Jays Top Prospects & Profiles

Overall Top 20 Jays Prospects (updated as of 23.12.09)
rank-player-position-expected level in 2010-age at beginning of 2010 season (April)
  1. Brett Wallace, 1B/3B (AAA) 23
  2. Kyle Drabek, SP (AA) 22
  3. Zach Stewart, SP (AAA) 23
  4. Chad Jenkins, SP (LoA) 22
  5. Henderson Alvarez, SP (HiA) 20
  6. Carlos Perez, C (LoA) 20
  7. Travis d'Arnaud, C (HiA) 20
  8. Brian Dopirak, 1B (MLB) 26
  9. JP Arencibia, C (AAA/MLB) 24
  10. Daniel Farquhar, RP (AAA/MLB) 23
  11. Brad Mills, SP (AAA) 25
  12. Michael McDade, 1B (AA) 20
  13. Jacob Marisnick, OF (LoA) 19
  14. Darin Mastroianni, OF (AA) 24
  15. Tim Collins, RP (AAA) 20
  16. Bobby Bell, SP (AA) 24
  17. Justin Jackson, SS (AA) 22
  18. Ryan Schimpf, 2B (HiA) 22
  19. Santiago Nessy, 1B (LoA) 18
  20. Gustavo Pierre, 3B (LoA) 19

The following is the my take on the Top 50 Jays Prospects by position, then in order of talent / ceiling.
For brief profiles and reasoning for ranking, look below the top 50 list. (list completed for C,1B - remaining will be updated soon)

1- Carlos Perez C
2- Travis d'Arnaud C
3- JP Arencibia C
4- Sean Ochinko C
5 - Brian Dopirak 1B
6 - Santiago Nessy 1B
7 - David Cooper 1B
8 - Michael McDade 1B
9- Ryan Schimpf 2B
10- John Tolisano 2B
11- Brad Emaus 2B/3B
12- Justin Jackson SS
13- Tyler Pastornicky SS
14- Mike McCoy SS
15- Gustavo Pierre 3B
16- Balbino Fuenmayor 3B
17- Bryson Namba 3B
18- Kevin Ahrens 3B
19- Jacob Marisnick OF
20- Darin Mastroianni OF
21- Moises SierraOF
22- Kristopher Hobson OF
23- Kenneth Wilson OF
24- Eric Thames OF
25- Kyle Drabek SP/RP
26- Zach Stewart SP/RP
27- Henderson Alvarez SP
28- Chad Jenkins SP
29- Carlos Pina SP
30- Bobby Bell SP
31- Luis Perez SP
32- Reidier Gonzalez SP
33- Joel Carreno SP
34- Brian Slover RP
35- Charles Huggins SP
36- Cesar Sanchez SP
37- Dave Sever SP
38- Kenny Rodriguez SP
39- Matt Fields SP
40- Egan Smith SP
41- Andrew Liebel SP
42- Daniel Farquhar RP
43- Tim Collins RP
44- Matthew Daly RP
45- Robert Ray SP/RP
46- Josh Roenicke RP
47- Trystan Magnuson RP
48- Shawn Griffith RP
49- Aaron Loup RP
50- Matthew Morgal RP

Jays Minors - Top 4 Catchers

For anyone who has watched the Yankees, Angels, Cardinals, White Sox, and Angels win their championships in recent years, it was obvious that the teams had talent throughout the organization that pushed them to the championship level. However, each of these teams also had something else in common: very strong catching. Whether we're talking Jorge Posada in NY, Jason Varitek in Boston, Mike Napoli in Los Angeles, AJ Pierzynski in Chicago, or Yadier Molina in St-Louis, they all had a major impact on their respective clubs. With guys like Matt Wieters, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, and Jesus Montero getting all the press in terms of catchers coming through the minors, the Jasy actually have a formidable foursome that can challenge the depth of any squad on terms of talent at the Catcher position. Here they are, in order of talent:

1. Carlos Perez: will be 20 yrs old in 2010
Carlos signed with the Jays in 2007 as an international FA ($700,000 bonus) and showed some maturity last season with the GCL Jays. He hit 11 doubles, 3 triples, and a homer in 141 ABs, while walking 16 times and only striking out 23 times. His OBP and AVG were respectable at .364 and .291 respectively. BA ranked Perez as the 6th best prospect in the GCL this past season and see him as the catcher of the future for the Jays if all things fall into place. They point out that his defense really shines (something that the other catchers in the system seem to lag behind on) as he threw out 49% of base stealers this season and has a 1.9 second pop-time. His height and weight (6'0" 195 lbs) would also lead me to believe that he is more likely to stay at the position than the other catching prospects the Jays have, even if he does add to that a little.

