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Vladimir Guerrero hit 449 home runs for his career, which included an American League MVP award in 2004. Vladdy Jr. followed his father around to big league ballparks but grew up in the Dominican Republic and trained with his uncle Wilton, also a former big leaguer. His bat stood out at an early age and he was the No. 1 international prospect when the Blue Jays signed him for $3.9 million in 2015. After dominating the Rookie-level Appalachian League in his pro debut in 2016, Guerrero was just 18 but looked like a man among boys by clobbering two Class A leagues in 2017. At an age when his peers in the U.S. were graduating from high school, Guerrero nearly led the minors in on-base percentage. Guerrero is a prodigious offensive talent, with the combination of hitting ability, plate discipline and power in the mold of Manny Ramirez. Guerrero has high-end bat speed and outstanding bat control. With hitting mannerisms reminiscent of his father, Guerrero has a compact but aggressive swing. With his hand-eye coordination, he has excellent plate coverage, barreling premium velocity while also possessing the pitch recognition skills to square up all types offspeed pitches, too. He has plus raw power now, with 30-homer years likely in his future and a chance for 40. He drew more walks (76) than strikeouts (62) in 2017 and has the potential to contend for batting titles. A gifted offensive player, Guerrero did not inherit his father's speed or athleticism. He trained as an outfielder when he was an amateur and figured to be a left fielder at best, but after the Blue Jays signed him they put him at third base. He has surprised scouts with his play there, improving his arm strength to above-average and showing the hands to be a playable defender. However, Guerrero is already so big and stocky as a teenager that it's going to be a challenge for him to maintain his weight. Even if he moves to first base or possibly left field, his bat is good enough to be a premium player there too. Guerrero has the upside to be one of the most best players in baseball. He likely will start 2018 at Double-A New Hampshire, and while the Blue Jays are conservative with promotions, Guerrero is in position to possibly make his major league debut by the end of the season as a 19-year-old.
Bichette's father Dante played 14 years in the big leagues, and his older brother Dante Jr. was a Yankees supplemental first-round pick in 2011. Bo went No. 66 overall in 2016 and quickly became the steal of the draft. He blasted his way through two levels in 2017 during his first full season, winning the low Class A Midwest League MVP and claiming the minor league batting title (.362). Bichette loads his swing with an aggressive leg kick and unleashes a powerful swing with fierce bat speed. He's consistently on time and on plane through the hitting zone for a long time, which allows him to barrel balls at a high rate. Bichette has a good sense for the strike zone and uses the whole field, with above-average power and loft to go deep to all fields. He has a strong, compact frame and while some scouts think he's a future second or third baseman, he looked better than expected at shortstop in 2017. An average runner, Bichette lacks flash at shortstop and doesn't have the range or footwork many teams want at the position, but he's a fundamentally sound defender with a good internal clock and an above-average arm. Bichette draws comparisons with Josh Donaldson, with a chance to be a middle-of-the-order hitter and has the potential to be one of the most talented offensive players in baseball. Double-A New Hampshire is his next step.
Alford was named Mississippi's Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball as a high school senior and signed a contract that allowed him to play college football, first at Southern Mississippi as a quarterback and then at Mississippi as a defensive back. He accumulated just 94 at bats over the first three seasons of his professional career before giving up football in the fall of 2014. Alford's stock jumped in 2015 with a breakthrough year, but in 2016 a knee injury and then a concussion slowed his progress. In 2017, he started in Double-A New Hampshire, made his big league debut on May 19 but broke his left wrist five days later, then returned to Double-A for the second half. Alford is a premium athlete who glides around center field with plus speed. He has good anticipation off the bat, getting quick breaks with clean routes to give him above-average range, though with a below-average arm. Alford has a table setters offensive profile with his on-base skills and speed. His elevated strikeout rate in 2016 was an aberration, with Alford showing a patient approach, good bat-to-ball skills and the ability to use the opposite field in 2017. Alford has never cracked double-digit homers in a season, though more power could come once he learns which pitches he can turn on to drive and elevate to his pull side. Alford finished 2017 in Triple-A and should return there to open 2018, though he should be back in Toronto soon. His ability to get on base and play plus defense at a premium position give him the potential to be an above-average regular.
