MLB Pipeline Releases the First Edition of the Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects for 2023
3 months ago
For those of you who follow the Blue Jays prospect system like myself and my Blue Jays Nation colleague Brennan Delaney, you’ll be happy to know that the first edition of the 2023 Top 30 prospects has been released by MLB Pipeline.
While there are some new faces and some players no longer on the list, whether they dropped off or were traded last season (such as Jordan Groshans), the Jays have one player who currently fits in the Top 100 prospects across Major League Baseball in LHP Ricky Tiedemann (#32). The Golden West College product is the second-highest-ranked southpaw heading into the 2023 season, sitting behind Giants left-hander Kyle Harrison.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the list and see what has changed since the last updated version, which came at the end of the 2022 season. For more in-depth related to the 2022 rankings altogether compared to this recent update, MLB.com’s Sam Dykstra goes into great detail.
Tiedemann and Barriera occupy the top spots for Blue Jays…
As I mentioned above, Tiedemann was the only ranked Blue Jays prospect in the Top 100 so it makes sense he comes in at #1. The California product was a Futures All-Star last season and finished the year with a 2.17 ERA across three leagues, finishing the campaign in AA through 18 collective starts, posting a 4.5 H/9 and a 13.4 K/9 in the process. The left-hander has already gotten off to a hot start in Spring Training as well, notching two strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers earlier today.
Behind Tiedemann is Brandon Barriera, the Blue Jays’ first-round pick during last year’s MLB Draft. The 2023 season will be his first in the big leagues, following a similar path as Tiedemann where he didn’t pitch during his draft year and started fresh in the new season. Possessing a mid-90s fastball that can move and touch 98 MPH, Barriera will be one to watch this season as he gets his first taste of professional baseball.
Jumping up to the third spot is Yosver Zulueta, who could easily factor into the Blue Jays’ roster plans sometime this season. While injuries originally delayed his start with the club a few years ago, the right-hander finished the year in AAA Buffalo and was impressive through his Minor League climb in 2022. If the Jays need a hard-throwing right-hander not named Nate Pearson later this year, Zulueta is one player who could easily find himself in the bullpen come September.
Dropping down two spots to number four is infielder Orelvis Martinez, who spent all of last season in AA New Hampshire. The Dominican product absolutely mashed the ball, collecting 30 home runs (a Fisher Cats record) with 15 doubles and 76 RBI’s. Martinez will likely move to AAA this season but he will need to work on his strikeout numbers, as he whiffed 28.5% of his at-bats last season. Defensively, he split the season between third base and shortstop, posting .948 and .937 fielding percentages respectively.
Rounding out the top five is Tucker Toman, who the Blue Jays picked up at 77th overall last year in the MLB Draft. Toman got a taste of pro ball to finish out the season, going 11 for 38 (.290) in Rookie League ball with the FCL Blue Jays while collecting three doubles and five RBI’s to the tune of a .760 OPS. Set to turn 20 at the end of the season, Toman is still years away from the big league stage but will be one middle infield prospect to keep an eye on as the switch hitter continues to get more experience under his belt.
Making Strides up the Rankings…
Infielder Addison Barger had one of the biggest jumps in comparative rankings, going from #14 to #6 since the last release. The versatile Washington product is already mashing at Spring Training this year and could find himself a place on the roster come Opening Day if he can produce a consistent and strong spring. The club could keep him down in AAA to get consistent reps and game action but it will be hard to ignore his bat and ability to play multiple positions if he continues the hot streak that followed him last year.
Another big mover on the board is Enmanuel Bonilla (#17), who signed with the Blue Jays as an international free agent back on January 15th. He was unranked at the time of the last Top 30 edition (as he wasn’t in the organization yet) but there are lots to get excited about with Bonilla, as the Dominican product can mash the ball and already stands at 6’1″ at just 17 years old. A physical outfielder with a solid hit tool and the ability to play centre field, Bonilla could be one of the top outfield prospects the Jays have seen in quite some time.
Right-hander Hagen Danner also finds himself back on the Top 30 list, ranked at #22 heading into the 2023 season. Danner spent the 2022 season in AA New Hampshire and also earned an invite to the Arizona Fall League, where he used his fastball/slider combo with a looping curve to post a 3.52 ERA through 7.2 innings against some of the top prospects of the game. A bump to AAA makes sense for the bullpen arm, as the reliever is also already on the 40-man roster after he was protected during the 2021/2022 offseason (although there ended up being no Rule 5 Draft due to the lockout).
Dasan Brown brings home the crown as the biggest mover on the board from the release of the last rankings list, going from #29 to #15 heading into the new season. The Canadian product is another outfielder to watch in the farm system, as his elite speed (24 stolen bases last year ) combined with his ability to get on base and make contact can be nightmare fuel for opposing teams.
Joining the list after not being on the last edition (other than Danner and Bonilla) are Davis Schneider (#28) and Rainer Nunez (#26).
Players that Dropped or Fell off the Rankings List…
When comparing the two latest editions of the MLB Pipeline Top 30 rankings, there are a lot of little movements amongst the current group of players such as Josh Kasevich (down three to #13), Hayden Juenger (down three to #10), and Otto Lopez (up four to #14). This is just a small sample size but there are quite a few small jumps amongst the group, whether they be down or up the rankings.
The biggest drop off the 2023 Top 30 rankings is infielder Tanner Morris (previously #19), who posted a .258/.399/.353 slash line with a .752 OPS across AA and AAA last year.
Another large drop off the rankings was right-hander CJ Van Eyk (#20), who missed the 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, which is the likely reason for the drop.
Clinging to the 30th spot is catcher Luis Meza, who signed with the Blue Jays as an international free agent back in 2022, and drops nine spots. In the Dominican Summer League last year, Meza appeared in 28 games and amassed a .229 batting average and a .559 OPS with five extra-base hits, eight RBIs, and 19 strikeouts. Alejandro Melean, who ranked 30th on the last rankings list of 2022, has fallen off the board as well.
Lastly, RHP Chad Dallas is no longer on the Top 30 rankings, slotting in at #28 during the last season’s late rankings. Last season, Dallas posted a 4.60 ERA through 21 starts with the High-A Vancouver Canadians, finishing with a 1.545 WHIP and an 8.8 K/9. He will likely see a bump to AA this season.
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