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Vladimir Guerrero signed with the Expos in March 1993, reached the majors in 1996 and became American League MVP with the Angels in 2004, one of his nine all-star seasons. In spring training before his first all-star campaign, in 1999, his son Vladimir Jr. was born in Montreal. He grew into a hitting prospect with some of his father's mannerisms (such as a lack of batting gloves), a strong facial resemblance and plenty more fanfare. The father signed for a $2,100 bonus, while Vladimir Jr. signed for $3.9 million. In fact, the Blue Jays traded minor leaguers Tim Locastro and Chase De Jong to the Dodgers for three international bonus slots, raising their international pool high enough just to sign the junior Guerrero. The Blue Jays first saw Guerrero take swings in their Dominican complex when he was 14 years old, after he'd already been training with his uncle Wilton, also a former major leaguer. He shifted from outfield to third base in instructional league after signing, went through his first spring training in 2016 and had a strong pro debut in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, finishing third in total bases while being the league's youngest player. Guerrero does just about everything evaluators want to see in a teenage hitter. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skills, to the point he seems to have been born to hit. His special hands allow him to manipulate the barrel and square up pitches of all types. He has excellent strike-zone judgment for a 17-year-old, walking nearly as often as he struck out and showing an ability to lay off breaking balls that will be further tested at higher levels. He has tremendous raw power and showed the ability to drive the ball to all fields at an advanced rate for his age. Guerrero covers the plate well and should be an above-average hitter with 30-plus homer potential down the line. Some club officials have compared his overall offensive profile to that of Edwin Encarnacion, though with more speed, as he's actually an average runner. Like Encarnacion, Guerrero has a chance to be a third baseman early in his career. Defense was rarely a focus of his as an amateur, and moving to third base from outfield has prompted Guerrero to work harder on all aspects of that side of the ball. He has improved his short-area quickness and arm strength the most. If he keeps working on his defense, he should have average range. Once owner of a below-average arm, he now flirts with a plus tool. His footwork has improved as well, and he made the routine play with some reliability in his debut. Guerrero has gotten his stocky body in better shape since signing, but it will always be a concern and is his biggest weakness as a prospect. The Blue Jays' high-performance team, which focuses on mental and physical training, will continue to work with Guerrero to maintain his looseness while improving his body fitness. His potential may not match his father's, but he won't shame his dad's name as a ballplayer. He figures to reach low Class A Lansing in 2017, and he could make it hard for the Jays to keep him from getting to the big leagues by the time he's 20.
A two-sport prep star in Mississippi, Alford signed for $750,000 on a contract that allowed him to play college football, first at Southern Mississippi as a quarterback, then at Mississippi as a defensive back. He had 94 pro at-bats in three seasons before giving up football and breaking out in 2015, but injuries slowed him in 2016. He wrenched his right knee on Opening Day, then suffered a concussion in an outfield collision in mid-June. Alford struggled immediately after both injuries. Back to full strength in July and August, he showed the same tools and similar production he had in 2015, with a power-speed combination buoyed by good plate discipline. He lost a step with his knee injury (he was forced to wear a bulky brace), making him merely a plus runner instead of a true burner, and scouts want to see if he gets it back this offseason. He still has athleticism, strength in his swing and improving power as he's tamed his swing a bit, giving him better bat control. Alford could still add polish in center field but has plenty of range that helps make up for a below-average arm. The Blue Jays were pleased with Alford's big finish and maturity handling his injuries. He is ready for Double-A in 2017 and could push for a regular role in 2018.
