Nay shows promise, Prospect ratings

 * 3B Mitch Nay, at class-A Lansing in the Blue Jays system,  is on pace despite missing his first pro season due to an injury. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent

Previous weeks: BA's Jays prospect rankings XI .... Holmberg, Jays rankings X ….Sanchez, Pompey, Norris Jays rankings VIV … Case lone Van Canuck Jays prospects VIIIRomano signs, Jays prospects VII  Short one for Sanchez, Jays prospects VI    Burns versatile, Jays prospects V …. Lawrence a cool cat, Jays prospects IV … De Jong II, Jays prospects III … Copeland picks up Janssen, Jays prospects II …. Pompey burning bases, Jays prospects I …. Matt Boyd.


By Bob Elliott

The 2012 draft class has had five grads make the majors: Michael Wacha with the St. Louis Cardinals, Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman, Seattle Mariners Mike Zunino, Baltimore Orioles Kevin Gausman and Eddie Butler of the Colorado Rockies.

All were college drafts.

So is third baseman Mitch Nay, whom the Jays took 58th over-all in 2012, falling behind since he’s at class-A Lansing?

Far from it. Of the 35 high school first round drafts taken that year all but four are at class-A: Addison Russell at Tennessee (Chicago Cubs), Corey Seager at Chattanooga (Los Angeles Dodgers), Joseph Gallo at Frisco (Texas Rangers) and Jesse Winker at Pensacola (Cincinnati Reds) are high schoolers who have reached double-A.

Nay, 20, is in the Midwest League along with fellow first rounders Max Fried, at Fort Wayne (San Diego Padres) Nicholas Travieso, Dayton (Reds), Clinton Coulter, Wisconsin (Milwaukee Brewers), Jesmuel Valentin, Great Lakes (Dodgers), Paul Blackburn, Kane County (Chicago Cubs), Steve Bean, Peoria (Cards) and D.J. Davis, Nay’s teammate at Lansing.

Nay was considered one of the better power bats in his draft class. From Perfect Game Scouting Service: “the source of all excitement is his power potential, which combines both raw power, along with power frequency and plus bat speed, despite a broken hamate in his left wrist and lower back strain.”

The Jays and scout Blake Crosby gave Nay a $884,100 US signing bonus.

This season Nay of Chandler, Az. is hitting .286 with 32 doubles, three triples, three homers, 58 RBIs and a .731 OPS in 114 games.

“My first half was sluggish,” said Nay from Lansing. “In the second half I’m in more of groove. I’ve hit a lot more doubles, you can’t control the home runs. I’m trying to be myself, have a clear mind and hit the ball the hard.

“The first half? I was tweaking with stuff, my hands, legs, whatever. I wasn’t focussed on the right things.”

Nay was one of 140 players invited to the Team USA showcase in North Carolina as a high schooler and was “lucky enough to make the team,” but never had the chance to play internationally. He had shin splints which turned into a mini stress fracture.

“That was a bummer,” said Nay. Leading up to the draft he attended workouts, stayed in contact with clubs, was selected by the Jays and signed “three of four days later.” The Jays first-round haul included: Davis, selected 17th over-all, who received a $2 million bonus, Stroman, 22nd, $1.8 million; lefty Matt Smoral, 24th, $1 million and Tyler Gonzalez, 60th, $857,200.

Nay broke his foot in 2012 and last year at Bluefield hit .300 with 11 doubles, six homers, 42 RBIs and a .790 OPS.

“You can’t take health for granted,” says Nay, a statement some big leaguers make after their first injury ... five years into their big-league career.

He’s played 178 games in the minors according to baseball-reference but his best game doesn’t show on their stats. Nay hit a two out single and scored the second run as the Vancouver Canadians blanked the Boise Hawks 5-0 in the deciding game of the best-of-three Northwest League final before 5,157 at Nat Bailey Stadium.

“That was the coolest,” Nay said, “I’d never won a championship before. I loved the stadium, the fans are right on top of you and they’re really into it.”

