Toronto Blue Jays: Top 10 Prospects

Toronto Blue Jays

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2007.

1.Adam Lind, of
2.Travis Snider, of
3.Ricky Romero, lhp
4.Ryan Patterson, of
5.Curtis Thigpen, c
6.Francisco Rosario, rhp
7.Brandon Magee, rhp
8.Jesse Litsch, rhp
9.David Purcey, lhp
10.Balbino Fuenmayor, 3b
Best Hitter for AverageAdam Lind
Best Power HitterTravis Snider
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineCurtis Thigpen
Fastest BaserunnerAdam Calderone
Best AthleteYuber Rodriguez
Best FastballFrancisco Rosario
Best CurveballChi-Hung Chen
Best SliderBrandon Magee
Best ChangeupRicky Romero
Best ControlJosh Banks
Best Defensive CatcherBrian Jeroloman
Best Defensive InfielderJonathan Diaz
Best Infield ArmSergio Santos
Best Defensive OutfielderChris Emanuele
Best Outfield ArmBrian Pettway
CatcherCurtis Thipgen
First BaseLyle Overbay
Second BaseRuss Adams
Third BaseTroy Glaus
ShortstopAaron Hill
Left FieldTravis Snider
Center FieldVernon Wells
Right FieldAlex Rios
Designated HitterAdam Lind
No. 1 StarterRoy Halladay
No. 2 StarterA.J. Burnett
No. 3 StarterRicky Romero
No. 4 StarterDustin McGowan
No. 5 StarterGustavo Chacin
CloserB.J. Ryan
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Roy Halladay, rhpBlue Jays
1998Roy Halladay, rhpBlue Jays
1999Roy Halladay, rhpBlue Jays
2000Vernon Wells, ofBlue Jays
2001Vernon Wells, ofBlue Jays
2002Josh Phelps, cTigers
2003Dustin McGowan, rhpBlue Jays
2004Alex Rios, ofBlue Jays
2005Brandon League, rhpBlue Jays
2006Dustin McGowan, rhpBlue Jays
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Vernon Wells, ofBlue Jays
1998Felipe Lopez, ssNationals
1999Alex Rios, ofBlue Jays
2000Miguel Negron, ofCubs
2001Gabe Gross, ofBrewers
2002Russ Adams, ssBlue Jays
2003Aaron Hill, ssBlue Jays
2004David Purcey, lhpBlue Jays
2005Ricky Romero, lhpBlue Jays
2006Travis Snider, ofBlue Jays
Ricky Romero, 2005$2,400,000
Felipe Lpez, 1998$2,000,000
Gabe Gross, 2001$1,865,000
Russ Adams, 2002$1,785,000
Travis Snider, 2006$1,700,000
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Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have come a long way from their last-place 2004 season, and they managed to finish higher than third place for the first time since they won back-to-back World Series in 1993. To take the next step--making the playoffs--Toronto once again will have to rely on an increased payroll rather than major contributions from its farm system.

Toronto had baseball's sixth-lowest payroll at $46 million in 2005, but jumped to 16th overall at $72 million by Opening Day 2006. With little impact talent in their farm system, the Blue Jays signed free agents A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan and traded for Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay. General manager J.P. Ricciardi isn't shy about pointing out the payroll discrepencies that exist between his club and the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox in the American League East.

Ownership has signed off on another payroll increase, and Ricciardi likely will have as much as $95 million at his disposal for 2007. Finding a shortstop is Toronto's top priority, and the club's hole at that position is all the more glaring considering the Blue Jays used first-round picks on college shortstops Russ Adams and Aaron Hill in Ricciardi's first two drafts. Neither was considered a lock to stay at the position, and Adams regressed on both offense and defense in 2006.

In their five drafts under Ricciardi, the Blue Jays have focused almost solely on college players, with more of an emphasis on a track record of statistical success than on potential high ceilings. Adam Lind, who hit .367 in his September debut, may be the first impact bat drafted since Ricciardi's arrival, but there are few behind him in the system with the exception of 2006 first-round pick Travis Snider. The system is stocked primarily with control pitchers, with most of the electric arms (led by 2006 rookie righthanders Brandon League, Dustin McGowan and Francisco Rosario) signed on former GM Gord Ash's watch.

Snider, a high school outfielder, snapped Toronto's five-year streak of taking a college player with their top pick. He won MVP honors in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, as did Lind in the Double-A Eastern League. Because the Blue Jays gave up their second- and third-round picks in the 2006 draft to sign Burnett and Ryan, they invested $725,000 in 16-year-old Venezuelan third baseman Balbino Fuenmayor after he had an impressive workout at Rogers Centre. They also gave six-figure bonuses to four late-round choices: righthanders Chase Lirette (16th), Kyle Ginley (17th) and Graham Godfrey (34th), plus second baseman Jonathan del Campo (20th).

On the field, the Blue Jays' aggregate minor league winning percentage slipped under .500 for the first time since 2002. Three teams advanced to the playoffs, with Dunedin advancing the furthest, losing in the high Class A Florida State League finals. Toronto announced at season's end that it won't operate an Appy League team in 2007, ending a four-year stint at Pulaski. If the Jays don't add an affiliate in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, they'd be the only organization with just five North American affiliates.