Gurriel's father, with the same name, starred for Cuban national teams (winning Olympic gold in 1992) for more than a decade, as did his older brother Yulieski. The brothers came to the U.S. in early 2016, with Yulieski signing with the Astros for a $47.5 million major league deal. Lourdes waited to sign until he turned 23 in October to get out from under the international bonus pools and signed a seven-year, $22 million contract with the Blue Jays in November. Scouts often have compared Gurriel to his father and brother, but he's a prospect on his own, with a lean, athletic frame. He has a fairly polished offensive approach, knows the strike zone and has the bat speed to catch up to good fastballs, even though his swing has some length. It also features some loft and leverage, giving him above-average power potential. Gurriel has run better in recent years, rating from average to above-average. He played shortstop, third base and left field in Cuba and profiles best at third or in left field. He has a solid-average arm. The Blue Jays are fairly set on the left side of the infield with Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson, so the outfield looks like Gurriel's best path to helping Toronto in the short term. He's expected to open his pro career at Double-A New Hampshire, likely giving third base a try before a move to the outfield.
Reid-Foley is close to becoming the second big leaguer ever born in Guam. He would join John Hattig, who got 24 at-bats in 2006 for Toronto. Reid-Foley's older brother David, a converted catcher, pitched in the Dodgers system and taught his younger brother a curveball last offseason, helping him have a breakout 2016 season. The only flaw was an elbow flare-up in August that prompted the Jays to shut him down. The Jays knew Reid-Foley had power stuff, which he maintained and improved in 2016 with the strides he made with his upper-70s curveball, which now rivals his slider as his best secondary pitch. At times both play as plus, though his mid-80s slider was less consistent than it had been in the past. Sent back to low Class A to start the season, Reid-Foley streamlined his leg kick in his delivery, which improved his direction to the plate, resulting in more command of his 92-94 mph fastball that touches 97. He threw harder in 2015 but has better command now while retaining good angle to the plate and solid life. His changeup, his fourth pitch, shows average potential if he can commit to it. Reid-Foley and Conner Greene should front the rotation at Double-A New Hampshire at some point in 2017. Greene's stuff is more electric, but Reid-Foley's strides in commanding his plus stuff gives him the edge as a potential future No. 2 starter.
Greene broke out in 2015, finishing the year in Double-A. He didn't respond well when sent back to high Class A to start 2016 and struggled with his control, ranking 13th in the minors with 71 walks. In terms of stuff, no Blue Jays farmhand can match Greene, who has the system's most explosive fastball for a starter. He can reach 98 mph and pitches in the 93-97 range at his best with his four-seamer, at times mixing in an 89-92 two-seamer. He's very athletic, lean and loose. His changeup remains his best secondary pitch, an above-average pitch thrown with good arm speed and featuring late fade. His 83-87 mph slider flashes above-average with depth, but it lacks consistency, while his curveball gets slow and loopy. Scouts outside the organization question Greene's dedication to learning pitch sequencing and attention to detail, both on and off the mound. Greene tinkered with his delivery to sync up his body and fast arm and had an inconsistent between-starts routine, which contributed to his below-average control. If his control clicks, Greene has front-of-the-rotation potential, but he has to throw quality strikes above Class A. He will likely return to Double-A in 2017.
The Blue Jays signed Urena for $725,000 in 2012 and have kept him after trading other top international shortstops, such as Franklin Barreto (Athletics) or Dawel Lugo (Diamondbacks). Urena reached Double-A New Hampshire but wore out at the end of the season, finishing 4-for-37. When he first got to Double-A, Urena showed his ceiling, which could be an above-average offensive player with average defense at shortstop. He has a feel for hitting with an aggressive approach, quick wrists and solid strength that produces solid-average power from the left side. He hasn't shown much righthanded pop in games the last two seasons, with just 12 extra-base hits from that side in 250 at-bats. Urena slightly improved his walk rate and cut his strikeouts while maintaining solid power production, though he still gives away at-bats swinging at pitchers' pitches. He also makes careless errors too often at short, flipping throws instead of setting his feet and flashing his arm, which is plus at its best. Urena flashes above-average tools in every area but speed but lacks polish and consistency at the plate and in the field. He'll open 2017 back at Double-A, where he finished the 2016 season, and may mix in some second base time with Troy Tulowitzki, signed through 2020, blocking his big league path to shortstop.