After his freshman year at Florida International, Pearson transferred to the JC of Central Florida, where he elevated his stock to become the No. 28 overall pick in 2017 with a $2,452,900 bonus. The Blue Jays limited his workload after signing, but he blew away the competition when he was on the mound in the short-season Northwest League. Pearson gives hitters an uncomfortable at-bat. He attacks them with downhill angle from his 6-foot-6 frame and pitches with a lively, heavy fastball that parked at 92-94 mph and touched 98 regularly in his college starts. In short bursts with the Blue Jays, Pearson sat in the mid- to upper 90s and touched 101 mph, with the fastball life to get swings-and-misses up and down in the zone. His secondary stuff is inconsistent but shows the makings of effective offspeed weapons. His changeup is an average pitch with late fade. He added power to his slider in pro ball, which took the pitch from a slurvy low-80s offering to a sharper breaking ball. It now reaches the mid- to upper 80s with late tilt, though he's still learning to land it for a strike. He throws a curveball but it's behind his other pitches. Pearson should start 2018 at a Class A affiliate. If he can handle a starter's workload, he has a chance to develop into a mid-rotation arm.
Gurriel, the younger brother of Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, signed a seven-year, $22 million contract with the Blue Jays in October 2016. He didn't play in 2016 as he worked in preparation to sign, and his debut in 2017 got off to a rocky start. Gurriel opened the year on the disabled list, played one game on April 19 and re-aggravated the injury, then finally returned two months later. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season to make up for lost work. A long layoff from competitive baseball combined with injury setbacks could explain some of Gurriel's 2017 struggles. At his best, he has shown good strike-zone discipline, though he got too aggressive in 2017, perhaps as he shook off rust and got used to facing better pitchers than he ever faced in Cuba. Gurriel is a long-armed hitter, so his swing will always have some length, but he doesn't strike out excessively and has above-average raw power. In his final season in Cuba, Gurriel improved his speed to above-average, though the leg injury held him back in 2017. Gurriel's split time between shortstop and second base. His range might be stretched at shortstop, but he has a strong arm and could fit well at third base. He also has experience in the outfield. While a lot of signs point to Gurriel's debut being a one-year blip that isn't in line with his true talent level, he will have to prove that on the field in 2018.
Pardinho struck out 14 batters in six innings against the Dominican Republic at the COPABE 16U Pan American Championship in July 2016, then two months later pitched out of the bullpen for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic qualifier as a 15-year-old. After establishing himself as the top international pitching prospect in the 2017 class, Pardinho signed with the Blue Jays for $1.4 million. Pardinho has an outstanding combination of stuff and polish for his age, with his stuff continuing to tick up after signing. Prior to signing, his fastball sat 88-92 mph and reached 94. Now he's sitting regularly in the low 90s and has reached 97 mph. His curveball flashes plus with tight spin and sharp break to miss bats. The Blue Jays are teaching him a changeup that's still a new pitch for him. Pardinho throws with remarkable ease, showing smooth arm action and minimal-effort mechanics that he repeats consistently. His feel for pitching is well beyond his years and he throws strikes at a high rate. He has a small stature and his lower half is already strong, so several scouts had concerns about how much more velocity he would gain, but he's already seen a spike since becoming a professional. Pardinho will likely make his pro debut as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He's far away, but he has the talent to move quickly.
A broken left hand sidelined Jansen for three months in 2015 and a broken hamate bone in his left hand in 2016 put him out for two months that season. Healthy in 2017, Jansen broke through, hitting a combined .323/.400/.484 in a season he spent primarily at Double-A New Hampshire but finished at Triple-A Buffalo. Jansen's success stems from excellent strike-zone judgment. He walked (41) more often than he struck out (40) because he tracks pitches well, has a disciplined approach and doesn't chase much off the plate, enabling himself to get into advantageous counts and draw walks to get on base. Jansen makes frequent contact with a pull-minded, line-drive approach and enough power to hit 10-15 home runs, with his value coming more from his on-base skills than his power. Behind the plate, Jansen blocks balls well, but his arm strength is fringe-average and he threw out just 24 percent of baserunners in 2017. The Blue Jays added Jansen to the 40-man roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He should return to Triple-A to start 2018 and could be up by midseason.
