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BA Grade: 70. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Fastball: 80. Curveball: 45. Slider: 60. Changeup: 55. Control: 55. Track Record: Pearson pitched mostly out of the bullpen for Florida International as a freshman before transferring to the JC of Central Florida in 2017. While there, his stock climbed. The Blue Jays drafted him 28th overall that year and signed him for $2,452,900. In college, Pearson sat at 92-94 mph and reached 98. When he went to the short-season Northwest League after signing, he pitched in short stints and was regularly mid-to-upper 90s and reached 101 mph. The next season, however, a back injury prevented Pearson from pitching until May 7. He returned, threw 1.2 innings, then didn’t pitch again during the regular season when a line drive fractured his forearm, though he came back for the Arizona Fall League. In 2019, Pearson made a case as the best pitching prospect in the minors as he rose three levels to finish the year in Triple-A. Scouting Report: Pearson has an extra-large 6-foot-6 frame and an elite fastball. He sits in the upper 90s, regularly touches triple digits and has climbed as high as 104 mph in the AFL in 2018. His fastball rides up and explodes with late life in the zone. That combination of velocity, life and angle allows him to miss bats with his fastball when he elevates or drives the ball down in the zone. One of the biggest leaps forward for Pearson came with his slider. It was a slurvy, low-80s pitch in college that he sharpened after his first year. Now it’s a legitimate out pitch for, earning plus or better grades and flashing plus-plus potential with power and late tilt. Pearson hasn’t needed to use his changeup much, but it gives him a third legitimate weapon as a solid-average pitch, while his curveball is more of a fringy pitch he mixes in every once in a while. Pearson fills the strike zone and has an athletic, efficient delivery that he repeats well. That all points to a durable starter, but questions remain. His 101.2 innings were a career high, though he hasn’t missed time due to operations or issues with his throwing arm. However, the Blue Jays kept Pearson on a restrictive workload. He alternated between starts of five and two innings by design for most of his Double-A time, which inflated his stats by not having to go through a lineup as many times in a game, though he threw 90-plus pitches in five of his final seven starts, including 100-plus pitches in two of them. The fact that Pearson throws with so much velocity on every fastball also gives some scouts concerns about whether that’s a durability risk. The Future: If Pearson shows he can handle a starter’s workload, he can be a frontline arm with potential to be a No. 1 or 2 for the Blue Jays. He’s probably headed back to Triple-A to begin 2020, but he’s one of the Blue Jays’ five best starting pitchers right now and should be in Toronto by midseason.
BA Grade: 65. Risk: Very High Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 60. Run: 50. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60 Track Record: Groshans generated positive buzz the summer after he signed for $3.4 million as the 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft. The arrows continued pointing up on Groshans in 2019 after a hot start at low Class A, but a left foot injury limited him to just 23 games the entire season and he didn’t play after May 13. Scouting Report: When healthy, Groshans looked like one of the top offensive forces in the lower levels. He has a long frame and generates fast bat speed, with a knack for being on time. He has athletic hitting actions and an advanced approach for his age, with the ability to hammer premium velocity while also recognizing offspeed pitches and has the adjustability in his body and swing to barrel soft stuff. He has good plate coverage, particularly for a taller hitter, and he has plus power, driving the ball out of the park from right-center over to his pull side. At shortstop, Groshans has an above-average arm and gets good reads off the bat, though his first-step quickness and range lead a lot of scouts to project a move to third base. He has the attributes to develop into an above-average defender if he moves to third base. The Future: Health is the only thing that has held back Groshans, who has a chance to develop into a plus regular who could hit toward the top or middle of a big league lineup.