Tellez played with future pros J.D. Davis (Astros), Dom Nunez (Rockies), Derek Hill (Tigers 2014 first-rounder) and Dylan Carlson (Cardinals 2016 first-rounder) at Elk Grove High before signing for $850,000, the largest bonus in the Blue Jays' 2013 draft class. He had a strong 2016, ranking second in the Double-A Eastern League in on-base percentage (.387) and third in slugging (.530). A slow start (.164 in April) tested Tellez's confidence, but he turned up his aggressiveness and rallied, hitting .318 the rest of the way. He has improved his body significantly since signing, losing 15 pounds. Scouts laud his makeup for his dedication to his fitness, which also has helped improve his power production. Tellez always has shown feel for hitting and good control for the strike zone, and he's got plus power to punish mistakes when pitchers miss. He chased plenty of breaking balls early but adjusted and started laying off them, and he has enough bat speed to catch up to good fastballs. Tellez is a fringy defender with good enough footwork to improve to average. Tellez is the most advanced hitter among top Toronto farmhands and could hit his way to the majors in 2017, depending on how the Blue Jays' offseason shapes up. More likely, he'll head to Triple-A Buffalo.
The Royals drafted Zeuch in 2013 out of an Ohio high school in the 31st round, and he became the highest draft pick in the history of Pittsburgh's program. He signed for $2.175 million as the 21st overall pick. Zeuch's father Tim pitched two games in 1980 for the independent Victoria (B.C.) Mussels. Zeuch had one of the best fastballs in the draft class. He pitches off his plus fastball, which has armside run as well as heavy sinking life at its best. He'll touch 97 mph but usually sits in the 93-94 range. He uses his size well, leveraging his 6-foot-7 frame to drive the ball downhill and get solid extension out in front. He repeats his delivery well for a tall pitcher and should have average major league command. He throws a solid-average curveball with 12-to-6 shape from his high three-quarters release point that's his preferred secondary pitch, but he also can throw strikes with his average slider and fringe-average changeup. Toronto again landed one of the top college starters in the draft while picking in the 20s. A potential No. 3 starter, Zeuch has a higher ceiling and more power than 2015 first-rounder Jon Harris and should join Harris in high Class A Dunedin's rotation in 2017.
Bichette's father and brother paved his way into baseball. Dante Sr. hit 274 home runs in 14 big league seasons, while Dante Jr., a supplemental first-round pick of the Yankees in 2011, has reached Double-A. The brothers played together for Brazil's World Baseball Classic qualifier team in September in Brooklyn; their mother is Brazilian. He hit .427 and ranked second in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League with 36 RBIs in just 22 games. He missed a month with appendicitis but didn't require surgery. Bichette uses a somewhat unconventional swing with an exaggerated, deep load in his swing, but it worked throughout his amateur career and worked extremely well in his pro debut. He makes in-at-bat adjustments with an advanced approach for a prep, and scouts who believe his hand and bat speed will make his approach work see him as an above-average hitter with at least plus power. Bichette has solid athleticism, average range and speed and an above-average arm. The Blue Jays will keep him at shortstop as long as he can play it. From his exaggerated swing to defensive future, which is likely at third base, Bichette shares similarities with Josh Donaldson. He's headed to low Class A Lansing, where he'll play short next to third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2017.
Harris flirted with being a top-10 pick in a soft crop of college starting pitchers in the 2015 draft. As it turned out, he wasn't a team's first choice until the 29th overall pick, where Toronto snatched him and signed him for just less than $2 million. The Blue Jays had picked him out of high school as well in the 33rd round. Harris had a poor pro debut (6.75 ERA) but finished 2016 in high Class A after adopting several changes to his delivery. The Blue Jays simplified Harris' leg kick and got him to lengthen his stride out front, giving him a bit more effective velocity and allowing him to better repeat his delivery. He has better plane to his fastball and still has the same clean arm action as before, and he threw more quality strikes this year with all four of his pitches. Harris will pop a 97 mph fastball at times but sits 90-94. His changeup and upper-70s curveball flash above-average, as the curve has some depth and the changeup has good life, while his cutter-type slider lacks consistent tilt but has solid mid-80s power. His lack of a true plus pitch makes it hard for him to rack up swings-and-misses; increased strength could help the quality of his stuff. Harris needs a plus pitch to be a potential No. 3 starter and innings-eater. More realistically, he profiles as a solid No. 4 who could reach Double-A in 2017.
