Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays Jump From No. 20 to No. 7 in Baseball America’s Organizational Talent Rankings

The Blue Jays system took a massive step forward over the past year. According to Baseball America, Toronto has the No. 7 ranked farm system in all of baseball, a huge jump from No. 20 where they ranked at this time last year.

The No. 7 ranking is even higher than the peak of the Alex Anthopolous era back in 2015 when the system ranked No. 9. I don’t mean that as a slight to AA or as massive praise to Shapiro and Atkins, in that comparing the ranking this year to the ranking three years ago is unfair given it also comes down to how other teams stack up.

But still, the Cleveland boys have done a very good job restocking the system after AA sold it for the magnificent run in 2015. That year, he dealt top prospects like Jeff Hoffman and Daniel Norris in order to get the team Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, who played key roles in ending the franchise’s two-decade-long playoff drought. And it was worth it!

The biggest reason for the jump is certainly Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette appearing at No. 3 and No. 8 respectively in the top prospect rankings. No other team has two players in the top 10 like the Blue Jays do. Beyond them, though, the Jays system is lacking high-end depth. Anthony Alford is still an exciting prospect, and Nate Pearson, the team’s first-round pick in 2017 as compensation for letting Edwin Encarnacion walk in free agency, could rocket up the rankings if his first pro season last summer was any indication of what the future may hold. But guys like Sean-Reid Foley and Jon Harris have lost their shine after ugly seasons at the Double-A level.

The Jays will select No. 12 overall at the 2018 draft, giving them a prime opportunity to add another high upside player to their system. Last year, they took Pearson like I mentioned, a 20-year-old from Junior College with massive upside, and Logan Warmoth, a college senior who appears to be more of a solid, safe pick. It’ll be interesting to see if they go the safe route or if they try to hit a home run.

Ahead of the Blue Jays, somewhat amazingly, are the New York Yankees, ranked all the way up at No. 2. Despite boasting a roster that could compete for a World Series, they also have a farm system with young talent to augment their big league group. The Tampa Bay Rays also slide in ahead of the Jays at No. 5. The Red Sox are feeling the effects of Dave “Fuck Prospects” Dombroski, as they come in at No. 24. The Orioles are ranked No. 17, but could see a jump if they do decide to sell trade Manny Machado to a different team in exchange for prospects before he hits free agency next winter.

All in all, the Blue Jays seem to have an exciting future ahead of them. A lot of that has to do with the massive potential of Vlad Jr. and Bichette, of course. But it’s exciting that the front office has done a solid job re-stocking the system with talent without having to blow the team up. They’ve also done a pretty solid job adding players without having to give much up, and that reflects in these rankings. The Jays added Aldemys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, and Randal Grichuk without sending a hell of a lot the other way, and they’ve added free agents like J.A. Happ (and Kendrys Morales, ugh) without having to sacrifice a draft pick.

I know a lot of people would love to see the team just say screw it and sell Josh Donaldson, J.A. Happ, and maybe even Roberto Osuna to get a top ranked system like New York or Atlanta’s, but the team is good enough to compete for a wild card right now, and that means something. But I would rather have Vlad and Bo work their way on to a good team competing for a playoff spot than have them spend a couple years in an empty dome on a team completely torn down. I could be wrong about this, but I feel there’s merit to prospects joining competitive teams.

      • Paul Beestons Grass Surface

        Pursue Manny. We would only have to trade Paul Beeston, our whole farm system, and give Peter Angelos 30% of Rogers, 80% of the Jays and all our draft picks, until Manny retires.

          • Cam Lewis

            That’s a pretty standard way to refer to how players move around in a situation like this. Given the nature of players being commodities in sports you’re going to be able to construe it in this way no matter how it’s worded.

            Can I say “buyer’s market” or “buying at the trade deadline”? Or would I have to say “a market that actively favours teams looking to move a player to a different team in exchange for prospects”? You’re kinda running into the same issue there.

