Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: 20-11
8 months ago
In this article, you’ll be getting bonus content due to an error on my behalf.
It was bound to happen, these articles cover plenty of prospects, and it’s hard to rank them all. In this case, I had totally forgotten about the individual (who’ll be the first player on this list), until I started the 30-21 article. To fit him in, this article will actually feature eleven players. This individual will rank as “20.5”, but would fit in somewhere in this article if I were to redo it.
If you missed the past four articles and want to do the countdown the right way, you can click the article title below.
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: The Players Who Just Missed The Top 60 List
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: 60-51
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid Season Prospect Countdown: 50-41
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid Season Prospect Countdown: 40-31
Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid Season Prospect Countdown: 30-21
As in each of those articles, I’ll be using clips of players in High A, Double A, and Triple A throughout the series of articles. For players in Dunedin, I’ll be using exit velocities numbers, pitching velocity as well as clips from the three series on MiLB TV.
For players in the Rookie Leagues (Florida Complex League and Dominican Summer League), we’ll strictly be using the season numbers. Furthermore, the year is done for those individuals.
Also, the most important aspect to me when evaluating players is their statistics, as it quantifies what players do with the tools. Afterward, their ceiling/floor is important, while proximity to the MLB matters for some, especially closer to 60.
Starting off with 20.5…
#20.5 Adrian Hernandez:
So yeah, I really have no idea how I didn’t include him in the excel spreadsheet prior to starting this series, but here we are.
The 22-year-old ranked as my 14th best prospect in the Preseason Top 20, and for good reason. This season in Buffalo, the reliever has a 37 K%, which is absolutely incredible.
This season, the righty has a 3.33 ERA and a 4.09 FIP in 24.1 innings pitched with the Buffalo Bisons. Walks haven’t been that much of an issue as he has a 9.8 BB%, but he has given up four homers in that short stretch of time.
When you think of high-strikeout relievers, velocity is the first thing that comes to mind. Therefore, Hernandez must throw high 90s, right? Wrong, in fact, he only sits in the Low 90s.
What makes Hernandez one of the most intriguing reliever prospects in the MLB is his screwball. If you had read his article before the season started, his best pitch was described as a “changeup”. However, it has surpassed that title and is described as a “screwball” per Baseball Savant.
The screwball has faded into obscurity over the past few decades. In fact, there are only around four active major league players who have a pitch described as a “screwball” per Wikipedia. Devin Williams of the Milwaukee Brewers, Yu Darvish of the San Diego Padres, Oliver Drake a free agent, and Hector Santiago, a free agent.
Despite the lack of velocity from Hernandez, this screwball is MLB-ready, and he’ll likely be added to the 40-man roster at the end of the season, as he’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
There are, of course, some concerns. While I don’t believe velocity will impact his ability to carve out a role in an MLB bullpen, when he misses his spot he’s been hit hard. Not just that, but he had a shoulder issue that saw him miss a few months.
#20 Tanner Morris:
Now moving to the Top 20-11 prospects list proper, we have the 24-year-old utility infielder, Tanner Morris.
He started his season with the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, slashing .312/.430/.468 with five homers in 186 plate appearances. He walked as much as he struck out, as both his BB% and K% sat at 16.1. Overall, he had a 152 wRC+ at the level before a promotion to Triple A Buffalo.
When you look at his Fangraphs and see his .173 average with no extra-base hits, you may be curious as to why he’s on this list. However, just like in Double A, he has the same amount of walks to strikeouts, as his BB% and K% sit at 19.8. For a K%, that’s solid, for a BB%, that is absolutely incredible.
It hasn’t helped that he’s missed quite a bit of time due to injury, which hasn’t allowed him to settle in at Buffalo. However, his hit tool and raw power are enough to land him on the list. Add in defensive versatility, and the Jays may have their next Santiago Espinal.
Game Power: 40
Raw Power: 55
#19 Dahian Santos:
The lower-level pitching of the Toronto Blue Jays is very good. Next to Tiedemann (who is now in Double A), Dahian Santos has been the biggest standout from Low A and High A.
The 19-year-old righty started his 2022 with the Dunedin Blue Jays, owning a 3.44 ERA and 3.49 FIP in 73.1 innings pitched. As a 19-year-old starter in Low A, he had an insane 39.3 K% with an 11.5 BB%.