A three-year starter at North Carolina, Warmoth was the first shortstop drafted in 2017, going No. 22 overall and signing for $2,820,200. He performed well in his pro debut in the short-season Northwest League. Warmoth is a bucket full of 50-grade tools on the 20-80 scouting scale, with no one true calling card but a high overall baseball IQ and no glaring holes either. He's a steady hitter with quick bat speed, a good performance record and below-average power. While his hands tend to shoot out away from his body, he catches up to good velocity and uses the whole field. He has an aggressive approach and did get pull-happy early in his pro debut, though he adjusted as the season went on to better handle pitches on the outer third and drive them the opposite way. An average runner with a solid-average, accurate arm and quick hands, Warmoth has a chance to stay at shortstop, though some scouts think he would fit better at second base. Warmoth is unlikely to develop into a star, but his skills in the middle of the diamond give him a chance to become a solid-average regular.
Urena signed for $725,000 as a 16-year-old in 2012 and made steady progress up through high Class A Dunedin. He reached Double-A New Hampshire at the end of 2016 and struggled there, then posted another sub-.300 OBP season with the Fisher Cats again in 2017. Urena made his major league debut as a September callup. Urena was a 21-year-old shortstop in Double-A, so while he was one of the youngest players at the level, he seemed to hit an offensive wall. He has fast hands and has shown solid bat control throughout his career, but his overaggressive approach got him in trouble in 2017. He's not a total free-swinger, but he needs to develop a better plan to get into better counts and increase his OBP. Urena hasn't shown much power, though he has more extra-base sock from the left side. A below-average runner, his pure range is just adequate for shortstop, but he has good anticipation off the bat and can make acrobatic plays with a plus arm. Urena has a chance to be a steady regular in the middle of the diamond, but his offensive performance will have to rebound to the levels he showed prior to 2017. He will head to Triple-A in 2018.
Injuries have slowed Borucki's development. He had Tommy John surgery as a high school senior, then dealt with shoulder problems in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Borucki had pitched just six games above low Class A entering 2017, but he took off that season and finished the year at Triple-A Buffalo. Borucki locates his fastball, gets ground balls and changes speeds effectively to keep hitters off balance. He's a strike-thrower who walked 2.2 per nine innings in 2017, with good command of a fastball that sits in the low 90s and scrapes 96 mph. He catches hitters leaning out front or swinging through his changeup, a plus pitch that he disguises well to look like a fastball out of his hand. Borucki's slider is a fringe-average pitch, so he mostly relies on his fastball/changeup combination. While arm problems have hampered him in the past, Borucki showed durability by throwing 150 innings in 2017. Borucki's big leap forward put him in contention to compete for a rotation spot in Toronto in 2018, though most likely he begins back in Triple-A. He has the profile of a back-end starter.
After Reid-Foley took a step forward in 2016, he struggled in 2017 in the Double-A Eastern League, where he struggled with fastball command, inconsistent stuff and gave up too much hard contact. Despite his struggles, Reid-Foley still flashes average to plus stuff across the board. Reid-Foley's fastball parks at 91-94 mph with good movement and reaches 97. His best secondary pitch depends on the day. Usually either his curveball or slider are working for him. When they're right, they're average pitches, though they sometimes disappeared on him and contributed to his struggles. His changeup flashed average at times too. Reid-Foley must improve his fastball command, which is complicated because of his mechanics and arm action. That leads several scouts to think his future is in the bullpen, though the Blue Jays plan to keep Reid-Foley as a starter. Reid-Foley has the repertoire to project as a back-end starter, though his stuff could tick up in short stints if he's moved to a relief role, with a chance to get to Toronto by the end of 2018.
