Toronto Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects

1. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 3B

Age: 19 (3/16/99)

Level: AAA

.381/.437/.636, 20 HR, .255 ISO, 194 wRC+, 9.1% BB, 9.3% K, 3 SB

What more can even be said about Vlad Jr.? We could nitpick on his defense? Nah. When you’re talking about a young Pujols, Miggy, Frank Thomas type hitter there is no need to nitpick. The 1.000+ OPS .300/.400/.500+ slash lines start in 2019. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

2. Bo Bichette, SS

Age: 20 (3/5/98)

Level AA

.286/.343/.453, 11 HR, .167 ISO, 120 wRC+, 8.1% BB, 17% K, 32 SB

Bichette put together a nice season after starting slow by his standards. Early in the season, Bo tried to launch every pitch out of the park, swinging out of his shoes, and putting himself in pitcher’s counts. From my looks early on, it seemed as if he was trying to outdo or one-up Vlad with every swing. For what it’s worth, From April 5 to July 12 (The day before Vlad returned to the lineup after a knee injury), Bichette slashed .261/.321/.419. His BABIP was .296. His struggles really boiled down to losing himself at the plate and advanced pitchers made him pay.

The season is really a tale of three sub-seasons. The first two months with Vlad crushing everything, the month without him, and then his return and subsequent finish to the season. Bichette struggled even more with Vlad gone, leading to the less than spectacular slash line. But something clicked on July 13 when Vlad came back to the line up. Instead of swinging out of his shoes and trying to hit every ball 500 feet, Bo returned to being the hitter that made him a top prospect in the first place. Staying inside the ball, using his double-plus bat speed to rifle balls all over the field. The results from July 13 to the end of the season are more in line with the hitter that Bichette is. .333/.387/.516. .183 ISO. 150 wRC+. 21 doubles in 45 games. Young hitters that have never struggled need to experience hard times. While this season’s numbers might make you think less of Bichette, I would urge you to look at how he found himself, adjusted, and finished. ETA: 2019

3. Danny Jansen, C

Age: 23 (4/15/95)

Level: MLB

.247/.347/.432, 3 HR, .185 ISO, 115 wRC+, 9.5% BB, 17.9% K, 0 SB - MLB

.275/.390/.473, 12 HR, .198 ISO, 146 wRC+, 12.1% BB, 13.6% K, 5 SB - AAA

Jansen showed Jays fans and fantasy owners what he could do in a brief, 31-game look. He has elite contact skills and eye at the plate which leads to a high OBP. While he didn’t flash plus power in the minors, his size, present strength, and approach all lend themselves to a future 20- to 25-HR backstop. Franchise catchers don’t come around often but Jansen has every tool to be just that. ETA: 2018

4. Nate Pearson, RHP

Age: 22 (8/20/96)

Level: A+

Career stats: 21.2 IP, 1.66 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 11.22 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, .158 AVG

Pearson was injured on a vicious come-backer in the second inning of his only start. The liner fractured his ulna and Pearson missed the rest of  2018. He is back in the AFL and threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings with 4 strikeouts. The velocity and stuff were back. Pearson hit 100 mph five times. When he is going well, Pearson throws four pitches for strikes. Couple that with a strong, extra-large frame and Pearson has all the makings of a number-one starter. Not many young pitchers I’ve seen have the tools he does. ETA: 2020

5. Eric Pardinho, RHP

Age: 17 (1/5/01)

Level: Adv. Rookie

50 IP, 2.88 ERA, 3.33 xFIP, 11.52 K/9, 2.88 BB/9, .199 AVG

The Jays were aggressive with their prized teenager, starting him in the Appy League. Pardinho did not disappoint. He features three plus pitches with command. He is undersized at only 5-foot-10, but he already boasts a mid-90’s heater and a 60-grade curve. The fastball velocity will increase as he gains strength. Furthermore, Pardinho is a plus athlete with clean mechanics. He gets the most out of 5-foot-10 frame but it’s baseball IQ and feel for pitching that should excite you. He is mature beyond his years. ETA: 2022

6. Kevin Smith, SS

Age: 22 (7/4/96)