2. Sean Ochinko: will be 23 yrs old in 2010
Selected in the 11th round in the 2009 draft, Sean played well enough to be named a NYP All-Star at the mid-season point. Getting 188 AB in Auburn, Sean showed that he can handle the bat very well, smacking 6 homers, 20 doubles, and sporting a .324 average overall. His OBP was outstanding at .382 and he only struck out 26 times. He has manyCollege highlights that point to his leadership skills and ability to perform under pressure. Sean does have some experience at 1B, which leads me to believe that if Carlos really does take over the catcher position for the Jays for a long time period, Sean could become the 1B of the future (although Brian Dopirak may have something to say about that for the next couple of years.) Still, Sean is more likely to be ready to compete very soon and may begin the2010 season in HiA Dunedin or AA New Hampshire.

3. JP Arencibia: will be 24 yrs old during 2010 season
JP was selected 21st overall in 2007 by the Jays and climbed the ladder at an extremely quick pace, starting in HiA his first season in the minors. He followed up a great 2007 start with an even better 2008, splitting time between HiA and AA, accumulating 27 HRs and 105 RBI in the process with a decent .298 average. However, in 2009, JP took a step back and showed some holes in his swing. He hit .236 on the season and managed 21 homers. Some scouts doubt that he'll ever be able to hit for average, but his power is off the charts. This is the guy who beat Alex Rodriguez's home run record in High School. He did go through some injuries that slowed him down in 2009, so his "off-year" could be explainable, and he did finish the last 10 games with a .349 average and 6 dingers, so he could suprise many with a big league gig next year. Really, what do the Jays have to lose by letting him catch most of their games in 2010? It's not like Barajas will determine whether or not the Jays get into the playoffs, and they really need a power threat in the lineup. I love JP's bat and think it'll play well in the Dome, however, I also doubt JP will stay at catcher long term, which is why I ranked him 3rd on this list. Although he is 3rd, he is by far the #1 offensive catcher in the system and deserves more recognition than he's getting from minor league evaluators. He'll need to minimize his strike outs to do well against MLB pitching, but should hit for better average overall than Adam Dunn.

4. Yan Gomes: will be 23 yrs old in 2010
The Jays drafted Yan Gomes one round ahead of Ochinko in the 10th round of the 2009 draft. He's much bigger than the other catchers at 6'2" and 215 lbs, and unlike Ochinko who started his 2009 season in Auburn due to his signing date, Gomes was first sent to the GCL in order to get him some time behind the plate before the Auburn season started. Gomes is probably second defensively out of the Jays catching prospects, behind only Perez, and does have a good contact hitting approach. He hit .300 in 237 ABs in 2009, but only hit 2 homers and 23 doubles, less than Perez and Ochinko did in fewer ABs. He's a natural leader, hard worker, and should develop well as a result. Like Perez and Ochinko, how he handles the jump to AA and beyond will determine which one gets the prize of backing up or taking over from JP Arencibia. Regardless, I see a bright future for the Jays at the C position, and only hope that it would lead to some well deserved glory years for us Jays fans.

Jays Minors - Top 4 First Basemen

If we rewind the clock to 2007, before Brian Dopirak was obtained, the Jays minor league depth at 1B was non-existant. There was absolutely no light at the end of the dark tunnel to cover 1B. JP must of been thanking his lucky stars that Lyle Overbay never got injured, because there was nobody behind him to take the spot with any gusto.

