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Zach Stewart's baseball career has taken several twists and turns. He made stops at Angelo State (Texas) and North Central Texas CC before transferring to Texas Tech for his junior season in 2008. The Red Raiders' pitching staff fell apart as the season wore on, and Stewart went from being their closer to their Friday-night starter. He generated some first-round buzz early in the spring, but his role changes caused his performance to suffer somewhat. The Reds drafted him in the third round, signed him for $450,000 and returned him to the bullpen for his pro debut. Though Stewart was electric as a reliever, Cincinnati moved him back to the rotation at the start of the 2009 season, in part to make him use his secondary pitches. He dominated hitters in high Class A and Double-A before the Reds shifted him to their Triple-A bullpen to keep his innings down. Soon thereafter, they traded him, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke for Scott Rolen as the Blue Jays gladly shed some payroll. Toronto kept Stewart in relief in August, again in an attempt to manage his workload. Stewart's bread and butter is his hard sinker, which sits at 92-94 mph and touches 95. He also offers a sharp 82-85 mph slider that generates more swings and misses than his fastball, which induces plenty of weak groundouts. He has given up just three homers in 138 pro innings. After rarely using his changeup as a reliever, he developed more trust in the pitch last season. He also improved the life on his changeup, imparting more sink after it had cutting action in the past. A compact athlete with a strong build, Stewart has the durability to remain in the rotation if the Jays desire. He did a better job of maintaining the quality of his stuff as a starter last year than he had in college. He also has the makeup to handle the pressure of closing games. He throws strikes and stays on top of the ball well from a three-quarters arm slot. Stewart must continue to refine his secondary pitches if he's going to be an effective big league starter. His slider can make hitters look silly but still needs more consistency, as does his changeup. His slider has the potential to go from average to plus, while his changeup has the makings of a solid-average pitch. He can get too competitive on the mound, resulting in him overthrowing and losing his ability to locate his pitches. His command isn't as advanced as his control. In his first full pro season, Stewart wasn't fazed switching organizations and roles. Another change is in store for him in 2010, when he'll open the season in the Triple-A Las Vegas rotation. He should make his big league debut later in the year. The Blue Jays haven't determined their final plan for Stewart. If he gets the most out of his secondary pitches, he has the upside of a frontline starter. He also could be a force as a setup man or closer.
The No. 2 college catching prospect behind Matt Wieters in 2007, Arencibia signed for $1,327,500 as the 21st overall pick. After struggling in his pro debut, in part because a pitch hit him on his left wrist, he has hit 27 and 21 homers in his two full seasons. Arencibia's ability to hit for power is his most attractive asset. He also has made strides behind the plate, boosting his overall value. He has a slightly above-average arm and has worked hard to shore up his once-shaky receiving skills. His game-calling has impoved as well. Scouts question how much Arencibia will hit in the major leagues because his swing is long and his bat speed is ordinary. His overly aggressive approach caught up to him in Triple-A. He still needs more polish defensively, as he threw out just 25 percent of basestealers and committed 14 passed balls in 2009. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner. Even if he never hits for a high average, Areniciba could provide 20-25 homers on an annual basis and solid defense. With only John Buck, Raul Chavez and Ramon Castro standing in his way, he'll take over in Toronto as soon as he's ready. Arencibia will return to Las Vegas to begin 2010.
As scouts flocked north of Atlanta to see Kennesaw State righthander Kyle Heckathorn last spring, they took notice of another weekend starter in Jenkins. He threw 41 consecutive scoreless innings and surprassed Heckathorn as a prospect, becoming the highest draft pick in school history when the Blue Jays selected him 20th overall. He signed late for $1.359 million and reported to instructional league. Jenkins draws comparisons to Joe Blanton because he's a physical workhorse, but he has better stuff. His fastball sits comfortably at 91-94 mph and touches 96, and its plus life allows him to pile up strikeouts and groundouts. With 83-84 mph velocity and late three-quarters tilt, his slider has the potential to be an above-average pitch. He maintains good arm speed on a changeup that has some fade. He commands all three of his pitches. Jenkins has toned up his body, but it's still soft and he'll have to maintain his conditioning. Both his slider and changeup need more work, but have the chance to improve by a full grade. He's still learning to incorporate his changeup more often after he didn't need it much in college. With his stuff, command and makeup, Jenkins should move quickly through the minors. His road to being a solid No. 3 starter should begin in high Class A Dunedin this season.