Level: A+

.302/.358/.528, 25 HR, .226 ISO, 149 wRC+, 7% BB, 21% K, 29 SB

Smith, the team’s 2017 4th-round pick, put together a monster 2018 season. While the numbers are skewed a bit—he was simply too good for the Midwest League—Smith continued to hit long balls in the pitcher friendly Florida State League. While I love the swing, the hands, and the bat speed, Smith struggled to replicate the same success in Dunedin. The walk and strikeout rates both trended in the wrong direction. This was in part due to an aggressive approach and willingness to expand the zone. He isn’t the pure hitter that Bichette is, but Smith is an exceptional athlete with plus game power. He has above average speed that translates on the base paths due to his high baseball IQ. ETA: 2020

7. Jordan Groshans, SS/3B

Age: 18 (11/10/99)

Level: Adv. Rookie

.296/.353/.446, 5 HR, .151 ISO, 122 wRC+, 7.2% BB, 17.9% K, 0 SB

The Jays 2018 1st-round pick shined in the GCL before a promotion to the Appy League for the playoff run. Groshans has a slender build with projection to add 15-20 pounds without sacrificing his athleticism. He boasts plus bat speed with power to all fields. The swing can get long at times and pitchers can get him to chase with off-speed out of the zone. Defensively, drafted as a shortstop, I only saw him at third in GCL action. He has a strong throwing arm and athletic actions that lend itself to the hot corner. ETA: 2022 BP Video

8. Cavan Biggio, UT

Age: 23 (4/11/95)

Level: AA

.252/.388/.499, 26 HR, .247 ISO, 145 wRC+, 17.8% BB, 26.3% K, 20 SB

Biggio pulled more balls and hit more fly balls than he did in 2017 and the result was 26 bombs and a .247 ISO. The power is real. Biggio’s swing has natural loft and he is a patient hitter that knows how to hunt his pitch. His swing gets long and he has maxed out his projection so the ceiling will be limited. However, Biggio will be a super-utility, lefty power bat with three true outcomes. MLB pitchers will be able to expose the length in the swing so a high batting average probably isn’t in the cards. Best case scenario: He becomes the Blue Jays version of Marwin Gonzalez. ETA: 2019

9. Anthony Alford, OF

Age: (7/24/94)

Level: MLB

.105/.190/.105, 0 HR, .000 ISO, -15 wRC+, 9.5% BB, 42.9% K, 1 SB - MLB

.238/.314/.339, 5 HR, .101 ISO, 88 wRC+, 7.5% BB, 27.1 % K, 17 SB - A+/AAA

Always bet on the athlete. One of the things that made Alford so intriguing a couple years ago was his athleticism, body, strength, and ability to work the count and make solid contact. The athleticism is still there...I think. But the pitch recognition and the feel for the barrel have disappeared. While you can’t tell the story of Anthony Alford without detailing the injuries, Alford has shown none of the upside this past season that makes me think he will eventually figure it out. However...and this is a big HOWEVER, always bet on the athlete. ETA: 2018

10. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP

Age: 23 (8/30/95)

Level: MLB

33.1 IP, 5.13 ERA, 4.21 xFIP, 11.34 K/9, 5.67 BB/9, .242 AVG- MLB

85.1 IP, 3.90 ERA, 3.35 xFIP, 10.43 K/9, 3.16 BB/9, .233 AVG - AAA

Reid-Foley’s improved command in Triple-A garnered a call-up and seven-start tryout in Toronto, where he lost his command and struggled to stay ahead of hitters. When he attacks hitters in the zone, his stuff is nasty. He has the pedigree to become a middle-of-the-rotation starter if he can regain the confidence in his stuff and attack MLB hitters. ETA: 2018

11. David Paulino, RHP

Age: 24 (2/6/94)

Level: MLB

6.2 IP, 1.35 ERA, 4.24 xFIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, .231 AVG - MLB

27 IP, 4.67 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 11.0 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, .226 AVG - R/AAAA

