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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 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 he 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. Following the season, d'Arnaud joined Team USA. 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. D'Arnaud 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. His quick hands, compact swing and all-fields approach 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 Butera, who caught for nine 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. He has fine leadership skills and does a nice job of running a pitching staff. While he's a below-average runner like most catchers, he doesn't clog the bases. 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 could make his debut late in the 2012 season and push Arencibia in 2013.
While Gose ran his fastball up to 97 mph in high school, shoulder problems and his desire to play every day prompted the Phillies to draft him as an outfielder. The Blue Jays coveted him during Roy Halladay trade talks in 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 flipped him for Brett Wallace. 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. 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.
The 2009 draft was disappointing for the Blue Jays, with three of their top five picks declining to sign. One bright spot from that class is Marisnick, who signed for $1 million as a third-rounder and had a breakout season when he repeated the low Class A Midwest League in 2011. He hit .320/.392/.496 at Lansing after batting .220/.298/.339 the year before. 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. 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.
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. He helped take the edge off of the failure to sign 21st overall pick Tyler Beede. 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. 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.
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). 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. 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.
Sanchez drew Orel Hershiser comparisons while starring at the Area Code Games and Aflac All-American Game in the summer of 2009, looking like he was setting the stage to go in the first round of the 2010 draft. The Blue Jays were excited 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 55 innings in 14 outings in 2011. 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. 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.
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. He recorded a 1.83 ERA and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011, earning two promotions in two months. 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. 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.
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. 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. He learned that pro hitters jump on high pitches and he made the necessary adjustments as 2011 progressed. 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.
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 Hutchinson, 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, finishing the year by allowing two runs in four Double-A starts, including six shutout innings in the Eastern League playoffs. 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 for a youngster. 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.
The second-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. 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. Like many big-body pitchers, he needs to work on repeating his mechanics. 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.
Dean had a lackluster summer on the showcase circuit, but he rebounded with a solid spring at The Colony (Texas) High to emerge as the top third-base prospect in the 2011 high school class. Nevertheless, his commitment to Texas drove him down draft boards. The Blue Jays took him in the 13th round and signed him away from the Longhorns at the Aug. 15 deadline with a $737,500 bonus. He signed too late to make his pro debut, though he did get his feet wet in instructional league. Dean has a good, strong frame with broad shoulders and room to fill out. His lower-half mechanics need a small adjustment--he has a leg kick that can get things out of sync--but his upper body works well with his swing and he has above-average raw power to all fields. He also projects to hit for solid average. Dean has loose actions and played shortstop in high school, but he'll shift to third base as a pro. He should be a good defender, and his above-average arm should make for a seamless transition to the hot corner. He projects as a tick below-average runner once he matures physically. As the son of a coach--he played for his father Martin in high school--Dean earns typical praise for his work ethic and competitiveness. He'll probably spend time in extended spring training before getting his first pro assignment to Rookie-level Bluefield or Vancouver in June.
Some teams viewed Jimenez as a third-round talent in the 2008 draft, but his tender elbow made most clubs uneasy and he fell to the ninth round, where the Blue Jays snagged him and signed him for $150,000. His elbow hasn't been an issue in pro ball, where he has thrown out 42 percent of basestealers in four seasons. His bat has started to catch up to his defense, and he earned team MVP honors while helping Dunedin to the Florida State League's best record in 2011. Jimenez does it all behind the plate, blocking and receiving well while showing an above-average, accurate arm. Managers rated him the best defensive catcher in the FSL last year, when he had just six passed balls in 98 games and erased 44 percent of basestealers. He also did a nice job handling a pitching staff that included several of Toronto's best young arms. Jimenez has made significant strides as a hitter, showing good bat speed and improved pitch recognition. He batted in every spot in the Dunedin order except leadoff and cleanup last year, spending most of the second half in the No. 2 hole. He hits to all fields and consistently barrels balls. He has some gap power, but home runs won't be a big part of his game. Surprisingly for a catcher, he's is an average runner. Jimenez will head to Double-A in 2012, with J.P. Arencibia and Travis d'Arnaud looming as large obstacles ahead.
