I know. I made some wild promises a few weeks ago. Claiming my Blue Jays top 30 prospect list would be out prior to Christmas. A gift, so to speak, for all the readers out there. Turns out all those promises were patently false. Between house guests, kids, and all the beer in Vancouver, absolutely nothing got done over the last couple of weeks.
With the Vancouver Canadians annual hot stove luncheon in three weeks, pitchers and catchers reporting in seven or so, and a bullpen to augment, things are going to pick up in Jays land. So I need to get this done. Problem is, my board hasn’t been set. I still have some emails outstanding with industry insiders in the hopes of finalizing a few spots.
Until that happens (hopefully soon) a quick look at how I do a prospect list, plus a few honourable mentions.
Doing a top 30 for any system — unless it is incredibly deep — is difficult. Which is why the major publications, BP, BA, etc will do a 10, with possibly a few ‘on the rise’ selections. I truly believe Toronto’s talent pool is enough that a top 20 is warranted.
The final 10 of a 30 would be akin to throwing darts at a board. Which is why I’m reserving those spots for younger guys. Players that we in Vancouver may be seeing in the next year or two. Some would probably be in the 20s anyway, but others are definitely taking the spots of guys that just haven’t inspired over the last season or two.
Which brings us to our (dis) honourable mentions. I wrote a mid-season review of my 2014 top 30 where I basically tagged a player as a riser or dropper come 2015. For 2012 first rounder D.J. Davis, I deviated a bit and used the term ‘lead weight’. And for a guy that came in #5 in last year’s list, that’s the only way to describe the Mississippi native. He hasn’t been good enough over his 1000+ minor league plate appearances to convince anyone he’s ever going to be able to hit decent pitching.
Sure, you’ll get people telling you his tools can take over a game on any given night, but when that’s only happening three to four times over 121 games, it just ain’t gonna cut it.
On the negative side of the ledger. In his first taste of full-season ball, Davis struck out 30.8% of the time, put up a .268 OBP, ISO’d a meager .103, and unbelievably, for a guy with supposed plus speed, was caught stealing 20 times in 39 attempts!
In reality, D.J. should repeat the Midwest League but I have a feeling the Jays try and crowbar him into Dunedin. Where pitchers with even more advanced breaking balls will continue to expose his inability to recognize pitches with spin.
Another player whose exclusion may surprise, especially given his recent strong play for the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League is second baseman Christian Lopes. I had him at #21 on my 2013 list while, when doing my 2012 C’s positional reviews, I quoted fangraph’s Marc Hulet, saying that Lopes is going to live and die by his bat as his glove at second is average at best.
There’ll be a few other omissions that may surprise. I won’t get into all of them, but as a quick example, mlb.com has Matthew Dean 13th in their top 20. Either that means I’m missing something entirely or that whomever makes the mlb.com list drinks more than I do (a fair achievement). I’m going to go with the latter given that they have Dean in front of guys like Richard Urena and Matt Smoral. Both of whom are borderline top 10 candidates in my book.
For me, despite fact that Dean was probably the best hitter on what was a pretty disappointing Lansing team, he hasn’t done enough to merit inclusion in any list. First basemen have to mash, especially in the lower levels, to place ahead of guys who populate more demanding defensive positions.
No first basemen in the Jays system did that. I suppose Dean’s .147 ISO isn’t terrible but when added to a .361 BABIP and .23 BB/K ratio something doesn’t smell right. With Rowdy Tellez hot on his heels and Mitch Nay potentially (something we’ll touch on more when we get to the list) moving his way, Dean is going to need to something special in Dunedin to continue on.
I wish him the best, but don’t see it happening.
So there you have it, in a roundabout (not very positive really) way I’ve just listed three honourable mentions to my top 30. The beauty of prospecting is I could be absolutely dead wrong on all three. Maybe Lopes has figured things out in Australia. If he hits enough in New Hampshire you never know. Second place is a black hole in the Jays system.
The same applies to Davis and Dean. Something may click that makes me look like a mug. I hope so.