Fast-forward to today and it's a completely different picture. Although half of the top four have yet to "prove" themselves in the minors, their ceilings are extremely high and the Jays may actually have an issue at some point when young players start knocking on MLB's door.

The top spot on this list is automatic, but the others are ranked in terms of ceilings.

1. Brian Dopirak : will be 27 in 2010
Brian deserved the same shot Randy Ruiz got last season based on his performance in AA and AAA. The Jays were very lucky that the Cubs were silly enough to release him outright in 2008, even though he was named their minor league player of the year just 4 years earlier. How much would they like to have him now that Derek Lee is getting a bit too expensive for their budget? Between AA and AAA, Brian his 27 HR in 546 AB all the while hitting .315. He is also playing winter ball this year in Venezuela and has 7 HRs in only 137 AB. His glove works very well at 1B and he is a lot more agile than his big body would indicate. He should get a fair shot at 1B if Overbay is dealt. If not, and this would be unfortunate, he will need to wait for a break and continue to waste time in the minors.

2. Santiago Nesi : will be 24 in 2010
Although the Jays signed Santiago while he was listed as a Catcher, there is little talk of keeping him at the position now that the Jays paid him a $750,000 bonus. Not only do they have better options at the position, but his arm is well below average and his defence isn't strong enough to keep him there. However, his bat would definitely play well at 1B, and he is a big guy at 6'2" 220 lbs. He is the best power hitting threat the Jays have in the system after JP Arencibia, and his stroke is more compact than JP's, meaning that he should be able to make more consistent contact without subtracting too much power. I'm very curious to see where the Jays start him in 2010 and can't wait to read about the results.

3. David Cooper : will be 23 in 2010
David was drafted 17th overall in the 2008 draft, and like many of the 2007-2008 draft picks he has struggled to get going ever since. Maybe it's the pressure, but between him, Justin Jackson, Kevin Ahrens, and others, there are many Jays prospects that are under performing thus far since being drafted in a high position. David spent 2009 in AA New Hampshire and hit 10 HR in 473 ABs while keeping a .253 average. The Jays are still hoping his learning curb starts to take off, so they sent him to the AFL this year, and the results were very similar. He hit 1 HR over 78 ABs and kept a lowly .231 average. He doesn't run well at all, doesn't hit as many extra base hits as other 1B in the system, and isn't very big at 6'0" and 200 lbs. I'm still holding onto his high ceiling for one more year, but if he doesn't add muscle and start driving the ball with authority in 2010, I'll be giving up on this once high on our list prospect.

4. Michael McDade : will be 21 in 2010
Michael is a sixth rounder from the 2007 draft and hails from Las Vegas. He is one big boy at 6'1" and 260 lbs, and drives the ball accordingly. He had 16 HRs in 406 ABs in his first full season at LoA Lansing, and more importantly had 46 extra base hits overall. He drives the ball with authority and swings a little too freely, but that should be addressed as he matures and gains more experience - instruction. He still has issues hitting LHP (.234) in comparison to RHP (.293), but did learn to hit it a bit more consistently in the second half of the season. He hit .277 on the season and really came on after the all-star break with a .296 average to go along with 8 of his 16 HRs. So he was able to maintain his power while hiking his average quite a bit. Out of all the Jays prospects, he ranks in my top 3 to watch in 2010 in terms of prospects that can make some serious breakthroughs and jump up the rankings. It all depends on how he does in HiA and whether he learns to hit LHP.

As I've said, the Jays finally have some real potential at 1B, something they haven't had since Carlos Delgado strolled through the system. I can't wait to see how they perform in 2010 and look forward to their progression through the minors, or in MLB in Dopirak's case.

Jays Minors - Top 4 Second Basemen

Now, this is where the Jays minors picture gets really murky. We have a combination of under performing players and just drafted players who did fairly well in a short period of time. First and foremost, nobody sticks out and screams top-prospect. All have decent defensive tools and can become average MLB starters if all falls into place for them. Whether one of these guys becomes a star or not is the real question, and the 2010 season will go a long way to answering that question as they move up the ladder, and as the Jays are forced to decide who gets which level of play. Regardless, this is one of the weakest areas of the Jays minors system, only behind the SS position. The following are the top 4!