The Blue Jays signed Maese for just $300,000, less than half the bonus slot for the 91st overall pick. Held back in extended spring training in 2016, he earned the first start of the season for short-season Vancouver, then got a promotion to low Class A Lansing, Maese has a fine pitcher's frame at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with the athleticism and present strength to repeat his delivery. He attacks hitters seeking early-count contact and gets it, usually on the ground. He generated more than two groundouts for every out in the air in 2016. He averaged right around 13 pitches per inning, making him one of the organization's most efficient pitchers. His sinking fastball touches 96 mph and resides in the 90-94 range with the best fastball life in the organization. Maese picked up a new slider grip this year to give him a solid-average secondary pitch. It's hard, reaching the upper 80s. He's still learning some feel for the pitch and learning a changeup. He needs to refine his defense. The Jays have had success developing power sinkerballers of late, including Henderson Alvarez and Aaron Sanchez. Maese has similar sink with a bit less velocity than those two and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He could start 2017 at high Class A Dunedin and should finish the season there.
Pentecost got back on the field in 2016, and the Blue Jays will take what they can get from the second of their two first-round picks in 2014 (11th overall). He went 3-for-4 with a home run in his season debut in May with low Class A Lansing, his first game since 2014. Pentecost, who didn't sign as a seventh-round pick by the Rangers out of high school in 2011 due to an elbow issue, has had at least two labrum surgeries since signing for $2,888,300. That caused him to miss all of '15 and limited him to DH duty only in 2016. Pentecost knocked off the rust offensively, showing excellent power and solid contact ability in his righthanded swing. He's still short to the ball with his swing, can use the whole field and has shown power the opposite way. He's a fringe-average runner and solid athlete who should be able to handle a move to first base or left field. However, the Blue Jays intend to try him back behind the plate in 2017. If he can handle catching, Pentecost could re-emerge as an elite two-way talent, but he has work to do to show he can be an everyday catcher.
The Pirates drafted McGuire with the second of their two first-round picks in 2013, No. 14 overall, and the Blue Jays acquired him in a deadline deal that also brought lefty Francisco Liriano and outfielder Harold Ramirez to the Jays. Only one prep catcher has been drafted as highly since McGuire's selection (Reds, Tyler Stephenson, 11th overall in 2015), and high school catcher is a notoriously risky demographic. McGuire's risk is with his bat. He is a solid catch-and-throw backstop with has soft hands, good agility and an average arm that plays up with a quick transfer and plus accuracy. He threw out 37 percent of baserunners, third-best in the Double-A Eastern League. He opened the season as one of the youngest players in the EL, and it has caught up to him offensively. McGuire has drawn walks and made contact in full-season ball but has just 54 extra-base hits, including only four home runs, the last three seasons. McGuire's short swing path is flat and helps him make consistent contact, but he doesn't have the bat speed or strength to consistently drive the ball. The Jays lacked upper-level catching prospects until acquiring McGuire, who needs offensive development but could be Russell Martin's heir if it happens.