          • Boesy

            By the way, Cam, I wasn’t suggesting your language inappropriate. I was just guessing at M.O.’s “Can we not?”, because I agree, it had nothing to do with the Jays pursuing Machado.

      • M.O

        Replying here since the other comment doesn’t have the button.

        There’s little reason to frame it the way it was. They’re human beings. So while someone might equate “trade Manny” with “sell Manny” it’s 1000% not the same damn thing. It isn’t a problem that’s limited to here, obviously (that dumbass announcer from last years’ futures game comes to mind), but this is something that you’re in control of. One way to work around the issue is to address it as player contracts moving around, not players being bought and sold like sheep.

        • Cam Lewis

          “The Orioles are ranked No. 17, but could see a jump if they do decide to trade Manny Machado to a different team in exchange for prospects before he hits free agency next winter.”

          I softened the language and it has virtually the exact same connotation. No matter how I word this it comes across as treating a player like a commodity or object.

          If I go with what you said suggested and say “The Orioles are ranked No. 17, but could see a jump if they do decide to trade Manny Machado’s contract to a different team in exchange for prospects before he hits free agency next winter” is kind of a nightmare in terms of getting a message across.

          My apologies for upsetting you or insinuating that I view Manny Machado as some kind of sub-human, but navigating through language when the nature of the discussion is inherently based around viewing individuals as commodities is pretty difficult. Trust me, given my experience with commenters, somebody will get upset at me for being too wordy or not being clear enough if I word it in a different way.

          • Flash McLennan

            Honestly dude, “trade” is one letter longer than “sell” and the same number of syllables. Even if 99% of people don’t find it offensive, why not say “trade” and be done with it?

            And I’ll go here: would you honestly say “sell” regarding an African American player? And if you did, would you be so dismissive of someone who politely suggested you didn’t in the future?

        • Barry

          Excellent point. Further to that, you can’t talk about “trading” players either, since goods are often traded and, in fact, during the heyday of slavery, slaves were traded for goods.

          Referring to a player being “extended” is a no-no, as it clearly references the medieval torture device that stretched humans by the limbs.

          Can’t talk about salary arbitration, since Arbie’s doesn’t put celery on its sandwiches.

          Also, can’t talk about a player being in the minors, since that implies pedophilia.

          • Flash McLennan

            Now that I’m caught up in this stupid discussion I can’t let it go. Here’s the definitive guide to what is and is not okay:
            “trade”: Okay
            “sell high on”: Okay (“high on” connotes value *as a player* implicitly)
            “sell”: Not okay, and you all know it on some level.

    • Wuckin'Pa'Nub

      while we’re at it , let’s dump the term
      “Stolen bases”. Since stolen bases are disproportionately accrued by ethnic minoriites, I state we should change the term to “90 foot extensions “

  • RuralJuror

    I wonder if it really is a slight to AA? If the reasons for the jump is due to our high end prospects, well, Vladdy Jr. was signed under AA. Bo was drafted during Atkins first Jays draft. Bichette said he liked what Atkins and Shapiro had done in Cleveland. But as the current front office reminds us, these are group decisions. Atkins said of the draft of Bichette ““You always have the outlier in the evaluation where someone is going to be lower, but with him it was unanimous that our evaluators felt like if he was still around for us at that round, we would be absolutely elated”. If we do take the FO’s talk of being a collective, many of the same pieces were present. Also, as Bo explained: “And you look at their big-league team: they have a bunch of guys [Donaldson, Bautista] on it who hit just like me.” He was definitely liking what Shapiro and Atkins brought to the table in terms of conditioning and approach but he also liked what was done in the recent past too.
    There is definitely a lot to like about what the current front office has done and I am not selling them short. A lot of the recovery we are seeing at the high end is either attributable to AA (Vladdy Jr. and Alford) or part of the natural processes of a draft and a group that kept some stable elements.

