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Born in Anchorage and signed out of a rural Idaho high school, Phelps has the history and look of a raw, physical prospect from the Pacific Northwest. He has had to make up for his lack of experience by repeating levels, but in each case he has answered the challenge. His lack of plate discipline caught up with him in his first year at Double-A Tennessee, where he hit .228-9-28 with 66 strikeouts in 184 at-bats in 2000, earning a demotion. In his second try, Phelps won the Southern League's MVP award, leading the league in home runs and doubles, ranking second in RBIs and slugging percentage (.562), and third in on-base percentage (.406). Phelps isn't the biggest Blue Jay, but he's the strongest, with a body the organization compares to former all-star catchers such as Jody Davis and Carlton Fisk. His raw power is the best in the system, and he's an intelligent hitter who has learned how to use it. He projects to hit 30-35 homers a season in the big leagues. Phelps has worked hard to shorten a swing than can get long, and he's strong enough to overpower pitches that catch too much of the plate. Defensively, the Blue Jays say his receiving and throwing rate with his power potential. With his swing, Phelps will never be a contact hitter and has struck out more than 100 times in each of his last three seasons. Injuries have slowed his development, especially defensively, and he threw out just 18 percent of basestealers last year. In 2000, an inflamed elbow limited him to DH much of the season, and last season he labored with a torn meniscus in his right knee that required offseason surgery. Club officials say Phelps' footwork is the root of his problem and hope health and a full year behind the plate will be the remedy. Phelps is expected to be healthy for spring training, and a lights-out spring could help him land a platoon job with veteran Darrin Fletcher in Toronto. Considering the defensive work Phelps needs, a full year in Triple-A Syracuse seems more reasonable. With Toronto's catching glut, his future could be as a DH/first baseman if his defense doesn't improve.
Gross began his college career following his father's footsteps as an Auburn football player. After passing for 1,222 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman, Gross left quarterbacking behind to focus on baseball. A first-team All-American as a sophomore, his numbers dived in a depleted Auburn lineup in 2001. While Gross slumped as a junior, the Blue Jays believed in him and he looked strong during the summer and in the Arizona Fall League. A natural hitter, he has good balance, an easy stroke and good power in a package that reminds the organization of Shawn Green. Gross' athleticism and plus arm make him a prototypical right fielder. Gross showed good patience in his pro debut but chased too many pitches off the plate in college. His speed is just OK and he needs to improve his baserunning skills. Gross is on the fast track to join a crowded Blue Jays outfield. He played some first and third base in college, which could help him move faster if the Blue Jays are forced to move Carlos Delgado's large contract. He'll start 2002 in Double-A.
Werth's athletic bloodlines include a grandfather (Ducky Schofield), uncle (Dick Schofield) and stepfather (Dennis Werth) who played in the big leagues. His mother Kim competed in the U.S. Olympic trials in the long jump and 100 meters. The Blue Jays stole him from the Orioles in a winter 2000 trade for situational lefthander John Bale. Werth's athletic ability surpasses the average catcher. He's as close to a five-tool player as the position produces. He's a plus runner and has the bat speed and leverage to hit for power, which he finally provided in 2001. His soft hands, steady receiving and strong arm make him an above-average defender. Werth's work ethic slipped with the Orioles, and the Blue Jays credit Tennessee coach Hector Torres with whipping him into shape. His swing can get long, leading to strikeouts. Because he's more athletic than Josh Phelps, Werth is a more natural candidate to switch positions. But he's also a better defender. He could compete for a platoon spot this year, but likely will move to Triple-A for another time-sharing arrangement with Phelps.
A bout with tendinitis as a high school senior dropped McGowan out of the first round, allowing the Blue Jays to nab him with a supplemental pick for the loss of Graeme Lloyd. Also a star basketball player in high school, McGowan had an invitation to big league camp in his contract, then stayed in extended spring as Toronto brought him along slowly. McGowan has a fluid, easy arm action and a good pitcher's body, giving him the most electric stuff in the system. His athleticism and arm speed help generate 92- 96 mph velocity on his fastball and command of his 78-80 mph power curveball. He also has improved his level of concentration. While McGowan finished third in the New-York Penn League in strikeouts, he also led the league in walks. He'll have to improve his command and changeup as he faces tougher competition. The Blue Jays believe his main need is just getting more pro experience. McGowan and 2001 draftee Brandon League should front an intriguing rotation at Class A Charleston. Then Toronto will learn which of their power arms is the best in the organization.
