Kloffenstein reached AA last year, but all reports I have seen on him say his stuff has backed up significantly. Do the Jays still view him as a potential reliever who could make an impact?

Geoff Pontes: He has the look of starter depth at the moment, it’s not powerful and his execution hasn’t been crisp.

Noah (LA):

     If you knew for certain Moreno would be moved out from behind the plate, how much would that affect you opinion about his future value? Is he such a good hitter that he has All-Star upside even in, say, left field?

Geoff Pontes: I’m not sure the bat is quite there yet, if his raw power translates to game power, it’s possible. That said his abilities behind the plate drive the profile a bit.

Noah (LA):

     Having watched a good amount of Barriera, it seems he might have Berrios-type upside, but could be absolutely lights out in the bullpen. Is this a fair assessment?

Geoff Pontes: I think Berrios would be a great outcome, he’s also lefthanded and power with a great slider. The stuff could definitely play out of the pen but you’re very much looking for a starter.

Warren (New London):

     Dasan Brown seemed to take a step forward this year. How close is he to the top 10? Could he eventually move George Springer to an outfield corner?

Geoff Pontes: Everyone likes Dasan and he’s still very young, he’s probably closer to the Top 10 than people realize. It’s great CF defense, in fact he might be the best minor league centerfield defender I saw in 2022. He’s a top of the scale athlete and the bat finally showed life this year. Lot of positive momentum heading into next spring. If he proves he’s an average major league hitter he’ll be playing centerfield everyday for someone.

Warren (New London):

     Orelvis Martinez’s splits are strange: 14 doubles and 14 home runs at home; 16 home runs but only 1 double on the road; .243 BA at home and .163 on the road. Is there something about the New Hampshire park that could explain this, or is it just something that happened? When he hits a home run in New Hampshire, do they say “Orelvis has left the building”?

Geoff Pontes: Maybe the depth a wall height in leftfield, I saw him hit probably half of his doubles this year there. It’s really just about how often he swings. He approaches each at bat like he’s playing arcade basketball, just trying to hit everything he sees.

Bill B (Glen Allen, VA):

     Nate Pearson… big guy, great stuff… truly seemed a can’t miss number one starter a few years ago. Do you see the blue jays giving him one more chance to be a starter this Spring before making him a full time bullpen arm? Thanks

Geoff Pontes: I think the transition to the bullpen is complete and the plan is to develop him into a high leverage late inning option.

Richard (Mexico):

     Any chance the bluejays lose someone in the rule 5 draft? Could a guy like Martinez interest clubs enough to take him?

Geoff Pontes: Yes, I think teams have been hot on Adrian Hernandez and his changeup-centric profile. He’s likely to be taken IMO. I don’t expect Martinez to get taken as he’s not ready to face MLB pitching.

Dan (Leamington, Ontario):

     Will Zulueta get a chance to be in the rotation in the Majors or is he destined for the bullpen?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Dan, a lot of opposing scouts feel he’s a starter and think the mid-season move to the bullpen was to limit his innings. It’s easy to forget Zulu hasn’t pitched much over the last few years. The stuff is loud and there’s three above-average or better pitches.

Ricardo (Toronto):

     Where do you think Nick Frasso would have slotted in had he not been traded to the Dodgers?

Geoff Pontes: Probably in the 12-16 range, the stuff is very real just a matter of executing a little more, but he’s in the mix with Pearson even. Both have big pen upside.

Trevor (New Brunswick):

     Does Barriera have a chance to be a top 100 prospect at some point? Whether that be this season or next?

Geoff Pontes: Absolutely, look no further than Ricky Tiedemann’s rise last season. Barriera has powerful stuff and the body and athleticism to hold his stuff as a starter.

Joe (Georgia):

     I have a couple of shares of Ricky Tiedemann. While I see he is projected as Toronto’s SP4, in terms of ability what do you see as his upside? SP2?

Geoff Pontes: Yeah the SP4 is more about who’s in front of them and we tend to lean toward age and experience in those roles. He could be a number two starter, no question in my mind.

ksk315 (Las Vegas):

     For Best Tools, I originally thought that the best hitter Gabriel Martinez was a typo and was meant to say Gabriel Moreno. However, I realized that thers is a Gabriel Martinez in the system and was #14 midseason. How cloase was he to making the top 10? Moreno’s hit tool is near elite, I have hard time imagining that Martinez is above that.