A member of the Cuban junior national team, Hechavarria defected to Mexico in July 2009. Numerous teams coveted him, including the Yankees, but the Blue Jays signed him to a four-year major league contract with a club-record $4 million bonus and a total guarantee of $10 million in April 2010. Though he struggled at the plate during most of his two seasons in the United States, Toronto moved him up to Las Vegas last August to see if the hitter-friendly environment would get him going. It was just 25 games, but Hechavarria batted .389/.431/.537. Scouts expect him to hit for average because he has quick hands and a good swing path, but he doesn't walk much and strikes out too often because of poor plate discipline. He has gap power and may add strength, but he'll never be a significant home run threat. As long as he's adequate offensively, however, defense and speed will get Hechavarria to the big leagues. He has a live body with quick actions and a plus arm. He's also a plus runner and should be a basestealing threat if he refines his technique. Hechavarria will return to Triple-A to open 2012, but because of his contract he'll probably get a look from the Blue Jays at some point during the season. He eventually could push Yunel Escobar to second base.
After being named his team's MVP in each of his first three seasons in the Blue Jays organization and ranking as the No. 1 prospect in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2010, Perez experienced his first adversity last year. A career .299 hitter heading into the season, he got his first taste of full-season ball. He struggled with the cold weather in the Midwest League early in the year, and the grind of catching 89 games took a toll in the second half, resulting in by far his worst offensive season to date. Perez still has solid catch-and-throw skills and projects to be at least an average defender. Quick feet allow him to get into good throwing position, and he has solid arm strength with a quick release. He threw out 29 percent of basestealers in 2011. While his performance last season didn't show it, Perez generally handles the bat well. He presently has gap power and may grow into more, though it will mostly come to his pull side. He controls the strike zone reasonably well. He's a below-average runner but has good instincts on the bases. Toronto isn't inclined to rush Perez thanks to its depth behind the plate, so he may repeat low Class A in 2012. The system's catching talent means he'll need to get back on track or risk getting lost in the shuffle.
Sierra had a breakout season in 2009, when Toronto challenged him with an assignment to high Class A even though he had enjoyed little success in the lower minors. His encore was ruined by injuries, however, as a stress fracture in his leg, a strained oblique and a wrist ailment limited him to 20 games. He got back on track in 2011 with a solid year in Double-A. Sierra has plus raw power and at least plus-plus arm strength, giving him a good profile for right field. He has an uppercut to his swing and tends to open early on his front side, so he probably won't ever hit much more than .270. His lack of patience holds down his batting average too, though he doesn't strike out excessively. Though Sierra is an aggressive player and runs well for his size, he won't be a threat to steal. He tried to make things happen on the bases last season, but that's not likely to continue after he was caught 14 times in 30 steal attempts. He's an average defender in right field. Sierra will head to Las Vegas to open 2012, where the offensive environment will give him a great platform to showcase his power. He could make his major league debut later in the season.
The son of the former major league outfielder of the same name, Dwight Jr. was one of the best pure high school bats in the 2011 draft class. A Georgia Tech recruit, he bypassed college to sign with Toronto for $800,000 as the 53rd overall selection. Like many of the Blue Jays' high picks, he signed too late to make his pro debut. Smith has a low-maintenance swing that allows him to keep his bat in the hitting zone for a long time, and he generates exceptional bat speed. He uses a leg kick but benefits from a major league pedigree and has a knack for timing it properly. He uses the entire field well and can drive the ball in the gaps, showing average present power. An average runner, Smith shows good instincts in the outfield. He runs balls down and will have every opportunity to stick in center field. He has some arm strength, though if he has to move it likely will be to left field, where there would be more pressure on his bat. Smith will begin 2012 in extended spring training, but if his advanced bat translates to the pro game, he could move faster than the typical high school draft pick.
With his projectable frame and raw stuff, Comer looked like a lock to be picked in the first three rounds of the 2011 draft, but an inconsistent spring had teams wondering if they should try to buy him out of his commitment to Vanderbilt. A mandatory school trip and poor weather limited his time on the mound early in the season, but he was able to log more innings in the New Jersey high school playoffs and the Blue Jays saw enough to take him 57th overall. Just days after he was drafted, he pitched his Seneca High team to the Group 3 state championship. Toronto went down to the wire in signing Comer, inking him to a $1.65 million bonus at the deadline. When he's on, Comer has a live fastball that ranges from 88-96 mph and generally sits around 91-93. His athleticism and projectable frame mean he should find more velocity and possibly operate in the mid-90s. He shows the ability to spin a curveball, and some scouts think his will be a plus pitch in time. He has tried split and circle grips with his changeup, which will need time to develop. Comer has a clean arm action and delivery, and he gets good angle to his pitches. Like most of the Jays' late 2011 signees, he'll start this year in extended spring training and make his pro debut in Rookie or short-season ball.