Left off the 40-man roster after the 2000 season, Hudson moved from third base to second last year and blossomed. He was leading the Arizona Fall League in slugging and on-base percentage when he left to play for Team USA in the World Cup in Taiwan, where he hit .429 and led the Americans with 12 runs and seven steals in 10 games. Hudson sprays line drives to all parts of the park and has tremendous instincts and aptitude. Though he has below-average speed, he anticipates ground balls, reads pitchers well and is the best baserunner in the system. An outgoing personality and born leader, Hudson plays with passion. Except for his bat, Hudson's tools grade out as average or a tick below across the board. He gets the most out of what he has, but sometimes those players just aren't talented enough. No one in the system doubts Hudson will continue to achieve. If the Blue Jays find a taker for Homer Bush, Hudson will be their starting second baseman. He also could figure into the third-base picture if Eric Hinske can't handle the job defensively.
Hinske was traded for closers twice within a year. The Cubs sent him to the Athletics for Miguel Cairo and the rights to major league Rule 5 pick Scott Chiasson during spring training. New Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who had been with Oakland, coveted Hinske and got him and righthander Justin Miller for Billy Koch in December. Hinske follows the A's model Ricciardi wants to bring to Toronto. He hits for good power to all fields and has a patient approach at the plate. He has decent speed and a knack for basestealing. He capped his solid 2001 by hitting .300-8-28 in the Arizona Fall League. While Hinske has soft hands, his average arm and lack of range raise doubts about his ability to be a big league defender at third base. The Cubs projected him as a first baseman, one of the reasons they traded him. He has worked to quicken his release to make up for his arm. In Toronto in 2002, a player can have no greater ally than Ricciardi, who believes in Hinske as a third baseman and lefthanded power bat. The big league third-base job is his to lose.
League, who helped Team USA to a silver medal at the 2000 World Junior Championship, planned on becoming part of Pepperdine's Hawaii pipeline before the Blue Jays signed him for $660,000. His high school pitching coach was former big leaguer Carlos Diaz. League challenges Dustin McGowan as the best arm in the system. He generates excellent sinking and running movement on his fastball from a three-quarters arm slot, as well as above-average velocity. League touched 96 mph in high school and as high as 99 in instructional league. He has shown the ability to throw his curveball, circle changeup and slider for strikes. League's release point keeps him from staying on top of his breaking stuff consistently, so he doesn't always find the strike zone. While he has a good feel for his changeup, he'll need to throw it more for it to be effective. His curve and slider sometimes blend together into a rolling slurve. Departed assistant GM Dave Stewart liked League as a future No. 1 starter. He has plenty of time to develop and should start his first full season pitching with McGowan in low Class A.
The Blue Jays took criticism in 1999 for drafting Rios in the first round. He signed for a below-market $845,000 as Toronto bypassed college talents such as Larry Bigbie, Matt Ginter and Ryan Ludwick. While money had much to do with the pick, so did projection, and Rios is starting to make the Jays look good. What attracted scouts Tim Wilken and Chris Buckley to Rios was his swing, an easy, short stroke that comes naturally. He also makes consistent contact and is tough to strike out. He has an athletic body and plus speed. He has gone from scrawny to slender, and he has big hands and broad shoulders to grow into. He has the range and ballhawking abilities for center field and the arm for right. Rios still needs more experience and strength. His strike-zone judgment needs to start including some walks. Eventually, he'll grow out of center field and move to a corner. The Jays consider Rios' ceiling among the highest in the organization. He and Tyrell Godwin have the best chance among Toronto farmhands to be five-tool talents down the line. Rios will keep growing at Dunedin this year.
Former scouting director Tim Wilken was in the Cape Cod League watching the Falmouth Commodores when the club ran out of catchers. A corner infielder at Florida State, Cash volunteered to go behind the plate and was a natural. He had never caught but threw out two basestealers, and Wilken signed him shortly thereafter. In a system bursting with catching prospects, Cash has the best catch-and-throw skills despite having the least experience. With a plus arm, excellent footwork and a quick release, Cash shuts down running games. He led the Florida State League by nailing 56 percent of basestealers in 2001. He also has power, leading Dunedin in home runs and slugging (.453), and uses the whole field offensively. Cash doesn't have the offensive ceiling of either Werth or Phelps because he doesn't have as much over-the-fence power. He's learning the nuances of calling a game and handling a staff. His inexperience showed, with 12 errors and 18 passed balls. The Blue Jays are overloaded with catchers, and Ricciardi has shown he's not afraid to make moves. If he remains with the organization, Cash will start 2002 in Double-A.