The Blue Jays drafted Zeuch with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2016 draft, making him the highest draft pick from Pittsburgh's program. In Zeuch's first full season, a lower back injury followed by another one to his hamstring caused Zeuch to miss June and July, limiting him to just 65.2 innings during the regular season before getting another 18.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Batters have a difficult time elevating the ball against Zeuch. He pounds the strike zone from a steep downhill angle with a heavy sinker at 92-94 mph and the ability to reach 97. That pitch helps him generate a high groundball rate, though he doesn't have a plus secondary pitch to consistently get swing-and-misses. His mid-80s slider and upper-70s curveball are both average pitches, while his changeup is a tick below-average. Zeuch did a better job of incorporating his lower half into his delivery by the end of the season, and working to improve his strength and mobility will be priorities to help his durability.
Noda could have gone in the top three rounds of the 2017 draft, but he racked up a high strikeout rate during his junior year at Cincinnati and fell to the 15th round. He showed an exciting combination of patience and power after signing, winning the MVP award in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he led the circuit in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. Noda is a strong, physical hitter with quick wrists and plus power, who drives the ball with authority the opposite way. With an upright approach, Noda's swing can get stiff at times and he will have to prove he's more than a mistake hitter taking advantage of lower-level pitching, but he can hammer the ball out to all fields with natural loft in his stroke. He's an extremely patient hitter who walked at a 21 percent clip in his debut. Noda is a below-average runner who spent most of his time in Bluefield at first base, but he has enough athleticism and arm strength to go to either corner outfield spot, and the Blue Jays plan to put him in the outfield in 2018.
Olivares was one of Toronto's July 2 signings in 2014, though unlike the high-profile international prospects for big bonuses that day, Olivares received a $1,000 bonus. A broken left hamate bone limited Olivares to just 15 games in 2016, but he had a breakthrough season in 2017, albeit in the shadow of teammates Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Olivares has an array of plus tools. He's an athletic center fielder with plus speed and arm strength, recording 15 assists in 105 games in the outfield. At the plate he has quick hands, fast bat speed with solid-average raw power. Olivares doesn't strike out excessively, but he has an aggressive, pull-happy approach, so improving his plate discipline and being able to adjust his swing to drive pitches to the opposite field will be key as he faces better pitching. Olivares will start 2018 in high Class A Dunedin.
The Pirates used one of their two first-round picks in 2013 to draft McGuire at No. 13 overall. Three years later, they sent McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez to the Blue Jays along with Francisco Liriano in a trade for righthander Drew Hutchison. McGuire repeated the Double-A Eastern League in 2017, though he didn't spend much time on the field due to a left oblique injury in early May, only returning to New Hampshire in August. He did make up for some lost time playing winter ball for the Aguilas in the Dominican League. Defense is McGuire's calling card. He's an above-average defender with high overall game awareness and thorough preparation, so pitchers like throwing to him. McGuire blocks and receives pitches well, and his average arm plays up because of his quick footwork to get rid of the ball. McGuire has a compact swing with good rhythm, a flat path and a sharp eye for the strike zone. His six home runs in 45 games in 2017 were a career high. McGuire has a chance to be a starter if he can develop more power, but if not he should have just enough offensive skill to go with his defense to stick around for a long time as a backup.
The arrows seemed to be pointing up for Greene after the 2015 season, when he finished the year in Double-A, was throwing strikes and was throwing harder than ever. Greene hit triple-digits on on the radar gun in 2017, but the rest of his numbers underwhelming. Greene is an excellent athlete with a power arm, sitting in the mid-90s and reaching 101 mph. Despite that big velocity, hitters had little trouble squaring up Greene last year in Double-A. His fastball lacks great movement and he doesn't command it well yet, which led to a high walk rate. He also didn't miss many bats as he lacks a putaway secondary pitch. His 79-81 mph curveball and 86-88 mph changeup are fringe-average pitches, because he tends to slow his arm speed on when he throws them. There are significant developmental jumps Greene will have to make to continue as a starter, and while the Blue Jays plan to keep him in that role, he has the type of stuff that could play well in short stints without having to get through a lineup multiple times.
