The Top 10 Jays Prospects and BA List Comparison

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As an annual subscriber to many Baseball America products each year, I fully endorse their prospect coverage. Not only does it add up to being the best possible source of information on each club’s future players, but it allows for an appreciation of just how may players are out there who need to be covered and scouted. As with any fan though, I do hold my own opinions about who should or shouldn’t be ranked where and I do like to compare to the list of those the greats to see how my list stacks up each year.

I will start by saying that this year, more than ever, my list is close to being in line with BA’s list, which was compiled by Nathan Rode this year.

My current Top 10 followed by Nathan’s ranks in brackets next to the player’s name.

  1. Kyle Drabek, SP (1)
  2. J.P. Arencibia, C (7)
  3. Anthony Gose, CF (3)
  4. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS (not in Nathan’s top 10)
  5. Jacob Marisnick, OF (10)
  6. Travis D’Arnaud, C (4)
  7. Asher Wojciechowski, SP (6)
  8. Zach Stewart, SP (5)
  9. Carlos Perez, C (8)
  10. William “Deck” McGuire, SP (2)

I’ll address the big one first since there’s an elephant in the room named Adeiny Hechavarria. Nathan’s not the only one who doubts Adeiny Hechavarria‘s skills, and it wouldn’t be the first time that a Cuban prospect didn’t pan out as expected. However, I do believe that many people overlook the impact that culture shock can have and that in Adeiny’s case, they also overlook the vast improvements he made as the season went along despite moving up to a higher level during a prolonged slump. After all, the Jays didn’t hand Adeiny a 4 year $10 million contract just to see him play in HiA Dunedin.

I won’t lie, Adeiny’s stats – on the surface – look a little uninspiring. A .273 average in AA with a meager .305 OBP and only 3 HRs. However, when we compare this to the .193 average and .217 OBP he had in HiA before making the jump, we can see the vast improvements Adeiny made. What’s more, if we double his AA stats to see an approximate number based on 500 or so ABs, with Adeiny hitting the same marks in terms of average/OPB/SLG, he would have hit 20 doubles, 5 HRs, and stolen about 10 bases. That, at 21 years old playing in AA, is nothing to sneeze at. Add in the .963 fielding percentage and the aforementioned culture shock he faced all season long, and you’ve got real potential to see a breakthrough for Adeiny in 2011.

All I’m saying here is that I believe many, if not most, have given up too quickly on Adeiny’s skills to make an impact as a high-end MLB player. I think they wanted to see massive production and massive numbers right off-the-bat due to the hype and the contract he signed, and that the criticism was more severe as a result. He remains the highest ceiling middle infielder in the minors for the Jays although he could quickly be joined by Shane Opitz and Richard Thon – two players I’ll be covering in a near-future post.

Should Adeiny be judged lightly due to his personal circumstances? In my opinion, yes. Therefore, he definitely belongs on the top 10 list because if he can do what he did in AA at 21 in the midst of a culture shock, I can’t wait to see what he does in 2011 now that he’s more comfortable an adjusted to North American life. If not rated as highly as 4th on the top 10 as I have him listed, he still belongs well above the top 9-10 mark.

I won’t even touch the JP Arencibia ranking because I’ve been as steady as she goes on this one. JP has prodigious power and a keen batting eye that keeps getting downplayed by way too many people. He belongs in the top 4, no questions asked. Being listed 7 in this talented group is not a huge issue though, but it does indicate that some still doubt he can play everyday and be a high impact player. I entirely believe he will become a huge asset for the Jays in 2011 and that he will top 25 HRs numerous times in his career. How many catchers can say that? Well, last season…none! If JP hits25 HRs per season, he will give the Jays an edge at the catching position regardless of who they’re playing. Sure, Matt Wieters and Buster Posey may challenge this at some point, but it still stands to reason that JP Arencibia will demand a lot of attention at the plate and will therefore give the rest of the already powerful lineup a boost that could turn them into real contenders. It’s really that kind of power, as we all saw when he hit 2 HRs in his first MLB game.