Paulino, a former top-100 prospect, has been around a while and injuries have caused lead to prospect fatigue around the industry. Acquired with Giles and Perez in the Osuna trade, Paulino has a low-90’s fastball to go with a curveball-slider-changeup mix. If he can stay healthy, Paulino’s stuff plays in the rotation, although he tends to get himself in trouble by giving up big hits with RISP. The Jays should continue to develop him as a starter although his stuff will play up in the pen. ETA: 2018

12. Rowdy Tellez, 1B

Age: 23 (3/16/95)

Level: MLB

.314/.329/.614, 4 HR, .300 ISO, 151 wRC+, 2.7% BB, 28.8% K, 0 SB - MLB

.270/.340/.425, 13 HR, .155 ISO, 115 wRC+, 9.0 % BB, 16.7% K, 7 SB - AAA

Tellez blew up in 2016 at Double-A flashing plus power with 12-17% walk rates. He regressed in 2017 at Triple-A big time, but seems to have found himself in 2018. He is a one-dimensional player which means he will have to hit to remain in the lineup. Despite the ugly walk and strikeout numbers in a brief stint, Tellez has shown patience and ability to make consistent contact in the minors. His success in 2018 could make Justin Smoak expendable in 2019 as the Jays move into a rebuild. At best, Tellez profiles as a .260/.340/.500 hitter with a chance to pop 25-30 home runs. ETA: 2018

13. Orelvis Martinez, SS

Age: 16

Level: NA

The BlueJays spent 70% of their allotted pool money to land Martinez at $3.5 million. A shortstop from the Dominican Republic, Orelvis has a strong frame with max projection left. His swing is short, quick, and balanced. The ball flies off his bat in batting practice. While we have yet to see him in person, having seen his BP, I came away impressed with how easy and athletic his actions are. Prospects Live will be following him closely next spring. ETA: 2022

14. Hector Perez, RHP

Age: 22 (6/6/96)

Level: AA

115 IP, 3.76 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 10.41 K/9, 5.01 BB/9, .192 AVG

Perez is another big arm that Atkins acquired in the Osuna deal. He throws four pitches, including an upper-90’s fastball, plus slider and splitter, and an average curveball. Every pitch he throws moves and so far in his career, Perez has struggled to harness his plus stuff. The struggles are more control over command and if he can improve his control to average, he could skyrocket up rankings. The stuff is that good.  ETA: 2021

15. Griffin Conine, OF

Age: 21 (7/11/97)

Level: Adv. Rookie

.243/.314/.430, 7 HR, .187 ISO, 105 wRC+, 105 wRC+, 8.4% BB, 27.2% K, 5 SB

The son of former All-Star Jeff Conine, the Jays selected Griffin in the 2nd round of the 2018 MLB draft. He has strong athletic build. Swinging from the left side, Conine looks to launch everything. That leads to a long swing at times and a lot of swing and miss in his game. The power projection is there. He grades at 55 game power. His lack of a hit tool will limit his game power though. ETA: 2021

16. Jonathan Davis, OF

Age: 26 (5/12/92)

Level: MLB

.200/.259/.240, 0 HR, .040 ISO, 39 wRC+, 3.7% BB, 22.2% K, 3 SB

.282/.359/.422, 10 HR, .141 ISO, 121 wRC+, 8.4% BB, 16.8% K, 26 SB

Davis is a little older at 26 which tends to limit his prospect value. He is a plus athlete with a mature approach at the plate. He profiles as a fourth outfielder, but his power-speed combo and ability to work the count makes him an intriguing option going into 2019.

17. TJ Zeuch, RHP

Age: 23 (8/1/95)

Level: AA

156.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 6.04 K/9, 2.30 BB/9, .255 AVG

Zuech profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter that can eat up innings. His best pitch is a plus curve that generates weak contact. His fastball sits low 90’s and while he is able to effectively locate it and extend the plate. Zeuch also throws a slider and changeup with the changeup flashing good depth and fade. If he misses in the zone with any of his pitches, he gets hit hard. The lack of a true swing-and-miss pitch limits his ceiling. He reminds me of Doug Fister. At peak, Zeuch could play up to third-starter production. ETA: 2019

