Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Aggregated Top Prospects: Part 1

Photo credit:© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Tammy Rainey
1 year ago
I’ve been aggregating the various published Blue Jays Top Prospect lists for several years now and this year is no different. Now that Fangraphs has dropped their list I have my usual six sources for what I refer to as the “Pro” list.
This is not to disparage others who put, presumably, a lot of work into creating lists for their own outlets (including our own Brennan Delaney) but I’m not in a position to assume that any or all of the other lists, which I’ll refer to as Fan lists, are comparable to the Pro outlets in terms of resources available, eyes-on scouting, insider connections and such like.
So this will be a series of at least two parts. This one is an aggregate of six prominent professional sites with published rankings, and the next installment will do the same nine Fan lists. The six sources used here are Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, The Athletic (Keith Law), Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline, and Scott Mitchell‘s list at TSN. Part 2 will be the same with nine Fansite sources.
The caveat here is, as always, not all these source lists have the same number of players. BP and Law rank 20, Pipeline and BA have 30 (kinda, I’ll explain in a sec) Fangraphs has an irregular number from team to team and year to year, it’s 41 this year, and Mitchell ranked 50. In order to somewhat simplify, I assigned the players a reverse order ranking assuming a base number of 30 (that is, the top guy on each gets 30 points, the second gets 29, etc) which will produce some irregularity as you get beyond the guys who are not on the two top 20 lists, but it’s the best I can do without cutting them all off at 20. The “kinda” comment refers to Nate Pearson, which two of the six treat as eligible and the others don’t. I couldn’t come up with a way to include him so I have ghosted him for this list. He’s #9 on the BA list, and #12 on Mitchell’s, but I didn’t adjust the rankings of those who follow him on those lists. As far as I can tell this doesn’t affect the order on the resulting list. I wanted to take this list to 25 but It was getting too long for players with less consensus. So I’ll stop at 20 and just tag an “also” list at the end.
I won’t comment too much on each as I don’t want to be rocking 3,000 words on this project. For some of them, you can go read the in-depth stuff on the original sources, some maybe not. Three sources are free to read and three are behind a paywall in whole or in part. I’ll also remind you of my take on where each should open the season. Let’s get to it. (teams associated with each player are projected opening day assignments)

1. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP (180 points) – AA New Hampshire

It’s not surprising that RT was the unanimous choice for the #1 prospect. You’ve no doubt been reading detailed discussions of his many strengths and relatively few weaknesses all winter. The only major concern here is simply building up his endurance. He got four of his 18 starts in 2022 at AA so it’s the obvious play to send him back there for as much as half the season to establish that he’s too good for the level. A rough guess is that he’ll post 50-60 IPs there and then a similar number at Buffalo. I, for one, would be fairly surprised if he pitches in Toronto this year simply because he doesn’t have to be protected on the 40-man this winter and those slots can be precious.

2. Brandon Barriera, LHP, (170) – Low-A Dunedin

There’s a reasonable possibility that he’ll be held back in the complex as the full season starts but I don’t think they’ll keep him there long enough to get into coast league game action. Advanced for a high school pitcher, no one ranked him lower than third. That’s partly due to how promising he is and partly due to the relative thinness of the organization in terms of premium guys.

3. Yosver Zulueta, RHP (161) – AAA Buffalo

In the top four ranking on four of the six lists, though Fangraphs had him as low as #8. His tasks this year are to stay healthy (he’s had multiple injuries but not all of the same sort, more of a snakebit thing like Nate Pearson has dealt with – though he does have Tommy John in his past), demonstrate command and control (that is, prove last year was more rust than lack of skill) and build up innings. Entirely possible the Jays consider him to add more heat to the bullpen down the late-season stretch if a need/opening arises.

4. Orelvis Martinez, SS/3B (157) – New Hampshire

I’m seriously doubting that the organization repeats last year’s poor (IMO) choice to push a 20-year-old to AA before he had a chance to dominate at Vancouver. It seems much more likely that he’ll go back to AA and be expected to prove his hit tool is good enough to support his prodigious power. Like Tiedemann, that’s every chance of a midseason promotion if he does so. The Jays will need as much info as possible on whether they have an in-house successor worthy of following Matt Chapman before they are faced with choices about re-signing the incumbent so it won’t be a shock if he gets an increasing number of starts at 3B.

5. Addison Barger, SS/3B (151) – Buffalo

While spring speculation is rampant about Barger making a push for opening day in the majors, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. He only had eight games for Buffalo last fall, and one assumes they would like to see him get a lot of reps, particularly at 3B (and somewhat at 2B) with the same mindset they will have for Martinez – “Are either of these guys going to be ready to be our everyday 3B if Chapman leaves?” You’re not going to address that question by having him sitting most days as the 26th man when he could be getting reps in AAA.

6. Tucker Toman, 3B/2B/SS (147) – Dunedin

A switch hitter with a really good hit tool and power potential whose best position is likely 3B and who many marked as having first-round talent – what’s not to like? It’s easy to expect Toman to be everyone’s focus among A ball hitters this year, which surely starts in Dunedin but could plausibly end in Vancouver.

