As the MiLB season winds down and the MLB season is just a few weeks away from completing, the Arizona Fall League rosters have been announced and three Blue Jays prospects will be featured in this year’s event.
Rosters are here! TWENTY of @MLBPipeline top 100 prospects will be playing in the Arizona Fall League!
— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) August 28, 2019
Out of the three infielder prospects the Jays are sending to Arizona, Kevin Smith has the most hype surrounding him. After dominating on Class-A Lansing last year with a 190 wRC+ and a slash line of .355/.407/.639, he earned his promotion to High-A Dunedin, where he performed well but not at the astronomic level previously.
He was still able to finish the year with .799 OPS in Dunedin, which included 18 homers in his 371 plate appearances in that second half of 2018. Since then, he’s stepped up another rung on the ladder of the minor leagues to Double-A New Hampshire this year has been up and down in his performance, averaging out to a 95 wRC+ and a .674 OPS, but including 19 home runs. Definitely has that power and slugging potential, but a 32.5 K% is extremely uncomfortable.
The other two infielders are also at New Hampshire along with Smith. The former first-round pick in Logan Warmoth has earned a promotion up from Dunedin earlier this year, and has posted a 70 wRC+ with the Fisher Cats and a .566 OPS. The speedy hitter — with nine stolen bases in New Hampshire — has a big hill to climb, but in Arizona he might find some confidence back to have a progressive 2020.
With Cullen Large, a fifth-round pick back in 2017, he has been able to perform extremely well earlier at Dunedin this summer and has been able to keep a steady line as he had worked his short stint in New Hampshire. Through 79 Double-A plate appearances, Large is carrying a perfectly average 100 wRC+ and is slashing .257/.304/.378, but his single walk and a total of 21 strikeouts is fairly worrisome.
All three of these players are just 23-years-old, edging closer to that mark where they should be expected to produce at least at the high minors, but with a slurry of young big-league infielders and already some holding their own in Triple-A Buffalo — Santiago Espinal comes to mind — these three might find their production stall and be moved for more major-league production.
The Blue Jays also have four slots at the AFL for pitchers, that have not yet been named. Predictably, T.J. Zeuch, Patrick Murphy, and Julian Merryweather are in consideration to join the three infielding prospects in Arizona.
Zeuch, coming off a recent no hitter is eligible for this December’s Rule 5 Draft and should be able to come into 2020 as a part of the big-league team. Already added to the 40-man roster, Patrick Murphy has had his fair share of injuries this season but has been noted to have big-league calibre stuff and should be ready for a major position later next year.
Merryweather will always have “the return for Josh Donaldson” hovering over his head, but as a pitcher that can hit triple digits, it could be a fairly hot commodity. But at already 27-years-old, he should be able to secure a big-league spot somewhere on the staff if he’s able to fully recover from his injury that has only allowed him to pitch a total of 6 innings since 2017.
Last year it was Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Nate Pearson dropping jaws in Arizona, but now it will be filled with some more second-tier prospects for the Blue Jays that should still be able to impress and garner interest by Jays fans.