Blue Jays Draft Recap

Sorry for being a bit tardy with this review, dear readers.  Life comes at you fast sometimes, and last week was Formula One-like.

Only the hardiest of prospect hunters could really offer an evaluation of the Blue Jays picks on Days Two and Three.  It’s during that time that teams look to scoop up players who may have slipped through the draft cracks; it’s also time that they also look to building rosters at their short season affiliates for the Day One guys to play with.  At the same time, as Director of Amateur Scouting Steve Sanders told us last year, every player they select had someone who believed in them enough to convince the team to draft them.  That’s how you come up with a Kevin Pillar in the 32nd round, a Danny Barnes in the 35th, and Chavez Young in the 39th.

A quick review of several sources suggests that the Blue Jays had a decent draft, particularly on the first day.  Selecting Texas prep teammates Jordan Groshans and Adam Kloffenstein may have been a bit of a coup, but there were other picks that observers centered out.  Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline feels that Florida HS SS Addison Barger, taken in the 6th round, ” has a strong arm and the potential for at least average tools across the board.” Carlos Collazo of Baseball America is even more sold on Barger’s ceiling, saying he “has solid tools across the board, impressive bat speed and a high baseball IQ.”

Over at Fangraphs, Eric Longehagen and Kylie McDaniel were enthused about 8th rounder Joey Murray, he of the deceptive delivery and high K totals, predicting that he, “could turn into a Yusmeiro Petit type who makes fringe stuff work due to an invisiball.”

Our good friend Jeff Ellis, who probably knows as much about the draft pool as any scouting director, listed a couple of names that jumped out at him, starting with Murray’s Kent State teammate, RHP Austin Havekost.  Ellis says that Havekost is, “a player I had seen a bunch, good velocity and size.”  At 6’4″/220, he throws in the low 90s and can hit 95, and seems to profile as a back end of the bullpen guy.  Havekost also has what BA calls a “sharp” split-change and a slider, and that, “He pounds the strike zone with both offspeed offerings and pitches with above-average control.”

There are many stories about Wake Forest 3B John Aiello, who the Blue Jays took in the 14th round.  A legendary high school slugger, Aiello hit 20 HR as a sophomore, but had a poor draft year season.  That sounds like a similar scenario to Ryan Noda, who was taken in the 15th round last year, and after being named the Appy League MVP last year, has started to heat up for Lansing.  As Ellis puts it, Aiello has, “Big power, but horrible pitch recognition.”

Toronto selected a number of middle infielders, and Ellis singled out 20th round pick Vinnie Capra from Richmond, who he says, “is undersized and from a small school, but was really good back to back years in Atlantic 10, type of guy who makes a ton of sense as a day 3 gamble. There are reasons he is there, but also are reasons he could find success.”

Finally, Ellis mentioned 30th round pick Cobi Johnson from Florida State, son of the Blue Jays bullpen coach and longtime minor league instructor.  Ellis says of Johnson:

I thought he would be drafted out of high school as a first rounder. Turns 23 this year, struggled in college but did miss bats the last two years. Maybe hope he can straightened out and turn into a reliever.

There are likely several other names that stood out to others, but these are several intriguing players who are worth a follow.  We won’t know, of course, how successful this draft will be for several years, and we don’t know how many of these players will reach MLB, but it will probably only be a handful.  The fun is in watching their development, and seeing how far they can go.  The draft is more than an educated guess, but not a lot more.  Teams can follow players for several years, get to know them, and analyze the growing mountain of data that’s coming from college programs, but ultimately no one can predict a player’s maturity, and their ability to overcome adversity.  Many wash out at short season, but if a player reaches full season ball and manages to stick around for at least a season there, you have to consider that a small victory for the prospect, and a small success for the team.

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Blue Jays Step Out of the Box with First 10 Draft Picks

Known throughout the industry as a risk-averse management group, the Blue Jays stepped out of their comfort zone somewhat when they selected 3 high schoolers among their first ten picks in the second day of MLB’s draft.