Several clubs had Hiraldo graded out as one of the top hitters available on the international amateur market in 2017, when Hiraldo signed with the Blue Jays for $750,000. Hiraldo is built like a catcher with a strong, stocky frame with powerful legs and forearms. He has quick hands and a short, repeatable stroke. He swings hard and hammers fastballs for hard line drives with average raw power. Some scouts had questions about Hiraldo's ability to handle offspeed pitches and use the opposite field, with a swing that starts with his hands at his ears before coming straight down, but he frequently makes hard, quality contact in games. Hiraldo probably won't spend much time at shortstop. The Blue Jays plan to keep him there for now, though he probably fits better at third base. Most of Hiraldo's focus as an amateur was on his hitting rather than his defense, so he will have to improve his defensive actions and smooth out a funky throwing stroke to stick in the dirt.
Jimenez has a long track record of representing Panama at international youth tournaments, from the 12U World Cup in 2013 in Taiwan to the COPABE 14U Championship in 2015 in Venezuela to the COPABE 16U Championship in 2016 in Panama. He was the top prospect in Panama in 2017, when he signed with the Blue Jays for $825,000. Jimenez stands out more for his baseball savvy and instincts than his raw tools or explosiveness. He's a smart all-around player with a good hitting approach, making frequent contact with a short swing. He stays through the middle of the field well, hitting a lot of line drives with gap power. Jimenez is a fringe-average runner and doesn't have the quick first step a lot of scouts want to see in a shortstop, but he is an instinctive defender with a good internal clock, smooth hands, actions and good body control at the position.
Ramirez signed with the Blue Jays in 2009 as a center fielder, then spent five seasons toiling around in rookie and short-season leagues. After struggling in low Class A Lansing in 2013, Ramirez went back to the Lugnuts to start 2014, but a month into the season he put away his bat and began the conversion to pitching at age 23. Ramirez has only pitched out of the bullpen on his climb up the system, with his breakthrough season coming in 2017. Between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo last year, Ramirez threw 37.2 innings without allowing an earned run, then continued to pitch well in his major league debut as a September callup. Ramirez has improved his control every season to become a prolific strike-thrower. He attacks hitters with an even mix of fastballs and sliders, getting a heavy dose of swing-and-miss both in and out of the strike zone. He can fill the strike zone with fastballs at 91-94 mph, then misses a lot of bats with a plus slider at 82-85 mph. Ramirez can land his slider for a strike or bury it away from righthanded hitters to get them to swing over the top of it as a chase pitch. Ramirez should return to Toronto's bullpen on Opening Day and stick around for years as a middle reliever.
Adams started at catcher for San Diego since his freshman year, then signed with the Blue Jays for $542,400 as a third-round pick in 2017 and hit well in his pro debut in the short-season Northwest League. Adams immediately sticks out with an extra-large frame for a catcher. He has a plus arm and erased 40 percent of basestealers in the NWL. To remain behind the plate, he has work to do to improve his hands, receiving and blocking skills and avoid a move to either first base or the outfield. He already showed improvements in those areas since signing and looks like he could develop into an adequate defender. Adams has a power-over-hit profile, with average raw power that comes with swing-and-miss because his swing tends to get big. He hit just three home runs in 52 games in pro ball, but he was playing home games in a park that suppresses power and looked fatigued by the end of the season.
Tellez's combination of patience and power led to strong numbers throughout the lower levels. His skill set started to translate when he got to the upper levels as well, as he ranked second in the Double-A Eastern League in on-base percentage and third in slugging in 2016. He hit a wall last year when he got to Triple-A, where he started slowly and never was able to climb out of the hole. Tellez has a middle-opposite field approach, lift in his swing and above-average raw power. His bat speed is fair at best, though, and he looked out of rhythm and out of sync all season. Tellez has a heavy frame and isn't a great athlete, with below-average defense at first base. Tellez's track record up until Triple-A can't be ignored, so it's possible he could bounce back in 2018, although some scouts see him as more of a 4-A slugger. The Blue Jays didn't want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft, so they protected him on the 40-man roster after the season. He will return to Triple-A in 2018.
