As The Blue Jays continue to work on re-building the overall depth of their system the Top 50 list has been more about addition than subtraction this season. The only minor league player to lose his prospect status and graduate to the big leagues this season is middle reliever Danny Barnes (pre-season not ranked). We have had new players added during from the June draft along with the job well done during the international free agent signing period in July and a few others added from outside the organization at the trade deadline. The many new additions has seen a lot of players slide down in the rankings on this new Top 50, not from poor performance but more due to an increase in depth of the system. The Blue Jays system should now be looked at as one of the top 10 overall.
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 3B (Pre-season #3)
Age: 18 (DOB: 03/16/99)
I was a little hesitant to list him at #1 in the pre-season rankings because of to his age. In hindsight that looks like a mistake. Vlad Jr. has shown all season that he belongs in the conversation with the top prospects in the game. Baseball America recently listed him at #2 overall in their overall mid-season rankings. Guerrero slashed .316/.409/.480 in the first half at Lansing (Low A) before being promoted after playing in the MLB Futures game. In 25 games at Dunedin (High A) he has continued to hit slashing .292/.429/.382. He continues to improve on his walk to strikeout rate with 61 walks to 50 strikeouts over the two levels.
2. Bo Bichette, SS (Pre-season #9)
Age: 19 (DOB: 03/05/98)
Bichette has been exceeding expectations all season long. At Lansing (Low A) Bichette hit above .400 for a 62 game stretch. He was slashing .384/.448/.623 with 10 HR and 51 RBI when he was promoted to Dunedin (High A) along with Guerrero after participating in the Futures game. With Dunedin after a recent 3 for 24 stretch his average has dropped to .348 from a lofty .412 but the legend continues to grow and the future is bright.
3. Anthony Alford, OF (Pre-season #1)
Age: 22 (DOB: 07/20/94)
Alford was promoted from New Hampshire (AA) to the big leagues in May. Unfortunately his stay in the big leagues lasted only 4 games ending with an injury (broken hamate bone) in the game which he also collected his first major league hit, a double. He is back now playing at New Hampshire after returning from the DL and working his way back to the majors. Overall at New Hampshire (AA) this season he is slashing .313/.402/.442 with 15 hits is 53 AB since returning to AA from his Dunedin (High A) re-hab assignment. A September call-up is likely if not sooner.
4. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP (Pre-season #2)
Age: 21 (DOB: 08/30/95)
Reid-Foley has been improving month-over-month all season, after having an ERA over 5.00 in the first two months he finished July with a 3-1 record and 3.52 ERA including one 12K performance, he has continued into August with two more quality starts. Overall his record is now 8-9 with a 4.44 ERA and 95K. He may get a few major league innings helping out the overworked bullpen as a September call-up. With some question marks ahead for the 2018 rotation, getting a shot to make the big league team next spring is certainly not out of the question.
5. Lourdes Gurriel, SS (Pre-season #6)
Age: 23 (DOB: 10/19/93)
Gurriel is struggling to adjust in his first year of minor league ball after missing an entire year during his transition over from the Cuban league. An early hamstring injury sidelined him for two months. He struggled at shortstop in Dunedin (Hi A) making 8 errors in 11 games while only hitting .197 but since his promotion in mid-July to New Hampshire (AA) things seem to be turning around. He has started more games at 2B and is hitting .272 with only 3 errors in 23 games. Hopefully he can have a strong finish to the season and put himself into the conversation for the 2018 big league roster. Some in the organization think he could become a bigger slugger than his older brother Yuri of the Houston Astros.
6. Rowdy Tellez, 1B (Pre-season #4)
Age: 22 (DOB: 03/16/95)
An all-star season from Justin Smoak has quieted the calls to rush Tellez to the major leagues. He has had trouble adjusting to AAA this year hitting only .216/.284/.332 with only 6 HR at Buffalo (AAA). At 22 he is one of the youngest players in AAA and still learning, another year at AAA in 2018 will help. Patience is the best thing for all right now with Tellez. Let’s hope though that it doesn’t take as long as it did for Smoak to figure it out.