The Blue Jays acquired Ramirez, a career .306 hitter in the minors, along with catcher Reese McGuire and lefty Francisco Liriano exchange for Drew Hutchison at the 2016 trade deadline. Ramirez had a mixed season, starting with a stint helping Colombia win its World Baseball Classic qualifier in March. He played more regular-season games than ever in his injury-plagued career, but backed up offensively and moved down the defensive spectrum. Ramirez always has shown hitting ability and has the bat speed and barrel ability to hit good fastballs. His raw power doesn't translate to games, in part because he isn't selective and because he often gets fooled by breaking balls. He is an above-average runner whose instincts haven't parlayed his speed into stolen bases or the ability to stay in center field. He has a fringe-average arm and fits better in left field if he can't stick in center. Ramirez has not been durable as a pro, and a left knee injury ended his season in early August. He still has yet to play 100 games in a season. Conditioning has never been a strong suit, but Ramirez is in a new organization and has a chance to change his reputation in 2017, which likely will start at Triple-A Buffalo.
A 40th-round pick out of high school by the Mets, Woodman instead headed to Mississippi and helped the Rebels reach the College World Series as a freshman. A prep quarterback, Woodman loosened up physically and lost some of his football physique, and it helped him have his best college season as a junior. He tied for the Southeastern Conference lead with 14 home runs and the Blue Jays took him 57th overall, signing him for $975,000. His debut was mixed. After slumping through a 4-for-32 start, Woodman showed above-average power and ranked fifth in the short-season Northwest League in doubles, but also ranked fifth in strikeouts before a late promotion to low Class A Lansing. Woodman split his time between center field and right after signing, and the Jays believe he will be a plus defender in right who could also handle center. He is an above-average runner underway who can steal a base as well. Woodman struck out in nearly 32 percent of his plate appearances, a consequence of his willingness to work deep counts and his own pitch recognition issues. The tradeoff may be worth it if he can be a power-speed center fielder, and he may have enough polish to jump to high Class A Dunedin in
Borucki finally returned at full strength in 2016 after three injury-filled seasons, including Tommy John surgery as a prep senior and shoulder issues that shut him down in July 2015. The Blue Jays started him in the high Class A Florida State League, but Borucki wasn't ready. He gave up 10 home runs in just 20 innings before being reassigned to low Class A Lansing, where he thrived. He ranked second in the Midwest League in ERA, first in winning percentage (.714) and fourth in WHIP (1.13). Borucki's best pitch is an above-average changeup that's the best in the organization, thrown with confidence and good arm speed that is a plus pitch at its best. He can still get more consistent with the change, and it would play up if his fastball improved. It's an average pitch at 88-92 mph, touching 94, with modest life that he needs to spot with precision. Borucki's slider has its moments as a pitch to induce groundouts but needs tighter shape to get swings and misses. Borucki earns plaudits for his work ethic and answered questions about his durability. He's a potential No. 4 starter who will headed back to high Class A Dunedin for 2017.
Rios had unremarkable career since signing in July 2012 out of Monclova, Mexico, until 2016. In his first shot at full-season ball, the 21-year-old shot out of the gate at low Class A Lansing to earn a promotion to high Class A Dunedin, with a spot in the Futures Game interrupting his season. He gave up a home run to Orioles top prospect Chance Sisco in San Diego and struggled a bit down the stretch as he tired while pitching more than 120 innings. Rios had always impressed club officials with his ability to spin a breaking ball, and he throws both a curveball and a slider that are both at least solid-average, with the curve at times giving him an above-average pitch. His fastball also is average, having reached 96-97 mph but usually sitting 91-92. He learned to pitch off it more in 2016 and improved his fastball command as a result, throwing it more and learning to maintain his compact delivery with a three-quarters release point. His below-average changeup hasn't hindered him so far against lefthanded hitters. Rios lacks prototype physicality but has a chance to be a four-pitch starter with good control, making him a back-end rotation option. He should reach Double-A in 2017.
