Reviewing Baseball America’s Top 30 Jays Prospects: 2007 Edition

The reason I chose to review the 2007 edition of Baseball America’s Top 30 Jays prospects is because by now, most of these players have shown us what they are capable of.  It’s always fun to do a “where are they now” type of article and to see if some have succeeded, some have lingered, and some have left baseball altogether. I think you’ll agree that the system, under JP Ricciardi, was extremely top heavy and thin, something I’m sure we all agree has changed under Alex “The Great” Anthopoulos.

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy was put in charge of getting through the Jays system in 2007 in order to peg the very best the organization had to offer. You can get access to the entire book here through Google Books. Not only does his analysis help us identify what Matt got right and what he might have got wrong, but more importantly it also allows us to see what the organization – under J.P. Ricciadi’s reign – got right or wrong.

Before we get into the top 30, however, I’d like to note some of the “Organization Review” aspects of the coverage BA provided us with that season.

  • The projected 2010 lineup was made up of: C Curtis Thigpen, 1B Lyle Overbay, 2B Russ Adams, 3B Troy Glaus, SS Aaron Hill, LF Travis Snider, CF Vernon Wells, RF Alex Rios, and DH Adam Lindas DH. Not bad overall when you consider that Rios is in RF for the CHW and Glaus still manned 1B for ATL.
  • The projected rotation was listed as follows: Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Ricky Romero, Dustin McGowan, and Gustavo Chacin. Nobody could have predicted a trade of Roy Halladay and the rest were sound choices. It’s still a strange event that only 1 remains as a starter for the Jays out of that group.
  • 1B/DH Chip Cannonled the organization minors in HRs with 27 in New Hampshire and won AFL MVP honours with 11 HRs, 29 RBI, and a .714 SLG %.  What happened? His two club feet from childhood operations led to not being able to have proper range, he couldn’t hit for average, and strike outs at an alarming rate happened with 158 in 2006 and 155 in 2007.
  • SS Ryan Klostermanled the organization minors in SBs with 27 between Dunedin and New Hampshire.
  • SS Sergio Santoswas listed as having the best infield arm. Talk about being right on the money! Too bad the Jays didn’t take note of it as the White Sox have.
  • C Brian Jeroloman was listed as the best defensive player, and that very well could still hold true to this day.
  • The Jays were noted as having 2 of the best OF hitting prospects in the game in Lind and Snider, as well as a top arm in Romero, but were said to have “no other front line prospects.” Other than Purcey and Santos who each have proven that they can become big pieces to an MLB pen, I have to believe they were right on the money with that statement.

The first thing I will not is the following: of all of the prospects listed in Matt Eddy’s list, only 6 have made it to The Show (1 with the White Sox) as regulars, and only 6 others remain as possible future MLB players.

Here are the top 30 as listed by Matt Eddy – 2007 Edition:

