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The Blue Jays Top 30: Future Vancouver Canadians

Although, obviously, I’ve fallen short of my stated goal of finishing off my Toronto Blue Jays top 30 prospect list prior to this past Friday’s Vancouver Canadians hot stove luncheon, I’m still going to bust my hump to get the list done.  The prospects are going to be broken into three manageable chunks of 10 players a piece.  The format will be similar to last year, with one minor exception, where I write a a brief synopsis (not a full scouting report) per player with a not so expert opinion as to where said player will start 2015.

As explained in my honourable mentions/slash operational review piece, I’ve done my best to shift a few names around the board to ensure the 21-30 positions are mainly occupied by players we, in Vancouver, have a good chance to see during the upcoming season(s).  Obviously there’ll be a few more names that could end up at the Nat, but moving Sean Reid-Foley from 10 to 21 is far too big of a stretch.

21 1B/DH Rowdy Tellez – After the disappointment of not making the Vancouver Canadians out of extended, left-handed masher Tellez got off to a terrible start in the Appalachian league, putting up a .597 OPS through the first month of the season.  Those struggles can be attributed to his early season pull-happy approach.  In late July Tellez saw the light and started to use the entire field, letting his hands do the work.  The results were rather startling as the first basemen slashed .393/.436/.583 over his final 22 Bluefield games.

Late August saw a surprising promotion to Lansing (the Lugs were terrible at the time) where Tellez continued his hot streak, slugging .500 with two home runs and a tidy 14.3% BB rate in 12 games.  Sent to Vancouver for the playoffs I only got to see Rowdy in one game.  I wasn’t overly impressed.  There’s no doubting his plus bat speed but it seemed like he’d once again reverted to trying to yank everything.

Which is why, despite the pretty positive season, he’s fallen a spot in my rankings.  He’s a bigger body who won’t provide much value in the field.  To compensate he’s going to have to hit a ton.  And as a great man once told me, if a player like that mashes in AA then I’ll start to take a look.

2014 Ranking – 20

2015 Team – Lansing

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Tirado-esque

22 LHP Jacob Brentz – From a guy who had a good season and moved down the rankings to one that repeated the GCL and still moved up 6 spots! Weird.  Where 1B/DH get the most negative positional adjustment, athletic left-handed pitchers who are still quite raw get the most rope (think Dan Norris, Matt Smoral, etc.)

I wrote up Brentz’ draft story last year so won’t re-hash.  He’s here because he improved his numbers across the board (bear in mind the sample size for 2013 was minuscule) last season, including dropping his walk rate from 14.09/9 to a still not great, but far more manageable 5.9.  I’m sure Jake’s mechanics are still very much a work in progress and may never be exceptionally clean, but with the raw stuff, patience is needed.  A good spring will see him graduate from the complex.

2014 Ranking – 28

2015 Team – Bluefield

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Good

23 RHP Tom Robson –  Last year I let personal bias influence my decision when it came to ranking Tom, and admitted as much.  His start (4.31 FIP and 1.22 K/BB ratio through just over 31 innings pitched) in Lansing was making me look like a bit of a mug for having him so high but after undergoing Tommy John surgery in July, suspicions were that his elbow wasn’t right from the get go.

Something the Ladner native confirmed when joining the YouVanCs podcast.  So, he’s dropped, partly because I had him a bit high last year and partly over the unknown over the recovery.  That being said, I have no doubt Robson will be back stronger.

2014 Ranking – 14

2015 Team – Tough one, all depends on how his rehab goes…

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Good

24 RHP Jesus Tinoco – If you followed my ‘Notes from Extended‘ series you’ll remember that Jesus Tinoco got a ton of airplay.  The player I was in contact with constantly raved about how heavy the young Venezuelan’s 2-seamer was.

His numbers in Bluefield weren’t quite as explosive as I’d hoped but by most accounts he did out-pitch the stat line.  Still, giving up over a hit an inning suggests the sinker wasn’t always on and that his secondary offerings still need work.  Something Clint Longenecker at Baseball America noted when discussing the top prospects of the Appalachian League:

His changeup is presently his best secondary offering and his curveball shows 12-6 tilt at its best, though it is inconsistent. Tinoco will need to improve his lower half in his delivery because he often collapses his front leg and falls off to the first base side, causing him to not get on top of his pitches. But he has the raw materials to emerge. Keep your eye on Tinoco.

Tinoco will be 20 and entering his 4th pro season when the short-seasons open up so this is a big year for him.  If he can find the mechanical consistency needed then he very well could see a few levels in 2015.

2014 Ranking – NR

2015 Team – Vancouver

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Good

25 LHP Ryan Borucki –  We now start a run of three huge (Borucki is actually the shortest at 6’4″!!), high risk/high reward, left-handed pitchers.  Ryan was taken in the 15th round — the same round Drew Hutchison was tabbed in three years earlier — in the 2012 draft out of an Illinois high school.  After only getting six innings under his belt in ’12, Borucki underwent Tommy John surgery, missing 2013 in its entirety.  He returned to action with Bluefield last year, putting up an excellent 5.0 K/BB ratio over 33.1 innings before Vancouver came calling.  Impressively, Ryan improved his stats across the board in the Northwest League.

I saw him get the start in game one of the NWL North division final versus Spokane and came away impressed.  Early on he was regularly hitting 94 mph with his fastball and, more importantly, was keeping it down in the zone.  That velo did start to fade as the start wore on but this was late in the season after a full year off so to be expected.  His secondary offerings need a bit of work.  His change was second favourite pitch, using it quite regularly in the later innings.  It had decent separation from his fastball, working in the low to mid 80s but often came in flat with little to no arm side run.  He also showed a potentially above average slider and mixed in the occasional curve which had nice depth to it.