Acquired as part of the Blue Jays' impressive 2011 international class, Perdomo blossomed in 2016 in his first try at full-season ball. He led the low Class A Midwest League with 156 strikeouts and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings, ranked second in the league in opponents average (.219) and was named to several all-star teams, from the Futures Game to the MWL midseason and postseason teams. Perdomo has a big frame with long levers, leading to bouts of wildness and inconsistent command that must improve for him to remain a starter. His fringy control prompted the Blue Jays to leave him off the 40-man roster, exposing him to the Rule 5 draft. When his delivery is in sync, though, Perdomo can dominate, getting good angle on his fastball that sits 92-94 mph at its best, more often sitting 88-92. His delivery gives the pitch some deception and his fastball plays as plus, eliciting awkward swings. His inconsistent slider has tilt and low-80s power when it's right, but most scouts still grade both of his secondary pitches, a slider and changeup, as below average. Perdomo needs at least one consistent secondary pitch to continue to succeed at higher levels. He'll head to high Class A in 2017.
The nephew of ex-Royals catcher Rey Palacios, Josh grew up in Brooklyn and wound up at San Jacinto (Texas) JC for two seasons, getting drafted by the Reds in 2014. He didn't sign and transferred to Auburn for 2016 before a broken left wrist ended his season in April. Blue Jays officials doubt they would have gotten Palacios as late as they got him if not for his injury. Palacios is one of the best pure hitters in the Jays' system thanks to his natural rhythm and timing at the plate, smooth lefthanded swing, present strength and the speed to leg out infield hits from time to time. He hit .330 in his debut, albeit with no home runs, and he controls the strike zone while providing decent gap power. He's a slightly above-average runner who played left field at Auburn in deference to Diamondbacks supplemental first-rounder Anfernee Grier, but the Jays intend to try him in center field for 2017. He may have to share time with J.B. Woodman, another Southeastern Conference outfielder whom the Jays drafted with thei rsecond pick. Palacios doesn't have the arm for right field but could hit his way into being a regular eventually, with fourth outfielder a more likely career path. He's likely to lead off at low Class A Lansing in 2017.
Murphy prepped at Arizona's famed Hamilton High, where he teamed with Jays 2012 draftee Mitch Nay and current Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger. Murphy missed his senior season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, but the Blue Jays drafted him in the third round anyway and signed him for $500,000. While Murphy returned to limited action in 2014, he struggled in his rehabilitation and eventually had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome that cost him 2015. He entered his fourth pro season in 2016 with four professional innings under his belt, joined low Class A Lansing in May and finished the season in the short-season Vancouver rotation. Murphy is put together with a good pitcher's body and improved strength--he can deadlift 500 pounds--that he uses in his delivery. His fastball reaches 95-96 mph, often sitting there, and some see him as a future candidate to throw 100 mph. He had the ability to spin a breaking ball in high school and still flashes plus with his biting curveball even after the missed development time. Murphy's changeup gives him a chance to have three pitches that grade at least average, and he bought into using it this year with zeal. He will join a Class A rotation in 2017.
Jackson was an extremely successful reliever for Arkansas during his college career, often pitching multiple innings and helping the Razorbacks reach the 2015 College World Series despite an injury-ravaged rotation. He averaged 13.3 strikeouts per nine that season, but when the Razorbacks needed starters in 2016, they gave Jackson a try for five Southeastern Conference games, and it didn't go well. Jackson has a long arm action with a deep stab in the back that makes it hard for him to find his release point consistently. The result is well-below-average fastball command with poor control that limits him to a relief role. He averaged 5.5 walks-per-nine as a collegian and 5.8 per-nine in his pro debut. He throws hard, sitting 92-96 mph in short relief bursts, but his 12-to-6 curveball is his real calling card. It's a tight, hard downer in the low-80s that grades as plus if not better. He's often had a better feel for locating the curve than the fastball or his rarely thrown changeup. Jackson will move as quickly as the Jays can get him to locate his fastball with some consistency, and it will be in a bullpen role.
For the second straight year, an injury to his left hand cost Jansen significant playing time. In 2015 his left hand was hit by a bat during a swing, breaking a bone and costing him three months. In 2016, he missed two months after breaking the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand while swinging the bat. This time, Jansen returned early enough to get some second-half reps and to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he played his way onto the 40-man roster. His injuries robbed him of some power, but he still has good strength and average power when healthy. He makes contact and isn't afraid to work a count. Defensively, Jansen needs development time to work on his game-calling and pitch-framing, but is adept at blocking balls in the dirt and is a sound receiver. He has a quick transfer with fringe-average arm strength. With Reese McGuire now in the system, Jansen must stay healthy and put together a solid 2017 season at Double-A to remain part of the Blue Jays' plans.