  • 1 – Adam Lind(TOR) great call. Re-reading his thoughts on Lind makes me wonder about what ’11 will bring.
  • 2 – Travis Snider - (TOR) great call on all counts. Made it as high as #6 overall prospect on BA’s pre-’09 list.
  • 3 – Ricky Romero - (TOR) great call after a lackluster time in AA, although the 2008 arrival time was 1 yr early.
  • 4 – Ryan Patterson - (FA) last played in ’09 in the Independent league.
  • 5 – Curtis Thigpen - (FA) last played in ’08 in the Independent league.
  • 6 – Francisco Rosario - (FA) played in the Mexican league in ’10 with no affiliation since PHI let him go in ’08 due to injury. I’m not sure what injury led to little pitching time in ’08 and ’09, but he has managed to remain relevant and bounce back some in ’10 with a 5-1 record to go along with a 1.47 ERA in the ML. If he was injured and can bounce back to his 2008 form in 2011, there’s a chance he’ll get a look somewhere in MLB’s AAA affiliates. He could still make it as a reliever in MLB if his stuff returns and he gets a shot.
  • 7 – Brandon Magee - (TOR) 25 years old and struggled in AA New Hampshire in 2010 and is unlikely to see MLB time.
  • 8 – Jesse Litsch - (TOR) great call.
  • 9 – David Purcey- (TOR) great call.
  • 10 – Balbino Fuenmayor -(TOR) still struggling in LoA Lansing at age 20, unlikely to be a regular in MLB.
  • 11 – Eric Fowler - (FA) last played in AA New Hampshire at age 24 in ’07.
  • 12 – Josh Banks - (HOU) former Jays 2nd rd pick threw 1 game for HOU in ’10 and put in decent stats in AAA as a starter in ’10 (4.04 ERA / 171.2 IP / 1.247 Whip). With Houston struggling to fill their rotation, Banks could get a couple of shots at the 5th spot if he does well in ’10. Still, it’s unlikely that he’ll become an everyday SP in MLB.
  • 13 – Chi-Hung Cheng - (FA) TheInternational Signee played for Chinese Taipei in the ’09 World Baseball Classic and signed a minor league deal with the Pirates that year, but he was subsequently released in August of ’09 and hasn’t been heard from since.
  • 14 – Ryan Klosterman(FLA) Now in Florida’s system and turning 29 in ’11, he has yet to prove himself any higher than HiA (which he did best in during the ’06 season)
  • 15 – Kyle Yates - (FA) had his best season in 2006 for New Hampshire, but went downhill from there and was released by the Jays in ’08. Pitched in the IL in ’08 and ’09, and did not pitch in ’10 as far as I know.
  • 16 – Sergio Santos -(CHW) was drafted in the 1st rd by ARI and came to the Jays along with Troy Glaus in return for Orlando Hudsonand Miguel Batista. He was claimed off waivers by Minnesota who subsequently allowed him to become a FA in Nov of ’08. Both teams would love to have Santos back, as the White Sox picked him up, traded him to SF who promptly traded him back to Chicago, and they turned around and made him a RP in ’09 and one of the biggest surprises in MLB in 2010. Some believe he has the stuff to be a closer in The Show, something that isn’t easily traded as he was before his position switch occurred. BA and Matt Eddy had it right, however, as they did note he had one fo the best arms in the organization. Eddy stated that his “plus-plus arm strength and accuracy were evident.” Right on the money.
  • 17 – Anthony Hatch - (LAD) this Jays 13th rounder is still lingering in the Dodgers organization at the HiA and AA levels, but he has yet to hit for good average or OBP and has never hit more than 15 HRs in one season, making it unlikely that he’ll see any time in The Show.
  • 18 – Graham Godfrey(OAK) threw 125 innings between AA and AAA for the A’s in ’10, winding up with a 5.33 ERA and 1.536 whip overall. He is doing well this winter in Puerto Rico (1.93 ERA over 11 starts and 56 innings) and could still have a shot at relieving at some point. He’s only 26 and does very well vs RHB, he just walks way too many LHB.
  • 19 – Kyle Ginley - (TOR) has had health issues since the ’09 season that have not allowed him to make any progress. The last I heard it was related to oblique issues, but I’m not certain that’s the only issue he is having. In any case, he hasn’t made it past HiA and will be 25 in September of ’11.
  • 20 – Davis Romero - (FA) has been with the Jays organization for all but 11 days in Nov of ’09. Made a short appearance in The Show with the Jays in ’06 and did not pitch in ’10 after a hard ’09 season.
  • 21 – Paul Phillips - (TB) He is doing fairly well as a reliever in the Rays organization while throwing in AA and AAA. He had a 3.64 ERA and 1.353 whip between the 2 levels and had 16 walks to go with his 68 Ks. With the losses TB has sustained in the pen this off season, you could see Phillips in their pen at some point in ’11.
  • 22 – Brian Pettway - (FA)hasn’t pitched since the ’08 season.
  • 23 – Johermyn Chavez - (SEA) One of the best late guys they picked out here, he is turning heads in the Seattle organizations after being dealt – along with Brandon League – for Brandon Morrow. His 32 HR and .315/.387/.577 line in ’10 was his breakthrough season thus far and he promises to be a prospect to follow in ’11 and beyond as he could be an impact corner outfielder with the Mariners before long.
  • 24 – Ismael Ramirez - (FA) was last part of the Washington Nationals in ’08 and did pitch some in the International League that season, but he hasn’t been heard of since.
  • 25 – Ty Taubenheim - (FA) Just recently allowed to become a FA after spending 2 seasons affiliated with the PHI, Ty continues to attempt to make it despite mediocre numbers and high whip. He will be 29 during the ’11 season and may never b a MLB regular.
  • 26 – Ryan Roberts - (ARI) one of the few that has found a regular role on an MLB club, Ryan has become a useful utility player for the DBacks. He contributed in ’09 with 7 HRs and a decent .279/.367/.416 line to go along with 7 SBs, but played much less with them in ’10 with only 66 ABs. He did, however, hit 11 HRs with 16 SBs and a .265/.365/.444 line in AAA Reno.
  • 27 – Chip Cannon - (FA) the power hitting 1B/DH never really was able to hit for average or lower his SO totals. He made it as high as AAA Syracuse with the Jays in ’08, spent one season in the TB minors system where his 21 SO in 29 ABs seemed to finish off his career.
  • 28 – Robinzon Diaz - (FA) he was the PTBNL in the Jose Bautistadeal which turned out to be a major steal for the Jays. After spending some time in the majors with the Pirates (139 ABs), he was granted FA and signed on with the Tigers. He struggled for them in AAA Toledo and was granted FA once again in
  • 29 – Chase Lirette - (TOR) one of many Louisiana based Jays prospects, he made it as high as LoA before injuries took their toll on the RHP. He didn’t pitch at all in ’10 but remains property of the Blue Jays as far as I know and is now 25 years old.
  • 30 – Brian Jeroloman - (TOR) the stand out in the bottom of this top 30, he continues to battle his way to the top as one of the better catching prospects in the organization. He has a tough road ahead of him with so many top catching prospects in the system, but with his defensive abilities and outstanding OBP, there’s no way he won’t find an MLB job at some point. Jared wrote all about him in our top 50 prospects profile as he ranked 46th in this year’s Jays Journal edition.