The Yankees drafted Godwin 24th overall in 1997, but he turned down a $1.9 million bonus to attend North Carolina to play baseball and football. The Rangers picked him 35th overall in 2000 and withdrew their $1.2 million bonus offer when they discovered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He signed with the Blue Jays for $480,000 a year ago. Godwin has blazing speed (3.9 seconds to first base) and a quick bat that lashes line drives to all fields. He improved significantly in a short time, cutting down what was a violent swing. The Jays project him as a center fielder, though he worked out in right in instructional league and could wind up there. Some scouts soured on Godwin's desire after he twice didn't sign as a first-round pick and didn't play baseball as a senior, instead working on rehabbing his knee. The Blue Jays say Godwin is hungry to prove 29 other teams wrong. His knee held up well in his debut, though he had lingering hamstring problem. Godwin's ceiling isn't much lower than that of Gross, but his lesser power potential is the difference. He'll start the year at Dunedin and could move quickly.
Lawrence has had a long trip in the organization, but if he doesn't have a good spring training that road will end. Drafted in the first round in 1996 as a shortstop, he moved to third base early in his career and dutifully shifted to catcher after 1999, taking a step back to high Class A to learn the new position. He seemed to take to it well but saw his progress stall in 2001, thanks in part to a mysterious left hand injury that lingered for much of the season. Two trips to the University of Virginia to visit a hand specialist determined Lawrence didn't need surgery, but the injury sapped his power at the plate. As he struggled, he expanded his strike zone, negating the plate discipline that had been one of his bigger strengths. Defensively, Lawrence led the International League with 15 passed balls and threw out just 23 percent of basestealers. His athletic ability and past offensive performances have convinced the Blue Jays that he has the tools to be a big leaguer. He has only one option left and will have to have a healthy spring to win a job as the big league backup to Darrin Fletcher. The Jays have plenty other catching options if Lawrence struggles again.
Miller came to the Blue Jays in the Billy Koch trade after being a favorite of new Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi when both were in the Athletics organization. After an impressive 2000 campaign, Miller endured a difficult 2001 season, constantly falling behind hitters and struggling for consistency with his big slider. He also lost command of his fastball. He was more impressive in his first half dozen games in the Dominican Winter League than he had been during the regular season. When the pieces come together, Miller is a power pitcher with a 96-mph four-seam fastball, a two-seam sinker, the slider and a hard splitter. He needs an offspeed pitch to contrast with his hard stuff, and his power pitches make him a candidate to be a setup man in Toronto's reconstructed bullpen. Originally drafted by the Rockies, Miller missed most of 1999 with elbow tendinitis but has been an innings-eater since. That durability means he probably will get another chance as a Triple-A starter to rediscover his command and develop his changeup.
In 2001, Brandon Lyon defied the Blue Jays' model. The organization favors tall, athletic, projectable righthanders like Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter, but Lyon spent only a year in the minors before pitching his way into the Toronto rotation. Smith, Lyon's teammate at short-season Queens in 2000, is on a slower track but not by much. Like Lyon, Smith is small by Blue Jays standards for a pitcher and has good command of his fastball. Unlike Lyon, he has power stuff, working in the 92-94 mph range and touching 96 with his fastball. Smith gets his velocity from a quick arm action and strong legs, which he uses to drive to the plate and which help him maintain his velocity. His second pitch is a hard slider that needs more consistency. His changeup remains a work in progress, but when he stays on top of his breaking ball and keeps his fastball down in the zone, he can dominate for long stretches, as he did after his promotion to Double-A. A return to Double-A to start the year is in the offing, as the organization wants to see Smith work on an offspeed pitch.
