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The Phillies made d'Arnaud the 37th overall pick and signed him for $837,500 in 2007, one year before the Pirates took his older brother Chase in the fourth round out of Pepperdine. While Chase made it to the majors first, debuting in 2011, Travis has a much brighter future. Had Philadelphia gone a different route, the Blue Jays would have chosen d'Arnaud with the 38th selection in 2007, but they managed to acquire him two years later. He came to Toronto in a package with Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor for Roy Halladay in December 2009. Slowed by back problems in his first year with Toronto, d'Arnaud broke out in 2011 by overcoming an April concussion to hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers at Double-A New Hampshire. After winning the Eastern League MVP award and helping the Fisher Cats to a championship, he joined Team USA for the World Cup in Panama but tore a ligament in his left thumb. D'Arnaud came out swinging again in 2012, batting .333/.380/.595 with 16 homers in 67 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. On track to get his first call to the majors, he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while trying to break up a double play in late June. He didn't require surgery but did miss the rest of the season. D'Arnaud has the tools to become an all-star if he can stay healthy. He's a rare catcher with the potential to be an above-average hitter with plus power. He doesn't walk much but makes consistent hard contact, getting hits even when his timing is off or he gets off balance. He has the bat speed and strength to hit plenty of homers and lets his power come naturally, employing a short stroke and all-fields approach. Though he has played in extremely hitter-friendly home ballparks the last two years, his pop is legitimate, as 18 of his 37 homers have come on the road. D'Arnaud made good strides with his defense in 2011 by working with then-New Hampshire manager Sal Butera, who caught in the majors for nine seasons. Those improvements carried over to 2012, when d'Arnaud threw out a career-high 30 percent of basestealers. He has average to plus arm strength and has refined his footwork and throwing accuracy. He's a solid receiver who moves well behind the plate, and he's a good leader who works well with his pitching staffs. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner but isn't a liability on the bases. The Blue Jays control J.P. Arencibia through 2016, so they don't need to rush d'Arnaud, but he is a better overall hitter and defender. D'Arnaud likely will return to Triple-A for some refinement at the beginning of 2013, but he's clearly Toronto's backstop of the future and arguably the best catching prospect in the minor leagues. He's on the 40-man roster, and if he avoids another injury, he may be ready for his major league debut by midseason.
The Blue Jays promoted area scout Steve Miller to crosschecker after he diligently followed Syndergaard in 2010. Syndergaard went from throwing 87-90 mph at the start of the spring to 92-94 mph just before the draft, and Miller persuaded Toronto to draft him 38th overall. Signed for a below-slot $600,000, he has posted a 2.35 ERA and averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro. Syndergaard's big frame gives him an imposing presence on the mound, and his fastball only adds to it. His heater ranges from 92-98 mph with excellent downward angle and armside run. His curveball has gained velocity since he signed and now sits in the mid-70s with downward action. It's inconsistent and eventually may develop into a slider, but it gets outs and features good spin. He maintains his arm speed well on his changeup. He has good body control for his size, which leads to quality command and control. Syndergaard and fellow 2010 sandwich pick Aaron Sanchez have risen through the minors together and will team again in 2013 at high Class A Dunedin. Both have the ceiling of a frontline starter, with Syndergaard not quite matching Sanchez in stuff but outshining him in terms of polish.
With his lanky frame and long limbs, Sanchez drew comparisons to Orel Hershiser on the high school showcase circuit in 2009. The Blue Jays were excited to get him with the 34th overall pick the following June and signed him for a below-slot $775,000. Toronto generally handles its young arms with caution, and has limited Sanchez to 170 innings in three pro seasons. He has the best stuff in the system and some of the best in the entire minors. His quick arm generates fastballs that range from 94-98 mph with little effort. His curveball has tight spin and gives him a second plus pitch, and even his changeup features effective late movement. There's still projection remaining in his body as well. The knock against Sanchez is his command. He has averaged five walks per nine innings as a pro, and he has gotten many of his strikeouts when lower-level hitters have chased pitches out of the zone. Even if he doesn't add any strength, Sanchez has enough stuff to succeed at higher levels. More advanced hitters will force him to throw more strikes, but he won't need pinpoint command to pitch in the front half of a big league rotation. He'll advance to high Class A in 2013.
