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.