The Pirates traded Francisco Lirano along with Ramirez and catcher Reese McGuire in 2016 in exchange for righthander Drew Hutchison. After spending all of 2016 in the Double-A Eastern League, Ramirez repeated the level in 2017 but didn't show many signs of progress and the Blue Jays outrighted him off the 40-man roster in November. Ramirez is an unconventional player, starting with his compact frame. He ran well enough early in his career to play center field, though he's lost a step and now fits best in a corner. At the plate, Ramirez has a knack for putting the ball in play, with an approach geared toward using the middle of the field and shooting the ball the opposite way. He's strong and shows average raw power, but that doesn't translate into games, which is why his six home runs in 2017 were a career-high. There's more power potential in there if Ramirez can adjust his swing plane to generate more loft and learns which pitches he should try to turn on to drive with authority to his pull side, but that would entail a significant offensive overhaul.
Pentecost was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2014 draft, but since then he has three shoulder surgeries (on both shoulders), which is why he was still in high Class A Dunedin last year as a 24-year-old. Working with the organization's high performance staff, Pentecost mixed time at catcher, first base and DH, never catching on back-to-back days. Pentecost caught just 19 games in Dunedin and another nine in the Arizona Fall League, but he showed a plus arm and looked advanced defensively. He threw out 7-of-15 basestealers (47 percent) and looked athletic behind the plate with good blocking, receiving and framing skills. Pentecost has a pull-heavy approach with above-average bat speed, solid bat-to-ball skills and average raw power. His bat would play well behind the plate, though with his durability in question, he could play more of a hybrid role, moving between catcher, first base and possibly the outfield. The Blue Jays left Pentecost off the 40-man roster off the season but he didn't get picked in the Rule 5 draft. He's ticketed for Double-A New Hampshire in 2018.
When the Blue Jays went over their international bonus pool in 2015-16 to sign Vladimir Guerrero Jr., they exceeded their pool by a tick under 15 percent, which meant they were only subject to one year of being limited to international signings of $300,000 or less instead of two. The rest of their 2015-16 signings were for $10,000 or less (those are exempt from the bonus pools), and so far Contreras has been the best of that group. Contreras hit well in his debut in the Dominican Summer League, so the Blue Jays skipped him over the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with an assignment to the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2017. Contreras showed plus bat speed and strong wrists, catching up to good velocity on the inner half. Contreras has near-average raw power that shows more in BP than it does in games, partly because his swing is geared to hit the ball on the ground instead of driving it for loft. He also needs to improve his ability to recognize offspeed pitches. An average runner with an average arm, Contreras mostly played the outfield corners last year and probably fits best at one of those spots. Low Class A Lansing is next for him.
Defense is where Vicuna shined when the Blue Jays signed him for $350,000 in 2014. His profile today is much the same as it was then, a slick-fielding shortstop with a slightly built frame. Vicuna was reliable enough defensively that when the Blue Jays needed a fill-in with high Class A Dunedin near the end of April, they had Vicuna play there for a little more than a month before sending him to the short-season Northwest League which was more in line with his talent level. Vicuna is a smooth defender who is light on his feet with quick hands. His pure speed is below-average, but he has good anticipation and can make the flashy play, with an average arm that plays up because of his quick exchange. Vicuna has solid bat-to-ball skills but it's mostly empty contact. He has 20 power, with no career home runs. His swing and approach lead to him mostly slapping the ball into the ground, so he will have to get stronger and figure out a way to cut back on all those easy groundouts. He should head to low Class A Lansing in 2018.