The nephew of Antonio Osuna, a major league reliever for 11 seasons, Roberto attracted attention by popping 94 mph with his fastball as a 15-year-old at an international tournament in 2010. He made his pro debut at age 16 in the Mexican League with the Mexico City Red Devils, who sold his rights to Toronto in August 2011 for $1.5 million. Osuna turned in a strong U.S. debut as a 17-year-old, fanning 49 in 44 innings and holding his own against much older hitters in the short-season Northwest League. Osuna doesn't have the same projection as fellow Mexican righthander Luis Heredia, whom the Pirates signed in 2010 for $2.6 million, but scouts say their stuff is similar. Osuna has a plus fastball that ranges from 91-96 mph, with the ability to add and subtract from it as needed. His changeup is a plus pitch, and he's still seeking a consistent grip and release point for his slurvy slider. Some scouts had concerns about Osuna's thick frame, but he has done a good job of keeping his conditioning in check. He has a clean delivery and enough athleticism to maintain at least average command. With his moxie and feel for pitching, Osuna may advance more quickly than expected. The Blue Jays have no reason to rush the potential No. 3 starter, however, and he'll spend 2013 in low Class A Lansing.
After starring in college, with Team USA and in the Cape Cod League during the summer, Stroman became Duke's first-ever first-round pick. The Blue Jays drafted him 22nd overall in June with the pick they received for failing to sign 2011 first-rounder Tyler Beede. Stroman signed for $1.8 million and quickly reached Double-A before testing positive for a stimulant and drawing a 50-game suspension. Don't be fooled by Stroman's diminutive frame. He has quick-twitch athleticism and the ball explodes out of his hand. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph when he starts and can reach 98 when he relieves. He has two variations of a breaking ball: a mid-80s slider with big break and a harder, shorter cutter at 88-90 mph. He also mixes in a good changeup. He maintains his velocity well into starts but will need better command to remain a starter. The Blue Jays aren't ruling out developing Stroman as a starter despite his size. He relieved in his pro debut to keep his workload light, and if he stays in that role he could surface in Toronto before the end of 2013. He has the upside of a frontline starter or a closer. When his suspension ends in May, he'll probably return to Double-A.
With their first of five picks before the second round of the 2012 draft, the Blue Jays selected Davis 17th overall. He signed quickly for $1.75 million, allowing him to play 60 pro games and reach short-season Vancouver before the end of the summer. The track record of Mississippi high school prospects is downright poor, but Davis is more athletic and polished than most of them. Some scouts believe his pure speed rivals that of fellow Mississippi burner Billy Hamilton, who destroyed the minor league stolen base record in 2012. Davis repeatedly gets from the right side of the plate to first base in less than four seconds, creates havoc on the basepaths and has excellent range in center field. He can use his quickness to get on base too, though he's more than a slap hitter. He has a short, whippy swing and keeps the bat in the hitting zone for a long time. He has strong hands and can pull the ball with authority, giving him the potential for double-digit home run totals. His weakest tool is his arm, which is fringy but playable. Davis may be advanced enough at the plate to handle an assignment to low Class A at the start of 2013. More likely, he'll hang back in extended spring training before returning to Vancouver in June.
Stilson led NCAA Division I with a 0.80 ERA in 2010 and was pitching himself into the first round of the 2011 draft before hurting his shoulder that May. The injury turned out to be a torn labrum, and the initial diagnosis called for shoulder surgery. Stilson got a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, however, who said the tear was not as bad as originally believed and that rest, rehabilitation and a throwing program would suffice. The Blue Jays gambled a third-round pick and $500,000 on Stilson, who reached Double-A in his 2012 pro debut. Stilson has two plus pitches in a fastball that usually ranges from 93-96 mph and a wipeout changeup with tremendous sink. He also has a hard breaking ball that he can manipulate to resemble either a curveball or a slider. He throws with a lot of effort and across his body, which adds deception but also puts stress on his shoulder and hampers his command, so he probably fits best in the bullpen. Stilson has the stuff and competitive demeanor to be a set-up man or closer. He spent a short stint on the disabled list at midseason with shoulder tightness, which Toronto deemed minor, but the organization shifted him to the bullpen in August to limit his innings. Staying there might be the best way to keep him healthy and could get him to the big leagues in 2013. He got knocked around at New Hampshire, so he may return there to start the season.