18. Trent Thornton, RHP

Age: 25 (9/30/93)

Highest Level: AAA

124.1 IP, 4.42 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 8.83 K/9, 2.24 BB/9, .246 BAA

One of the funkiest deliveries you’re ever going to see. Thornton has 1940s-looking mechanics, with a big leg kick, hands that drop down locked between his legs before he comes way over the top. None of his pitches are plus, but he mixes a handful led by his four-seam fastball sitting 91-95, a cutter in the 87-90 range, a split change at 77-80, a curveball 77-81, and a slider 79-84. He worked out of the pen in the Arizona Fall League in 2018, and could see him filling a middle relief role at some point, getting a spot start if needed. Thornton might have the chance to earn a rotation spot with a lesser organization, but he’s unlikely to ever crack the Astros. No shock there, but I wouldn’t write off a MLB career for Thornton either. ETA: 2019

19. Thomas Pannone, LHP

Age: 24 (4/28/94)

Level: MLB

43 IP, 4.19 ERA, 5.57 xFIP, 6.07 K/9, 3.14 BB/9, .226 AVG - MLB

50.1 IP, 5.36 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 9.48 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, .284 AVG - A+/AA/AAA

Pannone missed the first half of the season due to a PED suspension. He throws a fastball, curveball, and changeup. His fastball is below average which limits his ceiling. Like Zeuch, he’ll need to hit his spots and improve his pitch mix to get MLB hitters out. He should compete for a fourth or fifth starter spot out of spring, but may be better suited piggy-backing an opener. ETA: 2018

20. Billy McKinney, OF

Age: 24 (8/23/94)

Level: MLB

.252/.318/.462, 6 HR, .210 ISO, 111 wRC+, 8.3% BB, 25% K, 1 SB - MLB

.222/.307/.470, 16 HR, .248 ISO, 117 wRC+, 10.6% BB, 23% K, 1 SB - AA/AAA

The Jays acquired McKinney in the Happ deal and Jays fans got a glimpse of what McKinney is all about. He is a streaky hitter that can hit the ball out of the park. The hit tool is below average which will limit his ability to be an everyday player. When he is hot though, he could play himself into an everyday role in small spurts. ETA: 2018

21. Elvis Luciano, RHP

Age: 19 (2/15/2000)

Highest Level: ROK

67 IP, 3.90 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 9.40 K/9, 3.09 BB/9, .241 AVG

The Blue Jays surprisingly took a chance on Luciano in the Rule 5 draft. He’ll have to remain on the big league roster throughout the season. Luciano is a teenage arm with a chance to have three above-average offerings and two plus pitches in his fastball and change. The fastball sits in the low-90s with room to add velocity as he gets stronger. The change has good depth while maintaining his arm speed. His curveball has inconsistent shape but he spins it well. I think he would benefit by switching his breaking ball from a curveball to a slider as it sometimes has that shape anyways. There isn’t much projection remaining here, so he should be able to maintain his athletic delivery. Luciano has a mid-rotation ceiling. ETA: 2019. - MT

22. Santiago Espinal, SS

Age: 23 (11/13/94)

Level: AA

.297/.356/.444, 10 HR .147 ISO, 126 wRC+, 7.3% BB, 12.9% K, 11 SB

Espinal, acquired from Boston, is a slick-fielding, athletic middle infielder. His ceiling is a utility guy that will put together good at-bats and can flash some pop. He impressed in Double-A and it isn’t out of the question that he could find himself in Toronto by late 2019. While he lacks one standout tool, he does a little bit of everything well. ETA: 2019

23. Chad Spanberger, 1B

Age: 22 (11/1/95)

Level: A+

.298/.355/.538, 27 HR, .240 ISO, 150 wRC+, 6.9% BB, 20.6% K, 17 SB

Spanberger was simply too good for the Sally and after the Jays acquired him from Colorado for Seung Hwan Oh, they promoted him to High A Dunedin. In a small sample size, Spanberger showed improved patience at the plate. An aggressive hitter with 70 raw power, Spanberger will need to show a little more patience in order for his raw power to translate into game power against advanced pitching. Despite his plus size, he is athletic and moves well around the bag. The stolen bases are due to a high baseball IQ although he is a bit faster than the stopwatch says. ETA: 2020