Cardona signed in July 2010 for $2.8 million, a record for a Venezuelan pitcher and the second-highest bonus for an international free agent in Blue Jays history. He made his pro debut last June in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, where he was the second-youngest regular starting pitcher. Cardona's fastball sat at 89-91 mph when he signed and picked up 2-3 mph last summer. His ideal, projectable pitcher's frame has scouts thinking that he could continue to add velocity. Cardona's No. 2 pitch is a changeup that keeps hitters off balance because he throws it with good arm speed. He also has a curveball that needs plenty of work. Cardona threw straight over the top when he turned pro, but Toronto has worked on lowering his arm slot to closer to three-quarters. That slot is easier for him to repeat, and he can still keep the ball down in the zone with plenty of zip on his pitches. There's effort in his delivery, which along with his lack of a breaking ball eventually could land him in the bullpen. It's still too early for that decision, though. Cardona will be 18 this year, so he'll likely open in extended spring training before reporting to Vancouver in June.
After his brief 2010 pro debut, Sweeney looked like a potential breakout candidate because of his advanced high school bat and smooth transition from prep shortstop to pro third baseman. Instead, he played just nine games in 2011 before breaking a bone at the base of his left thumb when he got caught in a rundown and fell, ending his season. Like his older brother Ryan, an outfielder with the Athletics, Kellen attracted scouting interest as a two-way player in high school. His pitching career ended when he had Tommy John surgery in August 2009, but his pedigree and smooth stroke got him drafted in the second round and earned him an above-slot $600,000 bonus. Sweeney has polish and hitting ability, with quick bat speed and an idea of the strike zone. He's a patient hitter and will draw plenty of walks, though the Blue Jays want him to be more aggressive. He's strong and should develop at least average power. At third base, Sweeney has soft hands, quick feet and average arm strength. He's an average runner. Sweeney's lost 2011 has put him a little behind and may lead him to start this year in extended spring training, but his bat should be able to handle a jump to a full-season league at some point in 2012.
Musgrove had a solid outing at the Southern California Invitational Showcase at Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy to kick off his high school senior season in 2011, and he improved his stock as much as any prepster in the state as the season wore on. The Blue Jays took him 47th overall and inked him quickly for a below-slot $500,000 bonus, the lowest among the six players they signed in the first two rounds. Musgrove was more than a money-saver, however. His heavy fastball has the best combination of velocity and life among all the power arms Toronto signed last summer, sitting at 90-94 mph and touching 98. He has two breaking balls, and the Jays will have him concentrate on sharpening his slider. His curveball shows some power too, with downer action and high-70s velocity. He uses a splitter as a changeup. Musgrove has an easy delivery. He's working to get a little more length to his arm stroke in the back while separating his hands closer to his waist in order to get more angle and plane on his pitches. He got a jump on many of Toronto's other 2011 draftees by signing quickly, so he could open his first full pro season in low Class A. He projects to be a workhorse starter thanks to his big, durable body and stuff.
Anderson burst into prominence as a prospect when he won the home run derby at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in August 2010. One of his home runs nearly landed on Waveland Avenue. Because Chino (Calif.) High didn't have a good option at first base, Anderson usually played there, frustrating scouts who wanted to see him work in the outfield. Some wondered whether his bat was ready for pro ball because of his questionable pitch-recognition skills, but the Blue Jays took him 35th overall last June. He ended up being Toronto's highest pick to sign, agreeing to a $990,000 bonus almost two weeks before the signing deadline, allowing him to get in some action in the Gulf Coast League. Anderson has long levers in his projectable frame, yet also has a short, simple swing that allows him to hit to all fields. He has good bat speed and should have at least average power. He's new to the outfield and perhaps could hold down center field with his solid speed, but he profiles better in right field. He's working on a long-toss program to build up his arm strength, which should be at least average. His size and athleticism have prompted comparisons to Alex Rios. The Jays likely will take things slow with Anderson, leaving him in extended spring training to start 2012.