The top high school lefthander in the 2011 draft class, Norris was projected as a mid-first-round pick, but teams were wary of his commitment to Clemson. Taking advantage of extra picks, the Blue Jays selected him in the second round--their sixth choice at No. 74 overall--and handed him a $2 million bonus at the signing deadline. His signing took some of the sting out of failing to land first-round pick Tyler Beede, who headed to Vanderbilt, but Norris' 2012 pro debut couldn't have gone much worse. He posted an 8.44 ERA as lower-level hitters batted .320 against him. Toronto attributed his struggles to adapting to changes in his delivery and approach. His mechanics were out of sync much of the season, and he couldn't find a consistent balance point, causing his arm to drag and costing him extension out front. That detracted from his fastball command, leading him to pitch behind in the count and up in the zone. Norris is very athletic--he was a quarterback until his senior year and showed easy power as a hitter--so he should be able to adapt to the adjustments over time. When he's on, Norris has a low-90s fastball that touches 96 mph, flashes the ability to spin a plus curveball and shows feel for a changeup. For all his struggles, he still struck out more than a batter per inning. Norris has front-of-the-rotation stuff but clearly needs better command to maximize his potential. His performance in spring training will determine his 2013 assignment, and he could begin the season in low Class A.
Entering his high school senior season in 2012, Smoral was in the running to be the top prep lefthander in the draft. He carried over a strong performance on the high school showcase circuit into his first scrimmage of the spring, when he dominated in front of 50 scouts. In his first regular-season start, however, he struggled to throw strikes and left the game early with blisters. It would be his last time on the mound for Solon High, as doctors found he had a broken bone in his right foot. He had surgery in early April and wasn't able to pitch before the signing deadline, but the Blue Jays still took him 50th overall and signed him away from a North Carolina commitment for $2 million. When healthy, Smoral fires a 92-96 mph fastball from a low three-quarters arm slot that creates a tough angle for hitters. His slider is a plus pitch that sits in the low 80s. Like most high school pitchers, he needs to develop a changeup. He's tall and lanky, so he's still growing into his body and learning to repeat his pitches, but he has the athleticism to figure it out. A potential frontline starter, Smoral returned to the mound in instructional league. He'll head to extended spring training and make his professional debut at one of the Jays' short-season stops in June.
The best athlete in the 2012 draft class, Alford likely would have been a first-round pick if not for his standout two-sport prowess. He had a scholarship to play quarterback at Southern Mississippi and told teams that he intended to play both baseball and football in college, which also raised questions about his signability. Alford was the first player to win Mississippi's football player of the year award as both a junior and senior, and he led Petal High's baseball team to 6-A baseball championships as a sophomore and junior. The Blue Jays drafted him in the third round and signed him for $750,000, with the provision that they would allow him to play college football. Alford was arguably Southern Miss' best player as a freshman, starting five games and appearing in four more with a team-high 993 yards of total offense. But he also dealt with knee and ankle injuries that kept him out of three games and limited him in several others, and the Golden Eagles suffered through the worst season in school history at 0-12. Alford was then arrested in November after an on-campus fight in which another student reportedly brandished a gun. After hiring a new coach, Southern Miss released Alford from his scholarship. Alford has more polish in baseball than most two-sport stars. He has a short, quick swing and power to all fields. He has the tools to be an excellent defender in center field because he's a plus-plus runner with solid arm strength. The Blue Jays believed Alford's athleticism made him worth the gamble, but it's a considerable one, and it's not clear how recent events could affect his football future. He could transfer to another school for football, or turn his focus completely to baseball. Though he may not be ready for a full-season assignment, Toronto may send him to low Class A in the spring to maximize his at-bats.