7. Richard Urena, SS (Pre-season #5)
Age: 21 (DOB: 02/26/96)
The shortstop of the future had a terrible start to the season and is now hitting .245 at New Hampshire (AA) after always hitting around .300 most of his earlier career. He appears to be turning it around as the season moves along batting .262 in July and .281 through the first 8 games in August. A strong finish should earn him a promotion to AAA before the season ends. With the emergence of Bo Bichette at shortstop Urena may be used as trade bait to fill some big league holes in the future.
8. Teoscar Hernandez, OF (Pre-season Astros #9)
Age: 24 (DOB: 10/15/92)
Hernandez was acquired from the Astros at the deadline in the Francisco Liriano trade. Hernandez was slashing .279/.369/.485 with Fresno (AAA) in the Astros system. He has started slowly at Buffalo (AAA) with only 3 hits in his first 25 AB’s but will most certainly be a September call-up when the rosters expand. He already has 42 MLB games under his belt from his time with the Astros but fell victim to the numbers in the stacked Houston line-up. Jose Bautista is not expected to return in 2018 and the left field picture is unstable so Hernandez could be a starter in the Blue Jays outfield next season.
9. T.J. Zeuch. RHP (Pre-season #10)
Age: 22 (DOB: 08/01/95)
Zeuch started off the season with promise going 3-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 9 starts at Dunedin (High A) before going on the DL at the end of May with an undisclosed injury. He has made two rehab appearances in the GCL .
10. Logan Warmoth, SS (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 21 (DOB: 09/06/95)
Warmoth was drafted in the first round 22nd overall in June. He won the Brooks Wallace award as the NCAA top shortstop and received a $2.8M signing bonus from the Jays. Scouts had him listed as a high floor, safe bet in pre-draft reports. Warmoth is performing well at Vancouver (short season A) slashing .356/.407/.548 in 18 games.
11. Nate Pearson, RHP (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 20 (DOB 08/20/96)
Nate Pearson was selected with the 28th pick in the June draft as the compensation pick for not re-signing Edwin Encarnacion. Pearson was the top JUCO pitcher and is able to throw 100 mph. Pearson has made just 3 appearances so far with 8 K in 7 IP. He is currently at Vancouver (short season A)
12. Danny Jansen, C (Pre-season #34)
Age: 22 (DOB: 04/15/95)
Jansen is the prospect who has risen the most since my pre-season list was done. With his recent promotion to Buffalo (AAA) he has emerged as the top catching prospect in the system. He began the season in Dunedin (High A) where he slashed .369/.422/.541 with 5 HR in 31 games. He was promoted to New Hampshire (AA) in mid-May and continued slashing .291/.378/.419, he has above-average defence throwing out 31% of runners while at AA.
13. Conner Greene, RHP (Pre-season #11)
Age: 22 (DOB: 04/04/95)
Greene has struggled the past month at New Hampshire (AA) this season with a 4-8 record and 4.89 ERA in 21 starts. His ERA at the end of June was 3.73, hopefully he can turn things around again to finish up the season. In the Eastern League All-star game he showed that he can be nasty when coming out of the bullpen striking out 4 batters in 2 innings, throwing over 100 mph multiple times.
14. Max Pentecost, C (Pre-season #13)
Age: 24 (DOB: 03/10/93)
After missing all of 2015 with a shoulder injury and only DH’ing in 2016 Pentecost is finally getting some starts again behind the plate. He has split time at DH and 1B as well this year at Dunedin (High A) where he is hitting .276/.332/.444 with 9 HR.
15. Jon Harris, RHP (Pre-season #7)
Age: 23 (DOB: 10/16/93)
Harris seems to have taken a step backwards this season although he leads the team with 113.2 IP in 21 starts at New Hampshire (AA). He is 5-10 with a 5.38 ERA and has given up 18 HR.
16. Edward Olivares, OF (Pre-season Unranked)
Age: 21 (DOB: 03/06/96)
Olivares is having a breakout season in his first full season at Lansing (Low A). He is leading the team with 16 HR along with 9 triples while slashing .276/.329/.499 and starting everyday in CF.
17. Harold Ramirez, OF (Pre-season #8)
Age: 22 (DOB: 09/06/94)
With a second full season in AA he appears destined to be more 4th OF type player rather than a future starter. He is hitting .261/.306/.369 with 6 HR and 43 RBI.
