The second base depth in the minors for the Jays is extremely top heavy. The Jays do have a great track record in identifying top-quality 2B prospects, see Aaron Hill and Roberto Alomar, and they very well may have added one more top-quality 2B in the 2009 draft. Beyond the top 2 guys, however, the quality dwindles down to a trickle and is extremely raw to say the least. Still, with Hill being in Toronto for the foreseeable future, there’s really no rush to push prospects through each level, which allows them to develop a little more effectively than would otherwise be possible.
Here are the top 5 2B prospects, 2010 edition:
1- Ryan Schimpf, 21 yrs old, 5’9″ 181 lbs, drafted in the 5th rd of the ’09 draft
Ryan hails from Covington Louisiana and helped LSU get to the College World Series in 2009 by being a leader on the club. He batted a great .336 over 262 AB, with 19 doubles, 1 triple, 22 HRs, and 70 RBI. He did een better than that during the College World Series, hitting .348 in 23 AB, with 2 doubles, 3 HRs, and 7 RBI in 6 games. The sports writes in the State also selected him as the Player of the Year, which is no small feat when you consider players like DJ LeMahieu, Jared Mitchell, and Louis Coleman were all on the same squad at LSU – nevermind other players on other teams in the State. Here’s a video of what he can do from You Tube, which shows his line-drive abilities. He continued his great 2009 season by coming out of the gates quickly in Aubrun once the Jays signed him. He did a quick little stint in the GCL, but immediately skipped it to go to Auburn and ended up with the following stats: 129 ABs, 37 hits, 7 doubles, 1 triple, 3 HRs, 14 RBI, 4 SBs, and a .287 average. He only struck out 24 times while walking 15 times, had a .369 OBP, .426 SLG, and .795 OPS. His defense could get a little better though, with 8 errors being committed for a .953 fielding percentage. I look for the Jays to begin Schimpf’s 2010 season in HiA Dunedin and he could wind up in AA by the end of the season. He plays with tons of character, is a great team mate, has an awesome work ethic, and should be someone you keep an eye on if you’re looking for a 2B in fantasy circles.
2 - John Tolisano, 21 yrs old, 5’11” 190 lbs, drafted in the 2nd rd of the ’07 draft
When you evaluate the fact that Tolisano is the same age as Schimpf, yet has 3 years of minor league development under his belt, you get to understand why I and others haven’t given up on him yet. He’ll turn 22 in October of 2010 and still has plenty of growth and will get plenty of time to develop it. Tolisano is a switch hitter, but clearly hits better from the right side of the plate where he carries a .250 average with 11 HRs, in comparison to a .165 average with 1 HR from the left side. While I understand the value of being a switch hitter, it only works if you can actually hit from both sides. It seems to me that Tolisano may be better served by hitting only from the right side, but who am I to judge? For whatever reason, whether it’s trying to hard to hit for power or a lack of skills, Tolisano has yet to be able to hit for average or to get on base as often as he needs to. He held a .232 average over 401 ABs in 2009 while in HiA Dunedin and hasn’t been much better over his 3 year minors career with a .229 average while in Lansing in 2008, and a .246 average in 2007 while playing in the GCL. His OBP has progressively gotten worse over 3 seasons (.336, .315, .305), and he committed 21 errors in 2010. While some can look at this progression in a negative manner, I say that it will help him in the end by ensuring he gets the time he needs to fully develop. He should begin 2010 in Double A even if his average is lacking thus far in his progression. Hopefully the staff in AA will be decide to make John a right-handed hitter instead of a switch-hitter and that will rectify the average issues.
3 – Bradley Emaus, 23 yrs old, 5’11” 200 lbs, drafted in the 11th rd of the ’07 draft
Going into the 2009 season I was really pulling for Emaus to make the Jays bench as a utility infielder, mostly because of his versatility and his excellent spring training with the club, when he kept a .306 average, .370 OBP, and hit 4 HRs in only 49 ABs. Instead of making the club he was sent to AA New Hampshire and started off very hot, probably in hopes of getting the call early on, but cooled off as the season wore on. I’ve heard from New Hampshire fans that he and David Cooper became fast friends in AA and were very care free about their performances, which may explain why he cooled off so much. Either way, he wound up hitting .253 with 28 doubles, 10 HRs, 10 SBs, and kept a mediocre .336 OBP. His defense is good with a .977 fielding percentage and only 12 errors made in 2009. If it wasn’t for John Tolisano and Ryan Schimpf starting the season off in AA and HiA respectively, I would say that Emaus could return to AA in 2010, but as it is he’ll most likely open up the season in AAA Las Vegas. I still believe he can be a very useful bench player if he can become more aggressive and be more consistent offensively because he does hit the ball with a ton of power. He’s a doubles machine waiting to happen, so here’s to hoping that separation from David Cooper will do him some good.
4 - Oliver Dominguez, 20 years old, 5’9″ 156 lbs, signed as an Int’l FA in ’06
Dominguez is a switch-hitter who, just like Tolisano, hits better from the right side with a .229 average on the right versus a .208 average on the left side. He is still learning how to get on base more often in order to improve on his .297 OBP in the GCL in 2009, but he did have a .404 OBP in the DSL the year before which provides some hope that he’ll adjust as he progresses. He should begin 2010 in LoA Lansing and will continue to improve his base stealing abilities, his biggest strength. In 2009, he stole 13 bases in 13 chances which is impressive for a young base stealer. He only got 142 ABs in 2009, so I expect him to get much better as he gets more experience at the plate. Since I like to cheer for the outside shot guys, I really do hope that Dominguez jumps up the depth charts as he progresses and he could make for a Eugenio Velez type utility player for the Jays in the future.
5 – Justin McClanahan, 24 years old, 6’2″ 210 lbs, drafted in the 33rd rd of the ’08 draft
I listed Justin on this list because he has played the majority of his time thus far at 2B, but I believe that the Jays prepared him for a switch to either 3B or 1B in 2010 at the end of the 2009 season by giving him some time at each position. He is a little big for 2B but moves extremely well for his size and played excellent D at 2B in 2009 with a .980 fielding percentage. However, all of this has to be taken lightly since he was a 23 year old in LoA Lansing, which is quite old in prospect standards. In 431 ABs there, he hit .261 with 20 doubles, 13 HRs, and 11 SBs. His OBP was low at .328. How Justin handles the switch to a different position will determine whether he makes it past AA and whether he has a future in baseball. There are just too many guys ahead of him on the depth chart for him to progress at 2B. Look for him to begin 2010 as the HiA Dunedin 1B / 3B part-time player.