This included a fantastic stretch between April 24th and June 3rd, where he had a 0.63 ERA, 1.93 and an unbelievable 51.4 K% in 28.2 innings pitched. His numbers afterward weren’t the greatest, as he posted a 5.22 ERA and 4.18 FIP in 39.2 innings pitched with a 32.2 K% until he was promoted to Vancouver. However, he showed quite a lot of promise.
His two starts in Canada haven’t been great, as he’s posted a 27 ERA and 13.76 FIP in 3.2 innings pitched, but he’s incredibly young for the level and these numbers will obviously drop. He’s also shown that he’s been able to get batters out via strikeouts, as he has a 19.2 K% in that short span.
Santos sits in the low 90s with his sinker, but has reached 94.3 mph this season according to Savant Data. He also throws a slider, curveball, and changeup.
#18 Adrian Pinto:
Arguably the best part of the Randal Grichuk trade, expectations was high for the 19-year-old position player. In 2021, the 5’6 second baseman/shortstop/centre fielder won the Dominican Summer League MVP, slashing .360/.486/.543 in 224 plate appearances.
Despite his small stature, he managed to tac on three homers and had an 8 K% and 17 BB%. Not just that, but Pinto was able to steal 41 bases in 49 attempts, which is quite incredible.
He skipped the Florida Complex League and headed straight to the Dunedin Blue Jays. There, he has slashed .242/.375/.363 with two homers in 194 plate appearances. He has a solid 16.5 K% and a high 12.4 BB% for a wRC+ of 120. Furthermore, he is 18/25 in stolen bases, with like four caught stealings coming in his first four attempts.
However, the most interesting data comes from Exit Vel’O’Clock time, the database with every Dunedin Blue Jay batted ball. Although his average velocity of 79.91 mph doesn’t stand out, nor does his 19.47% hard hit percentage, the 5’6 Pinto has seven balls hit over 100 mph, as well 21 “hard hit balls”. Pretty impressive stuff for a player who isn’t very tall.
#17 Josh Kasevich:
Selected with the 60th overall pick in the 2022 draft, Kasevich is having an iffy start to his pro career.
The 21-year-old is slashing .232/.303/.290 with no homers in 76 plate appearances. The shortstop has a 7.89 BB% and K% as well, meaning that he’s putting a lot of balls in play. Moreover, batting is just one half of a position player’s job, and Kasevich excels on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, he was named to the Pac-12 Conference All-Defensive team.
He has put the most balls in play for a 2022 draftee on the Dunedin Blue Jays. His average exit velocity sits at 83.87 mph and has a solid hard hit percentage of 22.58%. His maximum exit velocity has hit 104.3 as well.
It’s likely that Kasevich will stick at shortstop, and he projects to be a contact-hitting shortstop with good defense.
#16 Rainer Nunez:
Rainer Nunez is one of the more interesting prospects in my opinion. Before working on that spreadsheet, I had him ranked in the thirties. You’ll see why I have him so high.
Last season in the Florida Complex League, he slashed .274/.370/.484 with five homers, a 15.1 K%, and a 13.7 BB% in 146 plate appearances, good enough for a 125 wRC+ as a 20-year-old. Age relative to the level, you could expect numbers such as these.
The first baseman started 2022 with the Dunedin Blue Jays, where he slashed .299/.328/.482 with 15 homers and a 21.4 K% in 384 plate appearances. His 127 wRC+ is impressive, but he had a significant drop off with his BB%, as that only sat at 3.6.
The 21-year-old had 20 walks in 146 plate appearances the year prior, but only 14 in 384 plate appearances the next season. Did he just forget that walks existed? Did he randomly lose his ability to take a pitch?
It’s even weirder that Nunez has walked eight times in just 74 plate appearances since his promotion to High A Vancouver. He’s also slashing .303/.378/.455 with three homers.
So what’s with this random drop in Low A? I have no idea. My theory is that they just told him to hit the ball and see what happens. Speaking of which…
Out of any Dunedin Blue Jays hitter, do you want to know who has had an exit velocity over 110 mph this season? Rainer Nunez. In fact, he’s done it five times, the same amount of times as Orelvis Martinez and Addison Barger (in 2021). Nunez has hit the ball 100 mph 69 times according to Savant data, which is absolutely incredible.