Some clubs considered Jimenez a third-round talent in 2008, but questions about his elbow dropped him to the ninth round, where he signed for $150,000. He stayed healthy in his first four pro seasons, emerging as the system's best defensive catcher, but his elbow issues resurfaced in 2012. He appeared in just 27 games before requiring Tommy John surgery. The track record with elbow reconstruction is encouraging, so Jimenez should regain the above-average, accurate arm that has helped him throw out 43 percent of pro basestealers. He also blocks and receives well, and he shows aptitude for handling a pitching staff. Jimenez's offense has started to catch up to his defense. He has good bat speed and has improved his pitch recognition. He lacks power, but he can drive the ball to the opposite field and should be able to handle the bat well enough to be an everyday big leaguer. He's a below-average runner, but not bad for a catcher. Once he's back to full strength, Jimenez will return to Double-A. The Blue Jays protected him on their 40-man roster in November.
A two-way player in high school, Gonzales showed modest stuff the summer before his senior year but took a big step forward in 2012. His fastball velocity jumped at least a grade and his slider also blossomed, and the nephew of Nationals crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales pitched his way into the supplemental first round of the draft. Signed for $750,000, he wasn't quite as sharp in his pro debut. After sitting at 88-92 mph with his fastball in his first spring outing, Gonzales jumped to 93-95 and touched 98 several times. He maintains his velocity deep into games. He also possesses an overpowering slider that operates in the mid-80s and has hit 90 mph. Gonzales will need a changeup and improved command to stay a starter, but his fastball and slider give him a ceiling of a closer if he shifts to the bullpen. The effort in his delivery also might dictate a future in relief. Old for his draft class, Gonzales will pitch at age 20 in 2013. Given the limited innings in his debut, he may start the season in extended spring training.
Rated the top prospect in the 2012 international amateur class, Barreto began playing for Venezuela in international tournaments at age 10. He was the MVP at the 12-and-under Pan American Championship in 2008 and at the 14-and-under Pan Am Championship in 2010. Signed for $1.45 million, he has advanced skills that could lead him to bypass the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League and debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013. Barreto's best tools are his bat and speed. More mature at the plate than most international prospects, he has quick hands and a short swing. He recognizes pitches well and projects as an above-average hitter. He has a small frame and doesn't offer a lot of physical projection, but he's already strong and could hit for average power. Barreto is a plus-plus runner with solid arm strength, though there isn't much support for him staying at shortstop in the long term. The Blue Jays will have him play there to open his career, but he lacks classic footwork and actions for the position. His speed would fit well in center field if shortstop doesn't work out.
Since signing with Toronto for $750,000 as a 16-year-old in 2009, Nessy has moved through the system step by step. He has yet to play in a full-season league, though he did finish last season in Vancouver at age 19. Nessy stands out most for his above-average raw power. He combines strength and a quick bat to drive balls a long way. However, he's still raw at the plate because he takes an overly aggressive swing and is too pull-conscious. Nessy weighed 190 pounds when he signed but now checks in at 220, leading to skepticism about his chances to stick behind the plate. He earned high marks for his defense in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he threw out 33 percent of basestealers. He has an above-average, accurate arm, though he can rush his throws at times. He blocks balls well, and his bilingual skills help him manage a pitching staff. Nessy should get his first crack at full-season ball in 2013.
The Blue Jays have emphasized amateur talent acquisition under general manager Alex Anthopoulos, spending heavily on the draft as well as the international market. They gave 12 international amateurs six-figure bonuses in 2011, including a $300,000 deal for Tirado. He came straight to the United States for his 2012 pro debut, pitching well in two Rookie leagues at age 17. Tirado isn't imposing on the mound, but he has long, skinny arms and plenty of projection. Toronto expected him to add velocity to a fastball that topped out at 91 mph as an amateur, and he's already working at 91-94 mph and touching 96. He commands his fastball in the lower half of the strike zone, leading to plenty of groundouts. He also does a good job of locating his solid changeup. His slider lags behind his other two pitches, and he has abandoned a curveball he threw as an amateur. Tirado is far away from the big leagues, but has the fastball, command and athleticism to be a mid-rotation starter if his secondary stuff develops. There's no need to rush him, so he probably won't make his full-season debut until 2014.
