Blue Jays Nation 2022 Mid-Season Prospect Countdown: 50-41
5 months ago
I’ll be honest, this is a pitcher heavy article.
Not just that, but there are quite a few players on this list that were drafted in the 2021 draft, as well as a player drafted all the way back in 2016.
If you missed the players who just missed out, as well as the last article featuring players ranked 60-51, you can read both here:
I’ll be using clips of players in High A, Double A, and Triple A throughout this series. For players in Low A, I’ll be using the few clips I have available (the Dunedin Jays only play three series’ on MiLB TV), as well as statcast data. You can find exit velocity numbers here.
For players in the rookie leagues (Florida Complex League and Dominican Summer League), I’m looking at statistics, as many of those players don’t have a scouting report.
Furthermore, when I scout, statistics come first as it quantifies what those players do with their tools. Ceiling and floor come next, while proximity to the MLB also matters.
Let’s start with the 50th-ranked prospect, Cooper Benson.
#50 Cooper Benson:
Cooper Benson was drafted in the 17th round of the 2021 MLB draft.
The 22-year-old lefty made his professional debut this season, posting a 0 ERA and 1.36 FIP in 9.1 innings pitched with the Florida Complex League (FCL) Blue Jays. His K% at that level sat at 42.1%, while his BB% sat at 8%.
He was promoted to Low A Dunedin in early July, where he has posted a 2.38 ERA and 2.65 FIP in 22.2 innings pitched. He has maintained his high K% as it sits at 37.9%, while his BB% of 8% has stayed relatively the same.
Per his Baseball Savant data, Cooper Benson throws a four-seam fastball, a changeup, a slider, and a sinker. His fastball averages in the high 80s, while his changeup (his second most used pitch) sits in the high 70s.
Here’s his only strikeout thread from mid-July, where he struck out seven over three innings pitched.
#49: Carlos Vasquez:
Carlos Vasquez, a 17-year-old, has been the most impressive position player for the Dominican Summer League (DOSL) Blue Jays.
The youngster played all over the field, as he’s logged time at left field, second base, first base, and catch. Moreover, he has committed two errors, both at the catcher position. I haven’t seen Vasquez play, but it seems like the player is athletic, sort of like Gabriel Moreno.
Vasquez has also stood out immensely with the bat. For the season, he’s slashing .292/.408/.340 in 130 plate appearances. More impressively though, is the fact he has a 15.4 BB% and a 19.2 K%. This is good enough for a 116 wRC+.As he grows and adds more strength, it’s possible that his power numbers will increase, as he currently has no professional homers. Standing at 5’8, 150, there is definitely room to grow into his frame.
#48 Paxton Schultz:
The 6’3 right-hander was drafted in the 14th round of the 2019 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He was the player to be named later in the deal which saw Derek Fisher move to Milwaukee.
Although the 24-year-old righty’s stats don’t immediately stick out, there is definitely a lot to like about Paxton Schultz.
This season, Schultz has a 3.96 ERA and 4.96 FIP in 84 innings pitched. His 20.6 K% doesn’t quite stand out, but there’s a lot to like with his pitches, which we’ll get to. Schultz also has a 10.8 BB%, a rather high number.
Over his last 8 games played, he has pitched 36 innings and owns an ERA of 2 and a FIP of 4.36. His strikeout rate has dropped to 18.1%, while his BB% of 10.3% is still on the rather high side.
Schultz sits in the mid-90s, touching as high as 95 mph (as you can see in this strikeout thread). However, his best pitch is his changeup, as it has some late fade which has a tendency to miss bats. Here is a strikeout thread from August 3rd, in which he tied a career-high nine strikeouts.
While his stats may not immediately jump out, the 24-year-old has the bulldog mentality and doesn’t let base runners phase him.
4-seam Fastball: 50
2-seam Fastball: 45
#47: Jimmy Burnette:
Moving from an inning-eating righty starter to a hard-throwing left-handed reliever, we have 23-year-old Jimmy Burnette.