With Dunedin, Nunez had an average exit velocity of 87.92 mph. Devonte Brown (89.79 mph) and Peyton Williams (90.35 mph) are the only two players with a high average exit velocity. The difference between them is that Nunez had 264 batted balls in play, whereas Williams has 43 and Brown has 24.
Due to the exit velocities, Nunez has produced, he ranks this high. However,t there’s also a lot to like about other facets of his game, such as his power and ability to draw a walk.
#15 Alex De Jesus:
When I broke that Nick Frasso was being traded to the Dodgers, I was pretty confused. Especially when I thought it was just Mitch White. However, when I started to dig into Alex De Jesus’ stats, I really liked this trade.
Prior to the trade, De Jesus played for the Dodgers High A team. He slashed .282/.376/.421 with four homers in 226 plate appearances. He had a tendency to strike out as he had a 28.8 K%, but he had good plate discipline, walking 12.4% of the time. He had a 125 wRC+.
Since joining the Canadians, he has a .204/.317/.259 slash line in 63 plate appearances. The power hasn’t quite shown up yet, and he has an elevated 39.68 K%. Although this card is with the Dodgers team, it is interesting how he strikes out a lot, but also doesn’t whiff. However, I think he has an increase in whiffs with the Canadians.
There are some encouraging signs with De Jesus though. Firstly, that’s an incredibly small sample size with a new team. Even with the human aspect to it, if we look strictly at it through baseball, he has shot the ball to the opposite field 42.9% of the time. He also has a 28.6 line drive percentage, which has a batting average .400 points higher than fly balls or ground balls.
To me, this shows a good hitter who also has some pop, even if it hasn’t come out yet. His defensive future lies at the hot corner, but he’s played 104 innings at shortstop in the Jays organization while logging no innings at third base with the Canadians.
Alex De Jesus will be Rule 5 eligible at the end of the season, and there’s a good chance that the Blue Jays add him to the 40-man roster.
Game Power: 50
Raw Power: 55
#14 Leo Jimenez:
In the Pre-2022 Top Prospect Countdown, Leo Jimenez ranked 7th. Has he become a worse prospect since that article was written? Not really.
The reason he had ranked so high was due to an insane .315/.517/.381 slash line with a 21.1 BB% in 242 plate appearances. However, the one knock on the shortstop was his lack of power, as he only had one homer in 663 plate appearances.
While his slash line has normalized to .230/.340/.386 and his BB% has dropped to 9.2 and his K% has risen to 19.7 (from 14.5), Leo Jimenez has made progress.
In 294 plate appearances this season, he has hit six home runs and has an ISO (Isolated Power) of .156. Per Fangraphs, .140 is average, while .170 is above average. Despite his ability to get on base last season (21 plunkings, as well as a 21.1 BB%), Jimenez only had an ISO of .065, well below 0.80 which is considered awful.
With the development of power, as well as a plus-hitting tool, Leo Jimenez is tracking well. Not just that, but he’s a fluid enough defender to likely stick at shortstop. He’s also an average runner.
As for his exit velocities. With the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2021, he had an average exit velocity of 86.3 mph, as well as a hard hit percentage of 30. He’s only one of five players that have played for the Dunedin Blue Jays the past two seasons to have an exit velocity over 110 mph.
Jimenez and Hagen Danner are the only two prospects on this list so far to already be on the 40-man roster. There’s still plenty of time for Jimenez to develop even further, as he only turned 21 years old in May.
Game Power: 45
Raw Power: 45
#13 Cade Doughty:
While Devonte Brown (who ranked as my 59th best prospect) has been the most surprising draftee/undrafted free agent, Cade Doughty has been the best.
In the young season, he’s slashing .311/.432/.639 with five home runs in 74 plate appearances. Doughty has also done a fine job avoiding strikeouts, as he has an 18.92 K% while owning a 12.16 BB%. Furthermore, Doughty also has very good batted ball splits, as he hits line drives 24.4% of the time.
It’s a very small sample size, but Doughty has an incredible ISO of..345, but I wouldn’t expect this to stay this high forever. With that being said, his wRC+ of 211 is by far the best out of any Toronto-drafted players.
Defensively, he’s been playing second base and third base for pretty much every game he’s played in. He’s only committed one error at second base.
His average exit velocity is sitting at 89.79 mph, and he has a hard hit percentage of 38.46%, which is only behind Peyton Williams (45.45%) and Damiano Palmegiani (38.69%).