1. Ryan Schimpf: will be 22 in 2010
Overtaking John Tolisano as the top 2B in the system is the Jays 2009 5th round draft pick, Ryan Schimpf. Ryan signed very early after the draft, with little fanfare, and played hard from the beginning. He spent most of the season at Aubrun and played extremely well against right handers, hitting .333 with all 3 of his HRs, and showed his youth against lefties, hitting .152 with no extra base hits in 33 ABs. However, it's the fact that he walked almost as often as he struck out (15/24) that stood out for Ryan and enabled him to get a total OBP of .381 in 2009 at such a young age. Depending on how he comes out of the gates in 2010, he could move up the ladder very quickly and surpass John at some point. He's a sturdy 5'9" and 185 lbs and plays better defence than John does. His 2009 stats are as follows:
133 AB, 39 hits, .293 average, 7 doubles, 2 triples, 3 HRs, 14 RBI, 5 SBs

2. John Tolisano: will be 22 in 2010
Out of all of the Jays disappointing 2007 draft picks, I like John to turn it around the most. The 2007 second rounder played with a lot of heart in 2009, even if the results didn't match the effort. Regardless of the level John played at since he was drafted, he has maintained a very low batting average, which is the most troubling aspect of his progression. Whether it's his youth for his level of play, or the fact he tries too hard to "hurt" the ball and drive it out, John has to learn to hit for average if he wants to become a regular in MLB. He did so badly near the end of the year that the Jays decided against sending him to the AFL and decided to rest him instead. He may repeat HiA at Dunedin, but will likely get the move up to AA New Hampshire at some point in 2010. His calling card to the bigs is his intriguing combination of power and speed which both play well at 2B. His 2009 stats were:
401 AB, 93 hits, .232 average, 19 doubles, 2 triples, 12 HRs, 58 RBI, 5 SB

3. Brad Emaus: will be 24 years old in 2010
Brad was one of my favorite breakout candidates in 2009. He had an awesome spring training with the Jays, and took off like a bat out of hell once he started play in AA. However, he slowed down big time as the season wore on and ended up with very mediocre stats. His versatility in the infield may mean that Brad becomes a utility player for the Jays in 2010 or 2011. But, he does have the power and skills to become a starter if he works on being more consistent. His 2009 stats were as follows:
505 AB, 128 hits, .253 average, 28 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HRs, 67 RBI, 10 SBs

4. Oliver Dominguez : will be 21 years old in 2010
Oliver struggled a bit after his promotion from the DSL to the GCL, but he was only 20 years on in 2009 and still has plenty of time to develop. The tools are all there. His most telling stat in 2009 was the fact that he stole 13 bases without being caught once, indicating both how fast and smart he is on the bases. He should put on a little more weight as he gets older and bulks up, but currently sits at 5'9" and 156 lbs, not exactly a welter weight. With the 3 guys on this list ahead of him, Oliver will get time to develop at each level, and I expect he'll get a promotion to Lansing for 2010.
In 142 AB, he had 32 hits, a .225 average, 6 doubles, 3 HRs, and 13 SBs

Jays Minors - Top 4 Short Stops

Short Stop has been a sore spot of the Blue Jays ever since Tony Fernandez left. Marco Scutaro finally changed that in 2009, but is bound to leave us for 2010 as soon as the market settles itself out. Well, now that we know this, and we also know that the next 2 years will have a combination of Alex Gonzalez and John MacDonald manning the position (barring a trade), is there anyone coming up in the minors to take over in 2012 or beyond? Not anything worth writing home about, yet, but there is some upside there. It still remains the shallowest of positions for the Jays in terms of talent. Hopefully the pending Doc trade can help remedy that a little.

The top spot on this list is a little surprising because he's so weak offensively, but I placed him there only because I believe he is more advanced defensively than any of the others, and he also has a higher ceiling. Having said that, his performance since drafted is one of the most disappointing of any Blue Jays Prospect.