The first first-rounder from the 2008 draft to sign, Cooper agreed to a slightly belowslot $1.5 million bonus as the 17th overall pick. He hit .333/.399/.502 in his pro debut, but found the going much tougher at Double-A New Hampshire in his first full season. Cooper has the sweet swing and hand-eye coordination to hit for a high average. He made adjustments over the course of the 2009 season, shortening his swing and tinkering with some mechanics, allowing him to finish strong. He has solid gap power and is a doubles machine, with 61 in 197 pro games. It remains to be seen whether Cooper will develop the home run power teams traditionally want from their first basemen, He had trouble driving the ball against lefthanders last season, slugging just .326 against them. He's a bat-only player who has poor speed and subpar athleticism. He put more effort into improving his defense in 2009, but he's still a below-average first baseman. Despite his struggles, Cooper remains the best hitting prospect in the system. The Jays will slow him down by sending him back to Double-A at the start of the year and give him the chance to earn a midseason promotion to Triple-A. He could be ready to take over in Toronto when Lyle Overbay's contract expires after the 2010 season.
Signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Alvarez posted a 5.63 ERA in two years in Rookie ball before breaking out at low Class A Lansing in 2009. He went 9-6, 3.47 for a last-place team, leading the Midwest League in fewest walks (1.4) and homers (0.1) allowed per nine innings. Managers rated his changeup as the MWL's best. All three of Alvarez's pitches have a chance to be average or better. His best offering is his changeup, which has splitter action. When he's at his best, his fastball sits at 89-92 mph and touches 94. He commands his fastball and changeup very well, and complements them with a three-quarters breaking ball. Alvarez needs to polish his breaking ball into a true slider or curveball. His velocity fluctuates, as there are games where he works at 86-89 mph, and adding more strength would help. He's not overpowering, so he'll have little margin for error against more advanced hitters. He has some recoil and falls off to first base in his delivery, and he tends to rush his mechanics with runners on base. The Blue Jays' want to be conservative with Alvarez because of his youth, and they shut him down last August because of his innings total. Projected as a No. 4 starter, he'll step up to high Class A in 2010.
After turning in the highest score in the SPARQ physical testing at the 2008 Area Code Games, Marisnick established himself as one of the best pure athletes available in the 2009 draft. After a mediocre spring with the bat, he lasted until the third round. One of just two players to sign out of the Blue Jays' first five picks, he received a $1 million bonus at the Aug. 17 signing deadline. Marisnick's long frame is packed with raw strength and speed. He has the ingredients to develop above-average power. A plus runner, he can get down the line in 4.25 seconds from the right side of the plate. Currently a center fielder, he has a strong arm and makes accurate throws, so he'd be a good fit in right field if he has to move. If teams believed more in his bat, Marisnick could have been a first-round pick. A wrist cock in his load hinders timing and prevents him from driving the ball with authority. He needs to iron out that flaw to deliver on his five-tool potential. Marisnick gained strength between the draft and instructional league, so he could move to right field in the near future if he loses a step. For now, he'll stay in center and focus on improving at the plate. Rather than push him, Toronto will probably send him to extended spring training and have him make his pro debut at short-season Auburn in June.
Roenicke went to UCLA on a football scholarship as a quarterback/wide receiver before walking on to the baseball team and becoming the Bruins' closer. He also was a plus defender in center field, though his bat was short for pro ball. He signed with the Reds for $20,000 as a fifth-year senior drafted in the 10th round, and came to the Blue Jays in the Scott Rolen trade last summer. Roenicke made it to the big leagues quickly thanks to his power arm out of the bullpen. His fastball sits at 93-95 mph and peaks at 98 with some natural life. He also mixes in a high-80s cutter that runs and sinks. A tough competitor, he's not afraid to challenge hitters. Roenicke mostly works off his four-seam and cut fastballs. He also throws a hard slider that's inconsistent, and an adequate changeup that he rarely uses. He can fall in love with the radar gun and sometimes asks for his readings after coming off the mound. He may have tried too hard after the trade, overthrowing and battling his control. Though he scuffled with Toronto, Roenicke has nothing left to prove in Triple-A. A potential closer, the Blue Jays will give him the opportunity to make the big league bullpen in spring training.
