Last night, MLB.com released their Top 100 prospects in baseball last night and the list featured three Toronto Blue Jays prospects.
What people won’t necessarily tell you is that the Blue Jays had seven of the Top 100 until last winter’s trades with the Marlins and the Mets making us all wonder “what if”? In addition to the MLB.com list, I’m also going to discuss Kiley McDaniel’s Top 100 prospect list at Scout.com, which was released just a few weeks ago. A note on eligibility for McDaniel’s list: he doesn’t include anyone who is expected to be an Opening Day starter for a big league team.
Only Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez made McDaniel’s list and Stroman was ranked significantly higher at #31 with Sanchez ranked #45. McDaniel had these comments about Stroman (and Indians’ 2013 draftee Clint Frazier):
“These are the other two guys I’m notably higher on than others, and have been for awhile. I have only broken down the details on the podcast so far (will write it soon), but my Black Swan Theory fits both of these guys to a T. Essentially, it says that super-elite talents with notable outlier qualities (such as size) tend to make adjustments better than other similarly-regarded prospects. I’m all in on these guys, so buy low while you can.”
For the MLB.com list, the results were more predictable. I was a little surprised that Roberto Osuna made the list, coming in at #93. With his Tommy John surgery, I thought that he might be left off this year but I think that the writers there believe that because he’s still so young and has done very well at every level up to and including Class-A, there’s lot of time for a full recovery for a guy who has the upside of a #2 or #3 starter.
The MLB boys had Marcus Stroman a lot lower on the list than McDaniel and I think when Jason Parks releases his on Monday at Baseball Prospectus, Stroman will figure higher than 55. I assume that the #55 ranking still factors in the doubt that some writers still have that he’ll be a major league starter in the long term. We probably won’t know until a few years into his career whether he can stand up to starting in the big leagues (a little like Tim Lincecum) but most scouts have come around to the fact that he’s going to be a starter at least at the beginning of his ML career. I would have ranked him a bit higher mainly because I’ve become convinced that he’s got the stuff as well as the maturity, command and pitching knowledge to be a #2 starter in the big leagues eventually. He’ll probably give up a lot of home runs (because of his height) but his command will keep the dingers from doing too much damage.
MLB.com is very high on Aaron Sanchez, having him #23. I don’t disagree with that assessment. His stuff is very nasty but I think the fact that he’s been pitching professional for four years without completely figuring out his control works against him a bit. That said, he’s still just 21 and I have a feeling that everything is going to come together for him this year.
As for the other players that the Blue Jays had in the system, it makes for some depressing reading. Justin Nicolino, traded to the Marlins last winter in the Reyes/Buehrle/Johnson deal ranked 80th for MLB.com (and didn’t rank in McDaniel’s list). Jake Marisnick, also traded to Miami, ranked 65th for MLB.com (and also didn’t rank for McDaniel).
Then come the two knives to the heart. Traded to the New York Mets for R.A. Dickey were Travis d’Arnaud (#22 MLB.com) and Noah Syndergaard (#11 MLB.com, #16 on McDaniel’s list). As much as we all love R.A. Dickey and we hope that he can do in 2014 what he did in the second half of 2013, it’s tough when you look back on this trade and realize that by going all in (and failing) for 2013, the Blue Jays have coughed up a potential top-of-the-rotation arm as well as a starting catcher who are both projected to be impact players in 2014. It hurts even more when we realize what a disaster the 2013 season was for J.P. Arencibia. With d’Arnaud still in house, we wouldn’t have had to go with Dioner Navarro.
This list also serves as both an indictment and a celebration of the Blue Jays’ drafting and signing of international free agents. Drafting/signing six players who reached the Top 100 including two in the Top 25 is a big deal. On the other side of things, however, the Blue Jays failed to sign their first round pick in 2013, Phil Bickford and there were other players available that have become highly touted prospects, especially Braden Shipley (#79). I won’t complain too much about the Tyler Beede non-signing because it brought Marcus Stroman in 2012 (despite Beede being projected to go in the Top 5 of the 2014 draft).
The list also shows how the Blue Jays are far behind in the drafting and development of hitters than they are with pitchers. Mitch Nay has been getting a lot of attention in lists that are out there and Franklin Barreto, with another good year, could make the Top 100 next year. That said, the Blue Jays have been going for high school arms very aggressively in the past couple of drafts (2013 especially) and it will be interesting to see where they go in 2014.
Well, that’s enough about that. Let’s congratulate the three Blue Jays prospects who made MLB.com’s Top 100, Roberto Osuna, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.