Scouts lauded the son of the former big leaguer as one of the best high school bats in the 2011 draft. The Blue Jays swayed him from a commitment to Georgia Tech by taking him 53rd overall and paying him $800,000. He signed too late to debut in 2011, and his performance last summer didn't live up to his scouting reports. While his .212/.279/.315 batting line raised concerns, the Blue Jays note that Smith was just 19 and that he didn't struggle to make contact. He has a simple swing that allows him to consistently make hard contact. He has the bat speed to generate solid power, and he could take off once he tones down a high leg kick that can hinder his timing. Smith saw time in both center and left field in 2012, but his solid speed and below-average arm make him a better fit in left. That would put more demands on his bat, and he'll show more about how well he can meet them when he gets to low Class A this year. Toronto gave him a look at second base in instructional league and could revisit that in the future.
As an amateur, Dean grabbed scouts' attention with his physical frame and projection. He didn't wow them on the showcase circuit, but a strong senior season made him the top third-base prospect in the 2011 draft class. His strong commitment to Texas scared teams off and dropped him to the 13th round, but the Blue Jays were able to sign him for $737,500. Like many high-priced Toronto draft picks, Dean had a modest pro debut at Bluefield in 2012. He has a lot of work to do with his hitting. He tends to jump at the ball rather than letting it travel deep, and he has too much head movement. He has been able to get his upper and lower half in sync better, after he used to be an upper-body pull hitter. He has plus power to all fields but won't tap into it unless he makes adjustments and more contact. A shortstop in high school, Dean should develop into a good defender at third with a plus arm, though he made 24 errors in 47 games last season. He's an average runner who may lose a half-step as he matures physically. Dean's progress in the spring will determine his 2013 assignment, and he may need time at Vancouver before he's ready for full-season ball.
When scouts traveled to Kennesaw State to see righthander Kyle Heckathorn in 2009, they came away more enamored with his teammate. Jenkins went 20th overall--27 picks ahead of Heckathorn--and signed for $1,359,000. He hasn't dominated as a pro, but he made steady progress until he repeated Double-A last season. His strikeout rate dropped to a career-low 4.5 per nine innings as opponents hit .310 against him. A slew of injuries at the big league level left the Blue Jays looking for arms, however, so they called Jenkins up for the final two months and he posted similar numbers as a swingman. Jenkins doesn't blow hitters away, relying instead on getting quick outs with his sinker/slider combination. His fastball sits at 87-91 mph with heavy sink and his slider is a solid pitch in the low 80s. He also shows a splitter/changeup that can be effective. Jenkins has a durable frame and projects as an innings-eater at the back of a big league rotation. He has yet to pitch in Triple-A, so he'll probably begin 2013 there.
Nolin wasn't a premium prospect coming out of the 2010 draft, but he has had a lot of success since the Blue Jays took him. He went 10-0, 2.07 that spring at San Jacinto (Texas) JC, and has gone 14-6, 3.04 and reached Double-A since signing for $175,000 as a sixth-round pick. Compared to a lefthanded version of former Baylor and Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings, Nolin has a burly frame and thrives on his feel for pitching. He has an average fastball that ranges from 88-94 mph and regularly sits at 90-91. He also mixes in a two-seamer that sits in the high 80s and features nice sink. His best secondary offering is a solid changeup, and he throws a curveball and slider. He has a longer history with the curve and has added power to it, while his slider needs shorter and quicker break. Projected as a back-of-the-rotation starter, Nolin will return to New Hampshire to begin 2013 but could advance to Triple-A quickly.
The Blue Jays made McGuire the 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft and signed him for $2 million, but he has seldom shown his college form as a pro. The book on him was that his command and polish would help his solid stuff play up and get him to Toronto quickly, but he got crushed in Double-A last season. He led the Eastern League in losses (15), home runs allowed (22), runs (103) and earned runs (94) while posting the second-worst ERA (5.88) among qualifiers. McGuire's fastball still sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 with average sink. His slider is his best secondary offering and has a chance to become a plus pitch. He also has a mediocre curveball he can throw for strikes and a fringy changeup that he still is gaining confidence in using regularly. The problem is that McGuire doesn't have a pitch that can consistently miss bats, and his control and command haven't been as good as advertised. He has a sound delivery, so he should be able to throw more strikes and work down in the zone more often. He'll try to get back on track in 2013, when he might have to return for a third stint in New Hampshire. He looked like a No. 4 or 5 starter at best last year, and a long way from reaching that point.