After selecting only a single prep player in each of the last two years, the Blue Jays selected Magnolia (TX) HS teammates SS Jordan Groshans and  RHP Adam Kloffenstein with their first and third picks.  Not content to stop there, they also chose Florida HS SS Addison Barger in the 6th round.

High schoolers represent something of a double-edged sword in the draft.  On the one hand, getting players into your system at a young age allows for them to develop under the eyes and guidance of professional instructors, and enhances the chances of them reaching the ample projection they have remaining.  On the other hand, projecting physical development is one thing; doing so with emotional development is another.  There is just no way of accurately forecasting if a player has the work ethic and character to reach their potential.  And always lurking in the background is the spectre of a college committment, which the player can turn to if negotiations don’t go as well as they and their advisor(s) had planned.

Screenshot 2018-06-06 at 8.20.40 AM

In order to move those negotiations along, Toronto did select three college seniors among those first ten picks, and their relative lack of bargaining leverage will probably allow the team to up their offers to the prep players.

A summary of the scouting reports on rounds 3-10:

Adam Kloffenstein

Regarded as one of the best HS players available on Day 2, there is quite a variety of opinion on the 6’5″/220 righty.

From Fangraphs:

Kloffenstein might be in the mid to late first round on some teams’ boards. What you think of him depends largely on when you went in to see him as, at times, he’s been 88-92 with a delivery scouts don’t like and, at others, into the mid-90s with great command and polished secondary stuff. He has size and is young for the class, so if teams who seek those things are also teams who saw Kloffenstein at his best, they might be on him late in the first round.

MLB.com

He kicked off the summer showcase circuit last June with a strong two-inning outing as the first pitcher to take the mound at the Perfect Game National, and he hasn’t let up since. Kloffenstein can work in the low 90s with heavy sink on his two-seam fastball and hit 96 mph with his four-seamer. He has advanced feel for a breaking ball, showing the ability to morph his sharp slider into a bigger-breaking curveball or a harder cutter. He also has a deceptive changeup with tumble that lacks consistency but also can be his best pitch at times. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Kloffenstein has a frame built for durability and also the room to add some more strength. He’s athletic and repeats his delivery well, allowing him to throw strikes. He’s a tough competitor who can get overly animated on the mound, but the only real knock against him is that he may difficult to sign away from Texas Christian.

Baseball America:

Kloffenstein is a strong, 6-foot-5 projectable righthander out of Magnolia (Texas) High, who showed an interesting package of starter traits over the summer and impressed scouts and scouting directors early this spring. He has a high, three-quarter slot and a quick arm, with a fastball in the low 90s. His breaking ball had a curveball shape over the summer and came across in the low 80s, but now looks more like a slider thanks to a mechanical tweak made by the Texas commit. This past year, Kloffenstien has shown a lot of progression, as he was always a big, physical presence but has now taken steps mentally and physically. He has cleaned up his body and holds his velocity deeper into starts, while also flashing a changeup in the mid-80s that induced several swings and misses over the summer.

There’s obviously a huge risk that Kloffenstein doesn’t sign, but the Blue Jays are hoping the appeal of playing with Groshans, as well as the above-slot offer they’ll likely make will convince him to sign.  With plenty of projection remaining, the team must feel that there is ample raw material to work with here.  Kloffenstein’s likely landing spot if he signs is the GCL.

Sean Wymer

From BA:

After serving as Texas Christian’s moment of truth reliever as a sophomore, Wymer moved into the Horned Frogs weekend rotation as a junior. Unfortunately for Wymer, he showed in his new role that he’s probably better suited as a reliever. Eventually, TCU moved the 6-foot-1 Wymer back into a multi-inning relief role as April turned to May. Pitching as a starter, his fastball tailed off from 93-95 mph he showed out of the bullpen and settled closer to 90-92 mph. Wymer’s high-70s, 12-to-6 curveball was still an above-average pitch as a starter, but it’s even sharper out of the bullpen. He started using his below-average changeup more in longer stints, but at his best, it’s his above-average control of his big breaking ball and an above-average fastball that could make him a useful reliever in pro ball.