A 22nd-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2006, Mills returned to Arizona to complete his civil-engineering degree. He went 18 rounds higher in 2007, made it to Double-A in his first full season and reached the majors in his second. He got hammered in two big league starts, went down to Triple-A and threw eight shutout innings before spending the rest of the season on the disabled list with bruised ribs. Though he's far from overpowering, Mills has averaged more than a strikeout per inning as a pro via deception. His herky-jerky delivery throws hitters off, and his ability to mix his pitches keeps them off balance. He disguises his well above-average changeup with quality arm speed. He also gets outs with his solid 12-to-6 curveball. When he commands his 87-90 mph fastball, it's effective as well. Mills' below-average velocity and his tendency to pitch up in the strike zone with his high-three-quarters delivery created problems when he faced big league hitters. He's going to have to spot his fastball more precisely in the bottom of the zone to succeed in a major league rotation. Unless he overwhelms the Jays in spring training, Mills likely will open the season back in Las Vegas. Toronto has a number of young lefthanded starter candidates, so his future with the club may lie in long relief.
Two seasons after the Tigers drafted Roberson High (Asheville, N.C.) teammate Cameron Maybin 10th overall, Jackson went 45th to the Blue Jays in the 2007 draft. Signed for $675,000, he has been slow to adjust to pro ball, hitting .221/.322/.315 in three seasons. Bothered by a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder in 2009, he was in an 0-for-27 slump when Toronto shut him down in late July to have surgery. Jackson is one of the best athletes in the system and profiles as a true shortstop. His range, hands and arm strength are better than those of most shortstops, and he's making nice progress with his reads and footwork. He draws walks and uses his solid speed to steal bases. He has some strength in his wiry frame and could fit as a No. 2 hitter if he gets going at the plate. The Jays blame his shoulder and youth for his struggles, but scouts with other organizations question Jackson's bat speed. While he's not afraid to take pitches, he often falls behind in the count and strikes out excessively. He won't ever hit for a lot of home run power, so he needs to focus on making much more contact. Tyler Pastornicky is starting to push Jackson for the title of top shortstop prospect in the system. Toronto will give Jackson a mulligan on 2009 and hope he starts to hit when he gets another crack at high Class A this season.
The Jays signed Perez as a 17-year-old out of Venezuela in 2008 and were thrilled with his performance in his U.S. debut last season. He ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and showed the potential to be a fine all-around catcher. Perez stands out most with his defensive skills. He has a plus arm, consistently records pop times around 1.9 seconds and led GCL catchers by throwing out 49 percent of basestealers. He shows a good feel for hitting, as his bat stays in the zone for a long time and he has better plate discipline than most teenagers. He's a good runner for a catcher and makes smart decisions on the basepaths. His receiving and blocking skills need more polish, but Perez is still young and has made notable improvements over the last year. He should develop gap power as he adjusts his contact-oriented approach and does a better job of incorporating his lower half in his swing. Because Perez is only 19 and hasn't played above Rookie ball, the Jays will take things slow with him. He probably will get some time in extended spring training and at Auburn this season before getting his first taste of full-season ball in 2011.
Sierra's breakout 2009 season was a bright spot on a rather uninspiring Dunedin team. The Blue Jays threw him into the fire in high Class A at age 20, and he responded well after hitting .241/.304/.366 in his first three pro seasons. He has a strong, sturdy frame, prompting one Blue Jays official to note that he would have been a linebacker had he been born in the United States. Sierra's best asset is his arm, which rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has solid-average power, which is still developing, and his swing stays on a good path through the ball. He doesn't show a lot of patience a the plate, but he doesn't strike out excessively either. Sierra is a solid-average runner and can take an extra base, though he figures to slow down a little as he fills out. His overall package fits the right-field profile, provided he realizes his power potential. He'll probably spend 2010 in Double-A, where he hit .353 in eight games at the end of last season.
