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Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: Prospects #45-41

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Photo credit:MLB
Brennan Delaney
24 days ago
Do you like pitching prospects, oh boy do we have an article for you today.
If you missed the last article which featured prospects ranked #50-46, you can read that here.
Let’s look at my criteria, and why players are ranked why they are!

Brennan’s criteria:

Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that they are relative to the league in which they play. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible to have that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll be going over their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and giving a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!

#45 Jimmy Burnette:

The 24-year-old left-handed pitcher was selected in the 18th round of the 2019 draft and had a successful first full season of his professional career.
Burnette pitched 56.1 innings between High-A and Double-A, amassing a 4.31 ERA, with a 37.6 K% and a 14.4 BB% (granted, there were quite a few international walks distorting the BB%). Moreover, he had a 3.56 FIP in High-A and a 3.36 FIP in Double-A.
His tenure in High-A was fantastic, as he registered a 45.70% whiff % (swings and misses divided by total swings). Only one other pitcher had a whiff % over 40% at any level, as T.J. Brock did so with far fewer innings pitched.
Burnette is a three-pitch pitcher, featuring a mid-90s fastball (which has touched 97 mph), a changeup, and a sweeping slider.

Scouting report:

Muscular build, with built-up legs and a compact upper half, Burnette’s low 3/4 release point wrecks havoc on batters, especially left-handed batters. His fastball is his main weapon, as it sits in the mid-90s, touching 97 mph. His sweeping slider is an above-average secondary pitch, while his changeup has a late break and is slightly below average. The biggest issue in 2022 was his control and command, as he tends to miss his spot occasionally.

Grades:

Fastball: 55
Slider: 50
Changeup: 45
Control: 35
Overall: 35

Where he’ll start in 2023:

Burnette has the ability to rise up the minor league level quite rapidly, as his stuff is what organizations love in a left-handed pitcher. It’s a toss-up whether he’ll start his 2023 season in Double-A New Hampshire or Triple-A Buffalo, depending on how well he does in spring training. If he harnesses his pitches and can hit his spots consistently, he has the ceiling of a high-leverage reliever.

#44 Brandon Eisert:

The 24-year-old left-handed reliever was drafted in the 18th round of the 2019 draft and spent all of 2022 with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
With the Herd, he posted a 3.41 ERA and a 3.57 FIP in 60.2 innings pitched. Eisert also had a 31 K% and a 6 BB%, the fourth lowest in the organization for pitchers with 40+ innings pitched. He also had the third highest K-BB% (K%-BB%), ranking below Ricky Tiedemann and Dahian Santos.
Unlike Burnette, Eisert doesn’t kill batters with velocity. He throws a fastball which sits 91-93 mph, as well as a sweeping slider and an average changeup.

Scouting report:

Compact body, broad shoulders, and muscular legs, Eisert’s 3/4 release point deceives batters, especially those on the left side. Low velocity, but it plays up with release point and extension, and works best at the top of the zone. His sweeping slider runs far off the plate for left-handed batters, and his changeup is a weapon against righties with its late vertical break. Where Eisert excels is locating his pitches, which can take him to the next level. In the rare times he misses his spots, he is hit hard.

Grades:

Fastball: 55
Slider: 55
Changeup: 50
Control: 50
Overall: 35

Where he’ll start in 2023:

Like most Triple-A guys, the only promotion he can now achieve is making it to the majors. If the Blue Jays don’t wish to look for external help for a left-handed reliever, Eisert may be their guy. Otherwise, he just has to continue to pitch well and harness his craft. There’s a possibility he’ll earn a call up as soon as 2023.

#43 Luis Quiñones:

Selected in the 34th round of the 2019 draft, 25-year-old Quiñones spent the season between Low-A and Double-A (with the former being two rehab appearances.)
In Double-A, he posted a 5.45 ERA and 4.50 FIP in 71 innings pitched. He had an impressive 29 K% but struggled with a 15.9 BB%. Despite the poor results, Quiñones’ pitches are either average or plus.
He features a plus fastball (which sits 92-95 mph) and splitter, while his curveball and slider are average pitches.