The Blue Jays have a decision to make, but the signs seems to point to him being a back of the bullpen guy, adding him to a growing stable of power relievers.  Wymer should be on his way to Vancouver.

Chris Bec

The first 4th year senior chosen by Toronto, the U of Maine-Orono product is still new to Catching, but shows promise on both sides of the ball, according to BA:

A transfer from Miami-Dade JC to Maine prior to his junior season, Bec has a solid approach at the plate and decent bat speed. He slashed .315/.379/.539 as a senior in 2018, when he led Maine in hitting, finished second on the team in slugging percentage and third in on-base percentage. His batting average dropped 25 points from his junior to senior season, however, but it was mostly a result of selling out for more power. After hitting just one home run in 54 games in 2017, Bec hit eight home runs in 45 games in 2018. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Bec could potentially tap into average power, at best. He is a good athlete for his size, stealing 16 bases in 21 attempts in 2018. He’s relatively new to catching and still raw behind the plate, but he has above-average arm strength and threw out 27 potential base-stealers over the last two seasons.

Bec will have some value, much of it in the form of a reduced signing bonus.  Along with Griffin Conine, he should provide some pop in Vancouver’s everyday lineup.

Addison Barger.

Reading over the first few lines of Barger’s scouting report had me thinking of the Blue Jays’ first pick last year – and lo and behold, he shows up in the next-to-last sentence:

One of the best all-around players in the Tampa area, Barger has solid tools across the board but didn’t have a single plus tool until his arm strength improved this spring. It’s a 60-grade arm currently, but Barger gets the most out of the rest of his toolset as a sure-fielding shortstop with plus bat speed and feel to hit that gives him average raw power. Barger makes all the routine plays at shortstop and should do enough to stick at the position until someone with more tools comes along and pushes him to second base. He’s a smart player who understands the game and makes adjustments at a level that encourages scouts about his on-field makeup. There’s not a ton of upside with Barger because of his lack of any plus tool, but scouts have compared him to the Logan Warmoths of the world–someone who could end up at college and drastically improve his prospect status. A Florida commit, Barger has no real holes in his game and a hit tool that drives mid-90s velocity with regularity.

After a couple of years of concentrating on Pitching over the first two days of the draft, Barger sounds like another bat speed guy to go along with Groshans and Conine.  If he signs, the GCL will be where he starts his career.

Late word today is that Barger will forego his commitment to Florida in order to sign with Toronto.

Nick Podkul

Two years ago, the Blue Jays tapped a Notre Dame IF with their 5th round pick, and that didn’t turn out so bad, as Cavan Biggio’s power surge this year has turned a lot of heads.  BA’s report:

Podkul is a productive college second baseman with some power potential. He hit .312/.433/.525 this season with 33 walks compared to 32 strikeouts in 202 at-bats.

Podkul sounds like a similar player, with an ability to draw walks.  He’ll be headed to Vancouver once he signs.

Joey Murray

Murray has a fastball of only modest velocity, but he has a deceptive delivery that BA says is a “Favourite of scouts and coaches because of his ability to generate swings and misses with very modest velocity.”

Murray was one of the best Pitchers in all of college baseball this year, fanning 132 in 88 innings.  He’ll head to Vancouver, and might move quickly in the system in a relief role if he continues to miss bats as a pro.

Jake Brodt

Picture the stereotypical lumbering bat-first 1st Baseman, and you have an image of the 6’5″/230 Brodt.

One of those 4th year seniors, Brodt led Santa Clara in HRs with 15.  He’s described as adequate defensively, and will have in passport in hand when he reports to spring training, because he’ll be heading Northwest.

Cal Stevenson

The 5’9″/170 Senior from Arizona by way Nevada and Chabot (CA) JC, Stevenson is a ball hawk with a decent hit and on base tool.  He’ll patrol CF for Vancouver, most likely.

 

The choices the Blue Jays made on Day 2 help to put their Day 1 into perspective.  Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline feels that the only team that made better choices on the day was the Braves.  