Pillar set an NCAA Division II record with a 54-game hitting streak as a junior in 2010 and a Cal State Dominguez Hills mark with a .367 career average. After four seasons with the Toros, he signed for $1,000 and kept hitting as a pro. He batted .347 in his pro debut and a system-best .323 last season, when he won the Midwest League MVP award. Pillar easily makes contact at the plate, thanks to a short swing and quiet approach with few moving parts. He has good feel for the barrel and provides gap power. Pillar used solid speed and keen instincts to steal 51 bases in 60 tries in 2012. His quickness and savvy also serve him well in the outfield, where he can play all three positions. He has average arm strength and accuracy. Pillar already is 24 and will have to keep proving himself, but he looks like he can serve as at least a fourth outfielder in the big leagues. He's ready for Double-A and could get to Toronto by season's end if he continues to produce.
DeJong is a product of Long Beach's Wilson High, which has sent 13 players to the big leagues, including Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, six-time all-star Bobby Grich and former American League MVP Jeff Burroughs. DeJong helped his 2012 draft cause with a pair of stellar outings against Lakewood (Calif.) High and righthander Shane Watson, who went on to become a Phillies supplemental first-rounder. DeJong struck out 12 while taking a tough 1-0 loss in the first matchup, then threw 8 2/3 shutout innings to secure a 3-0 win in the rematch. The Blue Jays selected him 81st overall and lured him away from a commitment to Southern California with an $860,000 bonus. DeJong has the projectable frame that scouts look for in high school righthanders, but he's highly regarded more for his feel for pitching than his pure stuff. His fastball sits at 87-91 mph and peaks at 93. He has a sharp downer curveball that shows the potential to be a plus pitch, and his changeup has similar upside. His delivery still needs cleaning up, but he's doing a better job of throwing less across his body and landing softer on his front leg. DeJong has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter if everything comes together. Toronto is conservative with its young arms, so he'll likely open 2013 at one of the organization's more advanced short-season stops.
Lopes drew acclaim early in his amateur career, ranking as the top 13-year-old in the nation in 2006 and projecting as a future first-round pick as a high school freshman. But his physical skills didn't develop as expected, and he seemed to wilt under the pressure. He failed to hit .300 as a junior and started tinkering with his swing, eventually falling to the seventh round of the 2011 draft. The Blue Jays still believed in his bat and signed him away from a Southern California scholarship for $800,000. He outperformed his fellow 2011 draftees at Bluefield last summer, earning team MVP honors. Despite his prolonged slumps as an amateur, Lopes has shown an ability to handle the bat. He has a sound approach and a quick swing that he's not afraid to turn loose. As a pro, he's doing a better job of not thinking too much or panicking at the plate. He should have more pop than most middle infielders, with a chance for average power as he matures. Lopes' below-average speed has prompted a move from shortstop to second base, but he has soft hands and a solid arm to go with good instincts, so he should be fine defensively. He could open 2013 in low Class A.
After missing time on the high school showcase circuit in 2011 because of a back injury, Nay started slowly as a high school senior last spring. He relaxed and started heating up as the draft neared, however, and moved up draft boards dramatically. The Blue Jays took him 58th overall and signed him away from an Arizona State commitment for $1 million. He broke his foot during agility workouts during his first week with the organization, preventing him from making his debut. Nay has a projectable frame with broad shoulders, making it easy to predict that he'll have plus power to all fields. There are questions about whether he'll make consistent contact and hit for average, however. He did adjust nicely to the steady diet of offspeed stuff that pitchers fed him last spring. Nay has an above-average arm that will play at third base, but he'll have to put in the work to stay there. He has below-average speed and quickness, though he moves well enough laterally. If he has to change positions, his power and arm should profile in right field. He'll start 2013 in extended spring training before reporting to Bluefield or Vancouver.
Another big signing from the 2011 international class, Becerra brought home $1.3 million that July. Like Alberto Tirado, he also came to the United States for his debut, but his first foray into pro ball was short-lived. He had 32 at-bats before taking a pitch off the face and breaking his jaw on July 3. His jaw was wired shut and he missed the rest of the regular season, but he reported to instructional league and eased back into baseball activities. Becerra has strength and above-average raw power, but his bat draws mixed reviews. His swing can get long and has an uppercut, which may detract from his ability to hit for average. Becerra is a plus runner who fits best in the outfield despite playing shortstop as an amateur. He doesn't have the hands or arm for shortstop and figured to get too big for the position anyway. He fits in center field now and may have to shift to left if he loses speed when he fills out. Becerra essentially lost a season of development, so he may be destined to return to the GCL in 2013.