The Blue Jays spent the 16th overall pick in the 2007 draft and a $1.44 million bonus on Ahrens, banking on his ability to hit for power from both sides of the plate. But like several other of Toronto's premium picks from that draft, he struggled in last season. His minor league career has been unimpressive as well, producing a .238/.313/.335 line in 275 games. Ahrens shows good swing mechanics in batting practice and has a mature, all-fields approach, and he has the raw strength to hit 15-20 homers annually in the big leagues. But his bat speed is just ordinary and while he did a better job of making contact in 2009, he didn't do much damage. A shortstop in high school, Ahrens has the athleticism, range and strong, accurate arm to play third base. He's still working on improving his reactions at the hot corner. He'll repeat high Class A in 2010 in an attempt to jump-start his bat. For all his struggles, he still has a lot of upside and is easily the best third-base prospect in the system.
The son of former big league player and manager Butch Hobson, K.C. has his father's physical strength, with big hands and forearms. He also takes after his dad with a bulldog, edgy kind of personality. The Blue Jays lured him from a commitment to Texas A&M with a $500,000 bonus after drafting him in the sixth round last June, but he signed too late to play in 2009. Hobson has a fundamentally sound and simple swing that produces big raw power. His mechanics are traditional, but he can get overaggressive at times, with his stroke getting long and his lower half opening up too soon. Hobson threw 90-91 mph off the mound and also saw action in left field as a high schooler, but he'll likely settle at first base as a pro because he has below-average speed. His feet work well around the bag and he has more arm than most first basemen. Toronto thinks he'll have the bat to profile at the position. He'll like begin 2010 in extended spring training before beginning his pro career at Auburn or in the Gulf Coast League.
Toronto took a $112,500 gamble on Farquhar in 2008, drafting him in the 10th round after he struggled as Louisiana-Lafayette's ace that spring. Originally a swingman in college, Farquhar returned to the bullpen and had an outstanding pro debut, posting a 1.95 ERA while reaching low Class A. He was even better in his first full pro season, saving 22 games between two stops and having no trouble handling Double-A hitters. Farquhar has good stuff, but his delivery is what sets him apart. He uses a couple of different arm angles to keep hitters off balance. From his higher slot he sits at 93-94 mph and can bump 95-96 with his four-seam fastball. He also can drop down and offer an 88-91 mph two-seamer with sink. His secondary stuff consists of a curveball from the higher slot, as well as a slurvy breaker from down low. He has good life on his pitches thanks to his long arms and is incredibly tough on righthanders. The downside of the different arm slots is that Farquhar battles his command. Farquhar may never locate his pitches well enough to be a big league closer, but he's an asset out of the bullpen and could press for a job in Toronto this year.
Perez hasn't made the quickest climb through the system since signing in 2003, but he has come on strong in the last few years and claimed a spot on the 40-man roster after the 2008 season. It took him three years to get out of the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before he finally made his U.S. debut in 2007. He made a successful jump to Double-A and made an appearance in the Futures Game last year. Perez's 89-91 mph fastball is his out pitch, a heavy sinker that touches 93. Hitters drive the pitch into the ground, as evidenced by his 2.15 groundout/airout ratio at New Hampshire. His secondary offerings are inconsistent but are quality pitches when they're on. His slider can be slurvy at times, and he's still learning to use his changeup more often. Perez could be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but it may be more realistic to project him as a reliever at this point. He'll add some final polish in Triple-A before pitching in Toronto at some point in 2010.
Schimpf's size and style of play leads to obvious comparisons to Dustin Pedroia, another diminutive second baseman who wreaks havoc on offense. Schimpf signed for $155,700 as a fifth-round pick last summer after helping Louisiana State to a College World Series title. He spent most of the spring in left field for the Tigers, but he fits best at second base. After hitting .336/.449/.668 in 262 college at-bats, Schimpf continued to produce in his pro debut. He's a good athlete with a knack for hitting. He has a short stroke and surprising power for a guy his size. He projects to hit lots of doubles, and the Jays think he could produce 15 or more homers per season. He should also steal 15 or more bases annually with his tick above-average speed. Schimpf is reliable if not spectacular at second base. He has a fringy arm and needs to get a better feel for the position, starting with turning double plays. He could open his first full pro season in high Class A.