All that remains for these players now is to sign, get to Florida for a physical and mini-camp, and for some, be sure to have their passport, because short season and rookie ball begin about a week and a half later.\

 

 

A Couple of Updates….

Just wanted to share with you all a couple of updates from a busy day corresponding with people at various levels of the baseball industry….

Draft Update

A more detailed post about the Blue Jays picks from rounds 3-10 will be up tomorrow.  That’s where the draft starts to become interesting.

From our good friend, Jeff Ellis, who puts in as much work as many scouts across the country, his views on 1st rounder Jordan Groshans:

The talk was that the Blue Jays were all in on prep talent, but I refused to believe it until they did it. Groshans was the 14th rated player on my board, so this pick while surprising to some, but makes a lot of sense here for me. I have stated before that I see some Seagar in him and think that he is a player with an advanced approach who could have above average hit and power tools. I had him rated higher than Nolan Gorman and it seems the Blue Jays agreed with me.

On 2nd rounder Griffin Conine, who was viewed as a probable 1st rounder last fall, but had his stock slip:

 In my very first mock, I had Conine to the Blue Jays at pick 12; instead, they get him at pick 52, where he is an excellent value. The Blue Jays love bloodlines and they took a pair of players with strong baseball bloodlines. Conine had a rough start to the year, but over the last month, he has been killing the ball. I thought his performance might push him up boards, but it did not seem to have an effect, which was to the Blue Jays benefit.

Maxx Tissenbaum

We spoke to Tissenbaum this off season, after he helped lead the Capitales to their second Can-Am League title in a row.  The Toronto native was uncertain of his future at that point, as he was finishing his degree and helping coach his alma mater Stony Brook.  With the Seawolves eliminated from NCAA play last week, Tissenbaum got that itch to step between the lines again, and is heading back to La Belle Province for a third season, and is going to be able to combine playing with preparing for a career after baseball:

A bunch of stuff just kind of came together. I’m going to intern at B45 bat company during the days so I get some experience working in sales and marketing functions, make some extra money and get something for a resume outside of playing/coaching…and I just didn’t want to be done playing.  I think that played a bigger role than I originally anticipated. I thought I was ready to be done but as it got closer it just didn’t feel right not to be playing.

We know just how you feel, Maxx.

Tissenbaum, who was drafted  in the 43rd round by the Blue Jays in 2009 but didn’t sign, played in the Padres, Rays, and Marlins system.  Adding to his baseball travels, he played in the Australian Baseball League for two winters.  Capitales Manager Pat Scalabrini had high praise for Tissenbaum:

Maxx was a very rare kind of super utility player. Maxx played (very well) at mostly catcher and second base (which are not exactly complementary positions) but also played other positions when needed. All of that while being one of the best and most complete hitters in the league.
  Tissenbaum is excited to be suiting up again for Quebec City, which has a long history with indy and minor league baseball.  As an Expos affiliate in the 70s, Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Andre Dawson spent time in North America’s oldest city.  He’s headed to Ottawa to join his team, and says, “(it) feels good to be back on the lineup card rather than on the bench/bullpen.”

   We wish Maxx all the best.  If you are travelling out east this summer, a detour to Quebec City would be more than worth your while.

Blue Jays Select a Pair of Bats in MLB Draft

The Blue Jays, who have shown a preference for middle infielders and pitchers with their top picks in the most recent drafts, added to their growing stable of Short Stops by selecting Texas HS slugger Jordan Groshans with their first pick, 12th overall.

Most mock drafts had the bat-first Groshans in the 30s, but the Blue Jays valued his offensive skills.  “We just feel Jordan has a lot of the attributes we look for both in his swing, his combination of contact, of power, plate discipline,” Amateur Scouting Director Steve Sanders told Sportsnet. “He’s got a great feel and approach in the box, he’s able to drive the ball to all fields and we’re confident that his offensive ability will certainly transfer with wood at the next level.”