One of the top hitters in the 2011 international class, Lugo matched Wuilmer Becerra's $1.3 million bonus and joined him in the Gulf Coast League for his pro debut last year. Lugo batted just .224/.275/.329, but he also was one of the youngest players in the league at age 17. He routinely makes contact but must learn to let some pitches go if he can't drive them with authority. He has a quick bat and projects to hit for plus power, though he can try to pull the ball too much. He's an average runner. He plays a sound shortstop and could be a Jhonny Peralta type, but most scouts think Lugo will have to shift to third base. He has the arm and athleticism to make the transition. He'll probably spend 2013 in Bluefield and not get his first taste of full-season ball until the following year.
While Thon was the Blue Jays 11th pick (fifth round) in 2010, he received the second-highest bonus in their draft class at $1.5 million because of his all-around skills and athleticism as well as the leverage of a scholarship to Rice. His father Dickie was an all-star shortstop and played 15 big league seasons. The younger Thon has yet to show much in pro ball, batting .222/.349/.315 in two years of Rookie ball and spending 2011 battling an unspecified blood disorder. He moved up to Rookie-level Bluefield for 2012 and continued to struggle at the plate, hitting .221/.331/.309 in 149 at-bats. Thon has a good swing and can drive the ball to all fields, but he needs to settle down at the plate. He gets too anxious and gives at-bats away, striking out in 29 percent of his at-bats in pro ball. Thon has plus speed, range and arm strength, so he has a shot to stick at shortstop. If he has to move, he figures to stay up the middle at second base or center field. At age 21, Thon faces a crucial season in 2013, when he should get his first full-season assignment.
Another product of Toronto's aggressive international spending in 2011, Labourt signed for $350,000 on his 17th birthday. A skinny 185-pounder when he signed, he already has added 20 pounds and has more room to add strength on his broad-shouldered frame. His fastball velocity has increased as well, sitting at 88-92 mph last summer and in the low 90s during instructional league, topping out at 94. He pitches mostly with his fastball at this point, though he shows feel for a curveball when needed. His changeup is a work in progress. Labourt still has a long way to go in refining the consistency of his pitches and learning to command them. He needs to do a better job of repeating his delivery and holding runners. He has the upside of a mid-rotation starter but won't be ready for full-season ball until 2014.
The Blue Jays signed both Jairo Labourt and del Rosario out of the Dominican Republic on March 7, 2011. Del Rosario fetched only $70,000--one-fifth of Labourt's bonus--because his fastball resided in the mid-80s at the time. Toronto believed there was more there because he could spin a curveball in the mid-70s, and he since has boosted his fastball to 88-90 mph with a high of 92. A throwing program has helped him add arm strength, and there might be a little more to come. He doesn't have as much velocity as Labourt, but del Rosario shows better feel for pitching and ate up inexperienced Gulf Coast League hitters in his U.S. debut. His best secondary pitch is a changeup that he commands well, while his curve has room for improvement. Del Rosario currently projects to fit in the back of a big league rotation, but he could find a higher ceiling if he adds velocity and develops plus command. He'll advance to Bluefield or Vancouver this season.
A third-round pick in 2010, Hawkins signed for $350,000 and passed up a scholarship to Tennessee. A shortstop in high school, he initially moved to the hot corner in pro ball before landing in left field. The position shifts have increased the offensive demands on him, and he took a step back with a lackluster performance in low Class A in 2012. Hawkins can look stiff and awkward, but his quick hands and strong wrists help him get around an arm bar in his swing. He makes consistent contact, almost to a fault, routinely putting pitches in play that he can't drive. He walks at a decent clip and could develop into a solid hitter with average power if he refines his plate discipline. He's still learning his swing. A fringy runner who's quicker once he gets going, Hawkins went 11-for-11 stealing bases last season. Despite his 14 assists in 2012, his arm is below-average and not particularly accurate. After getting through the pitcher-friendly Midwest League, he'll face another difficult hitting environment when he moves up to the Florida State League in 2013.
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