Baseball America and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Top Ten Prospects

Photo credit:Buffalo Bisons
Bob Ritchie
7 months ago
On November 29, Baseball America (subscription required) published its Top Ten Prospects for the Toronto Blue Jays. Below are excerpts from the BA report.
There are a few explanatory notes. First, BA uses the 20-80 Scouting Scale. Accordingly, the tool grades scale and the overall grading system for hitters and pitchers are below.
Furthermore, the BA Grade shows “each player’s realistic upside on the 20-80 scouting scale.” The BA Risk is Baseball America’s determination of the risk associated with the BA Grade.

1. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP

BA speaks highly of Ricky Tiedemann, the top prospect in Toronto’s system. They suggest that he has the upside of a top-of-the-rotation workhorse and a strong start in Triple-A Buffalo in 2024 could result in a quick promotion to Toronto.
BA Grade/Risk: 65/Very High
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 55
Scouting Report:Tiedemann is a tall, strong-bodied lefthander with the build prototypical of workhorse starters. Despite his physical appearance, his health and durability have been major question marks. When healthy, Tiedemann has an outlier combination of velocity, movement and deception, delivering the ball from a low three-quarters slot. Tiedemann’s command can come and go, but it’s reasonable to think a large chunk of the season was impacted by injury.”

2. Orelvis Martinez, SS

Second on BA’s list is infielder Orelvis Martinez, who smashed 28 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2023. Though he’s been mostly known as a shortstop and third baseman, BA mentions Martinez as a “bat-first second baseman with the ability to hit 30-plus home runs at peak.”
BA Grade/Risk: 55/High
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 60 | Run: 45 | Fielding: 45 | Arm: 60
Scouting Report:Martinez entered 2023 trending toward a power-over-everything hitter with major questions around his bat-to-ball skills and swing decisions. Instead, he showed a more refined and patient approach without sacrificing his aggressiveness. Martinez showed a willingness to make pitchers work and in turn saw better pitches in the zone. He’s not rangy afield but shows the ability to play multiple infield positions. He has focused on shortstop and third base in pro ball, but his best long-term position is likely second base, where he has enough range and his plus arm would be an asset.”

3. Arjun Nimmala, SS

Not only did BA rank Nimmala as Toronto’s third-highest prospect, they forecast him as a long-term, above-average defender at shortstop with power.
BA Grade/Risk: 55/Extreme
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Fielding: 55 | Arm: 55
Scouting Report:Nimmala is a young, projectable infielder with plenty of tools to still develop. He has an average build that projects to add strength in the coming years. He shows at least average bat-to-ball skills with a simple righthanded swing that has a steeper path optimized for power. He’s an average runner, but his quick footwork allows him to cover ground at shortstop, where his hands and actions are above-average. His above-average arm strength should be the final ingredient that allows him to stick at shortstop.”

4. Brandon Barriera, LHP

Concerning Barriera’s future, BA believes there are many possibilities, ranging from starter to high-leverage reliever. The key variables are pitch velocity, pitch arsenal and physical fitness.
BA Grade/Risk: 55/Extreme
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 65 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50
Scouting Report: “Since his time as an amateur, Barriera has added mass at the expense of his athleticism. He returned looking noticeably larger than his listed 180 pounds. The added strength didn’t translate to conditioning, and Barriera dealt with a trio of injuries. His command of his slider and fastball are average, and that pair of pitches accounts for a majority of his usage.”

5. Addison Barger, SS

Acccording to BA, Barger profiles as a super-utility player with better-than-average batting skills.
BA Grade/Risk: 50/High.
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Fielding: 45 | Arm: 60
Scouting Report: “After showing a more aggressive approach and more in-game power in 2021 and 2022, Barger showed more patience in 2023 and a toned-down launch angle. This in turn produced a more consistent bat path, and he showed improvements in contact, in-zone contact and swing decisions. Barger is a fringe-average runner and not a threat to steal bases. In the field, he is unlikely to stick at shortstop full time, and he saw time in right field and at third base and second base in 2023. He has a plus arm that could work at a variety of positions, but it’s a matter of cleaning up some of his actions and footwork.”