The Blue Jays went to the Florida high school ranks for two of their top five picks in the 2008 draft, and fifth-rounder Pastornicky has surpassed second-round outfielder Kenny Wilson in the early stages of their development. He's the son of Cliff Pastornicky, who played with the 1983 Royals and now scouts for Kansas City. An athletic infielder, Pastornicky doesn't have flashy tools but gets the most out of what he has. He has good instincts at shortstop, along with plus range and an average arm. He's an above-average runner and basestealer, which opposing catchers quickly figured out as he swiped 57 bases between two Class A stops in 2009. Pastornicky has a line-drive stroke and projects as a .275 hitter in the big leagues. The only thing he lacks is power, as he has hit just two homers in 636 pro at-bats. But as a potential top-of-the-order hitter who provides sound defense, he may not need it. Pastornicky got a taste of high Class A at the end of last season and likely will return there to begin 2010. If he doesn't end up as an everyday shortstop, he could be a very useful utilityman.
Thames' draft stock skyrocketed when he hit .407 with 13 homers during his redshirt junior season at Pepperdine in 2008. But he tore a quadriceps muscle in his right leg shortly before the draft, causing him to fall to the Blue Jays in the seventh round. After signing for $150,000, he had surgery to repair his quad and didn't make his pro debut in 2009. He pounded high Class A pitching, but missed all of July and a couple of weeks in August when his quad flared up on him again. Thames has a rock-solid build and is very strong. He has plus bat speed, a sound stroke and solid plate discipline. When he's healthy and not holding back, he shows average speed. His arm is average as well, and he fits best defensively in left field. Assuming Thames is healthy in spring training, he could get a crack at making the Double-A roster.
Collins led his Worcester Technical High team to the Massachusetts Division 2 title in 2007, sporting a 7-0, 0.17 record on the mound and a league-leading .472 average at the plate. But because he stands just 5-foot-7, he went undrafted and was ready to attend CC of Rhode Island. Former Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, a native of Worcester, saw Collins pitch, however, and had him work out for the club. Toronto signed him as a free agent and has watched him scrap his way up the ladder to Double-A. He gets outs with a solid fastball that tops out at 93 mph and a true 12-to-6 curveball that he spins really well. His quirky delivery helps him as well. He has a high three-quarters arm slot and does an especially good job of staying on top of the ball and driving down despite his height. He has a high leg kick and stands as far to the third-base side of the rubber as possible. Working exclusively out of the bullpen, Collins hasn't used a changeup much. As he moves up he'll need to command his pitches better. Pro hitters didn't touch him until he got to New Hampshire at the end of 2009, and he'll return to Double-A to begin the 2010 season.
Webb was one of the top high school righthanders available in the 2008 draft, but he scared teams off with his asking price and fell to the Diamondbacks in the 12th round. Arizona couldn't sign him and Webb's commitment to Kentucky fell through when he didn't qualify academically, so he ended up at Northwest Florida State JC. He didn't have much success there and went in the 18th round in 2009. When the Jays couldn't reach agreements with several of their top picks, they took some of that money and signed him for $450,000 at the Aug. 17 deadline. Webb has a good pitcher's frame and a live arm. His fastball sits in the low 90s, touched 94 last spring and peaked at 96 after he turned pro. He has a good feel for a changeup that could be an average to plus pitch once he polishes it. His curveball isn't what it was in high school and needs to be tightened up. He also can be erratic with a slinging arm action. Webb could be an effective starter with his fastball/changeup combination and his ability to hold his velocity deep into games. But he'll have to move into a relief role if he can't improve his command and curve. He signed too late to make his pro debut in 2009 but got some work in during instructional league. He could head to low Class A if he has a good spring.
