Jay Blue: Grading differences in top 30 lists
MLB.com Releases Blue Jays’ Top 30 Prospects List
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
One of the biggest sites for baseball prospects out there is, of course, MLB.com. The top baseball league has its own staff of writers who compile a Top 100 Prospects list overall as well as a Top 30 for each MLB team. On Monday, MLB.com released their Top-30 lists for all of the AL East teams including, of course, the Toronto Blue Jays.
At the top of the list, there isn’t a lot of difference between different Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospect lists. We’ve got Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Sean Reid-Foley, Anthony Alford, Richard Urena and Rowdy Tellez rounding out the top five. Really, the only noteworthy point here is that Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. isn’t on the list, primarily because MLB.com does not rank players who fall outside the international pool money rules: those who are at least 23 years old and have played in a league deemed “professional,” including the Japanese Leagues, Korean League and, in this case, Cuban League.
The next five players on the list is where things get a little more interesting, but the names are all similar to ones we’ve seen on the other lists at Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and Minor League Ball, but the differences are in the order. Conner Greene is holding on at #6, just outside the top five whereas BP and BA both have him off the Top 10. T.J. Zeuch at #7 is pretty consistent with other lists while Jon Harris at #8, Bo Bichette and #9 and Justin Maese at #10 are all also pretty consistent.
In the next five, we see some consistency with most rankings. To get beyond 10 players, we have to look to some other blogs which ranked as many as 40 players. Reese McGuire (#11) is a little higher here than at other sites) but he’s usually never far from Harold Ramirez (#14) who came over from the Pirates in the Francisco Liriano deal. It’s interesting to see them in close combination but Ramirez has shown more with the bat over his career while McGuire plays a tougher position and is a defensive whiz. At #12, Max Pentecost’s position seems to be in the middle of some of the other rankings. I’ve seen him as high as #8 and as low as #17 on different lists and, to me, he’s still a big question mark until we see him play defense. But I’d say #12 is about right for this year and if he plays well in the field, he’s going to shoot up in the top 10 because he has the athleticism to rival McGuire defensively (if likely not McGuire’s arm) and he offers far more upside with the bat. J.B. Woodman and Joshua Palacios are both being ranked near each other in most lists too, although they’re being ranked generally lower, in the back half of the teens or even into the 20s.
From #16 to #20, we have a group of five pitchers led by Ryan Borucki with Patrick Murphy, Francisco Rios, Zach Jackson and Angel Perdomo following. Of the group, Perdomo probably has the highest upside but his inconsistency and secondary pitches may have him wind up in the bullpen. I’d probably rank Borucki the highest among this group although I might have Rios a bit higher than Murphy since he’s performed solidly at a higher level. Murphy still needs to spend a full season in A-ball. Zach Jackson is an interesting wildcard. Strictly considered a reliever, he’s known for a mid-90s fastball and devastating curveball and could move through the system quickly if he demonstrates more command.
We move further into the 20s with guys who are either a little further away, have limited upside, or don’t flash as brightly in the tools category. Danny Barnes is ranked #21 at age 27 and his dominance last year puts him on the list. He’s one of my favourites to make an impact on the major league bullpen and he has three solid pitches that can do it. Another Danny at #22, Danny Jansen, is a solid catcher with some nice potential with his bat but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy or hit consistently above Rookie Ball. With a strong season, he’ll move up the list. As will Jordan Romano who was outstanding in his first year after returning from Tommy John surgery. He features a slightly above average fastball and slider but needs to work on his changeup for MLB.com to see him as a starter. #24 is Juan Kelly who I like a lot but doesn’t get a lot of press. The Dominican infielder who plays both first and third base was one of the most consistent hitters in Lansing last year. Consistency doesn’t get a lot of play in prospect lists but if you ask minor leaguers, it’s the one thing that they’re always striving for. He’s only 22 and has solid hitting skills with a fair bit of pop. At #25 is Yennsy Diaz. Diaz hasn’t gotten out of Rookie Ball yet and really struggles with control but his upside, with potential to hit 95-96 mph, is pretty high.
In the final five players ranked by MLB.com, we have a pitcher, Osman Gutierrez (#26), who can throw fairly hard and has struck out a significant number of batters but hasn’t pitched above Rookie Ball and is already 22. We also have a young (19), toolsy outfielder in Reggie Pruitt (#27) who has speed to burn and great defense with a hit tool that still has a long way to go. At #28, we have a freshly drafted pitcher out of high school, Travis Hosterman, who struggled in his first pro season but offers a lot of upside. The final two spots go to players who starred for the Dunedin Blue Jays last year. Jonathan Davis (#29) broke out in a big way, staying healthy and showing his ability to contribute with his bat, his eye and his speed. While his overall profile is fringey, and he was a bit old for his level (24 at Dunedin) he could be closer to the majors if he succeeds in Double-A this year. Finally, Ryan McBroom (#30) is another 24 year old (who will be 25 shortly after the season starts) who has a legitimate power tool from the right side of the plate. He has a knack for barreling the ball but scouts are afraid that his value comes only from his bat and that upper-level pitchers “will exploit his swing-and-miss-tendencies.”
What do you think of MLB.com’s Top 30 list? Let us know in the comments!
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