18. Justin Maese, RHP (Pre-season #15)
Age: 20 (DOB: 10/24/96)
After spending two months on the DL with a shoulder injury Maese has just returned to the rotation in Lansing (Low A). Prior to the injury he was 5-2 with a 4.24 ERA in 10 starts.
19. Ryan Borucki, LHP (Pre-season #19)
Age: 23 (DOB: 03/31/94)
Borucki began the year at Dunedin going 6-5 with a 3.58 ERA but since his promotion to New Hampshire in late-July he has really taken off. In his first 3 starts at AA he threw 21 IP with only 1 ER. He is sending the message that he should be looked at for a few starts down the stretch this year in Toronto.
20. Reese McGuire, C (Pre-season #12)
Age: 22 (DOB: 03/02/95)
McGuire just recently returned to New Hampshire (AA) after spending two months on the DL and another month on rehab at Bluefield (Rookie). He was only slashing .216/.311/.373 prior to the injury
21. Eric Pardinho, RHP (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 16 (DOB: 01/05/01)
Pardinho received a $1.4M signing bonus on July 2 this year. Ranked #5 on the MLB Pipeline International list he was the top rated pitcher in this years IFA class. He is a 5’8″ right-hander from Brazil with a 94 mph fastball.
22. Hagen Danner, C (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 18 (DOB: 09/30/98)
Danner was the Blue Jays 2nd round selection in the draft in June. He has been assigned to Bluefield (Rookie) where he is hitting .174 with 2 HR in 24 games. Danner was a two-way player in high school and some scouts felt he would be better suited as a pitcher with his 95 mph fastball.
23. Jason Leblebijian, 3B (Pre-season Unranked)
Age: 25 (DOB: 05/13/91)
Leblebijian is a late bloomer who had a long journey through the minors since being drafted in the 25th round of the 2012 draft. He has cooled off considerably over the past few weeks but he was leading Buffalo (AAA) in most offensive categories through the first half of the season. He played in his first all-star game this season. There is a chance he could also be rewarded for his strong season with a September call-up to Toronto. He is now slashing .249/.321/.395 with 10 HR and a team-leading 56 RBI.
24. Riley Adams, C (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 21 (DOB: 06/26/96)
Adams was the Blue Jays 3rd round selection in the June draft. The 6’4″ – 225 lb catcher has started strong at Vancouver (short season A) hitting .305/.364/.450 with 2 HR and 23 RBI.
25. Angel Perdomo, LHP (Pre-season #14)
Age: 23 (DOB: 05/07/94)
Perdomo pitched well earlier this year at Dunedin (High A) but is currently on the DL. He is 5-6 with a 3.70 ERA in 16 starts. He may yet end up as a left-handed reliever but they continue to move him slowly along as a starter.
26. J.B. Woodman, OF (Pre-season #16)
Age: 22 (DOB: 12/13/94)
2016 2nd rounder is hitting .242/.321/.381 with 6 HR and 37 RBI at Lansing (Low A)
27. Thomas Pannone, LHP (Pre-season Indians #35)
Age: 23 (DOB: 04/28/94)
Pannone was acquired from the Indians at the deadline in the Joe Smith deal. He had a breakout year last season going 8-5 with a 2.57 ERA split between Lake County (Low A) and Lynchburg (High A), and has continued to impress this season moving from Lynchburg up to Akron (AA). His 2017 numbers in the Indians organization were 8-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 120 K in 110 IP.
28. Kevin Smith, SS (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 21 (DOB: 07/04/96)
Smith was drafted in the 4th round of the June draft out of the University of Maryland. He was assigned to Bluefield (Rookie) and is slashing .240/.288/.417 with 5 HR so far.
29. Dwight Smith Jr, OF (Pre-season #18)
Age: 24 (DOB: 10/26/92)
Smith has got into 12 games and hit .370 in limited at-bats at the major league level this season during two different call-ups. At Buffalo (AAA) he is hitting .283/.355/.417 with 8 HR. He should get a September call-up and be in the mix for one of the outfield spots in 2018.