Chavez hasn't progressed as quickly as the Blue Jays hoped he would after signing him as 16-year-old out of Venezuela in 2005, but he showed signs of tapping into his potential last year. Returning to Lansing after a dismal 2008 there, he had his best season as a pro, increasing his OPS by 225 points. He put in lots of work in the batting cage and finally seemed comfortable at the plate. Chavez already is maxed out physically, with a strong 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame. He tapped into his raw power last season, hitting 21 home runs in a pitcher-friendly league. He still needs to develop a more consistent approach and improve his plate discipline. Chavez has an above-average arm, but his fringy range and defensive instincts probably will relegate him to left field. He's an average runner. He'll head to high Class A in 2010.
The nephew of former NHL defenseman Keith Magnuson, Trystan walked on the baseball team at Louisville and became the closer on the Cardinals' 2007 College World Series team as a fifth-year senior. The Blue Jays drafted him 56th overall that June and signed him for $462,500, though his pro debut was pushed back until 2008 because he had a sore elbow. Toronto toyed with the idea of making him a starter but kept him on tight pitch counts. He didn't have much success in the rotation, and he looked much more comfortable when he returned to the bullpen last year. With his tall, thin frame, Magnuson generates good velocity. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph and can get up to 94. He throws downhill and has confidence working in relief. Roving pitching instructor Dane Johnson helped him with a two-seam grip, improving the life on his fastball. Magnuson also throws a mid-80s slider that can be a plus pitch but sometimes lack depth. He's also working on a splitter. After reaching Double-A at the tail end of 2009, he'll return there this season and could push for a big league callup in September if all goes well.
In the 2002 high school draft crop, Dopirak's raw power was considered comparable to Prince Fielder's. Eight years later, Fielder has 160 homers in the major leagues, while Dopirak has 145--all in the minors. He ranked as the Cubs' No. 1 prospect after a 2004 season in which he hit 39 homers and won Midwest League MVP honors, but he got off to a slow start the next year and messed up his swing and plate discipline trying desperately to hit for power. Released by the Cubs at the end of spring training in 2008, he signed with the Blue Jays, in part because they sent him to Dunedin, his hometown. In two seasons in the Toronto system, Dopirak has batted .313/.372/.554 and led the Eastern League with a .576 slugging percentage last year. His success has come with a change in approach. Previously a dead-pull, all-or-nothing hitter, he now uses the entire field without sacrificing any of his considerable power. In batting practice, he exclusively works up the middle and to right-center. He still takes a big hack and probably won't hit for a high average, but his strength is undeniable. He's a below-average runner and first baseman, so all of his value comes from his bat. Dopirak has shown enough to warrant a spot on the 40-man roster and could get his first big callup in 2010, though he'll see some more time in Triple-A first.
Goins hit 22 homers at Dallas Baptist last spring, propelling him into the fourth round of the draft and earning him a $216,000 bonus. Though he didn't go deep in his pro debut, he hit his way to low Class A. He's in the Brian Roberts mold and plays with a lot of energy, often getting dirty even in pregame drills. Despite showing power in college, Goins isn't expected to produce a lot of homers with wood bats. He'll be better off driving doubles to the gaps than trying to hit balls out of the park. He has a short, compact swing that stays in the zone a long time, and he has a knack for barreling balls. While he has a plus arm, Goins may not be an everyday shortstop because he has below-average speed and range. He projects better as an offensive second baseman. He should return to Lansing, at least for the start of the 2010 season.
An ankle injury slowed Emaus during his junior year at Tulane, causing him to slide to the 11th round of the 2007 draft. He made his full-season debut in high Class A in 2008 and impressed the Blue Jays with his allaround skills, then carried that over to big league spring training last year, hitting .306/.370/.694 in 49 at-bats. He couldn't continue his momentum in Double-A, however. Emaus has solid tools across the board but gets higher marks for his moxie and approach to the game. He has a consistent swing and can pepper the gaps. He has good plate discipline and puts together quality at-bats. He got overanxious at the plate last season and got away from his usual stroke, which contributed to his struggles. Emaus projects to hit 10-15 homers annually in the big leagues and could use more strength down the road. Though he has slightly below-average speed, he has good baserunning instincts. Emaus' defense is improving at second base after he played third base in his first pro summer. He turns double plays well and has plenty of arm for second base. He'll return to Double-A and try to get back on track in 2010.
