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, 2009.

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Matt Eddy
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1. Travis Snider, of

2. J.P. Arencibia, c

3. Brett Cecil, lhp

4. Justin Jackson, ss

5. David Cooper, 1b

6. Kevin Ahrens, 3b

7. Brad Mills, lhp

8. Ricky Romero, lhp

9. Marc Rzepczynski, lhp

10. Brad Emaus, 2b/3b

Best Hitter for Average Travis Snider
Best Power Hitter Travis Snider
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Brad Emaus
Fastest Baserunner Kenny Wilson
Best Athlete Markus Brisker
Best Fastball Alan Farina
Best Curveball Ricky Romero
Best Slider Brett Cecil
Best Changeup Brad Mills
Best Control Andrew Liebel
Best Defensive Catcher Brian Jeroloman
Best Defensive Infielder Justin Jackson
Best Infield Arm Kevin Ahrens
Best Defensive Outfielder Sean Shoffit
Best Outfield Arm Moises Sierra
Catcher J.P. Arencibia
First Base David Cooper
Second Base Aaron Hill
Third Base Kevin Ahrens
Shortstop Justin Jackson
Left Field Travis Snider
Center Field Vernon Wells
Right Field Alex Rios
Designated Hitter Adam Lind
No. 1 Starter Roy Halladay
No. 2 Starter Dustin McGowan
No. 3 Starter Shaun Marcum
No. 4 Starter Brett Cecil
No. 5 Starter Jesse Litsch
Closer B.J. Ryan
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Roy Halladay, rhp
Blue Jays
2000 Vernon Wells, of
Blue Jays
2001 Vernon Wells, of
Blue Jays
2002 Josh Phelps, c
2003 Dustin McGowan, rhp
Blue Jays
2004 Alex Rios, of
Blue Jays
2005 Brandon League, rhp
Blue Jays
2006 Dustin McGowan, rhp
Blue Jays
2007 Adam Lind, of
Blue Jays
2008 Travis Snider, of
Blue Jays
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Alex Rios, of
Blue Jays
2000 Miguel Negron, of
White Sox
2001 Gabe Gross, of
2002 Russ Adams, ss
Blue Jays
2003 Aaron Hill, ss
Blue Jays
2004 David Purcey, lhp
Blue Jays
2005 Ricky Romero, lhp
Blue Jays
2006 Travis Snider, of
Blue Jays
2007 Kevin Ahrens, 3b
Blue Jays
2008 David Cooper, 1b
Blue Jays
Ricky Romero, 2005
Felipe Lopez, 1998
Gabe Gross, 2001
Russ Adams, 2002
Travis Snider, 2006
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Despite their strongest showing of the decade, the Blue Jays still couldn't end a playoff drought that dates to their 1993 World Series championship. In general manager J.P. Ricciardi's seventh year at the helm, Toronto had the second-best run differential in the American League and went 86-76, but its reward was a fourth-place finish in the AL East.

Though the Jays' offense again fell flat, their pitching staff led the league with a 3.49 ERA and their defense ranked among the best in the AL. That Toronto's pitching was so strong was a testament to depth, because the club lost young, homegrown righthanders Dustin McGowan (frayed labrum), Shaun Marcum (Tommy John surgery) and Casey Janssen (torn labrum) during the season. Rookie lefthanders David Purcey and Jesse Carlson stepped in and showed enough to warrant consideration for the 2009 staff.

A 2004 first-round pick, Purcey led all Triple-A hurlers with a 2.69 ERA and went 3-6, 5.54 in 12 big league starts as a fill-in for Marcum. Twice signed by the Blue Jays as a minor league free agent, Carlson cleaned up his command and gave Toronto's lefty-dominated bullpen 60 quality innings, limiting batters to a .196 average.

Already accustomed to contending with the Red Sox and Yankees, the Blue Jays were displaced from their usual third-place perch by the surprising Rays. To keep pace in an increasingly rugged division, Toronto will have to rely on its farm system. The good news is that the system is in its best shape since at least 2004, when Alex Rios, McGowan, Gabe Gross, Aaron Hill and David Bush highlighted our Jays Top 10 Prospects list.

The system's best prospect is Travis Snider, who's on the verge of claiming the left-field job for several years. He spent most of the season in Double-A as a 20-year-old, and when he debuted in the big leagues in September he became the AL's youngest player. The drafting of Snider, a prep product, with the 14th overall pick in 2006 signaled a shift in philosophy for the organization. Toronto used a strictly college-oriented approach in its first four drafts under Ricciardi but since has become more diversified. Just two years ago, our Jays top 30 featured only one player they had drafted out of high school (Snider), while this year's list has eight.

In the 2007 draft, Toronto held seven of the first 88 picks and spent four of them on high schoolers. Seven players from that draft made this top 10 list, including prepsters Justin Jackson and Kevin Ahrens.

An increased big league payroll and the addition of a Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2007 have afforded the Blue Jays the patience and the means to develop less-refined high school and international talents. The younger players they've targeted have generally been more athletic, bolstering depth at key defensive positions. Shortstops Jackson, Gustavo Pierre and Tyler Pastornicky; third baseman Ahrens; second baseman John Tolisano; and center fielders Eric Eiland, Kenny Wilson and Markus Brisker all joined the organization as teenagers in the past two years.

In those same two years, Toronto also hit on several quality college draft picks. Catcher J.P. Arencibia and lefties Brett Cecil and Brad Mills, all 2007 draftees, reached Double-A and succeeded in their first full pro seasons. First baseman David Cooper, the 16th overall choice in 2008, hit his way to high Class A in his pro debut.

After years of playing it safe on the international market, the Blue Jays signed Pierre, one of the top 16-year-old Dominican talents available, for $700,000 on the first day of the 2008 signing period.

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