Negron is frequently linked with Alexis Rios because they were first-round picks out of Puerto Rico in consecutive years, but they're pretty different in terms of tools. Where Rios is long, lean and has plenty of power potential, Negron's game is predicated much more on speed. He's a plus runner and one of the fastest players in the system, and his range and solid arm make him a true center fielder. While he's more mature physically at a similar stage than Rios was, Negron is a year behind in development and in emotional maturity. He has some power, just enough to make him forget to play within himself and use his speed to his advantage. Negron's ceiling began to show last year after he was demoted to shortseason Auburn, where he showed better patience and the ability to steal bases. He'll get a second try in the South Atlantic League in 2002.
The Blue Jays have a burning need for lefthanders, and the only big league remedy would be a healthy return by Mike Sirotka. Stephenson has the highest ceiling among the lefties in the farm system, but Toronto will have to be patient with him. He has added an inch and 10-15 pounds since signing and has continued to grow into his stuff, which already turns heads. Stephenson, whose father Earl pitched in the majors, has a plus fastball for a lefty at 88-92 mph. That's quite a jump from when he signed, when he threw 80-85 mph, but his growing strength and increasingly smoother mechanics turned his fastball into a second plus pitch. His best remains a big breaking pitch one Jays scout termed "the curveball from hell." When he throws both for strikes, he reminds the organization of Andy Pettitte. He'll get his first taste of full-season ball this year, joining Dustin McGowan and Brandon League in a prospect-heavy Charleston rotation.
One of the bigger surprises in the organization in 2001, Baker has traveled a lot already in his baseball career, through College of the Canyons (Calif.) to NAIA power Oklahoma City to Toronto. With the Blue Jays, he has made steady progress while changing roles from reliever to starter. The development of a changeup to go with his 88-92 mph fastball, curveball and slider has given Baker four pitches he could throw for strikes. At times, both his slider and curve can be above average. The organization praises his command and competitiveness. He's not afraid to drill hitters who crowd the plate or to retaliate for a teammate. The whole package reminds the organization of Pat Hentgen and they want to see if Baker can maintain it in Triple-A this year If not, Baker has a resilient arm and consistently has reached 95 mph when used out of the bullpen, so relief could be his quickest route to the big leagues.
One-third of South Carolina's Killer Bs rotation in 2000 along with Scott Barber (Diamondbacks) and Kip Bouknight (Rockies), Bauer was considered the best prospect of the trio. He was worked hard that season and lost some velocity on his fastball, but he regained his prospect status with a fresher arm in 2001. Bauer's heater was back in the 89-93 mph range with a good downhill plane, and the organization thinks there's some projection left in his big body. He always has had a plus slider, and when his fastball is lively and has its good sink he's a groundball machine. He tired down the stretch, though, losing velocity again and leaving his fastball up in the strike zone. The Blue Jays have voiced concerns about Bauer's conditioning and his propensity to work off his slider instead of off his fastball, a pitch that only gets better with practice. While he's a good competitor, that sometimes works against him in jams. He'll try to overpower hitters instead of using his slider or improving changeup. He'll return to Double-A this year.
Alternately known as Charles or Charlie, Chulk made a name for himself in the organization in 2001 with a breakthrough season. Like Chris Baker, Chulk starred at an NAIA program and can work in either a starting role or out of the bullpen. His role in 2002 will depend on his performance in spring training and the organization's needs. Chulk has power stuff the organization likes out of its relievers. He throws three pitches from three different arm slots: a 90-94 mph fastball, a hard slider and a show-me changeup. Chulk generally uses a low three-quarters slot that gives his fastball nasty sink, and his slider is a plus pitch when he stays on top of it. He has the athleticism and coordination to repeat his many deliveries and also fields his position well. He has the mentality to close eventually and could fill a bullpen opening in Toronto this year. If the Blue Jays decide to keep him as a starter, he'll begin 2002 back in Double-A.
Deschaine would have ranked toward the bottom of the Top 30 in a deep Cubs organization, and he fits the profile of what GM J.P. Ricciardi is trying to do in Toronto. He was acquired for shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who never played up to his tools with the Blue Jays. Not considered overly athletic, Deschaine gets it done with his bat. He has the plate discipline to fit in fine with Ricciardi's old outfit, the Athletics, as well as a short stroke that produces power. A good fastball hitter who adjusts well to breaking stuff, Deschaine tied for the Florida State League lead in home runs and was the league's all-star third baseman. He began the season at shortstop but move to third after third-round pick Ryan Theriot arrived in Dayton. Deschaine has enough arm for either spot but isn't considered an above-average defender anywhere. His fielding percentage was actually higher at shortstop (.932) than at third (.923). The Blue Jays don't think of him as a middle infielder and will use him at the hot corner, an organizational weak spot, in Double-A this year.