Toronto has been following Groshans extensively last summer on the showcase circuit, and continued to keep close tabs on him this spring.  Reports suggest that he will moved to 3B eventually, but his bat will play.  Baseball America‘s draft report:

A 6-foot-4, 190-pound shortstop, Groshans has quick bat speed and plus raw power and he showed the ability to square up elite pitching on the summer showcase circuit in 2017. He hit 90-plus mph velocity hard all over the field in multiple events, including a home run against a 95-mph fastball from New York righthander Lineras Torres Jr. in the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Over the summer, Groshans used a big leg kick to get start his load and when he was on time it didn’t hinder him, instead helping him generate more power. But there were instances where Groshans would get out on his front side and fly open early, leaving some scouts to question whether the big leg kick would create more timing issues as he advanced against better pitching. This spring, Groshans has quieted the leg kick and improved his balance and hand path to the ball, attempting to lift the ball less frequently and has been hitting lasers the entire season. He’s also added around 10 pounds of muscle while maintaining his lean body. Groshans has an above-average arm and he’s shown good defensive actions at a number of infield positions, though most scouts believe he will eventually move to third base with a chance to be an above-average defender as he continues to fill out his frame.

With a commitment to join his brother at Kansas, there is some risk to this pick, but along with tools and makeup, the Blue Jays have heavily scouted his signability.  The slot value for the 12th pick is $4.2 million, or almost half of the Blue Jays’ assigned value for the first ten rounds.  The Blue Jays will likely sign lower picks to smaller bonuses to elevate what they offer Groshans, who won’t improve his draft position by going to college.

In short, expect Groshans to sign well in advance of the July 15th deadline, but he will be one of the last players to affix his name to a contract.  Groshans will begin his pro career in the Gulf Coast League, and if a position switch is in the offing he may spend some time there.  Vancouver may be a late-season destination.

 

Duke OF Griffin Conine was originally thought of as a first round pick, but an inconsistent spring caused his stock to drop.  The Blue Jays covet players in that type of situation, and his blood lines only help his cause in the eyes of the organization.  The consensus seems to be that Conine sold out and went for more power as he came under more intense scrutiny from scouts this year.  As a pro, there’s a good chance that the Cape Cod League’s 2017 Top Prospect rediscovers his stroke.

2080baseball.com’s report on the son of Mr Marlin:

Athletic right fielder with plus bat and power potential; good, sound approach at the plate from a slight open stance; good balance; plus bat speed with quick hands and quick wrists; plus barrel control, barrels up balls and projects as a plus hitter; present strength; loft and leverage to all fields, projects to plus power; below-average run; did not produce home-to-first run time; above-average arm strength (55) with good carry; average defensive actions; tools to be above-average major league regular contributor.

Conine could prove to be a steal.  Like Groshans, he may be one of the last draftees to sign, but expect him to head northwest to patrol RF for the Vancouver Canadians shortly after he does.  C’s fans should be excited – Conine may be the best bat to join the team since they became a Blue Jays affiliate.

 

 

Let the Draft Flow!

draftMajor League Baseball’s draft takes place over the next three days, starting today.  It’s hard to know who the Blue Jays will take with their first pick, but if past history is any indication, a college arm would be a safe bet when Toronto steps up to the podium for the 12th pick.

Here’s a look around at what the top sources in the industry are saying.

MLB Pipeline:

Jonathan Mayo predicts that the Blue Jays will step out of the college player mold with their first pick, selecting Arizona HS 3B Nolan Gorman, who many reports have had them linked to.  Not hedging his bets, Mayo also suggests the team may select local product C Noah Naylor, whose stock has climbed steadily this spring.

Mayo’s colleague Jim Callis suggests that reports he’s received indicate that the Blue Jays are looking at a bat, and South Alabama OF Travis Swaggerty fits that bill.

Baseball America

BA notes that Swaggerty’s late-season slide, where his average dipped below .300, may cause him to slip.  They have the Jays taking Mississippi LHP Ryan Rolison, who has been linked to Toronto for much of the spring, with their first pick.  The Blue Jays have shown a preference for players who are young for their draft class, and Rolison matches that trend.

