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Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects: Up the Middle

Happy belated Thanksgiving to our southern neighbours. I hope Thursday was relaxing, as, from what I understand, today will be spent jostling, pushing, and pulling your fellow man in an effort to get the best deal you can on crap you don’t need.

Speaking of Americans, the middle of third of our Blue Jays prospect top thirty has the most international flavour with three Dominicans, two Canadians, and a Puerto Rican joining four Americans. If you look at the individual players, there are some younger kids with very high upsides but also some pretty big red flags. We also have some pitchers whose ceilings may not be overly high, but they should some day suit up for the Jays. And with two of the three Canadians in the top thirty, it’s the last taste of Canadian content.

Make sure to check out numbers 21-30 here:

11 RHP Alberto Tirado – receiving the lowest signing bonus of the Jays excellent 2012 International class, Tirado has made massive strides in his pro career putting up good numbers in both the GCL and Appy League. Most of that is down to a serious jump in his fastball velocity but a wipeout slider doesn’t hurt. Could be the most exciting member in what will be a very good, very young Lansing staff.

2014 Team – Lansing

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Decent

12 LHP Matt Smoral – Another power lefty, Smoral fell to the 50th spot in the 2012 draft after missing his senior season due to a broken foot. His debut pro season stats may not be the prettiest, but after missing his senior season and still not fully matured physically, he probably had the season we should have expected, rather than hoped. At 6’8” and 220 pounds, this is the definition of projectability. He’s already armed with a mid 90s fastball and a wipeout slider. This kid is the ultimate in risk/reward.

2014 Team – Bluefield

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Good

13 RHP John Stilson – A power righty, Stilson dropped to the Jays in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft after having significant shoulder surgery his final year of college. After making 22 starts in his first year of pro ball the Texan’s injury history and funky-ish delivery saw him moved full time to the bullpen in 2013. This does affect his ceiling as the Jays are already loaded in the ‘pen. His two pitch mix of mid 90s fastball and plus change should see him develop into a high leverage reliever down the road. Depending on how the big clubs bullpen shakes down this off-season, we may even see him in a Blue Jays uniform next year.

2014 Team – Buffalo

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Non-existent

14 RHP Tom Robson – As I cover the Vancouver Canadians full time, I may be a bit biased with this pick. Robson possesses a low 90s fastball, which can hit the mid-90s, with sink. His ground ball rate in 2013 was 67.1% which is freakish. His change has good deception and arm side run while his curve flashes plus potential if he can get it under control. It’s the intangibles that elevate him in my eyes. He’s a warrior on the mound, getting pissed off every time he misses a spot, let alone gives up a hit. Full season ball can be a bit of an equalizer but I see a big 2014 in store for Tom in Lansing.

2014 Team – Lansing

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Decent

15 C A.J. Jimenez – Jimenez played across 3 levels for the Jays in 2013 after returning from his 2012 Tommy John surgery. A line drive hitter with gap power, Jimenez is a defense first catcher who may develop into a decent enough hitter to handle everyday duties in the big leagues. His injury history is a concern though, as his Arizona Fall League assignment was nixed after his reconstructed elbow had some nerve issues. With the Jays catching depth virtually non-existent we can only hope that AJ comes back healthy in 2014.

2014 Team – Buffalo

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Non-existent

16 RHP Chase DeJong – Tall, lean, and projectable, DeJong was another of the young Bluefield staff that turned heads in the Appy League. He finished second in the league with a 6.6 K/BB ratio with impressive numbers in both categories (10.6 K/9 and 1/6 BB/9). He throws his fastball in the lower 90s with a potentially plus curveball and improving changeup. The most impressive part of the repertoire is the control he exhibits despite his youth. He has a smooth repeatable delivery with a ¾ arm slot. After getting into one of the C’s away playoff games, Vancouver fans may not get the chance to see Chase in the flesh as I think he’ll part of of the 2014 Lansing staff.

2014 Team – Lansing

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Decent

17 SS Richard Urena – The third member of our shortstop triumvirate, Urena was signed out of the Dominican in 2012 for $725,000. Of the three, Urena stands the best chance of sticking at short as he shows plus range with good hands and a very strong arm. He has decent speed, which may not translate into a base stealer but more turning singles into doubles, etc. He has an advanced approach at the plate, highlighted by his 10.7% BB/9 ratio. It should be very interesting how aggressive the Jays decide to be with both Barreto and Urena. Given their youth, I could see Barreto returning to Bluefield while Urena continues to acclimatize in the GCL.

2014 Team – GCL Jays

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Decent

18 RHP Miguel Castro – After struggling slightly in his 2012 pro debut, this 6’5” 190 pound righty made huge strides in 2013. Castro upped his innings pitched from 20 to 70 while throwing over three different levels. He improved his BB/9 rate from 4.9 to 1.8 while upping his K/9 total from 8.9 to 11.3. If he was on the fringes of prospect lists before, he’s definitely in the mix now. With the usual repertoire of a low 90s fastball and developing curve and change, Castro still has a ton of projection. If his numbers next year are anywhere near this past one then the Dominican righty could fly up the board.

2014 Team – Lansing

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Decent

19 CF Dalton Pompey – The second Canadian and second center fielder on our list, the native of Mississauga has all the tools to be very good, he just needs to put it all together. C’s fans may remember his 11 game cup of coffee to begin the 2012 Northwest League season where he put up a .442 on-base percentage. Unfortunately a broken hamate bone limited him to 20 games that season, so, considering how young he was when drafted, Pompey is still quite inexperienced, despite the fact he has 3 pro seasons under his belt. May help to explain some of his rawness. Still, he did win one of only nine minor league gold gloves handed out. He stole 38 bases despite being hobbled by a broken toe for the summer, and was timed at 3.6 from home to first. That is rapid. His ISO was a respectable .133. Putting it all together we have a very good defensive center fielder who can flat out fly while also hitting for power. Nice.

2014 Team – Dunedin

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Non-existent

20 1B Rowdy Tellez – Speaking of power, stories of Tellez’ high-school exploits apparently reached legendary status in his native California. The big (and that’s being nice) left-handed bat was ranked the 59th best prospect in the 2013 draft by Baseball America but fell to the Jays in the 30th round due to his solid commitment to the University of Southern California. As is often the case though, a fair amount of money ($850,000 to be exact) changed his mind and he made his pro debut in the Florida complex league. He got off to a slow start, struggling to adjust to the rigours of the pro game but things started to get better in August when he put up a .768 OPS with nine extra base hits, including his only two home runs. He was promoted to Bluefield for their playoffs and the reports I got from the Instructional League had him continually improving. Left-handed power bats don’t come by very often and Tellez has a ton of raw power. He also has a big body and limited defensive value, so here’s hoping his bat continues to develop.

2014 Team – Bluefield

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Excellent

The big man (image courtesy of flickr.com)

The big man (image courtesy of flickr.com)

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