A few eyebrows among Blue Jays prospect watchers were raised this off-season when the team dealt two of their more highly regarded lower level farm hands in separate deals designed to bolster the 25-man roster.
Edward Olivares had a breakout year at Lansing and Dunedin. J.B Woodman, who struggled in Lansing, was still seen as having plenty of upside as a 2016 2nd round pick. But with good outfield depth at the upper levels of the system, the front office obviously felt there was a wealth of talent below that pair to make dealing them a reasonable gamble. Young, athletic players like D.J. Neal, Chavez Young, Reggie Pruitt, and Tanner Kirwer gave the team optimism to deal those players. Add to that group the team’s 6th round choice last year, Brock Lundquist.
Lundquist was a Top 10 Northwoods League prospect after his Freshman year at Long Beach State. A report from Baseball America at the time observed:
While he’s listed at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds and doesn’t have the massive lift and leverage of a Joey Gallo type, he’s strong all over and has the quick hands to access that strength and give him pop all over the ballpark.
Lundquist has plenty of power potential, but he had trouble accessing that power in his sophomore and junior seasons, as well as in his first year as a pro with Vancouver. He takes a good path to the ball with his swing, and his bat is quick, but his swing can be long, and he tends to leak on his front side.
What has kept Lundquist from reaching his power? Probably the length of his swing, coupled with some issues with pitch recognition. He makes contact, but last season it was often (50.4%) of the groundball variety. Improving his ability to pick up off speed pitches would allow him to make more contact, and adding some loft to his swing would help make more of that contact be of a line drive nature. The Blue Jays do not like to tinker with a player’s mechanics, but you can’t help but wonder if they might suggest he cut down on the leg lift – it seems like it creates some head movement, which can impair his ability to see and track pitches.
Lundquist sees a lot of pitches per at bat, which bodes well for the future. He has a compact, athletic build, and projects as at least an average corner outfield defender, with enough of an arm to handle Right Field, where he played most of last summer. The Blue Jays are likely hoping that athleticism coupled with an improved approach at the plate will help him tap into more of that power.