Toronto Blue Jays 2020 Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
STATE OF THE SYSTEM
Entering the year, the Blue Jays had a tremendous system, buttressed at the top by RHP Nate Pearson, who was the second-highest ranked pitching prospect in the game, behind only Padres LHP MacKenzie Gore, talented but injured SS Jordan Groshans, precocious RHP Simeon Woods Richardson and intriguing C Alejandro Kirk. Then the draft dominoes started falling and Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin fell into their laps with the fifth overall pick. Toronto was happy to snap up Martin, whom Baseball America ranked as the draft’s No. 2 overall prospect, and add him to their collection of talent. The quartet of Pearson, Martin, Groshans and Woods Richardson gives the Jays four Top 100 Prospects.
1. Nate Pearson, RHP
Pearson is a potential frontline starter, armed with some of the best pure stuff of any pitching prospect in the game. He's major league-ready right now and will be a key factor if the Blue Jays are able to sneak their way into a playoff spot during a shortened season.
2. Austin Martin, SS
The Blue Jays picked fifth overall in the 2020 draft and got the No. 2 player available, with Martin stepping in as a top 25 prospect in baseball already. The Blue Jays plan to develop Martin at shortstop, but he has the versatility to move around the infield or head to center field as well.
3. Jordan Groshans, SS
Groshans, who didn't play after May 13 last year due to an injured left foot, is in Toronto's 60-man player pool to get much needed development. He might end up moving to third base, but he has the combination of hitting ability and power to be an above-average regular at the position.
4. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
Acquired in last year's trade for Marcus Stroman, Woods Richardson is still 19 but likely would have been at Double-A at this point during a normal season. He's a polished strike-thrower with a chance for average to above-average stuff across the board.
5. Alejandro Kirk, C
Kirk is polarizing and unconventional, which is immediately apparent from his Pablo Sandoval-type body. Like Sandoval, Kirk has an innate ability to barrel baseballs consistently, along with a good sense of the strike zone. He has a chance to stick behind the plate if he can keep his conditioning and mobility in check.
6. Alek Manoah, RHP
The Blue Jays have a collection of extra-large pitchers, including the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Manoah, their first-round pick in the 2019 draft out of West Virginia. He has a power arm, sitting at 93-96 and touching 98 mph, with a slider that flashes plus.
7. Orelvis Martinez, SS
Toronto's big-ticket international signing in 2018, Martinez raked last year to become the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and put himself just on the periphery of Top 100 prospect conversations. Yet while other top 2018 international signings like Marco Luciano (Giants), Diego Cartaya (Dodgers) and Noelvi Marte (Mariners) are in their clubs' 60-man prospect pools, Martinez is not in Toronto's pool.
8. Gabriel Moreno, C
Moreno was one of the big risers in the farm system a year ago after hitting .280/.337/.485 in 82 games for low Class A Lansing. At 20, Moreno is an athletic catcher with the excellent hand-eye coordination to make frequent contact.
9. Miguel Hiraldo, SS/2B
Hiraldo, 19, has shown why several scouts considered him one of the best hitters available in the 2017 international class, hitting .300/.348/.481 last year in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. His range probably fits better at third base, but he has the hitting skill and ability to drive the ball with impact to profile there.
10. Anthony Kay, LHP
Acquired with righthander Simeon Woods Richardson in the Marcus Stroman deal a year ago, Kay sits in the low 90s and can reach 96. He doesn't have a plus pitch among his secondary weapons, but they can flash average and should allow him to slot in as a back-end starter as soon as this year.
- Adam Kloffenstein, RHP
- C.J. Van Eyk, RHP
- Otto Lopez, SS/2B
- Estiven Machado, SS
- Eric Pardinho, RHP
- Shun Yamaguchi, RHP
- Kendall Williams, RHP
- Griffin Conine, OF
- Leonardo Jimenez, SS
- Rikelvin De Castro, SS
- Patrick Murphy, RHP
- Victor Mesia, C
- Santiago Espinal, SS/2B
- Alberto Rodriguez, OF
- Dasan Brown, OF
- Reese McGuire, C
- Anthony Alford, OF
- Kevin Smith, SS
- Joey Murray, RHP
- Yennsy Diaz, RHP
The Blue Jays have an exciting young nucleus of hitters in the major leagues with more on the way on the farm. Between Austin Martin and Jordan Groshans, the Blue Jays have two shortstops ranked among the top 35 prospects in baseball. With catchers Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno, Toronto has a pair of promising backstops who have reached the Class A levels, while shortstops Orelvis Martinez and Miguel Hiraldo are two of the best hitters who would have played at low Class A during a normal season. They're part of a strong group of Latin American prospects throughout the lower levels of the organization.
The Blue Jays don't have a glaring hole in their minor league pipeline, which is part of why they have one of the game's best farm systems. The organization as a whole needs more pitching, though, and especially after Pearson graduates, they will need to get more from their hurlers. They started bolstering their arms last year by drafting Alek Manoah in the first round and trading for Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay. Righthanders Adam Kloffenstein and Kendall Williams would have been breakout candidates during a normal year, though neither of them is in the team's player pool.
PLAYER POOL TIDBITS
The Blue Jays stacked their prospect pool with the majority of their top prospects who have full-season experience. RHP Nate Pearson should be in the big leagues soon, with the Blue Jays holding him down temporarily to gain an extra year of service time from him. First-round pick Austin Martin is here, joined by fellow SS Jordan Groshans, who missed most of last season due to a foot injury. RHP Simeon Woods Richardson and C Alejandro Kirk are fellow top 10 prospects in the pool. SS Orelvis Martinez and Miguel Hiraldo—two younger prospects who haven't reached full-season ball—are not in the player pool. Neither is RHP Alek Manoah, the team's 2019 first-round pick out of West Virginia.
RHP Eric Pardinho is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery. That's not a total surprise and it doesn't ding Pardinho's value as much as it would for a pitcher coming off a normal season, since some of that injury risk was already baked into his projection. A sore right elbow kept Pardinho out last year until the end of June, and when he returned, his stuff wasn't as crisp as what he showed the year before. The surgery drops Pardinho's value some, but it's possible his stock could rebound higher than it was coming into the year if he comes back healthy in 2021 and shows the stuff that helped him dominate in 2018.