Growing up in the Phoenix area his father Chris Nay was an Atlanta Braves fan watching TBS games long before the Arizona Diamondbacks were born. And Nay followed his father’s lead.

“I enjoyed watching Chipper Jones, liked the way he played, he was a good fielder and a switch hitter, although I hit right-handed,” said Nay.

Playing the rate the stadium game in the Midwest loop he ranks Parkview Field in Fort Wayne as the best and Pohlman Field in Beloit as the worst.

“This league has really nice parks and some not so nice, we have a real good stadium,” said Nay, of Lansing’s Cooley Law School Stadium.

Nay attended Hamilton High in Chandler, where infielder Jorge Flores and right-hander Patrcik Murphy went to school.

The 5-foot-5 Flores, 22, selected in the 19th round in 2012 from Central Arizona College, is hitting .305 in 83 games at double-A New Hampshire and class-A Dunedin with 13 doubles, 27 RBIs and a .711 OPS

Chosen in the third round this June, Murphy, 19, has appeared in three games with the Gulf Coast Jays and is 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA.

And if you wants to keep tabs on the Jays prospects make sure you listen to talented, hard-working Lansing broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler's  "Around the Nest" show, for he has his finger on the pulse.


Weekly Prospects rankings: In our weekly look at the Blue Jays farm system, Marc Hulet, prospect writer at FanGraphs and its fantasy affiliate RotoGraphs, since 2008, takes a look at this week's 10 best:

1. LHP Daniel Norris, Buffalo Aaron Sanchez could soon have some company in Toronto with this young southpaw on the fast track. The recently-promoted Norris struck out 10 batters over six innings in his first Triple-A start.

2. CF Dalton Pompey, New Hampshire (DL) Currently on the disabled list, Pompey is another prospect that has been pushed more aggressively through the minor league system in 2014. The Mississauga native could take over the Jays’ centre-field gig as early as mid-2015.

3. SS Franklin Barreto, Vancouver Just 18, Barreto is eighth in batting average and sixth in OPS (On base Plus Slugging) in the Northwest League, where the average age of a hitter is 21 (according to Baseball-Reference). He’s a monster with the bat but is likely to eventually move off shortstop — and possibly into the outfield.

4. RHP Jeff Hoffman, Injured Tommy John surgery will keep this 2014 first round draft pick shelved until the 2015 season but he was in the discussion for the first overall selection prior to his injury. Hoffman, who will turn 22 in January, may not need much minor league seasoning, assuming he has no setbacks during his rehab.

5. C Max Pentecost, Vancouver Another 2014 first rounder, Pentecost will hopefully help Jays fans forget about the loss of Yan Gomes to Cleveland. The former Kennesaw State star is an excellent athlete and has hit .324 in his first 25 pro games.

6. 3B Mitch Nay, Lansing Perhaps one of the most underrated third base prospects in the game, Nay has hit quite well during his first taste of full-season action at the age of 20. His in-game power hasn’t developed just yet (three homers in 113 games) but he’s hitting for average, showing gap power and his defense has been much improved.

7. RHP Miguel Castro, Lansing You’re going to start to hear a lot more about this youngster. This Dominican native can hit the upper 90s with his fastball and flashes a potentially-plus changeup. If he can polish his breaking ball ... well, watch out.

8. SS Dawel Lugo, Lansing Another shortstop on the Top 10 list, Lugo reminds me a little bit of Jhonny Peralta and there are questions over his ability to stick at shortstop due to his frame and modest range. He might hit well enough for third.

9. RHP Roberto Osuna, Dunedin Osuna, 19, missed a good portion of the 2013-14 seasons due to Tommy John surgery but he’s back throwing in the mid 90s with an above-average changeup. His breaking ball still needs polish and the lost development time didn’t do him any favours in that regard.

10. SS Richard Urena, Bluefield The third shortstop on the list is the youngest of the three but he has the best chance to stick at the position. To go along with solid defence, his bat has been better than advertised and the 18-year-old infielder is hitting .324 with an .822 OPS.