The 6’2 lefty was drafted in the 18th round of the 2021 draft last season. He started 2022 in High A, where he posted a 3.79 ERA and 3.50 FIP in 19 innings pitched. The most impressive aspect of his short tenure with the Canadians is the fact he had a 44.7 K%.
He was promoted to Double A New Hampshire in early June and has posted a 5.47 ERA and 4.43 FIP in 24.2 innings pitched. His 28.8 K% is still rather high, but his walk rate has increased to 16.2%.
Burnette sits in the mid-90s and has touched 97 mph with his heater. He also features a changeup, which sits in the mid-80s. Burnette throws heat and gets the strikeouts, so it’s possible he starts in Triple-A in 2023.
#46 Abdiel Mendoza:
If you read my pre-season Top 20, you know that I included Sebastian Espino. While Espino is a position player and Mendoza is a pitcher, they share some similarities.
Like Espino, the Blue Jays selected the 23-year-old righty in the 2022 minor league rule five draft. With High A Vancouver, Mendoza has a 2.82 ERA and 4.30 FIP in 67 innings pitched. He has started five of the 26 games he’s appeared in.
Moreover, Mendoza has an 18.3 K% and a 10.4 BB%. Last season, he had a 24.4 K%, meaning there is still hope he can raise his strikeout numbers.
The 5’10, 160 lb Mendoza sits in the low 90s with his fastball and offers a plus slider. It’ll be interesting to see how the Jays continue to develop him. With a bump in velocity, Mendoza could be an option for the bullpen a few years down the line.
#45 J.C Masson:
Firstly, everyone should wish J.C Masson, the first Canadian-born player on this list, a happy birthday.
The 20-year-old was drafted in the 26th round of the 2019 draft as a 16-year-old. The corner outfielder started his professional career in 2021 with the FCL Jays, posting a .283/.382/.500 slash line with two homers in 55 plate appearances. He had a 14.5 BB% and a 45.5 K% for a wRC+ of 131.
He started 2022 with the FCL Jays, where he slashed .302/.432/.444 with no homers in 81 plate appearances. His 14.8 BB% stayed relatively the same, while his K% dropped substantially to 25.9%.
Masson got an opportunity with the Low A Dunedin Blue Jays, where he slashed only .111/.294/.111 with a 20.6 BB% and a 44.1 K% in 34 plate appearances. After the 2022 draftees were assigned to Dunedin, he and quite a few other youngsters were re-assigned to the FCL team.
Although he struggled to hit in Low A, there are still a lot of promising signs in the corner outfielder. For example, out of the six players sent back down to the FCL Jays, he has one of the hardest average exit velocities at 82.4 mph. He also has a hard hit percentage of 27.27%, as well as a few exit velocities in the 100s. You can read more about exit velocities here.
Masson is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on!
#44 Rafael Lantigua:
This is the first prospect who was originally not on my list but played himself onto it in recent times.
The 24-year-old utility player started his season with the Fisher Cats, slashing .268/.345/.402 with five homers in 368 plate appearances. He walked 10.1% of the time, while only striking out 19% of the time, solid numbers. He finished his stint in Double A with a 107 wRC+.
That didn’t warrant him a spot on my list, but then he got promoted to Triple A. With the Bisons, he’s slashing .341/.438/.585 with two homers in 48 plate appearances. He has a 14.6 BB% and an 8.3 K%.
Despite only standing at 5’8, he has shown quite a lot of power in his career. On top of his seven homers in the upper minors this season, Lantigua also hit 11 homers in just 347 plate appearances with the High A Vancouver Canadians in 2021.
Furthermore, he has the ability to make contact with the ball, either hitting his way on base or walking. Lantigua is also a fluid defender who can play quite a few positions around the field competently.
His base running decision needs a little bit of work, however. Last season, he stole 26 of 32 bases with the Canadians. This season between Double A and Triple A, Lantigua has only been successful 7 times in 18 attempts.
