Lots and lots of Top 100 prospect lists came out this week.
Among the more respected lists, Blue Jays prospects placed well:
1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr
8. Bo Bichette
42. Danny Jansen
70. Nate Pearson
84. Eric Pardinho
89. Jordan Groshans
91. Kevin Smith
98. Eric Pardinho
So….who’s likely to be on that list next year from the Blue Jays organization? It’s very likely that Guerrero and Jansen will be well-established Major Leaguers by the time the next iteration of this list rolls around. Bichette is likely to see MLB this year, but may still have some prospect eligibility remaining a year from now. Pearson is all but guaranteed to be on the list – in the upper half – if he stays healthy this year. Pardinho will probably be held back in Extended when MiLB play begins, but should become a fixture on all top 100 lists by season’s end.
Turning to the other players in the organization, there are several players who could appear high up on a Top 100 list near you if they continue on the developmental arcs they established last year. Such as:
The 2017 4th rounder caught a heavy dose of helium last season, and ballooned his way into the upper half of the Blue Jays Top 10.
After some off-season adjustments in his approach, Smith mashed at Lansing, his .355/.407/.639 line earning him a promotion to Dunedin. There was some regression at High A (.274/.355/468, 25% K rate), but in only half a High A season, his 18 HRs were tied for 3rd in the Florida State League. On top of this, Smith played his usual stellar defence at SS, while learning to play 3rd and 2nd.
Long considered a glove-first player, Smith’s bat and versatility may well become his calling cards one day. He will start 2019 in New Hampshire, and if he picks up where he left off, Smith could find himself on a Top 100 list by mid-season. He’s certainly already on the cusp.
Many teams had Groshans ranked somewhere toward the back-end of the first round/top of the second round on their draft boards last June.
The Blue Jays, who have been stockpiling up-the-middle players, had him ranked much higher, and were thrilled to take him with the 12th overall pick. And Groshans did not disappoint: he posted an .890 OPS in the GCL, and after a slow start following a late-season promotion to Bluefield, finished on a 7-12 tear in the Appy League playoffs.
While much of his playing time was at SS this season, Groshans is expected to outgrow the position, which is possibly why other teams ranked him lower than the Blue Jays. His bat shows signs of profiling as a corner infielder, however. Groshans will jump to Low A Lansing to make his full season debut in April.
Lost a little bit in the Vladdy-Bo Boy Band hype at New Hampshire, Biggio had a monster season. After starting to add more loft in his swing in 2017 in the death-to-flyballs Florida State League, Biggio led the Eastern League in Homers with 26, and was 3Ks short of a Three True Outcomes Triple Crown.
With that kind of bat, why does Biggio not rank higher? For some, more time is needed to see if 2018 was an aberration. Others will point out New Hampshire’s short RF porch, although Biggio hit 14 of his round trippers on the road. And his current lack of a position may cloud his future somewhat; described as a fringy defender, the Blue Jays moved him around this year. 2nd is where he appears to be more comfortable, but reports from the Arizona Fall League, where the organization had him spend some time in LF, said that he acquitted himself well there. His Manager at New Hampshire, John Schneider, indicated to us that he thinks 2nd is the best fit for Biggio’s skills.
Biggio will begin 2018 in Buffalo. If his bat continues to boom in Western NY, he should jump up the prospect lists, possibly even all the way to MLB.
Murphy was the Florida State League’s Pitcher of the Year, and only the Blue Jays’ workload management of the formerly injury-plagued RHP kept him from boosting his stock in the Arizona Fall League.
Murphy has long had one of the best curveballs in the system, and over the past two years he’s been steadily upping his fastball, hitting 100 regularly by August of last year.
Murphy missed bats at a 10.2% clip last year, and his 59% GB rate was the second best in the FSL. In July, he was all but unhittable, allowing a .158 batting average in 5 starts.
Tommy John surgery cost the Phoenix high schooler all of his senior year, and shoulder/neck issues limited him to 4 innings over his first two pro seasons. Since 2016, he’s made up for lost time, and reached a career high in IP last season. It’s time to get on board with Murphy, who was added to the 40-man in the off-season. At 6’4″/220, he has a starter’s build, and should pass the test he faces at AA this season with flying colours.