BA Grade: 60. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 70 Track Record: Woods Richardson was one of the youngest players in the 2018 draft when he signed with the Mets as the 48th overall pick. One year later, he was the key prospect the Mets sent to Toronto in the Marcus Stroman deal and finished the year with a strong showing at high Class A. Scouting Report: Woods Richardson posted a sparkling K/BB ratio in his first full season, especially for a pitcher who is the same age as many 2019 high school draft picks. Little about him resembled an 18-year-old, from his strong, athletic frame to his advanced pitchability and poise on the mound. His fastball sits at 91-95 mph and he fills up the strike zone, projecting to have plus control. His fastball plays up because of its riding life, high spin rate and ability to generate extension out front, allowing him to get swings and misses up in the zone. He throws a slider and a curveball, with his slider the go-to when he’s ahead in the count, grading out as an above-average pitch with a chance to tick up. His changeup has a chance to be average or better.He spent time working on his changeup in 2019 and it has a chance to be an average or better pitch. The Future: Between his stuff, control and strong, durable frame, Woods Richardson has a chance to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter. He should be in Double-A at some point in 2020 as a 19-year-old, putting him in position to make his major league debut by age 20 or 21.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 70. Power: 45. Run: 20. Fielding: 45. Arm: 50. Track Record: The Blue Jays signed Kirk out of Mexico in 2016, but he only played one game the next year due to a hand injury. Since then, Kirk has raked, even after a promotion to high Class A in May. Scouting Report: The first thing that jumps out is Kirk’s body, like a shorter version of Pablo Sandoval, which is an immediate turnoff for many scouts. But Kirk is also one of the best pure hitters in the minors. He has short arms, a compact swing and outstanding bat control. His tight stroke, bat speed and ability to track pitches helps him let the ball travel deep before deciding to swing. Kirk shows a sharp eye for the strike zone and has drawn more walks than strikeouts at every level. He struck out just 10 percent of the time in 2019, barreling good fastballs and offspeed pitches in all quadrants of the zone. Kirk has a hit-over-power profile, though there’s more impact potential to unlock if he takes a more aggressive approach ahead in the count. Kirk’s skeptics think his body will force him off the plate and question what they believe are below-average defensive skills. Others see a solid blocker who excels at framing, is prepared and works well with pitchers. He has an average, accurate arm, and threw out 38 percent of runners in 2019. The Future: Kirk will get a chance to stick behind the plate and will head to Double-A New Hampshire in 2020.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: During his first two seasons at West Virginia, Manoah moved between the starting rotation and the bullpen. After his sophomore year, he had an electric summer in the Cape Cod League, then continued to dominate in his junior year. He was the No. 11 overall pick in 2019, with the Blue Jays signing him for $4,547,500, and he had immediate success in the short-season Northwest League. Scouting Report: Manoah is enormous. He’s built like Aaron Harang, and will have to keep his conditioning in check. He uses that massive frame to produce a huge fastball. It’s a lively, running pitch that sits around 93-96 mph and touches 98 mph. When Manoah needs a putaway pitch, he goes to his slider, which flashes plus and gets him swings-and-misses. Manoah was primarily a two-pitch guy in college, though his changeup has shown average potential. Manoah is more athletic than he looks, with a repertoire and delivery that should allow him to remain a starter. He has improved his strike-throwing over the past year and didn’t walk many hitters in college or pro ball in 2019, though he needs to sharpen his fastball command. The Future: Manoah is trending in the right direction, with the ability to develop into a No. 2 or 3 starter. He should open 2020 at a Class A affiliate with a chance to reach Toronto by 2021.
