By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Not only are we excited that spring has sprung (at least in baseball terms) and baseball games are being played, but MLB.com finished off the prospect season by announcing their Top 30 Prospects list for the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.
While the top four prospects in the Blue Jays organization are pretty much consensus picks with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) in the No. 1 position followed by Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford and Nate Pearson in the No. 2, 3 and 4 positions, MLB's staff throws us a curveball (or at least a hard slider) with some of the other selections. Since they went 30 players deep, we're going to see some names that we haven't seen on Top 10 or Top 20 lists so far. Head to the site to see their scouting reports and rankings and keep reading to read my thoughts.
MLB.com is really ranking some of the Blue Jays' top international signings highly. Eric Pardinho (No. 7) and Miguel Hiraldo (No. 12) are both in the top 15, while Leonardo Jimenez (No. 22) just missed the top 20 and these guys haven't even played a single professional game. We've probably heard more about Pardinho than the other two but MLB.com says Hiraldo "has the makings of becoming a special offensive talent" and Jimenez is a "sum-of-all parts player who stands out more for his all-around game than any specific tools."
There are lots of catchers on the list, showing the Blue Jays' depth at the position. Danny Jansen (No. 6) and Reese McGuire (No. 14) are the top two and also closest to getting to the majors. Newly drafted Riley Adams (No. 16) and Hagen Danner (No. 20) both make the top 20 while Max Pentecost (No. 29) comes in just before the list runs out. You can hear Jonathan Mayo talk about Pentecost a little bit when our next podcast hits soon!
As you may or may not know, I'm more of a "wait and see" type prospect watcher who isn't prone to rank raw tools as highly as performance at higher levels that go along with tools. For example, while Thomas Pannone (No. 26) and Jordan Romano (No. 27) aren't as toolsy as some of the starters further away from the majors ranked higher (like Maximo Castillo, No. 24), I think they should be much higher. Pannone, in particular, should be in triple-A and could very well have a solid big league career while the risk on Castillo is much higher.
The 2017 draft was well-represented with Pearson at No. 4, SS Logan Warmoth at No. 5, Hagen Danner (No. 20), Riley Adams (No. 16) and Kevin Smith (No. 19) all in the top 20. Newly acquired Samad Taylor (No. 13) is a little high for my taste but again, I tend to rank players lower until I've seen them myself.
Despite a tough 2017, Sean Reid-Foley squeaks into the Top 10 (No. 10) while Richard Urena's tough year dropped him to No. 11 and Rowdy Tellez's difficult season (both on and off the field) drops him to No. 15. Justin Maese, who struggled with injuries, drops to No. 25 while Jon Harris who also had a tough season, dropped to No. 30. I think most of these rankings are fair although I'd probably rank Maese and Harris higher. For Maese, there's more raw potential there with a hard, heavy sinker and solid slider but his command needs to be much better. For Harris, I think that the potential is there, he just needs to be a little finer with his command and sequencing and he can take that next step.
Kevin Vicuna joins a crop of shortstops at No. 23. The string-bean Venezuelan will probably get further with his defence and ability to hit for contact but I haven't seen enough of him to really get a good enough impression of what he can do just yet. Ryan Noda, the Appalachian League Player of the Year, comes in at No. 18 while 19-year-old Mc Gregory Contreras comes in at No. 21 after a strong season in Bluefield. Jonathan Davis is the other outfielder on the list, coming in at No. 28, a ranking I'm a little conflicted about. I'm not sure how he would profile as a major league hitter but I really like what he's brought to the table in his career so far.
Despite falling in the rankings, T.J. Zeuch (of whom Jonathan Mayo speaks very highly in our interview) took big steps at the end of the year and comes in at No. 9 which is more a testament to how much stronger the organization is now than it was last year than it is a reflection of Zeuch getting any worse than he was in 2016. Ryan Borucki, who I think is going to really open people's eyes this year, is ranked at No. 8. I'd definitely have Borucki in my Top 10. Finally, at No. 17, Carlos Ramirez makes it onto the list for the first time and his ceiling as a high-leverage reliever goes to show what he can do.
Who do you think are the hits and misses of MLB.com's Top 30 Blue Jays Prospects list?
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