Lantigua is rule five eligible at the end of the season and it’s possible that a team decides to take a chance on him. Either way, his ceiling is that of a bench player who has surprising pop.
Game Power: 40
Raw Power: 40
#43 Trenton Wallace:
The 23-year-old lefty Trenton Wallace is another 2021 draftee included in this article. Wallace was drafted in the 11th round and has shown promise in his first full season as a professional.
Wallace started his season with the Low A Dunedin Blue Jays, posting a 1.11 ERA and 2.28 FIP in 40.2 innings pitched. Five of his 11 games were starts, and he registered a 36.7 K% and an 8.7 BB% with the baby Jays.
The 23-year-old was promoted to High A Vancouver in mid-July, where he’s put up subpar stats, a 4.94 ERA and 4.88 FIP, in his 23.2 innings pitched. The reason he’s on this list is due to the fact his 29.6 K% is still on the rather high side, even if his BB% has jumped to 24.1%.
Moreover, his start on Friday was by far his best start at the level. Wallace went 6 innings pitched, allowing just two hits, and one earned run while walking two and striking out seven.
According to Baseball Savant data, the lefty has a five-pitch mix. A slider, a changeup, a sinker, a curveball, and a four-seam fastball. Wallace’s sinker sits in the low 90s, while his slider sits in the high 70s and low 80s.
4-seam fastball: 45
#42 Eliander Alcalde:
Last season with the DOSL Blue Jays, the then 18-year-old righty posted a 2.93 ERA and 3.96 FIP in 61.1 innings pitched. Alcalde started all but one of his 14 games and had a 24.1 K% and 12.9 BB% with the team.
Now 19 years old, he has pitched with the FCL Jays and has posted a 4.15 ERA and 4.82 FIP in 43.1 innings pitched. His K% has dropped to 20.9%, but his BB% has also dropped to a much better 8.8%.
According to Fangraphs, the 5’9 pitcher doesn’t have a ton of projection, but he sits in the low 90s.
#41 Chavez Young:
If there was a fun grade, Chavez Young would have an 80. The 25-year-old was drafted in the 39th round of the 2016 draft and has climbed up and down top prospect sites in recent years.
This season in Buffalo, the Bahamian switch hitter is slashing .236/.328/.354 with five homers in 244 plate appearances. He is able to take a walk, as he has an 11.5 BB% while limiting the strikeouts to only 23%. Despite this, Young has a wRC+ of 86, below average for the league.
One aspect of the game where Chavez Young excels is speed. This season, he is 20/21 in stolen base attempts and just causes a ton of chaos on the base paths. Here is my favourite example of that.
So this is a guy with speed and “below average” batting. How does he make this list? Well out of anyone who’s appeared on my Top 60 list so far, Chavez Young has the highest floor. Why? Well, he is the best outfield defender in the entire organization, and that includes big leaguers like George Springer and Jackie Bradley Jr.
In 347 innings in centre field this season, he has five outfield assists, while only committing one error, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player who can cover as much ground as Chavez Young. The clip above is from Friday night’s game, and honestly, this just shouldn’t be caught. Oddly enough, that was not his best catch in my opinion. Watch this double play he turned.
It’s possible to go on for hours about all the cool and fun stuff he has done, but I made a thread just for that reason.
Chavez Young is rule 5 eligible at the end of the season. If the Jays don’t add him to the 40-man roster, I’d say there’s a good chance another team does. The Jays utilized a fifth outfielder all season, and Chavez Young could easily replace Jackie Bradley Jr, and potentially be of more use.
Game Power: 45
Raw Power: 50
In the upcoming days, I’ll be releasing prospects ranked 40-31, which will have some surprises and players you may have never heard of, so stay tuned!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Each night, I clip minor league highlights, and next week will be a busy week as all four of the Jays affiliates are on MiLB TV. Furthermore, the awesome header picture was created by @Bo_Flows_11 on Twitter, so give him a follow as well!
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