Three Blue Jays position player prospects who could break out in 2023
1 month ago
Spring training is just weeks away at this point, so I thought it’d be fitting to look at several prospects who could break out in 2023.
In this article, we’ll look at three position player prospects who I think could have a breakout season in 2023, similar to Addison Barger’s ascent.
While watching Devonte Brown play for the Dunedin Blue Jays, I kept asking myself “how in the hell was this player an undrafted free agent?!”
Brown was 22 years old at the time of his first professional season, and he slashed .308/.477/.449 with two homers in 107 plate appearances. His 171 wRC+ ranked as the highest amongst Blue Jays farmhands with a minimum of 100 plate appearances. Not just that, but his insane 22.4 BB% also ranked as the highest with the same caveat.
Over a full season, it’s unlikely that he’d hit this well, but there are indicators that Brown can continue to hit throughout the minor leagues. First off, he has tremendous batted-ball data. He had an average exit velocity of 88.6 mph, which is actually above average, even for major leaguer batters. The only Dunedin Blue Jay with a higher average exit velocity in the past two seasons is a 2022 draftee, Peyton Williams.
His hard-hit percentage (an exit velocity of 95+ mph) of 43.1% is the third-highest over the past two seasons, with only Williams and Orelvis Martinez owning a higher number. His highest recorded exit velocity with the Dunedin Blue Jays was 108.3 mph.
According to Dunedin Blue Jays play-by-play, Christopher Valentine, Brown has competitive at bats, has great swing detection, and plays exceptional defense in centre field.
Again, it is bonkers that Brown went undrafted.
Robert x2 was signed during the 2019 international free agency period from Venezuela. He had an alright professional debut with the Dominican Summer League Blue Jays, where he slashed .266/.333/.344 with a homer in 144 plate appearances for a 95 wRC+.
In Robertis’ second season, he showed a much-improved hit tool in the Florida Complex League, slashing .290/.353/.402 with no homers and a 9.2 BB% and 20.2 K% in 119 plate appearances. He had a cup of tea with the Low-A Dunedin Blue Jays, where he wasn’t great, slashing .150/.150/.150 for a -18 wRC+ in 20 plate appearances.
Then something weird happened. Robertis was called up to Double-A New Hampshire, as they were out of the playoff race and needed some players. Robertis, 19 years old at the time, hit two home runs in just 17 plate appearances.
Not only did he double his career high in dingers, but he was incredibly young for the level. New Hampshire’s stadium has a short wall in right field, which helps left-handed batters like Robertis. But the fact of the matter is that only one of his homers came at home, while his other one came in Reading (330 feet to the right field corner).
The 20-year-old outfielder also had a cup of coffee with Tigres de Aragua in his home country of Venezuela. He slashed .385/.467/.615 with a homer in 15 plate appearances.
Throughout the season, Robertis showed that he could hit for average, but if he can continue to hit for power as he did in the final month of 2022, there could be something there. He reminds me of fellow Venezuelan outfield prospect, Gabriel Martinez, who also found a power stroke in 2022.
High school draftees tend to take longer to develop, especially if they are chosen in later rounds. Look no further than the Barger, who only broke out in 2022, despite being selected in the sixth round of the 2018 draft.
Another example is Dasan Brown, who had an impressive season in 2022 as his hit and power tool improved. He didn’t come close to “non-prospect” status or anything, but he raised his stock quite a lot by figuring it out, just like Barger.
Jaden Rudd is one of those high school-drafted players who may just figure it out in 2023. He had an alright 2022, as he slashed .203/.363/.320 with two homers in the Florida Complex League. Rudd also has one of the best eyes in the organization, as he posted a 17.3 BB% (and 19.1 K%) in his 162 plate appearances with the FCL team.
Rudd, who was born in England, played for Great Britain in the 2023 World Baseball Classic qualifiers. He slashed .273/.467/.545 with a homer. That homer had great significance in helping Great Britain make it to its first World Baseball Classic.
Let me set the stage for you. Great Britain is trailing Spain 9-8 and is down to their final two outs. Rudd, who had turned 20 years old a month prior, has a 2-2 count.
Now, this isn’t a walk-off, nor would their chances of qualifying have completely evaporated, but the fact that a 20-year-old managed to do this on a pretty big stage is quite impressive.
He has shown a great eye, and there’s obviously some power in his game. We’ll just have to wait and see if the other tools develop as well, but I think there’s a good chance they do!
Tomorrow, we’ll look at four Blue Jays pitching prospects who could break out in the 2023 season. So stay tuned for that!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Brennan_L_D.
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