After some lean years in terms of elite prospects, these are heady times for Blue Jays fans.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr (4th), Bo Bichette (19th), and Anthony Alford (58th) cracked Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 list earlier today , and just a few hours ago, Fangraphs released their Top 100, with Guerrero 3rd, Bichette 9th, Alford 36th, Danny Jansen 71st, and Nate Pearson 76th.
To be honest, this space has long been a booster of Jansen’s, and while we anointed him the Blue Jays Catcher of the Future 8 months ago, his inclusion was a bit of a surprise. Fangraphs is all in, especially with his hit tool:
We’re buying that Jansen’s 2017, which included more walks than strikeouts across three levels of the minors, is a sign of real improvement, perhaps due to the new prescription frames he got before the season.
Earlier this month, Baseball America released what is regarded by many as the standard-bearer of prospect lists. Guerrero was ranked 3rd, Bichette 8th, Alford 60th, and Pearson came in at 91. MLB Pipeline had Guerrero 3rd as well, with Bichette 14th, and Alford 47th.
By this time next year, it’s a safe bet that Bichette and Guerrero will occupy even loftier positions. Alford will most likely graduate from the list, and Pearson will no doubt continue his ascent. Who are the Blue Jays prospects most likely to break through can crack the Top 100, representing the next wave of talent in the system?
For your consideration, here are a pair of players – kind of a high/low scenario:
It seems folly to get so excited about a 17-year-old (Pardinho’s birthday was shortly after New Year’s Day), and it may take a year or so before he cracks any Top 100 lists, but there is no doubt that the young Brazilian is headed there.
“A combination of athleticism, great delivery, advanced stuff and feel for pitching,” is how Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish described Pardinho in November. “I’ve never seen a 16 year old kid with that combination of skills.”
Pardinho hit 94 as a 15 year old in a WBC Qualifier a year and a half ago, and according to Tinnish hit 97 in short outings in the Dominican prospects league this summer. But it’s just not that fastball – it’s his mechanics, the ability to command that fastball, and complement it with secondaries and pitchability.
There is every reason to believe that Pardinho will begin his career stateside this summer, most likely starting in the GCL. And while one should always be cautious with young International Free Agents, the Blue Jays have had a good track record with them – namely Franklin Barreto, Richie Urena, Roberto Osuna, and some guy named Vladdy Jr.
While Pardinho may not make any Top 100 lists until 2020, there’s a good chance Warmoth may work his way into the back end of some a year from now.
You might walk away from watching one game’s worth of the 2017 1st rounder’s work and wonder what the fuss is. Taking in a larger sample might change your mind. According to Amateur Scouting Director Steve Sanders, the Blue Jays clearly got their man:
He’s a player we’ve scouted for a long time….he wasn’t a prospect out of High School, but he steadily improved at North Carolina, and that really showed this year. He’s very steady and a well-rounded player, with a chance to stay at SS and hit for power. His make up is off the charts, and he has the intangibles to be a top of the lineup hitter.
Warmoth does not have one overwhelming tool – BA called him a “bucket full of 50-grade tools,” in naming him the Blue Jays 8th overall prospect this fall, but he makes consistently hard contact and has a good approach at the plate. In the field, scouts are split as to whether he sticks at SS or moves across to 2B, but there was plenty of promise in his footwork, arm, and reactions to ground balls to suggest he can stay there.
While none of this may scream Top 100 material, there’s plenty to make one believer that Warmoth will be a productive MLBer one day. He had to fight a tendency to be a little pull happy last year, but otherwise there are no holes in his game. His power will likely continue to develop, and he should make huge strides this year, most likely with Dunedin.