This week and next, MLB Pipeline is counting down their list of the top ten farm systems in baseball and, believe it or not, the Blue Jays are one of the teams that made the grade. Granted they were the second of the ten teams to be revealed — they rank ninth, just ahead of the Dodgers — which is… just about the most optimistic viewing of their system could one have, I think.
More interesting that the ranking, though, is the fact that also revealed today was Pipeline’s updated Jays top 30 prospects list!
The list comes with a handy accompanying article by Mike Rosenbaum, in which he gives us some background on the system, some justification for their high ranking (whatever it ends up being), and breaks down the list based on position, best tools, etc. Danny Jansen, he notes, was the org’s biggest riser in 2017, unsurprisingly, having ranked 22nd last winter, jumping up to 6th today. The biggest drop? The Jays’ 2015 first-rounder, Jon Harris, who sunk from 8th down to 30th.
Harris, then, is the last name on a deep list — deeper than most of the other major scouting sites — which means that there are a whole bunch of names on here that we may not be quite so familiar with. And, indeed, there are some pretty big surprises on here, too.
Some quick thoughts!
- Obviously Vlad and Bo deserve attention right off the hop. And obviously they’re the top two guys on this list. Vlad’s hit tool grade has jumped to a full-on, holy-shitting 80. It was pegged at 55 a year ago, so… he made some seriously believers with his performance in 2017. He’s an overall 70 grade, up from 60 a year ago.
- “Much like his teammate and friend Vladimir Guerrero Jr., there seems to be no limit to Bichette’s offensive ceiling. His career-to-date points to a bright future as a perennial All-Star who could regularly compete for batting titles.” SWOON.
- Logan Warmoth in fifth, which I thought was higher than you’ll see on other sites, but it’s actually a typical ranking. Keith Law had Warmoth fifth, for example. In fact, KLaw’s top 10 was nearly identical as Pipeline’s — just flip Eric Pardinho (7th for Pipeline) and Ryan Borucki, and T.J. Zeuch (9th) and Sean Reid-Foley.
- It’s after that point where things, I think, get especially interesting. For example, Miguel Hiraldo ranks 12th. Hiraldo was the second of the two big international signings the Jays made on July 2nd (the more notable one being Pardinho). Pipeline had him as the 17th best prospect in the class, but notes in his scouting report here that he was considered “arguably” the best overall hitter in the class. The problem, as you would then suspect, is his defence. He’s not a good runner, or very athletic, apparently, but still intriguing. (Also: still just 17 — he was born in the goddamned year 2000).
- Samad Taylor ranks 13th! The “other” guy in the Joe Smith trade, Taylor evidently looks like he has the potential to be an everyday player down the road. The more famous of the pair the Jays acquired, left-hander Thomas Pannone, is ranked way down at 26th.
- Rowdy Tellez ranks 15th, which… um… I’ll bet the over on a lot of the guys ranked after him, I think. That said, Tellez had a trying season last year for a number of reasons, and probably deserves a mulligan on it. Plus there were still positives in his 2017: his strikeout rate of 18.8% and his walk rate of 9.4%, for example. He just wasn’t doing damage on the balls he put in play. Six home runs over 501 plate appearances is… well… I’m a little surprised he’s 15th, I guess.
- Carlos Ramirez at 17 is pretty good for a guy who is unquestionably a reliever — and for a prospect who is nine years older than Hiraldo. Ramirez will turn 27 next month (he’s a converted outfielder, hence the long career arc).
- Mc Gregory Contreras (21st) can’t possibly be the name of a real person who exists.
- A lot of youngsters and recent draftees (or international signings) occupy the middle of the list, while some familiar names linger at the bottom: there’s Harris, Max Pentecost at 29th, Jonathan Davis (28), Jordan Romano (27), Pannone, Justin Maese (25 down from 10th!). Five of the seven guys ahead of that group played their only pro ball last year in Bluefield, so you can be forgiven for maybe not being as familiar with them (or, hopefully, I can). The other two: 16-year-old July 2nd third baseman Leonardo Jimenez (22), and Kevin Vicuna (23), who was in Vancouver, Lansing, and Dunedin in 2017. Vicuna’s short time in Dunedin was pretty ugly at the plate, but he held his own in the other stops, and was singled out as one of the three prospects with the highest grade for defence (along with Reese McGuire (14) and Anthony Alford (3)).
- Seriously, Jon Harris. Ouch. Max Pentecost, too. Those are two high profile first round picks from the Brian Parker era (29th and 11th overall, respectively), and while it was being said at the time that Parker was fired that his track record might not have had a lot to do with it (“I think it had to do with Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins having someone in mind or multiple someones in mind when they took the job,” BA’s John Manuel told Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star at the time), those picks don’t look so great right now. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t still upside in both those players, it’s just… y’know…