Like with all Dunedin and Rookie League players, I haven’t seen enough of them to give a scouting report. However, I can tell you just by the numbers, that Doughty has been the best Jays draftee after a month after the draft.
#12 Addison Barger:
Alright, so I think everyone who has ever done a list like this will tell you they messed up mightily by not including Addison Barger on their Top whatever. Want to know my reason?
As a 21-year-old with the Dunedin Blue Jays, he slashed .249/.334/.492 with 18 homers in 374 plate appearances. Now that is definitely solid, but he had an extremely high 32.9 K%. Granted, I’ve learned a lot since then, but it was hard to justify a player who was the average age and had a pretty darn high strikeout rate.
So why have I, and everyone included him in the mid-season update?
With the Vancouver Canadians, he slashed .300/.366.588 with 14 homers in 292 plate appearances for a 150 wRC+. Most impressively was his ability to drop the K% down to 26, a much more respectable number. He also had an insane Isolated Power of .258 with the High A squad.
That enough earned him a spot on my mid-season update. However, he absolutely hit the ground running after his promotion to Double A New Hampshire.
From July 12th (his first game) to August 4th, he slashed an insane .418/.467/.657 with four homers in 75 plate appearances. Barger also continued to show an improvement in his swing and miss, as he had a 24 K%, much better than his 2021 season.
Obviously, that was unsustainable. Since August 5th, he’s slashing .188/.263/.362 with a 28.9 K% in 76 plate appearances. The cool-down was inevitable, but baseball is all about the ebbs and flows, and prospect development is no different.
With the Dunedin Blue Jays last season, he was only -0.4 younger than the average position player in the league. In Vancouver this season, he was only -0.5 years younger than the average position player. However, in New Hampshire, he is -1.9 years younger than the average position player. The fact he’s still slashing .301/.364/.507 with seven homers and a wRC+ of 136 is darn impressive.
The other reason he ranks so high is that Addison Barger hits the ball with authority. Out of over 50 players that have suited up for the Dunedin Blue Jays the past two seasons, Addison Barger has the second hardest hit ball.
He had a hard hit ball percentage of 37.06%, which ranks only below Zach Britton (38.41%), Orelvis Martinez (43.92%), Zac Cook (39.44%), Peyton Williams (45.45%), and Devonte Brown (38.46%).
Not just that, but he has hit four balls over 110 mph. Only Orelvis Martinez (who’ll we will get to in the next article) and Rainer Nunez have done that.
Barger will be Rule 5 eligible at the end of the season, and I think there’s a good chance he will be added to the 40-man roster. He’s a left-handed batter with pop, and will likely stick on the left side of the infield. In fact, I think there’s a chance he could be called up to play for the Jays if he continues to tear up the minors.
Game Power: 50
Raw Power: 55
#11 Damiano Palmegiani:
The third baseman/first baseman was selected in the 14th round of the 2021 draft. Next to Tiedemann (spoiler alert, he’s in the Top 10), Palmegiani is the highest ranked 2021 draftee. And for good reason.
He started his 2022 with the Dunedin Blue Jays, slashing .256/.351/.508 with 11 homers in 228 plate appearances. He had a 20.6 K% and a 10.1 BB%, which led to a 142 wRC+. Next to Peyton Williams and Rainer Nunez, Palmegiani had the highest hard hit percentage at 38.69%. He also had an average exit velocity of 87.38 mph, as well as a maximum exit velocity of 109.2 mph. This is to say that the power is there.
Like Barger (and later Spencer Horwitz), he hit the ground running once promoted to High A Vancouver, but has cooled off over the past month. At the level, he’s slashing .2435/.348/.796 with 10 homers in 221 plate appearances.
Damiano packs a big punch and has the exit velocities to hit for average in the future. Defensively, it’s still a work in progress, but there has been some improvement at the hot corner. He also has a great work ethic and attitude, so it’s not out of the question that he’ll stick at third base.
Game Power: 55
Raw Power: 60
The Top 10 article will be released on the 31st, so stay tuned! I’m really high on a lot of these guys, and if you want to learn more about Palmegiani, I actually did a Prospect Profile on him, which you can read here.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. There’s only two more series’ left for Dunedin and Vancouver, but both are in great shape to win the second half of their division. If you want to follow along with their season, I post clips of prospects every night on Twitter! While you’re there, be sure to give @Bo_Flows_11 a follow, as he made the awesome artwork for the header.
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