Barnes was the first player ever signed by area scout Bobby Gandolfo, an interesting choice considering he was an Ivy Leaguer at Princeton who had pitched 95 innings in three seasons. Barnes impressed Gandolfo enough to get turned in, signed as a 35th-rounder, and in 2016, he reached the major leagues. He's one of the few big leaguers with a degree and wrote his senior thesis (on MLB free agents) while riding buses with low Class A Lansing in 2013. Barnes has consistently missed bats out of the bullpen as a pro, averaging 11.86 K/9 IP over 320 minor league innings. He had his best season in 2016 with a 77-6 strikeout-walk ratio between Double-A and Triple-A. Barnes locates his 91-94 mph fastball well and has improved the plane on the pitch, though it still tends to flatten out. He pitches up and down in the zone with his fastball and solid-average changeup with late sink, and he locked down lefthanded hitters in 2016, including a 1-for-42 mark with 20 strikeouts in Triple-A. A firm 82-84 mph slider gives him a third average pitch. Barnes is older, having missed most of 2013 with a shoulder injury, but has been durable in recent years and pitches with poise. He's a middle relief option for 2017 and beyond.
The Blue Jays always are on the lookout for Canadian talent such as Romano, an Ontario prep product who went to two Oklahoma colleges--Connors State JC and then Oral Roberts. He closed there in 2014 and likely will return to a relief role eventually due to a violent delivery, but it works for him in short bursts. The most encouraging sign for Romano in 2016 was his return to form from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of 2015. The Jays, who signed him for $25,000 as a money-saver in the 10th round, built him up slowly in extended spring training and put him in low Class A Lansing's rotation to improve his stamina and get him needed innings. Romano thrived despite his inexperience, throwing plenty of strikes with a fastball that sits 92-93 but can ramp up to 95-96 mph with armside life. Romano has proved adept at pitching up and down with his heater, elevating for strikeouts but using his size to pitch downhill and get groundballs early in the count. His slider is his best secondary pitch and flashes plus with power. His changeup doesn't stand out. If Romero returns to the bullpen, as is likely, he could move quickly in 2017 with his fastball-slider combination.
To be clear, Biggio does not have the upside of his Hall of Fame father Craig, with significantly less athleticism. That said, the younger Biggio has a solid hitting track record, established on his own as an amateur and in his pro debut. A lefthanded hitter with a high-handed setup similar to fellow ex-Notre Dame infielder Craig Counsell, Biggio controls the strike zone well and is selective enough to grade out as a solid-average hitter. A preseason first-team All-American, he cut his strikeout rate and increased his batting average as a junior for the Fighting Irish, though on a offensively-challenged club he was rarely challenged and hit just four home runs. Biggio's best attribute is his batting eye, and he walked more than he struck out at short-season Vancouver. He profiles best as a leadoff hitter, and while he's just an average runner at best, he's a savvy baserunner and basestealer. Biggio's fringy athleticism limits his defensive upside. He is limited to second base or perhaps left field, and he lacks the power to fit a corner profile. He will have to hit to be a regular but has the savvy to maximize his tools.
Gutierrez still has yet to reach full-season ball since signing out of Nicaragua in 2011 for $210,000, the largest bonus out of that country that year. He needed three years in the Dominican Summer League before getting to the U.S. in 2015, but he has big arm strength and has made solid strides the last two years. He's physical, having gained about 30 pounds since signing, and a power pitcher who holds his velocity well. With the added strength, Gutierrez pushed his fastball up to 97 mph and sits in the 94-96 range. He came into pro ball with a curveball but has converted it to a slider, which is generally above-average and flashes plus, giving him a weapon for swings-and-misses and helping produce groundball outs. He throws a decent changeup as well which, with more consistency, could give him a third pitch that is at least average. He has a longer arm action that hinders his command, but he has shown solid control to this point. Gutierrez has started moving in the right direction and will finally get his full-season shot in 2017 at low Class A Lansing.