30. Jordan Romano, RHP (Pre-season Unranked)
Age: 24 (DOB: 04/21/93)
Romano was someone I overlooked when posting my pre-season top 50, he should have been listed at #36 at the time. Romano has continued to work his way back from his 2015 Tommy John surgery with a good season at Dunedin (High A) going 6-5 with a 346 ERA in 22 starts along with a 9.3 K/9.
31. Francisco Rios, RHP (Pre-season #17)
Age: 22 (DOB: 05/04/95)
Rios has had a couple of stints on the DL this season but when healthy has a 3.75 ERA and 3-9 record in 15 starts at New Hampshire (AA). With underwhelming secondary pitches the Jays should start looking at him as one of the arms in the conversation for the 2018 bullpen.
32. Joshua Palacios, OF (Pre-season #22)
Age: 22 (DOB: 07/30/95)
Palacios had a strong month of July at Lansing (Low A) slashing .340/.404/.433 for the month and is hitting .318 in August. Overall his numbers are only .255/.336/.332 but with it being his first full season league it is good to see improvement in the latter stages of the year.
33. D.J. Davis, OF (Pre-season #20)
Age: 24 (DOB: 06/27/93)
The former 1st rounder who most have written off as a bust is in his 2nd full season at Dunedin (Low A) and was toiling along at a paltry .212 clip at mid-season when Vlad and Bo joined him in Dunedin. Since their arrival he seems to have been awakened and has hit at a .369 clip with 10 multi-hit games. Maybe the light bulb finally came or and he is something, or maybe it’s just that Vlad Jr. and Bo are both so good they make others around them better.
34. Zach Jackson, RHP (Pre-season #24)a
Age: 22 (DOB: 12/25/94)
Jackson began the season in Lansing (Low A) where he had a 1.o5 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 in 15 relief appearances. He was promoted to Dunedin (High A) in early June and has continued striking out batters at a 10.5 K/9 rate with 3 saves and a 2.61 ERA in 19 appearances.
35. Mike Ohlman, C (Pre-season #26)
Age: 26 (DOB: 12/14/90)
After 8 minor league seasons Ohlman finally got the call-up to the majors in early May when Russell Martin was on the DL. He got into just 5 games but collected his first two major league hits. He leads Buffalo (AAA) this season with 12 HR but also in strikeouts (105). Hopefully he gets another chance at the majors sometime in the future.
36. Yennsy Diaz, RHP (Pre-season #31)
Age: 20 (DOB: 11/15/96)
Diaz is 4-2 with a 3.88 ERA, 1.039 WHIP and 9.8 K/9 at Lansing (Low A)
37. Juan Kelly, 1B (Pre-season Unranked)
Age: 23 (DOB: 07/16/94)
Kelly is hitting .271/.344/.415 with 8 HR and 53 RBI at Dunedin (High A)
38. Bradley Jones, 1B (Pre-season Unranked)
Age: 22 (DOB: 06/12/95)
Jones was raking at Lansing (Low A) for the first two months of the season with 9 HR while slashing .326/.394/.560. After his promotion to Dunedin (High A) he didn’t have as much success hitting only .156 with 1 HR and 30K in 17 games before going to the DL. Recent reports indicate that after having the cast removed from his arm that he will still require surgery.
39. Patrick Murphy, RHP (Pre-season #35)
Age: 21 (DOB: 06/10/95)
Murphy has had two solid starts since returning to the Lansing (Low A) rotation after spending nearly two months on the DL. Overall he is 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 12 starts.
40. Miguel Hiraldo, SS (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 16 (DOB: 09/05/00)
Hiraldo was touted as a hit-first shortstop who could move to 3B at some point. He was ranked #17 on the MLB Pipeline International list. Blue Jays signed him to a $750,000 bonus
41. Osman Gutierrez, RHP (Pre-season Unranked)
Age: 22 (DOB: 12/15/94)
Gutierrez has had an up and down year at Lansing (Low A). He had a few really rough outing in April which ballooned his ERA up to 13.50 before going to the DL for an extended period. He has recently had some strong performances including a 7 inning shutout with 10K on August 2, those have mixed in with the odd rough start resulting in a record of 4-9 and 8.05 ERA over his 16 starts.