Jeff Ellis

Few people outside of MLB scouts watch more college and prep baseball than Ellis, who we spoke to earlier this spring.  Ellis has the Blue Jays taking Arizona HS LHP Matthew Liberatore.  Liberatore would certainly be an outside-the-box pick for Toronto, but as Ellis writes, “His fastball is a low to mid 90’s pitch, but his off-speed pitches are the separators right now..”

Ellis’ colleague Taylor Blake Ward has the Blue Jays picking Wisconsin HS OF Jared Kelenic, who has the toolsy upside the Blue Jays covet.

Minor League Ball

Respected MiLB writer John Sickels has the Blue Jays selecting Florida prep righty Carter Stewart, who the team has been linked to several times this spring.  And when we say the Blue Jays have been linked to a player, by the way, it’s an indication not just that Toronto scouts have been following them, but that regional and cross-checking scouts have been spotted at that prospect’s games.  Much of that is due diligence, but when a team is taking multiple looks at a player, they’re likely very interested.

Keith Law

ESPN’s Law predicts that the Blue Jays will select Texas HS RHP Grayson Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has caught a heavy dose of helium this spring thanks to his fastball, which hits 98 and sits 93-94.

 

Future Blue Jays

We have spoken with Blue Jays execs over the past couple of seasons, and have charted their draft history, and a couple of trends do emerge:  they do look for past performance, as well as MLB bloodlines.  Mark Shapiro feels that starting pitching is the hardest commodity to develop, and while there are a number of position players with plenty of upside available, it’s likely that they’ll be looking at an arm.

With that in mind, if they are available, we suggest that Rolison, ordraft Stetson RHP Logan Gilbert might be called if they are still on the board at #12.

The next few days are always fun to watch, as we dig into the backgrounds of players the team selects.  And we’ll do our best to list the signing scouts for the prospects the team chooses – these are the guys who have done the heavy lifting with these players, following them for several years, developing a relationship with them, and assessing their signability.

 

DSL Blue Jays Season Underway

Hiraldo
Miguel Hiraldo

The Blue Jays entry in the Dominican Summer League started play yesterday, and was on the wrong side of a lopsided 17-0 score to the Reds’ affiliate.

 

The Blue Jays DSL entry has been quite successful the past two seasons.  The 2016 entry graduated position players McGregory Contreras, Yorman Rodriguez, Luis de los Santos, and pitchers Elio Silva, Maximo Castillo, Alvaro Galindo, Randy Pondler, and Orlando Pascual to stateside ball.  The 2018 entry does not promise to be as full as prominent names as the past two years have been, however.

One name that does stand out is that of SS Miguel Hiraldo, one of the top ranked bats in last year’s IFA class.  The expectation is that Hiraldo will eventually move to 3B, but the bat will play, according to Baseball America:

A righthanded hitter, Hiraldo has a compact swing, setting up with his hands at his ears and coming straight down to the ball. Despite the lack of separation in his stroke, Hiraldo is able to generate plenty of bat speed with the explosion in his hands. Some clubs had concerns about Hiraldo’s ability to adjust to secondary stuff and use the opposite field, but he’s a good fastball hitter who makes frequent, hard contact in games, with strong legs and forearms to drive the ball with average raw power.

OF Alberto Rodriguez was thought to be one of the top IFAs for 2017, but had an up and down season that saw his stock dip.  There’s athletic potential there, but there’s a lot of swing and miss to his swing, and a line drive approach that doesn’t translate to much power down the road.

RHP Ronald Govea was mentioned in a conversation with Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish last fall.  Govea was not on many top prospect lists, but Tinnish says he has, “sneaky upside.”  Govea offers a clean, repeatable delivery, an ability to spin a breaking ball, and room for further velo.  Tinnish says he throws, “a ton of strikes.”

Venezuelan SS Jose Rivas was called a “sparkplug,” by Tinnish, and BA agrees:

A high-energy, hard-nosed player, Rivas has a tablesetter profile, managing his bats well with a knack for getting on base as a line-drive hitter with gap power. Rivas is a slightly above-average runner who will probably develop as a shortstop but might ultimately fit best at second base.

The league’s Opening Game was broadcast live on YouTube.  We’ll update if a schedule is released.

Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Pitching Prospects

It may be only early June, but we’re rapidly reaching the half way point in the minor league baseball season.  Players have had their ups and downs, which is to be expected, because the minors are one big learning process.  No other sport has a developmental system as elaborate as baseball’s, and it’s inevitable that for some players, progress will be made in a steps forward/steps back manner.

After a spring of watching a great deal of the four full season Blue Jays affiliates (well, three of them, but I have a good set of eyes in Dunedin), here’s how the team’s Pitching prospects shape up in this observer’s eyes:

1.  Ryan Borucki, LHP

Few players breeze through the minors free of injury and/or inconsistency woes, and Borucki is no exception.  With the possible exception of RHP Patrick Murphy, there is not a grittier prospect in the organization.  Borucki has fought his way back from Tommy John, back issues, and a demotion two years ago to become the brightest light in the system from a starting perspective.

The execrable April northeastern weather wreaked havoc with Buffalo’s rotation, but Borucki has now settled in nicely, pitching into the 6th inning in 6 of his last 7 starts.  His mix of pitches has kept hitters off-balance, and when he gets ahead in the count, his change-up becomes an absolute weapon.  He’s held International League hitters to a .239 average, and lefty hitters have been limited to .172.

Given the issues with the major league rotation, that we haven’t seen Borucki in Toronto yet may be a combination of readiness (or slight lack thereof) and his turn in the rotation not matching up with the Blue Jays’.  Nonetheless, it would be a shock if he did not make his MLB debut this summer.  At the moment, he’s the most polished and most MLB-ready arm in the system.

2.  Nate Pearson, RHP

Pearson dazzled in his pro debut last year, overmatching Northwest League hitters, and becoming the Blue Jays top Pitching prospect after only 20 Innings Pitched.

Speaking of a step backward…..

Pearson’s 2018 debut was derailed for a month due to oblique issues.  The Blue Jays at first thought he would only miss his first start, but that stretched into May.  Pearson was rocked in the first inning of his first Florida State League start, and appeared to be settling down in the following frame when he took a line drive off of his Pitching arm.  Pearson suffered a non-displaced fracture of his ulna, and was shelved for at least ten weeks.

Pearson is expected to make a full recovery, and will be reevaluated this week, with a probable return later this summer.  Still, it’s a setback in the fireballer’s development.  He has the highest ceiling of any Blue Jays Pitching prospect, but his timetable has been set back at least a year.

3.  Sean Reid-Foley, RHP

No Blue Jays Pitching prospect has had as jagged a line of progression as Reid-Foley has.  Sent back to AA to begin the season to work on his command and pitch economy, SRF has been dominant, fanning 52 Eastern League hitters in 44 IP, and holding them to a .174 average.

Promoted to Buffalo in late May, he found too much of the strike zone in his AAA debut and was touched for 8 Earned Runs in just over 2 innings.  Reid-Foley’s second start was a thing of beauty, though, missing bats en route to a 6 inning/10 strikeout outing.  Just as impressive, he walked only 1.

Reid-Foley needs more seasoning, and it’s not reasonable to expect to see him this year, barring either a major breakout, or a significant meltdown in the Blue Jays’ rotation.  But after talk of converting him to a back of the bullpen power arm in years past, his future as a starter seems more than secure.  He has learned to correct the mid-game inconsistencies in his delivery that led him to lose the strike zone and drive up his pitch counts.

4.  Thomas Pannone, LHP

Pannone is the forgotten man in the Blue Jays system for some, but he is still very much a part of the organization’s plans.  Suspended prior to the season for a positive PED test, Pannone is still over a month away from returning to action.

Pannone has a mix of pitches and feel for Pitching that, combined with Borucki, would have given Buffalo a solid 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation.  His debut with Buffalo probably will not happen until late July/early August.  If Borucki and Reid-Foley are still there, the addition of Pannone makes the Bisons legitimate post-season threats.