Cooper was considered one of the best pure bats in the 2008 draft, which prompted the Blue Jays to snag him with the 17th overall pick and sign him to a slightly below-slot bonus of $1.5 million. He has shown he can handle the bat in the minors with a career line of .299/.373/.462 in four years in the minors. He had his best season yet in 2011, leading the minors with a .439 on-base percentage and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a .364 average, 170 hits and 51 doubles. He benefited from playing his home games at Las Vegas' Cashman Field, one of the best hitter's parks in the minors, yet he hit only nine homers. Lack of longball power is the drawback with Cooper and a problem for a first baseman. He doesn't pull the ball well, instead hitting line drives to the opposite field. To profile as a regular in the major leagues, Cooper will have to continue to hit for a high average and rack up doubles while providing at least 15-20 homers per season. He doesn't offer much else besides his bat, as he's a below-average runner who still needs to work to become an average defender. He's blocked at first base in Toronto by Adam Lind, who is under control through 2016, so Cooper was the subject of trade rumors this offseason.
Crouse was the youngest player on the Canadian national team that played in the World Cup and Pan American Games following the 2011 minor league season. He was part of the first goldmedal squad in Canadian baseball history, winning a championship at the Pan Am games. His father Ray was a running back in the NFL and Canadian Football League, and the family settled in British Columbia. Michael is built like a linebacker with a muscular 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame, and he played both sports growing up. He focused on baseball in high school and signed for $150,000 as a 16th-round pick in 2008. His lack of experience meant he spent parts of three year in Rookie ball and didn't play an entire year in full-season ball until 2011. Crouse has average power and the ball jumps off his bat, but evaluators aren't sold on his swing. It's a stiff, choppy stroke, though it's short and quick to the ball. He's a solid runner with good instincts on the bases, and he needs to improve his plate discipline so he can make more use of his speed. He has good instincts in the outfield and might be able to handle center field, though he played right field at Lansing in deference to Jake Marisnick. Crouse has enough arm strength for right and recorded 13 assists in 88 games last season. He'll move up to high Class A in 2012.
A Canadian, Knecht played for the national team at the 2008 World Junior Championships. After declining to sign with the Brewers as a a 23rd-round pick out of a Toronto high school in 2008, he initially attended Oklahoma State but got just 12 at-bats as a freshman. He transferred to Connors State (Okla.) JC for 2010, when he hit .453 with 21 homers and slugged his way into the supplemental third round. He was part of an all-prospect Lansing outfield last year, playing left field alongside Jake Marisnick and Michael Crouse. Knecht's best tool is his bat, as he has plus bat speed and power potential. He uses a quick, line-drive stroke to hit to all fields. He's still raw, but he shows a willingness to draw walks. The rest of his game is nothing special, as he's a fringy runner whose arm is average at best. He's an adequate defender best suited for left field, and he has the offensive upside to profile there. Crouse and Knecht are neck-and-neck on the organization depth chart and should advance together in the short term, teaming up again in high Class A in 2012.
Hawkins bypassed a scholarship to Tennessee to sign for a slightly below-slot $350,000 as a third-round pick in 2010. He was a high school shortstop who moved to third base in his pro debut, but he struggled at the hot corner and moved to left field last season. If his performance in the Rookie-level Appalachian League is any indication, he may have enough bat for the position. Everything Hawkins does looks stiff and awkward at first, though it works. He has an arm bar in his swing, but he makes up for it with strong, quick wrists that help him consistently square pitches up. He could have average or better power down the line. More experienced pitchers might pose a challenge when they bust harder stuff inside, but he has good strength and draws walks at a solid rate. Hawkins runs well once he gets going and racked up six triples last summer. He's limited to left field because of his fringy arm and he can make the routine play there. He'll advance to low Class A in 2012.
