Ok, if you’re scoring at home, it’s been a little more than ten days since the last post.
This is not a ranking of the Blue Jays Top 10 prospects – it’s a snapshot of who the top performers have been.
1. Ryan Noda, Lansing
Noda tops the charts for the second straight time. This guy is having a monster June, and has posted a ridiculous 1.460 OPS over the last ten days.
Many will be suggesting that the 2017 Appy League MVP has slugged his way into the Top 10 Prospects list. That conversation should probably wait until we see what he does at the next level, but he certainly has slugged his way into consideration.
Noda’s 59 walks and .455 OBP lead the Midwest League by a wide margin – his BB total is second highest in the minors, and his OBP trails only some guy named Vlad.
Patient almost to a fault, the knock against Noda was that he sometimes was too selective. He’s now doing a much better job of managing the strike zone. Midwest League Pitchers pay a heavy price for their mistakes as a result.
After a long wait, Lansing’s games finally came online this past week with milb.com’s subscription service. Let’s celebrate with some Noda video, narrated by our good friend Jesse Goldberg-Strassler:
2. T.J. Zeuch, New Hampshire
Zeuch did not give up a run over two starts totalling 15 IP over the past ten days, and is really starting to open some eyes with his ability to generate ground ball contact and work deep into games.
Zeuch’s detractors will point to his low strikeout totals as evidence that he doesn’t miss enough bats to get MLB hitters out. With his bowling ball sinker, he pitches to contact, and this season is getting hitters to ground out about 60% of the time.
In his first of two starts over this period, Zeuch worked a career-high 8 innings, and allowed only two hits and one walk, needing less than 90 pitches. He followed that up with 7 innings, giving up a pair of unearned runs. Zeuch was worked into the 7th in six straight starts.
3. Eric Pardinho, Bluefield
Two years ago, the Blue Jays sent their prize IFA signing from the season before to the Appalachian League for a challenge to begin his pro career. They’ve done the same with Pardinho, last year’s top ranked Pitcher.
Last fall AGM Andrew Tinnish indicated that Pardinho would likely start 2018 in the Gulf Coast League. This is a common path for IFAs, allowing them time to acclimate to playing stateside. Pardinho impressed so much this spring that the decision was made to send the Brazilian far from home to Bluefield. If his first start is any indication, he may not last long there.
Pardinho pitched 4 strong innings in the Jays’ season opener, fanning 5. He gave up 2 hits, which a witness said were more like swinging bunt singles. He did allow a stolen base and followed that up with a wild pitch, likely indicating some nerves. Pardinho hit 97 with his fastball, and showed a curve that already ranks as a plus pitch. As Tinnish said last fall, it’s not just that velo that makes Pardinho special – it’s his secondaries, and his feel for pitching.
He’s still a long way away, and there will be bumps on the road, but that was an incredibly encouraging start.
4. Yeltsin Gudino, Lansing
Long regarded as a glove-first player, Gudino is having some success at the plate this year.
The Blue Jays have focussed extensively through their amateur scouting efforts on up-the-middle players, which has led to a bit of a glut of middle infielders. Gudino started the year in a utility role with Dunedin, but was overmatched by Florida State League hitters. Sent to Lansing in early May, he’s responded to the regular playing time he’s received since Kevin Smith’s promotion, filling Smith’s 3B/SS role.
Gudino has hit .364 for the month, with a 1.162 OPS over the last 10 days, with three straight two-hit games.
5. Miguel Hiraldo, DSL Jays
Imagine, for a moment, being Blue Jays Director of Player Development Gil Kim. He has a pair of blue chip SS prospects in the upper levels in Richie Urena and Bo Bichette, another brace of top prospects at Dunedin in Kevin Smith and Logan Warmoth, a couple at Low A in Gudino and Kevin Vicuna, and now with the complex leagues getting underway, he has to find playing time for top picks Jordan Groshans and Addison Barger, as well as Hiraldo, the top-ranked bat in last year’s IFA class.
It’s likely that Kim would prefer to have Hiraldo, who scouts suggest will have to move off of SS, a full season in the DSL to play the position. If he continues to rake as he has, Kim will have a dilemma on his hands. Hiraldo posted a 1.080 OPS over the last ten, and with 9 hits in his last 4 games, brought his average up to .418.
It’s hard to see him staying in the DSL much longer, but playing time could be an issue. Kim likely would agree that’s a nice problem to have.