    • sons

      Yeah when you have a possible generational talent spiking you up in the rankings and AA got him, it definitely is still a credit to AA. I have no interest debating who is “better” at running the Jays. But the way AA gets ragged for “trading away the farm” (the entire farm!) is goofy.

    • ErnieWhitt

      Was going to point this exact fact out. Guerrero Jr., Alford, Urena, Borucki are all on the BA top 10 and all came from AA. Not to discredit the current regime because I think they’re doing fine, but anyone thinking they’re cleaning up a mess AA left is missing some important info.

      • Just because there were good players left in the low minors when AA left, who are now, two-plus year later, starting to make their mark, doesn’t mean that he’s absolved or that he didn’t leave a significant mess.

        We can credit AA without trying desperately to wave away the problems his deals caused. There has been a lot of money spent on the big league payroll the last two years that could have gone to help other areas had the club actually had some upper minors pitching depth to plug in when Price, Dickey, and Estrada reached free agency. Y’know?

    • jerjapan

      Nice post RJ. I don’t think our BA ranking is even debatably a result of the new FO. aside from Pearson and Beau B, who also talked about the approach of the org prior to the new guys taking the reigns as a reason for his desire to be a Jay, this ranking (which, admittedly, is the high ranking on the Jays farm) is a result of the team and the depth built up under AA. I like where the new FO is going in terms of drafting and development, but it’s going to be a few more years before we can clearly identify their impact on our minors.

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        Guerrero wasn’t a draft pick, he was an international signing which depended upon the highest offer. So you could say Rogers deserved to have the Rogers Centre named after them for paying for Guerrero.

        Maybe AA can have Citifield named after him for giving away Noah Syndergaard.

  • Voidhelix

    SOme people like apples, some people like oranges. Regardless of how BA, MLB or anyone else ranks our system, it’s pretty obvious from the eye test, that we’ve improved a great deal over the last year. Personally I hope they take Jared Kelenic at #12 in the rule-4. He’d give us another corner OF prospect, who could add some power.

  • dolsh

    “I would rather have Vlad and Bo work their way on to a good team competing for a playoff spot than have them spend a couple years in an empty dome on a team completely torn down”

    That’s the best.

    • Oakville Jays

      I agree. I would like the Jays to resign Josh Donaldson to an extension , so he can be the anchor for Vladdy & Bo.The Jays could have a powerhouse offense by 2020.

      • Flash McLennan

        The only problem (potentially) is that the 2020 offense featuring Josh Donaldson would feature 2020 Josh Donaldson. I hope 2020 will be good with or without JD.

        • Nice Guy Eddie

          Good point. Some fans seem unaware that when you sign players in their 30’s, the player you’re usually getting later on in the contract is not who you had at the beginning of the contract. They think 35 or 36 year old JD is the same player as 29 year old JD because he has the same name.

    • Player to Be Named Later

      Holy shit that is sobering – and not just reading the Jays’ write-up. All of them. From the Royals (#2) “OF Bubba Starling… might have the best all-around raw tools in the minors.” Which prompts the obvious question – Who the hell is Bubba Starling? The whole thing reads as a Who’s-who of ‘Who-the-fuck-is-that?” So many prospects flame out. Depressing.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      Of the players they mention that made the Blue Jays rank 5th – Darnaud, Syndergaard, Sanchez, Marisnick, Nicolino, Gose – only Sanchez remains. And we have nothing to show for the others except Travis.

      • drunk man walking

        and your point is? I was just pointing out that there was an inaccuracy in the original post. And most of the others really fall into the “who cares” category, as do many of the people who show up one these annual lists. Obviously Thor doesn’t but he is sort of the Chris Archer of the group, although we did get something for him. CA was traded for nothing.

  • Kris

    Sounds like good news to me. But interesting that ESPN (Law) ranks the Jays 17th for farm system strength. Big difference between ESPN and Baseball America. But for prospects rankings I will take BA over Law.