5.  Jordan Romano, RHP

Romano has been one of the most pleasant surprises from a Pitching standpoint.  Romano tied for the Florida State League in K’s last season, but there was a concern about how many bats he would miss when he made the jump to AA, particularly against left-handed hitters.

Romano has been lights out this season, and his newfound effectiveness against lefties is a big part of that.  His change-up, a pitch which takes time to develop a feel for, has helped him limit left-handed hitters to a .163 average, and when Buffalo needed a starter last week, Romano deservedly got the call before returning to New Hampshire.  His 0.87 WHIP for the Fisher Cats leads the Eastern League, and is evidence of his ability to hang out on the margins of the strike zone.  Romano is giving up more flyball contact this year, but not a lot of it has been of the hard-hit variety.

Like Reid-Foley, Romano is not quite ready for the bigs.  But after being left off of the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft, he appears to be a lock to being added to it this offseason.  On Jeff Blair’s show on The FAN590 this week, Romano admits that the development of his change has what has helped him break through this year,  and is helping him as the opposition batting order turns over a third time.

6.  T.J. Zeuch, RHP

The 2016 1st round pick made up for an injury-interrupted 2017 with a fine Arizona Fall League showing.  Sent back to Dunedin to start 2018,  Zeuch has continued to pound the bottom half of the strike zone, generating a 62% groundball rate.

Promoted to New Hampshire, he’s giving up better than a hit per inning over his first 5 starts.  Zeuch will always pitch to contact (he gave up a couple against the shift in his last start), and will need to refine his pitches in order to continue his upward progression.

Zeuch profiles as an inning-eating, mid-rotation starter (he’s failed to pitch into the 6th in only one of his 11 starts so far), who will need a solid infield defence behind him.

7.  Yennsy Diaz, RHP

Outside of Pearson, no Blue Jays Pitching prospect has boosted their stock over the past calendar year as much as the hard-throwing Diaz.

Diaz made his full-season debut for Lansing last June 10th, and he’s allowed only 55 hits in 106 innings over 20 starts since then.

Diaz’ main offering is a 96 mph fastball that he can command to both sides of the plate, and a curve that is shaping up as a decent complement to it.  He gets that velo from a nice, easy delivery.  After a 10 K performance over 5.2 innings in his first start of the season, his whiffs have tailed off somewhat.  In his last start for Lansing before his recent promotion to Dunedin, Diaz was leaving his fastball up, and hitters were not chasing it as much as they were a month ago.

The challenge for Diaz at Dunedin will be for him to continue to develop his secondaries, and refine his mechanics.

8.  Angel Perdomo, LHP

The enigmatic Perdomo teases with a mid-90s fastball with late life, but injuries and inconsistency have set his development back.

Shut down for the final two months last year, Perdomo returned to Dunedin for 2018, and the Blue Jays have continued to bring him along slowly, limiting him to around 80 pitches per start.

Still, Perdomo has been effective, fanning just over a batter per inning over his first 7 starts, and limiting FSL hitters to a .191 average.  Still, when the call has come from the higher levels for spot starters, Perdomo has not been sent to answer the call, indicating that the Blue Jays are not quite ready to take the reins off just yet.

9.  Eric Pardinho, RHP

He has yet to throw a professional pitch, but it’s hard to keep the Brazilian off this list.  The top-ranked IFA Pitcher last year, Pardinho received raves from Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish, saying he’s never seen a combination of stuff, command, velocity, and feel for pitching in a 16-year-old.

Pardinho hit 97 after signing last fall, and will no doubt be the focus for a lot of eyes when he makes his debut in the GCL in a few weeks.

10. Zach Logue, LHP

A mainstay in the rotation of NWL Champs Vancouver last year, Logue continues to use a combination of location, movement, and sequencing to get hitters out.   He began the year with Lansing, and used his command and ability to pound the bottom of the strike zone to advance to Dunedin this past week.   In 10 starts for Lansing, he pitched into or beyond the 6th in 8 of them, tossing a career-high 8 innings in his last start.

Logue does not overpower hitters, but keeps them off-balance.  It’s always interesting to see how college Pitchers who dominated at Low A fare once they move up.