After ranking ninth on this list a year ago--directly ahead of current No. 1 prospect Josh Phelps--Ford was one of the organization's bigger disappointments in 2001. He can regain his standing if he makes progress changing speeds and throwing strikes. Ford has the stuff to move up. His best pitch is a power curveball that he can throw at any point in a count, and an average 87-90 mph fastball with decent life. Ford used his fastball too much last year and got hammered. A demotion and a talk with former assistant GM Dave Stewart convinced him to use his changeup more, especially against lefthanders, and the pitch improved dramatically. Ford gained physical and mental maturity during the year, thanks to an improved work ethic. As his 2001 workload nearly doubled his career total, he stayed healthy except for some minor elbow soreness. The Jays hope Ford just had to take a step back to take two forward. He'll return to high Class A at the beginning of 2002, and a promotion will come quickly if he makes the necessary adjustments.
The Blue Jays signed three draft-and-follows from the 1998 draft--Aaron Dean, Ryan Houston and Reimers--who wound up in the Dunedin rotation last year. None were protected on Toronto's 40-man roster during the offseason, but the club projects Reimers as a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse. A 14th-round pick out of high school who was lured away from a Mississippi State scholarship, he has put on 30 pounds since signing and is now a solid 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. He's still growing into his body and gaining coordination. While his fastball touches 94 mph, he pitches at 89-92 with good sink, though not as consistently as Peter Bauer. Reimers has above-average command and a changeup that can be a plus pitch. His power slider tends to flatten out, and he doesn't have enough power to pitch in the middle of the plate, meaning he has to nibble. The Jays like his maturity and plan to move him to Double-A.
A Dominican from New York, Gracesqui earned a spot on the Jays' 40-man roster after an impressive display of power during the 2001 season and in instructional league. His big frame generates velocity and deception, and his three-quarters delivery makes it look like the ball comes out of his sleeve. Because he's still a little wild--though much less so than in his first three seasons--hitters rarely dig in against him. Gracesqui's 89-94 mph fastball and slider help him eat up lefthanded hitters, who rarely get a good swing against him. He still needs to refine his command and his slider, which can get slurvy at times. Because everything he throws is hard, Gracesqui figures to stay in the bullpen when he starts this year in high Class A.
After his pro debut in 2000, Kegley ranked sixth on this list and was considered to have the best arm in the system. But not only did Kegley have to return to the Florida State League for a second year after a poor spring training, he also had an alarming drop in his velocity. His fastball never came close to reaching its previous peak of 97 mph. Kegley pitched at 87-91 during the season and had trouble locating any of his pitches. The Blue Jays say his delivery got out of whack and Kegley had it completely remade after he was pulled from the rotation in August. A medical exam found some shoulder weakness and he worked hard to regain strength. The good news was that he was back to throwing 94 mph in instructional league. Toronto hopes an offseason of hard work and getting acclimated to his new mechanics will allow Kegley to become a power reliever. His 2002 assignment will depend on what kind of spring he has. He can't afford a repeat of 2001.
Cassidy has overcome diabetes and not being drafted to become a fringe prospect. He already has accomplished more than seemed likely, pitching effectively in the second half of 2001 at Syracuse, his hometown. Afterward he traveled a little further from home, going to the World Cup in Taiwan as one of Team USA's top three starters. He went 1-0, 2.30 in a team-high 16 innings. Cassidy has displayed durability belying his slight build, answering concerns about whether his diabetes would preclude him from remaining a starter. His 86-89 mph fastball runs in on righthanders, whom he held to a .203 average last year. His curveball has improved but still could use more depth. Cassidy's ability to spot those pitches, as well as a solid changeup and slider, and his maturity make him a candidate for a big league setup role in 2002. If he stays in the rotation, he projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter. A full season in Triple-A may be needed to convince Toronto he should remain a starter.