Scouting report:

Stocky build with muscular legs and broad shoulders, Quiñones releases the ball from a high 3/4 point. The fastball is a plus pitch not only for solid velocity but also for underlying stats. His splitter is his best pitch, as the late break misses plenty of bats. All four of his pitches can and have been used as “out” pitches. To take it to the next level, Quiñones will need to throw strikes and locate his spots, but he certainly has the stuff to be a back end of the rotation starter.

Grades:

Fastball: 55
Splitter: 55
Curveball: 50
Slider: 50
Control: 35
Overall: 35

Where he’ll start in 2023:

Last season, the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons only had two or three permanent starters in the rotation. That is set to change, as Quiñones will likely start the season with the Buffalo Bisons. To take the next step, the 25-year-old will have to locate his pitches better, and if he can do that, he has the potential to be a back end of the rotation starter.

#42 Adam Kloffenstein:

Kloffenstein was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft and spent 2022 between High-A and Double-A.
It was the second consecutive year that the 22-year-old had poor results. Between Vancouver and New Hampshire, he posted a 5.54 ERA (4.74 FIP in High-A, 5.07 FIP in Double-A) in 112 innings pitched. Between the two levels, the big righty had a 23 K% and a 10.7 BB%.
Kloffenstein features a five-pitch mix, a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball (which averages in the Low 90’s, and touches 96 mph), a slider, a curveball, and a changeup.

Scouting report:

Tall, muscular frame with long legs and projectability remaining, Kloffenstein features a five-pitch mix which when on, is fantastic. His fastball has a ton of downward movement which will help him generate ground balls, while his changeup and slider can generate whiffs. His curveball is a good additional “get me over” pitch to mess with batters’ timing. For the past two seasons, Kloffenstein has struggled with walks and big innings. This has led to big innings which drastically increases his pitch count and ERA. It’s something he’ll need to straighten out to progress to the next level.

Grades:

Fastball: 55
Slider: 55
Curveball: 45
Changeup: 50
Control: 40
Overall: 35

Where he’ll start in 2023:

Kloffenstein spent parts of three seasons in Vancouver, repeating High-A in 2022 (in 2019, Vancouver was Short-A). It’s likely that he’ll repeat Double-A in 2023, with the possibility of a move to Triple-A with good results, as he did with the Vancouver Canadians in 2022. The next step for Kloffenstein is to improve his control and avoid the big inning. He definitely has the stuff to fill the back end of the rotation or come out of the bullpen as a medium-leverage reliever.

#41 Alejandro Melean:

The 22-year-old righty was signed via the international free agency in the 2017 period. He spent the 2022 season with the High-A Vancouver Canadians and Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
The right-hander performed better in Vancouver, as he posted a 1.69 ERA and 3.22 FIP in 32 innings, which included a 28 K% and 6.4 BB%. His numbers in New Hampshire weren’t as great, posting a 5.10 ERA and a 5.78 FIP in 30 innings pitched, which saw his K% drop to 18.5% and his BB% increase to 13.1%. Keep in mind he was rather young (at the time he was 21 years old) for the level.
Melean features a fastball that sits 92-94 mph and occasionally touches 96 mph. His slider is a developing pitch but has become average, while his changeup is one of the best in the organization.

Scouting report:

Stocky build, with a powerful lower half and broad shoulders, there is little room for projection. His changeup has a ton of late break and downward movement, missing plenty of bats. Changeup plays well with his fastball when the latter is working. Slider is developing, but he took strides with it in 2022. While young for Double-A, he’ll have to look to improve his control in 2023.

Grades:

Fastball: 55
Changeup: 60
Slider: 45
Control: 40
Overall: 35

Where he’ll start in 2023:

It’s incredibly likely that Melean will start the 2023 season repeating the level at Double-A. What’s important for the 22-year-old is to continue to develop the pitch mix while throwing them for strikes. If he can pitch as he did with the Vancouver Canadians, he’s a candidate for a promotion to Triple-A.

What’s next:

Tuesday’s article (featuring prospects ranked 40-36) will feature all low-minor guys, with some high ceilings. It’ll definitely be a must-read, so stay tuned!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Brennan_L_D. Thanks for making Blue Jays Nation so successful in 2022, as we had new highs across the board. We love making content for you, and we hope 2023 is even better!

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