6. Kendry Rojas, LHP

Concerning Rojas, BA made two projections. First, he is ready for High-A ball in 2024. Second, BA slots Rojas into a No. 4 role in an MLB starting rotation.
BA Grade/Risk: 55/Extreme
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50
Scouting Report:Rojas has a whippy arm action with good arm speed and delivers the ball from a low three-quarters slot. He mixes a trio of pitches in his four-seam fastball, slider and changeup. Rojas’ fastball sits 92-93 mph and touches 94-95 at peak with above-average ride and cut. He commands the pitch at a fringe-average level, with intermittent bouts of wildness. Rojas’ primary secondary pitch is a mid-80s slider with some cut that he shows advanced feel to throw. Rojas has a projectable arsenal of pitches with command that should improve with time.”

7. Leo Jimenez, SS

According to BA, Jimenez is a solid player who can become a second-tier everyday player.
BA Grade/Risk: 45/High
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 45 | Fielding: 55 | Arm: 50
Scouting Report:Jimenez does not wow with loud tools or flashy play, but he’s an instinctual, disciplined ballplayer. He employs a simple swing with a direct path and average bat speed. He’s a fringe-average runner capable of clocking an average run time on a hustle play down the line. He’s not a basestealing threat but has a quick first step and good infield instincts. He shows an average arm at shortstop, but his quick release and good internal clock allow him to make a majority of plays. Jimenez may end up at second base due to the limitations of his arm.”

8. Davis Schneider, 2B

BA opined that Schneider is an above-average hitter who projects as second-tier regular.
BA Grade/Risk: 40/Medium
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Fielding: 30 | Arm: 40
Scouting Report: “Undersized and somewhat positionless, Schneider is a bat-first player with an advanced plate approach. His bat-to-ball skills are fringy due to a longer swing with a steeper bat path. His advanced approach at the plate and ability to discern balls from strikes limits his exposure to pitches outside the zone. Schneider struggles with offspeed pitches and curveballs but does damage against fastballs and different slider types. He has above-average power potential despite just average exit velocities due to his excellent launch angles that allow him to get the most out of his power. In the field, Schneider is a well below-average defender at second base with a below-average arm. He saw some time in left field, but Schneider’s best long-term position is DH.”

9. Alan Roden, OF

Roden, who BA described as a toolsy player with below-average power but hits for a high batting average, has the ability to play a corner outfield in a second-tier role.
BA Grade/Risk: 45 Risk: High
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Fielding: 50 | Arm: 55
Scouting Report: “Roden has always shown elite bat-to-ball skills and approach. He has a stockier build with broad shoulders but is a better athlete than he appears. Roden is able to control his barrel with high accuracy, rarely swinging and missing. He shows fringe-average game power, but it’s not a matter of hard contact. It’s a lack of lift in his bat path. Most of Roden’s hardest-hit balls in play are line drives. He’s an average runner underway, which allows him to play an average to perhaps a touch better defense in the corner outfield. Roden has an above-average arm that plays well in the corners.”

10. Connor Cooke, RHP

BA believes Cooke could maake his MLB debut in 2024. Why? Becasue he “is a high-powered reliever who has refined his arsenal with a potential high-leverage relief future.”
BA Grade/Risk:45/High
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45
Scouting Report: “One of the best athletes in the Blue Jays organization, Cooke saw a giant leap in stuff in 2023. He mixes three pitches, all of which can flash above-average. Overall, Cooke shows high-leverage stuff and intensity.”

The Last Word

I always find Baseball America’s Top Ten Lists very interesting. We spend a lot of time thinking about the big-league team, as we should. However, Baseball America provides us with a welcomed glimpse into the future.
The Blue Jays have a handful of prospects who aren’t far from making an impact in the Majors. We saw that last season with Davis Schneider and Spencer Horwitz and 2024 will likely feature the debuts of Ricky Tidemann, Orelvis Martinez, and others.


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