Deck McGuire. Ok, maybe the Chad Jenkins comparison is what throws me off and lets me believe that he was the “safe” pick of the 2010 draft, but ranking him 2nd on this list just seems to give him way too much credit, just like Chad Jenkins got way too much credit on last year’s list. He’ll have to prove to me that he has top-2 starter stuff in order to get me ranking him that highly. I will say that if he does prove that he is a top-2 starter talent, the Jays will be drunk with starter talent in the very near future. Personally, at this point I would be more inclined to put Henderson Alvarez in there due to having a track record to go by than to trust Deck to be more than a #4 starter, so I’ll keep him on the lower end of the top 10 prospect list for the Jays heading into 2011.

As for the remainder of the list, we’re fairly close and seem on par with what the top talent in the organization is.

Omissions from both of our lists that could make a serious move in 2011? Well, let’s start with Noah Syndergaard. This young power arm is fired up and has a very ambitious time-line to make it to the majors – as stated in my interview with him on June 12th. Henderson Alvarez, Joel Carreno, Michael McDade, and Eric Thames all deserved some consideration due to their 2010 performances, but they failed to make that leap in ceiling ability to make the grade. The one omission that I believe could make a serious impact in 2011 is RP Alan Farina, who seems set to take any chance the Jays give him and run with it. He places 11th on my list and will surely be high on Nathan’s if you order the Top Prospect book from Baseball America as I do each year to find out the Top 30 Jays Prospect rankings ($32.95 US). If you are a fantasy baseball enthusiast, this is a must have item.

Something I would like to add about this year’s ranking is the depth at the Catching position that the Jays seem to be blessed with. Arencibia, d’Arnaud, and Perez – not to mention AJ Jimenez and Brian Jeroloman – provide the Jays with what looks to be a steady stream of top-end talent at a crucial on-field position. I’m not sure if one of these players will become trade bait at some point this off-season but it wouldn’t surprise me based on their value.

Another position of strength this year – for the first time in a while – is the OF. In Anthony Gose, the Jays acquired what could be called one of the top 3 CF prospects in all of baseball at this time. His potential is as high as Grady Sizemore‘s or Carl Crawford‘s and he provides the Jays with great insurance to the aging Vernon Wells. Add in Jake Marisnick and his 5-tool talents, and you’ve got a great 1-2 tandem in the OF that will be ready to join the still so very young Travis Snider (22) there before long. It’s no wonder that the Jays are using most other OF prospects, such as Darin Mastroianni as trade bait!

And finally, how can you miss the fact that 4 of the top 10 are RHP. Whether they all wind up being great starters or closers, all 4 – and many more behind them – provide the Jays with a great deal of depth at a vital position. Drabek could become a mainstay in the rotation as soon as 2011, while 2 of the remainder should be close behind him since both Deck and Asher are quite seasoned. Aaron Sanchez may lack the experience of the other 3, but he sure does make it up with top ceiling potential and could wind up being the most important draftee of the 2010 class based on what I’ve read about him.

This is, by far, the most talented top-10 Jays prospect list I can ever remember going over and a great top-10 put together by Nathan Rode and BA. When someone as highly thought of as Adeiny Hechavarria doesn’t make the BA top 10 list, you know you’ve got something great cooking. With the draft picks the Jays are about to add to the 4 they already have in the top 85 and the commitment to being aggressive on the international market, you know that next year’s list may be even better. It’s a scary thought, if you’re a Red Sox, Rays, Orioles or Yankees fan that is. Look out A.L. East, the Jays prospects are coming up in bunches, ready to make the Jays great for years to come!

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Tags: Aaron Sanchez Adeiny Hechavarria Alan Farina Anthony Gose Asher Wojciechowski Brian Jeroloman Carlos Perez Chad Jenkins Eric Thames Henderson Alvarez Jacob Marisnick Joel Carreno Noah Syndergaard Shane Opitz Travis D'Arnaud Travis Snider Zach Stewart

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