42. Jonathan Davis, OF (Pre-season #25)
Age: 25 (DOB: 05/12/92)
Davis has has a solid season batting leadoff at New Hampshire (AA) with 8 HR, 38 RBI, 16 SB and hitting .249/.364/.377
43. Mitch Nay, 3B (Pre-season #21)
Age: 23 (DOB: 09/20/93)
He’s back. It has been almost two years since he was last healthy and playing Nay is working his way back and playing well at Lansing (Low A). He has 6 HR and 27 RBI in 40 games slashing .235/.272/.416. Good to see him return.
44. Reggie Pruitt, OF (Pre-season #33)
Age: 20 (DOB: 05/07/97)
Pruitt has good speed. At Vancouver (short season A) has 21 SB, 2 triples and an inside-the-park home run in 50 games this season. He is hitting only .222 but is still very young.
45. Leonardo Jimenez, SS (Pre-season N/A)
Age: 16 (DOB: 05/17/01)
Jimenez from Panama, signed for $825,000 on July 2nd. Reports say he has gap-to-gap power with a high contact rate. He is not expected to stay at SS long-term though.
46. Eduard Pinto, OF (Pre-season Unranked)
Age: 22 (DOB: 10/23/94)
Pinto was acquired from the Rangers in the Jason Grilli trade. Getting a young depth outfielder for the system for a 40 year-old pitcher who was DFA’d is like getting something for nothing. Pinto was hitting .311 with 4 HR for the High-A Down East Wood Ducks (great name!) in the Rangers system prior to the trade. He is batting only .149 in his first 15 games at Dunedin (High A).
47. Cavan Biggio, 2B (Pre-season #38)
Age: 22 (DOB: 04/11/95)
Average and OBP numbers are down and the strikeouts are up in his move up to Dunedin (Hi A) this year. Biggio is batting .245 with 9 HR while striking out 114 times in 105 games.
48. Roemon Fields, OF (Pre-season #32)
Age: 26 (DOB: 11/28/90)
Fields was promoted to Buffalo (AAA) in late April and hit .416 in May. For a guy who’s hitting has always been suspect he has managed to keep his average up over .300 all season. He is currently slashing .302/.365/.374 at Buffalo. His real asset is his speed, 42 SB is the 4th consecutive with more than 40. The undrafted free agent is knocking on the door for a call-up. Get him up here, the Blue Jays lack of team speed could use the boost.
49. Alejandro Melean, RHP (Pre-season N/A)
Age; 16 (DOB: Unknown)
Melean was signed for $775,000 out of Venezuela on July 2nd. Reports say he has a low 90’s fastball with a good feel for his curve.
50. Yeltsin Gudino, SS (Pre-season #43)
Age; 20 (DOB: 01/17/97)
Gudino is hitting .253 at Lansing (Low A) this season.
Were on the Blue Jays Pre-season Top 50 Prospects; not on this new list:
23. Clinton Hollon – released in January
27. Jose Espada – 0-2 , 5.08 ERA in 8 app at Vancouver
28. Shane Dawson – 3-9, 6.88 ERA in 18 starts at New Hampshire
29. Matt Dean – .215, 4 HR at Dunedin/New Hampshire, currently on DL
30. A.J. Jimenez – released in February, signed with Texas
36. Tom Robson – 3.12 ERA in 27 relief app at Dunedin, currently on DL at New Hampshire
37. Christian Lopes – .270, 15 SB at Buffalo, missed a month with injury
39. Glenn Sparkman – Rule 5 pick returned to Kansas City
40. Ryan McBroom – traded in July to Yankees for Rob Refsnyder
41. Tim Lopes – .282, 17 SB at New Hampshire
42. Lane Thomas – traded in early- July to St.Louis for international pool money
44. Adonys Cardona – repeating level at Dunedin, 8.15 ERA in 35 relief appearances
45. Yorman Rodriguez – combined .326 at Bluefield and Vancouver
46. Carl Wise – .172 in 24 games at Dunedin, currently on DL
47. Evan Smith – released in March, signed with LA Angels
48. Maximo Castillo – 4-0, 3.62 ERA in 8 starts at Bluefield
49. Juan Meza – 2.70 ERA in 10 relief app. in GCL
50. Sterling Guzman – .304 in 15 games at Bluefield, currently on DL