Gudino was the No. 8 prospect in the 2013 international class, which included Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres and Rafael Devers. Gudino received a $1.29 million bonus after signing out of Carlos Guillen's Venezuelan academy. He has a long, lean frame he is growing into, having gained about 30 pounds since signing. Gudino's best attribute is his hands, which play at the plate in terms of basic bat-to-ball skills, and in the field, where he's smooth with the glove. While he has an average arm, he has good footwork and instincts. He's shown infield actions and adjusted to the speed of the game at short-season Vancouver after a slow start both in the field and at the plate. Overwhelmed early with a 5-for-36 start, Gudino settled in and showed contact ability as well as patience. His swing is geared for contact, and he has well below-average power. He is an average runner. Gudino's impact will have to come with his glove, as the second half of the Northwest League season was the first time he's shown life at the plate. He could play shortstop for low Class A Lansing in 2017, but if the Jays stick with Bo Bichette there, Gudino will defer as the lesser prospect.
Diaz accelerated his development in 2015 with a strong pro debut, pushing his way to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to end the season. The Jays thought he had enough fastball command to make the leap to Rookie-level Bluefield, and Diaz held his own there for half of the Appalachian League season. However, he struggled with control down the stretch en route to a 5.79 ERA, giving up seven home runs in his final five starts. Diaz still excited the organization with his raw stuff, including a 92-95 mph four-seamer he struggled to locate much of the season despite a balanced delivery and easy, clean arm action. Evaluators said he got on the side of the ball when he overthrew, flattening out his four-seamer and leaving him vulnerable to home runs. Diaz may have to lean on his 89-91 mph sinker more going forward. His curveball and changeup remain fringy to below-average pitches, though the curve has its moments. Still a plus raw arm, Diaz should graduate to short-season Vancouver in 2017 as a 20-year-old.
The long road to the 40-man roster for Dermody included plenty of twists. The Iowa native wound up being drafted four times--once out of high school and three times with the Hawkeyes. He was set to sign in 2012 with Arizona before a physical showed an elbow injury. He recovered with rehab rather than surgery, pitched 94 innings the next spring and has stayed healthy as a pro. The Blue Jays shifted him to the bullpen in 2014, and he took off in 2016, walking just eight in 54.1 innings. Dermody commands a fastball in the 88-92 mph range, notable more for its high spin rate and armside sink. He gets good extension out of his 6-foot-5 frame and generally keeps the ball down, giving up just three homers in the last two minor league seasons, spanning more than 130 innings. Dermody's short low-80s slider, an average pitch, generates more groundballs than swings-and-misses. Dermody will battle low-slot lefty Chad Girodo and hard-throwing but wild Tim Mayza for a lefty relief spot in Toronto in 2017.
A Central Florida recruit, Hosterman was young for the draft class and was just 17 when the Blue Jays signed him for $400,000. That was the fifth-largest bonus in the club's 2016 draft class. The organization lacks lefthanded starting pitching depth and sees Hosterman as a potential back-of-the-rotation piece. He is still filling out physically and needs to add strength to firm up a fastball that presently sits 87-88 mph. Scouts like his chances to add weight in his frame. Hosterman's ability to pitch off his fastball belies his present velocity, as he locates it to his glove side well and can pitch to both sides of the plate. He is able to throw his changeup with similar arm speed as his fastball. It's more consistent than his curveball, which has 1-to-7 shape and above-average potential, but he locates both secondary pitches down in the zone. A projection pick who will have to add velocity, Hosterman will likely be ticketed for extended spring training before an assignment to either Rookie-level Bluefield or short-season Vancouver in 2017.
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