24.  Forrest Wall, OF

Age: 22 (11/20/95)

Level: AA

.263/.343/.402, 10 HR, .139 ISO, 108 wRC+, 9.3% BB, 23.8% K, 38 SB

Acquired with Spanberger, Wall is an exceptional athlete and a plus runner. His ceiling though is limited by his lack of power and below-average hit tool. At present he profiles as a fourth outfielder, but is athletic enough to make the necessary adjustments at the plate that could unlock some raw power in-game. ETA: 2020

25. Logan Warmoth, SS

Age:  23 (9/6/95)

Level: A+

.249/.330/.317, 1 HR, .068 ISO, 91 wRC+, 9.5% BB, 21.6% K, 9 SB

The 2017 1st-rounder and top college shortstop in the draft struggled all season in Dunedin. He did miss time with injuries but he was bad before then and worse after. Warmoth’s problems at the plate are due to poor utilization of his lower half. He also struggles picking up spin and his aggressive approach and linear swing leads to a lot of first pitch swinging and weak contact. Smith, the team’s 4th-rounder, has already passed him at short. Defensively, he lacks the range and arm strength to stick at short. A switch to second base is more likely. ETA: 2021

26. Chavez Young, OF

Age: 21 (7/8/97)

Level: A

.285/.363/.445, 8 HR, .160 ISO, 129 wRC+, 10.8% BB, 18.6% K, 44 SB

Young is a plus athlete with a strong throwing arm. He is a switch-hitter that feasted on the Midwest League in 2018. Drafted in the 39th round due to perceived signing issues, Young has thrived in pro-ball. Alex Jensen of Baseball Farm wrote a stellar piece on him that really paints a thorough picture of what type player and more importantly, what type of person Chavez Young is. ETA: 2022

27. Samad Taylor, 2B

Age: 20 (7/11/98)

Level: A

.228/.319/.387, 9 HR, .159 ISO, 102 wRC+, 10.8% BB, 18.7% K, 44 SB

Taylor is a plus athlete and runner that can wreak havoc on the bases. His 9 home runs were a nice addition to the profile as was the 10.8% walk rate. Taylor has a good feel for the barrel, but his swing can get long and he still struggles with pitch recognition. His .270 BABIP implies a lot of bad luck but he will need to shore up the swing a bit and start driving balls more consistently to improve the hit tool and take advantage of his speed. ETA: 2021

28. Leo Jimenez, 2B

Age: 17 (5/17/01)

Level: Rookie

.250/.333/.341, 0 HR, .091 ISO, 96 wRC+, 10.7% BB, 11.3% K, 0 SB

Jimenez has a mature approach at the plate. He works in deep in to counts and uses the whole field. I really like the hit tool and the approach given his age. At present, he lacks the strength to flash any game power, but he is still very young and he has the frame to add strength and develop gap power. ETA: 2023

29. Miguel Hiraldo, SS

Age: 18 (9/5/00)

Level: Rookie

.300/.362/.435, 2 HR, .134 ISO, 128 wRC+, 8.6% BB, 15.1% K, 18 SB

Hiraldo was the big signee for the Jays during the 2017 J2 period. He has a strong, sturdy frame with plus bat speed. The problem at present is a hyper-aggressive approach. Hiraldo finds himself lunging out on his front foot, neutralizing his strong lower half. This should improve with reps and experience. When it does, he projects to have above average game power and hit tool. His athleticism should keep him at shortstop. ETA: 2022

30. Brock Lundquist, OF

Age: 22 (1/23/96)

Level: A+

.286/.374/.470, 22 HR, .184 ISO, 140 wRC+, 9.9% BB, 20.9% K, 2 SB

Lundquist has a stocky build and good feel for the barrel. He flashed plus power in the Midwest League and after a promotion to the Florida State League, he was different hitter. Against more advanced pitching, Lundquist’s swing was short and quick, spraying line drives all over the field. He may profile as a fourth outfielder with the bat being his carrying tool. ETA: 2021