7. Sem Robersse, RHP (134) – New Hampshire

More of a balls-in-play guy than a strikeout artist, Robersse reportedly spent the winter adding some bulk and a few ticks to his low 90’s fastball so this could be a bit of a breakout for a guy who hasn’t really stumbled in any significant way. Going into his age 21 season having already tasted AA is fine work so far. Pete Walker is excited for him, he’ll be one to closely watch this year.

8. Adam Macko, LHP (128) – High-A Vancouver

Injuries have been an issue, at 22 he has fewer career professional innings than Robersse had last season alone. That and control issues (the latter possibly fueled by the former) provoke some speculation about a future in relief. In any case, the 14.1 K/9 rate last year at High-A ball is a portent of a ton of potential. Likely the team will stick with the SP track for a while if for no other reason than to see if they can build endurance.

9. Dahian Santos, RHP (122) – Vancouver

Santos got a big bump in his standings from BP who slotted him in at #4. Armed with a devastating slider and a low-90s fastball that he can move well, he dominated Low-A hitters and, after a very rough, but brief, adjustment to Vancouver seemed to find his groove in September. To be sure, he needs to work on his command, as almost every pitcher his age does, but a 15.1 K/9 in 2022 demonstrates he’s ready for the next challenge.

10. Hayden Juenger, RHP (116) – Buffalo

Another guy possessed of a dominant slider, but this time paired with a fastball that sits mid-90s, If you’re drafted in 2021 and sitting on the cusp of the majors by opening day 2023, the team sees something they really like about you. In 32 of his 38 outings last season he pitched at least 2 innings but never exceeded four. You can’t completely rule out the idea that they would seek to stretch him but all the chatter indicates that they see him as mainly a once-through guy.

11. (Tie) Cade Doughty, 2B/3B & Josh Kasevich, SS (115) – Vancouver

The Blue Jays’ third and second-round choices (respectively) last year, each got just over 100 AB in Dunedin last summer and being college guys, they’ll surely not need to go back there. The former has more power potential (though he might need an adjustment to get to it consistently) and the latter is more of a pesky contact guy. Daughtry lacks a true defensive home while Kasevich is a highly regarded glove at short.

13. Gabriel Martinez, OF (114) – AA New Hampshire

There seems to be a little back and forth among evaluators about placement for Martinez, but he got a bit over 100 AB in Vancouver and showed very well (a lot better than Orelvis did in a smaller sample last year) and there’s no backlog of outfield talent in front of him. I think he breaks in AA or is there very soon. He’s a bit overmatched in CF so you’d want his bat to play up to corner expectations.

14. Otto Lopez, IF/OF (102) – Toronto Blue Jays

His track record, particularly the way he came on in Buffalo last year (he had an OPS over .880 in both July and August) his versatility and his hot spring all point to being the inside man for the 26th roster spot if no one new enters the organization in the next ten days or so.  It’s hard not to root for him at this point.

15. Leo Jimenez, SS (100) – Vancouver

Part of the reason I’m always a wee bit skeptical of fantastic fielding shortstops who need to augment their offensive game – often they don’t. Jimenez hasn’t so far, partly due to a nagging injury. But he has a strong feel for hitting and has had the occasional hot streak that showed a glimpse of what the org thinks is in there. Defensive reps for infielders are at a premium for most of the system and it’s not ideal to have him and Kasevich on the same roster but I’m not convinced they’ll push him to AA … or that they won’t. Consider my guess above VERY tentative.

16. Dasan Brown, CF (77) – New Hampshire

A year ago the book on Brown was “super toolsy but will he ever hit at all?” and then he went out and – did just that. Including no loss of momentum at all when he moved up from Dunedin to the VanCs. I don’t see any particular reason to not challenge him with a AA assignment.

17. Adrian Pinto, 2B (62) – Dunedin

You could make a case for an assignment to Vancouver in a less crowded system, but this will still be his age-20 season and more than enough older and/or more experienced players need reps in the Infeld on that roster. He needs to rebound after injuries that limited his production last season.

18. Emanuel Bonilla, RF (57) – Dominican League

I’m sure you’ve seen the scouting reports, there’s little to add except to counsel patience. He might be so successful he gets a September cup of coffee for the D-Jays but.. he might not.

19. Manuel Beltre, SS, (47) – Dunedin

Last year’s case is in point. Got the cup of coffee, was radically better in a tiny sample than he had been all season, and will surely be assigned to the D-Jays from opening day this year. All involved still expect more from him than they’ve seen to this point.

20. Spencer Horwitz, 1B/LF (46) – Buffalo

One presumes this season will involve a lot of reps in LF in order to build flexibility should he be needed in the major leagues (or to pad out some potential mid-season trade) but along the way, they’re also going to want to see his production in AA last season replicated at the higher level. There was a pretty dramatic dropoff after his promotion last summer.
Also, 10 more next-up names on the list: Hagen Danner (you’ll see him in Toronto, and be impressed if he can stay healthy), Alex De Jesus, Adrian Hernandez, Alejandro Melean, Rainer Nunez, CJ Van Eck, Estevan Machado, Davis Schnieder, Bowden Francis, and Chad Dallas



Check out these posts...