Overall, considering the injury and lack of pro experience, 2014 was excellent for Borucki.  If he continues to get stronger while making an impression on a full season team things could get very interesting.

2014 Ranking – NR

2015 Team – Lansing

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Not Great

26 LHP Nick Wells –  Drafted in the third round of last year’s draft, Wells ticks all the boxes for a high end prospect.  He’s tall, not yet fully matured physically, yet still throws his fastball in the low to mid 90s.  So why isn’t he higher?  Wells spiked his fastball velocity some seven mph prior to his senior season after undertaking an intense off-season workout program.  That throws up some red flags for me, both for potential long term injury consequences and fact that the increase may have simply been for the radar gun.  With an eye to improve his draft stock.

I didn’t get a ton of reports on Nick this season so am only reading the stats but after striking out almost two batters per inning (102 in 53 IPs) during his final high school season he didn’t miss a ton of bats in the GCL, posting a 4.67 K/9.  He only walked 2.86/9 so it’s not like he was all over the place, which sort of suggests he wasn’t flashing plus stuff.

Scouts still like the fastball and the Jays were high on his curve ball so it may still all come together.  It’ll be interesting to see if he put himself through the workout paces again this off-season after getting paid last summer.

2014 Ranking – NR

2015 Team – Bluefield

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Good

27 LHP Angel Perdomo – Big, projectable and left-handed – three things that will usually get you some consideration for prospect lists.  At 20, and in his third pro season, two of which were in the Dominican, the Jays have been pretty cautious with the San Cristobal native’s development.  Usually, especially with bigger left-handers, that is down to an inability to find the strike zone.  Something that certainly seems to be the case here as Perdoma walked exactly 10 per nine in his first season.  That number has improved over the last couple of years though while the strike-out rates continue to impress as Angel has gone from 10/9 to 14.5 to 11.2.

His best K/BB ratio was last season, his first in the GCL.  In fact, during a five game span near the end of last season, Perdoma gave up 0 earned on 11 hits over 18.2 IPs fanning 21 in the process.  He was still walking over half a batter an inning so there is work to be done but it is pretty obvious his stuff does generate some swings and misses.

Given the late season success I think a Bluefield assignment is on the cards for this season but if he’s throwing well, I have no doubt the Jays will look to see what he can do in the Northwest League.

2014 Ranking – NR

2015 Team – Bluefield

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Good

28 SS Yeltsin Gudino – The top Blue Jays international signing of 2013 (inking for $1.29 million), Gudino slips in at 28 based on the bias we have towards shortstops and his ability to play it.  A wisp of a player at 6′ 150 pounds, the Venezuela native has smooth actions and an above average arm.

Unfortunately that lack of physical maturity hindered the offensive side of Gudino’s first pro year.  Reports I got stressed his weak wrists and inability to catch up to upper level fastballs.  His stats don’t lie, with the 18 year old collecting a mere 20 hits in 155 plate appearances, 85% of which were singles.

That all being said, at 17 during the season, Gudino was young, even for the GCL, and by not having him spend a year in the Dominican Summer League the Jays were quite aggressive with his assignment.  There’s a chance they continue that trend and Yeltsin sees some time in Bluefield this season.

2014 Ranking – NR

2015 Team – Bluefield

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Average

29 C Matt Morgan – Another player that makes the list simply because of the position he plays.  Catchers receive the highest positional bias when it comes to putting together these sorts of things with the key question being, ‘will he stick behind the dish?’  From what I can gather, Morgan shouldn’t have any issues, as pre-draft scouting reports raved about his athleticism, strong arm and ability to handle pitchers.

The question for the 2014 4th rounder will always be whether he can hit enough to justify carrying the glove. His initial foray into pro ball wasn’t overly impressive, putting up a .092/.188/.134 slash line in the Gulf Coast League. Usually a .161 BABIP would suggest a bit of bad luck but in this case I’m going to assume Morgan simply wasn’t driving the ball enough.  One positive was a 10.5% BB rate which isn’t so bad for a high-school draftee that is struggling with the bat.

Morgan is obviously quite raw and will be brought along very slowly.  I wouldn’t expect to see him in Vancouver for another couple of years, let along making any predictions for the big leagues.

2014 Ranking – NR

2015 Team – Gulf Coast Jays

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Poor

30 OF Roemon Fields – Similar to last year, I’m selfishly reserving the 30th spot for a 2014 Vancouver Canadian that surprised with his performances at the Nat.  Fields gets in, not just for his play on the field, but for his story getting here.  After playing ball at a small NAIA college in Kansas, Fields went unclaimed during the MLB draft, returning Washington and taking up a role in the postal service.  Competing at a showcase tournament, Roemon caught the eye of a Jays area scout.  Apparently it took three cracks to get him to sign but the scout’s perseverance was great news for C’s fans as Fields took to pro ball very well, breaking Vancouver’s short-season stolen base record.

Fields is more than a speedster though, getting on base at an above average clip.  His final OBP mark .338 doesn’t wow but it was undone by a poor .291 August which could be put down (understandably) to fatigue.  He’s a slap hitter but can open his hips and look to drive the ball when he gets a pitch he likes.  Fields also showed excellent instincts in the outfield, making numerous circus catches while complimenting his plus speed by taking great routes.

Depending on how aggressive the Jays are with both D.J. Davis and Anthony Alford will ultimately decide where Fields ends up in 2015.  If the two Mississippians go to Dunedin then Roemon should be patrolling centerfield for Lansing.

2014 Ranking – NR

2015 Team – Vancouver

Vancouver Canadians Chances – Good

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