Liebel spent most of his first three seasons at Long Beach State as a reliever before getting a chance to start. He went 8-4, 2.22 as a senior, pitching his way into the third round of the 2008 draft and signing for $340,000. He has more polish than stuff, with enough savvy that the Blue Jays sent him to high Class A for his first full pro season and promoted him to Double-A at the end of the year. Liebel's fastball sits at 88-89 mph and maxes out at 91, but he gets good movement and relies on his control. He sells his plus changeup well and does a nice job of mixing in an overhand curveball and a slider, though both breaking balls are fringy at this point. He can't overpower hitters but aggressively goes after them anyway. He doesn't have a huge ceiling, but he could be a back-of-the-rotation option after another year in the minors. He'll go back to New Hampshire to start 2010.
One of the four high schoolers the Blue Jays drafted in the first two rounds in 2007, Tolisano led the Gulf Coast League with 10 homers in his pro debut. Like the rest of those premium picks, he has struggled to hit since. Tolisano's bat is supposed to be his strong suit. He has a compact body and swing, showing surprising power for his size. A switch-hitter, his swing is solid from both sides, albeit slightly better from the left. He made more contact in 2009, but he still needs further improvement on his plate discipline. Though Tolisano has slightly above-average speed, he's not a basestealing threat. He's an average defender at second with an average arm, and he has made improvements on the angles he takes to balls. He's a slightly above-average runner. He's a hard worker, but he needs to improve his conditioning after wilting in the heat of the Florida State League toward the end of last season. He'll return there to open 2010.
The Blue Jays signed Wilson away from a Florida commitment with a $644,000 bonus in 2008, and he immediately established himself as one of the best athletes and runners in the organization. If he doesn't do a better job of getting on base, though, he won't get the most out of his ability. Wilson began working on switch-hitting in instructional league after the 2008 season and gave it a try in games toward the end of 2009. He has a simple swing and can get down the line in less than 4.0 seconds on a swing from his natural right side, and Toronto wants to see what he may be capable of from the left side. He has good instincts on the bases and has stolen 65 bases in 146 pro games. Wilson never will hit for much power, but he can become a bigger threat at the plate if he improves his pitch recognition and plate discipline. He gets good jumps and has plus range in center field. His arm is average. Wilson missed six weeks with a hip injury last year, so he'll likely return to low Class A to get his feet under him at the start of 2010.
While the Blue Jays' recent history of signing expensive international free agents hasn't worked out well, they're optimistic about a pair of 2008 signees, catcher Carlos Perez and Pierre. Perez took a bigger step forward last season and ranks higher on this list, but Pierre may have a higher ceiling. Signed for $700,000 out of the Dominican Republic, he has a great body with plenty of physical projection remaining. He's long and lean with fast-twitch muscles. Pierre has above-average speed and has the frame to develop solid power. He's still raw at the plate and swings at everything, but he's also just 18 and has plenty of time to make adjustments. There was a lot of disagreement about his arm strength before he signed, but it turned out that Pierre had an injured elbow that required Tommy John surgery. He has an average arm and good actions at shortstop, but he may have to move off the position as he fills out. Pierre figures to spend time in extended spring training before shipping out to Auburn in June.
Gonzalez doesn't exactly have the profile of a major league pitcher. He's a stocky 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, and he's a righthanded finesse pitcher. Though a groin injury limited him to 17 starts in 2009, he posted a 2.90 ERA in Double-A, continuing his steady progression through the minors since signing as a 19th-round pick in 2005. Gonzalez succeeds via command of four pitches. He works both sides of the plate with his 89-92 mph four-seam fastball, and uses a two-seamer to get grounders. He also mixes in an average curveball and changeup. Gonzalez keeps the ball down in the zone and minimizes the walks and homers he allows, but he doesn't have a swing-and-miss pitch. He projects as more of a middle reliever than a starter in the big leagues, though the Blue Jays protected him on their 40-man roster this offseason rather than expose him to the Rule 5 draft. He'll get his first shot at Triple-A in 2010.
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