Geoff Pontes: Opposing scouts and the organization itself votes on those, and the two names discussed were Moreno and Martinez. Both are strong contact hitters, Moreno has a better approach while Martinez has more power. Both good hitters for average.

Andrew (Alberta):

     Who is an underappreciated prospect in the system we need to pay attention to in the 2023 season?

Geoff Pontes: Hagen Danner. That is real live MLB bullpen equipment. He sits high-90s with life and has a hammer curveball. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s in the Jays pen by July or sooner, health permitting.

Yuli (New Hampshire):

     Who do you think has a chance to be the jays “next tiedemann” guy who significantly boosts his stock one year after the draft?

Geoff Pontes: It’s probably Barriera but I’m not sure he counts as a first rounder. Similar profile. He could pitch his way into the Top 100 or higher, that wouldn’t be a surprise, he’s also the most likely candidate.

Johnny (NY):

     One of the more underrated guys in the system to me is Davis Schneider. Who are some underrated guys that maybe don’t get enough love because they don’t have a high ceiling but have a chance to one day be major leaguers or depth?

Geoff Pontes: I think he definitely is one of the more underrated players in the system. It’s sort of s tweener profile defensively. I do like the bat, it’s just a matter of how much impact is in there. Exit data is fringe-average but the contact and approach is legit. You might see him on the Top 30.

Terry (Halifax):

     In the draft report cards it was said Tj Brock had the best secondary pitch (his slider) he can also run it up to 100mph on the fastball. Any chance he becomes a dominate piece out of the bullpen down the line?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Terry, it wouldn’t shock me. I saw a lot of TJ on the Cape and he has some legit stuff. Late inning closer mentality too. He wants to pitch in the big spots.

Gerry (Toronto):

     Jimmy Robbins had a breakout season. Do you think he will remain a starter?

Geoff Pontes: I think he can, how much upside, I’m not sure. He’s eligible to go in the R5 this year and it’s sort of solid average stuff for a starter. He needs to tighten up the command. Decent release traits on the fastball and he has a pair of good breaking balls.

Robert (Toronto):

     Did Macko factor into the Top 10 list discussion? If not, what are your thoughts regarding Macko? Thanks.

Geoff Pontes: The top 10 went to print before the Teoscar trade. That said, he’s going to rank just outside the top 10 in the handbook. I saw him in AFL and had a chance to chat with some scouts about him. He’s good feel for a breaking ball and the fastball was up to 95 mph in my look. The curveball and slider are very different pitches but he’ll show feel for both. Command really comes and goes and health has been an issue. He’s intriguing.

Warren (New London):

     There are a lot of 2B/3B types in the top 10: Barger, O. Martinez, Toman, Doughty. I don’t suppose any of them might displace Bo Bichette? Could one or more end up in the outfield? If so, which one might be the best choice?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Warren! They have a lot of middle infielders. I think Barger is the most likely to be a good outfielder, but he’s also the best defender of that gang. Orelvis could maybe end up there and it could work. Not sure how likely he is to take to it as he’s not super twitchy. Toman and Doughty likely won’t end up in the outfield.

Gerry (Toronto):

     Sem Robberse pitched well but his strikeouts were low. Any concerns?

Geoff Pontes: I think that’s who he is, limited upside as currently constituted but he knows how to pitch and continually executes. With all of these players a sudden change in an area of deficiency could change his outlook. With Robberse it’s added power.

Jesús (Arrizona):

     Estiven Machado was finally healthy, what did the Blue Jays find out about him.

Geoff Pontes: Hi Jesus, he’s got contact skills and solid approach, not a lot of impact, a flat swing and a lot of groundball contact. He can play shortstop in a pinch but he’s a better fit for second. Not so sure what the profile is, maybe a utility guy? He’ll have to hit more.

Gerry (Toronto):

     Zach Britton hit really well in the fall league after an average regular season. Was that a sign of poor pitching in the AFL or has he found something in his swing?

Geoff Pontes: Hi Gerry! Lots of Zach Britton questions, and I think it’s more than poor quality of competition. He has plus plate discipline. He rarely chases and makes contact at an average level with average power. It’s sort of the typical Jays hitter profile, guy who can hit and does a little bit of everything.

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