1. Justin Jackson: will be 22 in Dec 2010
Watching Justin go through our minors is pretty frightening. It puts into perspective just how bad our minors system is at the SS position. First, the positive is that he lowered his errors in 2009 from 26 in 2008 to 18. He has excellent range which probably affects how many errors he inherits due to his reach. Defense is definitely Justin's strong point. (he may be in luck, since the Jays seem to really like defensive SS!) He is being pushed through the minors levels by Jays brass even though he has difficulty adapting to each level offensively. In 2008, he was able to manage a decent 26 doubles and .340 OBP, but most of his other stats were sub par. He had a .236 average, struck out 154 times, was caught stealing 8 times in 25 tries, and hit 7 HRs. He was much worse in 2009. He hit .213 on the season, with only 12 doubles (although he had only 294 ABs), no HR, and a .321 OBP. The big questions for 2010 are these: will he begin to hit for average and shorten his stroke, and will he start the year in AA? Chances are the answers to those questions are no and yes. It wouldn't surprise me to see him continuing to struggle at the plate as they'll probably start him in AA, and he doesn't really have much of a chance to make the Jays until at least 2011 unless he is a real surprise breakout story.

2. Tyler Pastornicky : will be 21 in 2010
Consistency and grit are two words that come to mind when looking at Tyler's performance in 2009. He has done very well at young age between Lansing and Dunedin, totaling 57 stolen bases between the two levels. He is patient at the plate and doesn't strike out often, exemplified by the fact that he had 42 walks and 57 strike outs in 2009 and had a decent .336 OBP. At 5'11" and 170 lbs, Tyler won't win any strength contests, but he should get a little stronger as he gets older and does drive the ball fairly well. Chances are he will begin 2009 in HiA, with a chance to be promoted to AA if Justin Jackson moves up to AAA at some point in the season. He may have a chance to make the Jays in a utility role sometime in 2012.

3. Mike McCoy: will be 29 in 2010
Although he is too old to be a true prospect, he is still a candidate to take the spot at some point if injuries force the Jays to start him, and may be a real asset to them in 2010. Besides, there was really no other prominent SS to slide in here, so it forced my hand! He hit extremely well in AAA Colorado Springs in 2009 with a .309 average, 34 extra base hits, and a .405 OBP. He also stole 40 bases and was only caught 6 times. With the Jays lacking so much speed at the MLB level, I wouldn't be surprised to see them fit Mike in throughout the infield. He is sound defensively and has a good arm that plays at well at SS and 3B. chances are he'll get a chance to prove himself as a major leaguer in 2010 and it will be interesting to see if he can provide the Jays some much needed energy off the bench.

4.Ryan Goins: will be 22 in 2010
Mr. Goins was the second highest pick signed by the Jays in 2009 after being drafted in the 4th round of last summer's draft. He jumped around a ton after signing quickly, going from the GCL, to Auburn, to Lansing. He did fairly well in Auburn, holding up a .297 average and .349 OBP, but really lacks any power or speed thus far. He had 10 extra base hits in 191 ABs (9 doubles, 1 triple), and was caught stealing 4 times in 7 steal attempts. He is identical in size to Tyler P. but lacks the speed aspect that he brings to his game. He committed 10 errors in 2009 for a .948 fielding percentage total and may end up playing at 2B as he moves up the ladder. Chances are he'll being 2009 in Lansing.


Jays Minors - Top 4 Third Basemen

 The Jays have not had much strength at third base in the minors since they took Kelly Gruber in the 80s. For some reason, the club has scouted players the wrong way at the hot corner. I'm not sure who makes the suggestions for which 3rd basemen to draft in the organization - or whether that person was usually over ridden, but the Jays finally noticed this trend and did something about it in recent years. They spent some high picks and lots of International money on acquiring top-end third base prospects. So, has it worked? Well, here are the top 4.