Small and skinny in high school, Smith went to Maryland and seized the starting shortstop job as a freshman. He established himself as one of the top defensive shortstops in the nation when the Blue Jays signed him for $405,100. Smith projects as a true shortstop with good range and body control and soft hands. His arm strength is above-average and he gets rid of the ball quickly with on-target throws. Smith is a fundamentally sound defender with a good internal clock, and while his pure speed is fringy, he gets quick jumps off the bat. Smith isn't just a light-hitting defender, as he flashes quick bat speed and solid-average raw power. That power comes with a high dose of swing-and-miss, however, with an uphill swing path that helps him lift the ball but also leaves him with holes pitchers can exploit. Smith's defense should carry him, with a chance to be an everyday shortstop if he can keep his strikeout rate in check.
Romano went from an Ontario high school to a pair of Oklahoma colleges--first Connors State JC, then Oral Roberts. Romano was a closer at Oral Roberts, then began his Blue Jays career as a reliever after signing for $25,000 in 2014. Romano missed the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery, and the Blue Jays made the unusual move of bringing him back as a starter. He proved surprisingly durable in 2017, though the injury has held back his timetable which is why he pitched last season as a 24-year-old in the high Class A Florida State League. Romano's tailing fastball sits at 91-94 mph and he can reach back for 96. Romano generates downhill plane but isn't a groundball pitcher, as he does a good job instead of getting swing-and-misses up in the zone. His go-to pitch is his slider, an above-average pitch that helped him strike out a batter per inning last year and makes him tough on righties, who batted .197./274/.260 with 81 strikeouts and 19 walks in 326 plate appearances against him in 2017. Better fastball command and improving his changeup will be key for Romano if he's going to stick as a starter, especially after lefties hit .352/.433/.452 in 268 plate appearances off him last season. Romano will continue to develop as a starter, but he could ultimately fit best as a reliever whose fastball should tick up in short stints. Double-A New Hampshire is next for Romano.
Danner played in the 2011 Little League World Series and went on to play for Huntington Beach High, one of the top high school programs in the country. He pitched for USA Baseball's 18U National Team twice and developed into a two-way prospect whom many scouts preferred on the mound, where he reached 95 mph and flashed a swing-and-miss curveball with tight spin. The Blue Jays, though, signed Danner as a catcher for $1.5 million with their second-round pick. His pro debut was rocky, as Danner struggled in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Danner has a high baseball IQ that helps him behind the plate. He may have been run down in the GCL, as he looked like he needed to improve his blocking and receiving skills and threw out just 21 percent of runners despite having a plus arm. Danner has solid-average raw power but will need time to develop as a hitter. His swing is built more around strength than bat speed, with an extreme pull approach that he will have to adjust to better handle pitches on the outer third. Focusing full-time on catching should help Danner, though pitching could always be a fallback option down the road.
Harris passed on signing with the Blue Jays out of high school as a 33rd-round pick to become a three-year starter at Missouri State, elevating his stock to become a first-round pick (No. 29 overall) of the Blue Jays in 2015. Harris has proven to be durable but also very hittable, and he joined fellow righthanders Conner Greene and Sean Reid-Foley with their struggles last year in Double-A New Hampshire. Harris throws a lot of strikes but doesn't have the stuff to miss bats, either in or out of the strike zone. His fastball sits in the low-90s and he fills up the strike zone but made too many mistakes with his fastball command, which got him into trouble last year. Harris throws a curveball, slider and changeup that are all fringe-average pitches, flashing better at times but none of them was a reliable, consistent pitch for him in 2017. If Harris can improve his fastball command and bring up at least one of his secondary pitches, he could reach the big leagues as a fifth starter.
After signing with the Blue Jays for $70,000 in 2014, Diaz pitched well enough the next year in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League that the Blue Jays jumped him to the United States later that season to pitch in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Diaz continued his ascent with by making his full-season debut with low Class A Lansing last year in June. An athletic pitcher with a quick arm, Diaz sits in the low-90s with his fastball with late riding life and he can gear up for 95 mph. His curveball and changeup are both a tick below-average pitches that will flash better at times, but he will need to continue to develop his secondary pitches. Better control and overall feel for pitching are also keys for Diaz, as he fell behind in too many counts last year and hitters were able to sit on his fastball. High Class A Dunedin will be Diaz's next test.
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