Rouse was an unknown commodity coming into 2001. After a standout freshman season at San Jose State, he transferred to Cal State Fullerton, but the Spartans didn't release him from his scholarship and Rouse had to sit out all of 2000. He impressed Titans coaches with his work ethic during his year of inactivity and helped lead Fullerton to the 2001 College World Series, leading the team in RBIs. After signing, he excelled in high Class A. Rouse has a sound swing, getting his whole body into the ball and making adjustments to offspeed stuff. He surprised Toronto's scouting staff by showing power to all fields and better defensive tools than expected. He has adequate hands and range at shortstop, but his arm is better suited for second base, especially as young Latin shortstops Manuel Mayorson, Raul Tablado and Juan Peralta work their way up the system. Rouse will learn the nuances of his new position in Double-A this year.
Signed away from a scholarship to Florida State, Davenport has work to do in several phases of the game. His offensive potential, though, means the Blue Jays will be patient. Davenport has a smooth swing and lashes line drives to all fields. His compact stroke should allow him to make more consistent contact as he gains experience and gets to know pitchers better. A studious hitter, he carries a notebook in which he writes up every pitcher he faces. Davenport projects to have plus power if he continues to get stronger, particularly in his upper body. He needed to stay in extended spring training last year to convert from first base to the outfield. He has improved as a left fielder, though his arm strength is modest. He draws comparisons to former Jays farmhand Jay Gibbons, a pure hitter lost to the Orioles in the 2000 major league Rule 5 draft. Davenport likely will return to low Class A in April.
As the Blue Jays have traded away several middle infielders in the last couple of years, Latin American coordinator Tony Arias has created an influx of shortstops at the lower levels. Mayorson has the highest ceiling of those players, starting with his well aboveaverage speed. He still needs to learn the finer points of baserunning, but he has shown evidence of developing enough plate discipline to hit near the top of the order. He has little power to speak of for now and projects for no more than gap power down the road. Mayorson plays shortstop naturally with good instincts and plenty of arm, earning comparisons within the organization to Abraham Nunez, whose career started with the Blue Jays before he was dealt to the Pirates. Mayorson will get his first taste of full-season ball this year at Charleston.
It's somewhat perplexing that Thurman was available to the Blue Jays in the major league Rule 5 draft in December. He was left unprotected by the Royals after winning 27 games in his previous two seasons, including a strong performance in Double-A last year. He finished fourth in the Texas League in ERA and held opponents to a .206 average, all at age 22. But Kansas City opted to protect low-ceiling veterans such as Cory Bailey and Raul Ibanez over Thurman. He has the stuff to stick with Toronto throughout 2002 and the opportunity to do it as a long reliever. He broke through in 2000 when he started working off his 88-90 mph fastball more, making his plus changeup more effective. On occasion, his fastball will touch 93 mph. The Jays also like reports on his good work ethic, his durability and the development of his curveball, which has become an out pitch.
The Blue Jays have few lefthanded starters in sniffing distance of the major leagues. While Gustavo Chacin has advanced further in his development and will start 2002 in Triple-A, his fastball-changeup repertoire pegs him more as an Omar Daal clone with a limited ceiling. Markwell offers hope for the future. He drew headlines in 1996 when he signed for $750,000, breaking the club's foreign-bonus record held at the time by Brazilian Jose Pett, and finally started to show signs of progress last season in his fourth try at the short-season New York-Penn League. Markwell works off his average 87-91 mph fastball, mixing in two plus pitches in his curveball and changeup. His curve has a tight rotation and he gets good arm speed on his changeup, helping him shut down lefthanders. As his strength has caught up with his poise and feel for pitching, he has started living up to his bonus. Markwell figures to start 2002 in high Class A but soon could catch the more polished Chacin.
Signed for $1.2 million, Quiroz now seems like a luxury in an organization full of catchers with all kind of skills: offensive versus catch-and-throw, experienced versus raw. He falls into the raw and catch-and-throw categories, as his statistics would indicate. Offensively, Quiroz has problems with timing and his approach to hitting. He has a fairly short swing with good bat speed. His defensive tools are top-notch. A good arm and athletic build complement Quiroz' receiving skills, and he rapidly has developed into a leader. He speaks good English considering his background and limited time in the United States, and he has a good feel for calling a game and handling a pitching staff. Because of their backlog of catchers, the Blue Jays can and will be patient with Quiroz, who fought nagging injuries and played just 82 games in 2001. He'll likely return to low Class A to handle top arms such as Dustin McGowan, Brandon League and Eric Stephenson.