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Vancouver Canadians on Hulet’s Radar

In between my 2012 positional breakdown, there’s been some actual news related to the Canadians.  Marc Hulet, the respected prospect evaluator and writer released his prospect ‘Top 15‘ for the Blue Jays.  I’m not going to paraphrase too much of the article as it is well worth a read in its own right.  But I do want to take a look at some of the Canadian related notes.

I count eight of the fifteen as having played for the C’s in either 2011 or 2012.  This has its positives and negatives.  Positives in that the Nat is being treated to some top notch prospects.  Hulet, himself, says he could pretty easily do a top 30 for the Jays system.  The flip side of the coin, however, is the fact that these players are either just leaving Vancouver or, in a couple of cases, on their way next season, meaning the true talent in the Toronto system is still a few years away from establishing itself at the major league level.

The biggest mover, and most pleasant surprise I guess you could say, was Roberto Osuna putting himself in the same category as the Lansing Big Three of Nicolino, Syndergaard, and Sanchez.  With those four taking up spots two through five on the list.  Hulet saw Osuna in his game two start in the Northwest League finals versus Boise.  As he mentions in the piece, he was dominant on the night and he sees him starting next season in Lansing where he’ll be on a strict innings limit, similar to what the Lansing 3 were on this past year.  I had (and do still) hoped that the Jays would be slightly more aggressive with Roberto, skipping the Midwest League and turning him loose with the other three in the Florida State League.  That’s a dream rotation, not just for next season, but down the road in Blue Jay blue.

(on a side note, there is a very good chance that one or more of these four gets traded this off-season.  I’ve made my feelings on the subject known.  I truly hope they stay in the Jays system)

Another arm that may be on his way to Lansing is Daniel Norris.  Norris got roughed up a bit when he came up to Vancouver, but as Hulet points out, his secondary metrics were actually pretty good.  He could do with cutting down on his walks, but what young pitcher couldn’t

ummm, this is great?

(see Aaron Sanchez‘ write up).  With a mid 90s fastball and a plus change, Norris will have to be terrible in the spring to be held back for another short season assignment.  Mixed emotions if that were to happen.  Would love to see him pitch again, but if he’s sent to Vancouver then he isn’t developing as quickly as you would have hoped.

Marcus Stroman is another 2012 Canadian to make the list and was probably going to be the first C to crack the Jays roster.  Unfortunately, he got a bit mixed up over his training supplements and got pinged with a 50 game PED suspension.  How this affects the Jays plans for him should be quite interesting.  If they still see him in a relief role then he’ll start either in Dunedin or New Hampshire before moving quite quickly up the ladder.  However, if they are willing to take a look at Stroman as a starter than they may be able to work around the suspension by adding him to Lansing’s roster to begin the season then send him to Vancouver to get a few starts.

Positionally, two of the Northwest League Champs cracked the top 15.  I was admittedly a bit surprised by how high D.J. Davis was ranked.   Whenever I saw him last season he seemed slightly over-matched at the plate.  Just goes to show you that I’m no scout.  His tools can’t be denied, and as Hulet mentions, as soon as he learns to incorporate his lower half into his swing then we may be looking at a true power/speed possibility.  I asked Marc, considering Dalton Pompey is still in the picture, where he sees Davis ending up next year (hoping it would be Vancouver).  No luck. ‘I am expecting both Pompey and

A potential 4.5 tool star

Davis in Lansing to open the year.’  Interesting.

The second of the outfield players to make the list was Santiago Nessy.  Similar to my write up on the C’s catchers, Hulet points to Nessy’s power as his main plus.  He is also strong defensively.  If he can learn to make better contact then we may see Nessy much higher on this list next year.  At his age, I still see another short season assignment next year though.

Two potential 2013 Canadians make take up the last two spots of the list.  What the organization does with Matt Smoral will be the interesting one.  After sitting out 2012 with a foot problem, if Smoral impresses in extended spring training then I can see an aggressive Vancouver assignment, with the possibility of a late season call up if all goes well.  For Alberto Tirado, the Jays can afford to be a bit more patient, as he’s only due to turn eighteen next month.  A late season call up to Bluefield saw him make three starts in the Appalachian League, and although they were good, his strike outs per inning were down from his Gulf Coast figures.  I can see him starting in the App next season before jumping to Vancouver after ten or so starts.

I think, as more off-season prospect ranking lists come out, we’ll find that the Jays organization has lost of the luster it had a year ago.  That will be a product of both the poor season the big club suffered but a lot of the Jays high end prospects did struggle last year.  When looking through Hulet’s fifteen, though, one can’t help but be excited.  Especially on the pitching side, where, provided trades don’t gut them, we can legitimately envision 2 of the five I mentioned above being Blue Jays by 2015 and possibly another one or two joining them the year after.  And all will be products of the Vancouver Canadians.  Exciting times indeed.


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