1.Gustavo Pierre: will be 18 in Dec 2009
 Gustavo was one of the youngest GCL Blue Jays on the squad in 2009, but even at his young age he carries a lot of strength due to his size - 6'2" 185 lbs. He was one of the few big splashes the Jays have made in International signings and will hopefully prove himself a little more in 2010, but his 2009 season showed some promise nonetheless. He played 48 games in the GCL, has 18 extra base hits in 174 AB, stole 8 bases and maintained a low but okay average for his age of .259. Part of the problem with Pierre is his inability to hit left handed pitching, maintaining a lowly .195 average and only 2 extra base hits against them, compared to a .278 average against righties with 16 extra base hits. As with many young players, he needs to cut down on strike outs and to build his pitch recognition skills as proven by his 45 strike outs to only 3 walks, but this is something he will learn and be taught over time. He made 14 errors in 100 attempts while flipping from SS to 3B. Gustavo was taken as a SS, but his arm plays very well at third and his growth will make it unlikely that he can stick at SS. As he matures and progresses in the minors in 2010, Gustavo should improve and has the highest ceiling of all third basemen in the system. Expect to see him repeat the GCL and jump to Auburn or Lansing at some point in the season.

2. Balbino Fuenmayor: just turned 20 in November 2009
Balbino at 20 is the exact size that Gustavo is expected to be when he turns 20 - 6'3" and 235 lbs of strength and power. To put Pierre's stats above in perspective, Balbino had only 4 home runs over 2 full years in the GCL at the very same age that Pierre was in 2009 and will be in 2010 (17 and 18). So, if Pierre improves slightly in 2010, he will have outpaced the growth Balbino had at that age by a healthy margin. After struggling through 2 years in the GCL, with some growth in the second shown in average (.307) and extra base hits (19), he finally showed some true potential as a 19 year old at Lansing in 2009. While is average dipped to .263 and his OBP was unsatisfactory at .279, he showed some power with 32 extra base hits, 8 HRs, and 54 RBI in 435 AB. He fought for playing time at 1B and 3B much of the year with 1B Michael McDade and 3B Mark Sobolewski, but should get a full year under his belt at 3B in 2010. Interestingly, he made 12 errors at 3B and none at 1B, despite playing more time at 1B. However, intentions are to keep him at 3B and develop his defense. He may get a jump to Dunedin at some point, but he needs to work on his strike outs and OBP before he can be viewed as a potential regular.

3. Bryson Namba: will be 19 in January 2010
Bryson was drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 draft and didn't get many ABs in 2009, only 77. However, he proved that he can use his size (6'2" and 210 lbs) by hitting 4 HRs in that short span. He'll be splitting time between 1B and 3B with Gustavo Pierre unless one of the two makes the jump to Lansing in 2010. Bryson hails from Hawaii and played some C and most of the infield in high school, but he will be used as a 1B or 3B by the Jays. Obviously, making the switch from C to 3B isn't easy, and explains why Bryson made 9 errors in 38 attempts in 2009. But, with some practice and experience, his D should improve as he is agile enough to play the position and even has a little speed (for now). He should continue to grow a little and will add muscle to his frame, both of which bode well for his power numbers. He did walk 6 times in 77 AB in 2009, so he may have a little more patience at this point than either Balbino or Gustavo do. Bryson will be tested with a full year at 3B in 2010, and should remain in Lansing for the majority of the season.

4. Kevin Ahrens: will be 21 in April 2010
Selected 16th overall in the first round of the 2007 draft, he ties David Purcey as some of the most disappointing Jays minors in recent times. Since he's still young at only 21 years old in 2010, and playing at a high enough level for his age, I kept him on this list. But Kevin really needs to show the Jays he can hit, or he'll be passed very quickly by Balbino and Gustavo. In 377 AB he had a .215 average, only 23 extra base hits, 4 HR, a .282 OBP, and had 18 errors in 175 attempts at 3B. He's smaller than most Jays 3B prospects at 6'1" and 190 lbs, and may never develop the power expected at the position. When he was drafted in 2007, announcers and scouts were making comparisons of Kevin to Chipper Jones. It definitely doesn't look like that will ever come near fruition, but, Kevin could develop if he adds strength into a Lyle Overbay type 1B. That's about his ceiling in my humblest opinion. He'll most likely begin 2010 by repeating in HiA Dunedin until he can display the skills needed to make a jump to AA in 2011 or beyond.

Next up will be the top 12 outfielders.