SB Nation’s Minor League Ball is maybe not always mentioned in the same breath as Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, or (now) MLB Pipeline, in terms of being one of the big prospect evaluation clearinghouses, but it probably should be! And hoooooooly shit, recently they’ve given us some interesting fodder to use against the “cupboard is bare” blowhards out there (assuming any of them still even exist).
Sure, sure, we all know that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a stud prospect (on Sunday John Sickels’ posted his list of the top 20 prospects in the game, and Guerrero placed third, behind the still-barely-eligible Rafael Devers, and Ronald Acuña), and that Bo Bichette isn’t a whole hell of a lot behind him. But how’s this for impressive: Minor League Ball split their recent rankings of the top five farm systems into a list of the best groups of hitters, and the best groups of pitchers, and while the Jays are nowhere to be found on the pitching side of things, their hitters ranked second! (Which… I suppose you knew already, assuming you read the title of this post, but still!!!!).
Granted, a whole lot of that is because of the two incredible prospects they have at the top of the system — Minor League Ball’s Matt Powers placed Bichette among his top ten breakout prospects of the year, while Vlad got the same treatment from Wayne Cavadi of Fan Rag, as he listed four huge breakout performers from the minors this year) — but a lot of it isn’t! You don’t get that kind of ranking based on just two guys.
Name-checked here beyond the big two: Alford, Teoscar, Warmoth, Jansen, Pentecost, Tellez, Biggio, and more!
Still, though, it’s the guys at the top who really shine bright. And I mean… holyfuckingridiculously bright…
"Vlad Jr might be an 80 hit, 80 power" pic.twitter.com/VGM5OL7JQo
— BK (@brendonkuhn) September 1, 2017
Is the lack of pitching talent a concern? Maybe. But the Jays and their “new” front office seem to have pretty clearly shifted away from their pitching-heavy days into full-on love for positional prospects. Many of whom, to be fair, were drafted under the previous regime. And good on them! The attrition rate for pitchers is worse than for hitters, and the ability of pitchers to unlock something that makes them successful later on in their development seems to be greater than hitters as well, so why not? Which isn’t to say that strategy is monolithic (they’ve taken high end pitchers like Nate Pearson, Jon Harris, and TJ Zeuch early in the draft, too), but I dunno… seems to have worked for teams like the Red Sox and the Cubs.
Then again, just about any strategy is to look like it works if you end up landing on talents like Guerrero and Bichette! I mean…
So, Bo had such a huge lead in BA, that when over 60 hitless PAs were added, he still won the MWL batting title https://t.co/gyMNrB0ItC
— Blue Jays from Away (@JaysFromAway) September 5, 2017
What a time to be alive!