BA Grade: 60. Risk: Very High Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 60. Run: 45. Fielding: 40. Arm: 60. Track Record: The Blue Jays signed Martinez in 2018 for $3.51 million, the largest bonus for a 16-year-old in the 2018-19 international signing period. He immediately showed why the Blue Jays were so high on him, ranking as the top prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League as a 17-year-old in his pro debut. Scouting Report: Martinez uses his body well in his swing. There are a lot of moving parts, but he’s usually able to keep his swing in sync and it enables him to generate quick bat speed and easy plus power. He taps into that power in games (his seven home runs tied for second in the GCL), taking advantage of good hitters’ hands to make frequent contact. Martinez can get too jumpy early in the count, but he mostly has a calm, advanced approach for his age and condenses his leg kick when he gets to two strikes. Martinez’s hands play well at the plate and in the field. He has a strong arm, but his range and footwork are stretched thin at shortstop, and given how much bigger he’s likely to get, third base is where he probably lands. The Future: With Miguel Hiraldo and Leonardo Jimenez one level ahead of Martinez, the Blue Jays have to sort out where they’re going to send all their infielders in 2019, but Martinez could be ready for low Class A Lansing if the Blue Jays want to push him aggressively.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 45. Run: 30. Fielding: 45. Arm: 50. Track Record: Moreno had a low profile in Venezuela when the Blue Jays signed him for $25,000 in 2016. He has raised his status considerably over the last two seasons, emerging as one of the better catching prospects in the lower levels of the minors. Scouting Report: Moreno’s hand-eye coordination is elite. He rarely swings and misses, with a strikeout rate of just 11 percent in 2019. His swing has evolved since signing—he has added bigger, more athletic movements in an effort to drive the ball with more impact—and his athleticism and body awareness help him make adjustments quickly. Moreno isn’t that big, but those changes have helped him display more power, with a chance to be a 15-20 home run hitter. Moreno isn’t a free swinger, but he walked in just 6 percent of his plate appearances. He will get himself into trouble when he expands the zone and make soft contact on pitches he should lay off, though he did a better job in those areas last season. Moreno is athletic and gets rid of the ball quickly to get to an average arm, throwing out 33 percent of runners in 2019, but his blocking and receiving need to improve. The Future: Moreno will head to high Class A Dunedin in 2020. He has the upside to develop into an average or possibly better regular behind the plate.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Very High Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 60. Run: 45. Fielding: 45. Arm: 55. Track Record: Hiraldo signed for $750,000 in 2017, when several clubs considered him one of the best hitters in his international class. Hiraldo performed well his first two seasons and stood out as one of the top prospects in 2019 in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. Scouting Report: Hiraldo has a lot of hitterish qualities, with a knack for barreling baseballs. He doesn’t load his hands back much to start his swing, but hand speed helps his bat explode through the zone. It’s a direct, compact swing, and Hirado uses his legs and hips well to usually be on time and produce average power that should increase. Hiraldo clobbers fastballs and he generally has a good approach for his age. However, he needs to improve his breaking ball recognition and he has a pull-heavy approach, so he will need to make adjustments to better handle pitches on the outer third. His hands and arm are fine at shortstop, but his range is stretched thin there already. His stocky body that suggests he’s going to slow down as he gets bigger. He has the defensive skill set and offensive profile for third base. The Future: Hiraldo should be ready in 2020 for low Class A Lansing, where he’ll continue refining his hitting approach.
BA Grade: 45. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Fastball: 55. Curveball: 50. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 50 Track Record: The Mets drafted Kay with the 31st overall pick in 2016, but he missed the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2018, and in July 2019 the Mets traded him and righthander Simeon Woods Richardson to the Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman. He made his major league debut as a September callup. Scouting Report: Kay has a strong fastball from the left side, sitting at 92-94 mph with the ability to reach 96. Early in the year at Double-A, Kay commanded his fastball well to both sides of the plate, though when he moved up he got himself into trouble when his command escaped him and he fell behind in the count too often. Kay mixes in a curveball and changeup, with scouts split on which pitch they prefer depending on when they see him. When Kay got to Toronto, his curveball was more effective, an average pitch in the upper 70s. His mid-80s changeup is a fringe-average pitch that can flash a tick better. The Future: If Kay tightens his fastball command, he projects as a back-end starter. He should be in Toronto’s rotation immediately. His future could improve with a better third pitch.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Very High Tool Grades: Fastball: 55. Curveball: 55. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: In the first-round of the 2018 draft, the Blue Jays picked shortstop Jordan Groshans, then in the third round they took Kloffenstein, his Magnolia (Texas) High teammate. Kloffenstein was one of the youngest players in his draft class and didn’t turn 19 until the end of the 2019 season, which he spent carving up hitters in the college-heavy, short-season Northwest League. He ranked No. 5 in the league’s loaded Top 20 prospects list. Scouting Report: Kloffenstein has an extra-large, workhorse frame. He’s built like a power pitcher with a solid fastball, but also has impressive feel for his age, both with his control and ability to manipulate his breaking stuff. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph, with a peak of 95. Kloffenstein has an innate feel for spinning his mid-70s curveball and low-80s slider. Neither one is a wipeout pitch, but they’re at least average with a chance to be plus. He shows feel for a potentially average or better changeup as well that fades away from lefties. The Future: Kloffenstein has a starter profile and, given his youth, there might be another gear coming for his stuff. If it does, he could be a mid-rotation starter, with low Class A Lansing as his next step.
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