Stilson enjoyed nothing but success in college, setting a Texarkana (Texas) JC record with 12 wins as a freshman, leading NCAA Division I in ERA (0.80) as a sophomore reliever after transferring to Texas A&M and becoming the Aggies' Friday starter last spring. He projected as a first-round pick until injuring his shoulder last May. The initial diagnosis was a torn labrum that would require an operation, but subsequent exams led to the belief he could recover with rest and rehab. The Blue Jays gambled a third-round pick on him and signed him for $500,000 two days before the deadline. He has taken it easy after a heavy workload in college and has avoided surgery so far. When healthy, Stilson has quality stuff in a fastball that ranges from 91-96 mph and a wipeout changeup that grades ahead of his heater. He also has a hard breaking ball and the ability to vary its angle and shape to turn it into a curveball or a slider. With his maximum-effort delivery, Stilson is probably best suited for relief, which also could limit wear and tear on his shoulder. He could move quickly in a bullpen role, and he's an intense competitor who could thrive as a set-up man or closer. Toronto plans on breaking him into pro ball as a starter, however. Assuming he's healthy, he should make his pro debut in high Class A this year.
Thon was the Blue Jays' 11th pick (fifth round) in 2010 but got the second-highest bonus in their draft class at $1.5 million, thanks to his all-around potential and the leverage of a Rice scholarship. While he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father Dickie, a former all-star shortstop who played 15 seasons in the big leagues, he has some catching up to do after not concentrating solely on baseball in high school and battling an unspecified blood disorder in 2011. The numbers Thon put up in limited time in the Gulf Coast League didn't reflect the improvements Toronto thought he had made. He has gotten bigger and stronger, which has translated to his swing. He drives the ball hard to all fields with a line-drive stroke. He could become an above-average hitter with plus power. Thon also possesses above-average tools in his speed and range at shortstop. His arm is average, though his added strength may help him improve in that regard. Thon lost needed development time last year, so he still might not be ready for a full-season league just yet. He could open 2012 in extended spring training and move to Bluefield or Vancouver in June.
Scouts flocked to Kennesaw State in 2009 to see righthander Kyle Heckathorn, but they ended up more intrigued with his teammate. The Blue Jays drafted Jenkins 20th overall signed him for $1.359 million. He has been more dependable than dazzling in pro ball, making 53 starts in two seasons with a 3.81 ERA and 224 strikeouts in 309 innings. Jenkins won't blow hitters away but he's efficient with his pitches and gets quick outs. His sinker/slider combination piles up groundouts when his command is on. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph with heavy sink, and his slider is a plus pitch at times in the mid-80s. He also has a solid changeup and uses a mediocre curveball just to give hitters a different look. Jenkins has a big, durable body and projects as an innings-eater in a major league rotation. He doesn't profile as a frontline starter but he should be able to work deep into games every fifth day. He'll be 24 years old this season and has a chance to make his major league debut before the year is out.
A mainstay on the showcase circuit, Lopes emerged early as a potential first-round pick for the 2011 draft, ranking as one of the top 12-year-olds in the nation in 2005. But after he failed to hit .300 as a junior, he started tinkering with his swing and didn't live up to expectations as a senior last spring. He fell to the seventh round, where the Blue Jays paid him $800,000. Despite his prolonged slumps in high school, Lopes has shown some hitting ability. He tends to get mechanical with his swing and can get too wrapped up trying to make adjustments. He has a quick bat and good pop for a middle infielder. Lopes has nice actions and quick feet at shortstop, though he tends to sit back on balls too much. He once had plus speed but has slowed to a below-average runner as he matured physically. Diminished range and a fringy arm led many amateur scouts to project that Lopes would have to move to second base in pro ball, but Toronto will give him every chance to play shortstop. After getting his feet wet in instructional league, Lopes figures to begin 2012 in extended spring training and make his pro debut in June.
Osuna is the nephew of Antonio Osuna, who spent 11 years in the big leagues as a reliever. Roberto pitched for Mexico at the Pan American 16-and-under championships in October 2010 and ran his fastball up to 94 mph--as a 15-year-old. Afterward, he signed with the Mexico City Red Devils of the Mexican League and made his pro debut at age 16. The Blue Jays purchased his rights from the Red Devils in August for a reported $1.5 million. Some scouts believe his stuff is comparable to that of Luis Heredia, whom the Pirates signed in 2010 for a Mexican-record $2.6 million, but Osuna doesn't have the same projection. He already has a thick frame and will have to stay on top of his conditioning. Osuna has a quick arm that produces fastballs that range from 88-94 mph. For a youngster, he has good feel for a curveball, though it can get slurvy at times. He also shows some aptitude for throwing a changeup. Osuna has the look of a possible No. 3 starter, though he's a long-term project. He'll make his U.S. debut in the Gulf Coast League this summer.
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