Out of the top 30 listed above:

  • 6 are on Toronto’s 40-man roster (20%), including 5 who are regular players(16.67%) (Jeroloman is odd man out);
  • 5 are still in the Jays minors system (16.67%)(Jeroloman, Fuenmayor, Magee, Ginley, Lirette);
  • 12 are now FAs (40%);
  • 7 are in other MLB club’s minors system (23.33%)(1 in HiA, 2 in AA, and 4 in AAA);
  • 1 is an MLB regular on another team (Santos); and
  • Overall, 6 are MLB regulars (20%).

As you can see, this list is very lop-sided in terms of top-end talent in comparison to the remainder. There’s a complete lack of middle-of-the-road talent to supplement the big club, and that’s how JP Ricciardi ran his club. Get the regulars sorted out, and let them play. If injuries happen, we’ll react to them at that time. Not a great way to run your minors system because it takes away the chances of finding a gem that was previously unheard of.

As for Matt Eddy and BA’s rankings of the system, you have to give them credit for doing their absolute best with what the Jays gave them. BA also ranked the Jays system as the 26th best that season, or 5th worst, system in all of baseball and who can blame them. It was the Jays lowest ranking EVER and was decidedly the time when Jays executives had to wonder whether JP Ricciardi had a plan at all for the Jays system.

I give BA and Matt Eddy a big fat A mark for the rankings. I can’t give them an A+ because there were many misses up there in the high parts of the rankings, but they definitely identified all relevant players and had the bulk of the top prospects at the top – which is what they do best!

As for the Jays system in ’07…..doesn’t it make you feel ecstatic that it’s now 2011 and we get to enjoy one of the richest systems in all of MLB? Talk about a contrasting picture. I will give JP props for doing his best with the top draft picks, but the remainder seemed to be an afterthought at best. The system didn’t get any better in ’08 as it was ranked 25th in MLB by BA, so the trend for JP’s reign of a poor prospect system continued.

Thank goodness for Alex Anthopolous and the newly focused and enhanced scouting department, that’s all I can say!

- MG

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Tags: Adam Lind AJ Burnett Anthony Hatch Balbino Fuenmayor Brandon Magee Brian Jeroloman Brian Pettway Chase Lirette Chi-Hung Chen Chip Cannon Curtis Thigpen David Purcey Davis Romero Dustin McGowan Eric Fowler Francisco Rosario Graham Godfrey Ismael Ramirez Jesse Litsch Johermyn Chavez Josh Banks Kyle Ginley Kyle Yates Lyle Overbay Ricky Romero Robinzon Diaz Roy Halladay Russ Adams Ryan Klosterman Ryan Patterson Ryan Roberts Sergio Santos Travis Snider Troy Glaus Ty Taubenheim

  • TammyBeth

    I just spent most of an hour looking at the book and writing out a thoughtful reply to this (excellent) post, and this sorry @%&% Capcha failed and dumped the whole f’n thing.

    I ain’t doin’ that again.

    Sigh. When will I ever learn to copy before i post just in case?

    I will repeat this though – Magee has been out of our system since 2009.

  • TammyBeth

    ok, that worked – so here’s the condensed point:

    JP was flawed, Alex is WAAAAY better – BUT –

    Looking over the available systems in that viewer, including well regarded systems, you can state with confidence that at least 2/3 of ALL those lists are going to fail to be significant major leaguers. Every list I looked at had between 5 and 9 players who were either contributing major leaguers or still considered good prospects. But often on the higher numbers, the major leaguers were fringy guys for the most part (see the Phillies list, for instance)

    The difference in a highly regarded system (like the Rockies) and a lowly regarded one (like the Jays) is usually pretty danged marginal.1,2 guys in general.

    Last winter, or the year before, I totaled the WAR for all the major leaguers drafted since 2002 and the Jays came out 3rd in the majors. (Surprisingly, the Giants were #1). That might not still be true, but JP gets more criticism than he should on this front, IMO. (although some things, like neglecting the overseas players, are obviously very valid)

    My take away from this, though, is as excited as we are now about the Jays farm, 2/3 of the top 30 will likely fail if history is any indication. I find that depressing.

  • Steve

    Thanks Tammy Beth for the WAR info. Sounds like a lot more work than I would care to do, but a very useful measure of the success of the drafts. I often feel that JP Ricciardi has been unduly criticized. His drafts were obviously far more successful than what people give him credit for. The current lofty status of the Jays farm system could end up producing no more than what the Jays produced under Ricciardi. And if that were to happen, the Jays would continue producing winning teams. But more importantly, it seems everyone is prepared to credit AA’s genius for the state of the farm system and while it has played a part, there are other contributing factors. Three significant things occurred during the offseason leading up to JP Ricciardi’s final season, which have changed how things are done under AA. First, Paul Beeston took over for Paul Godfrey, second the Jays lost AJ Burnett and failed to sign Halladay to an extension and finally the Jays no longer received transfers from MLB to compensate for the low CDN dollar. The results: Beeston is a baseball person, Godfrey was a fan. Godfrey got money from Rogers with strings attached. Beeston gets commitments from Rogers. Godfrey likely interfered in the Wells extension and the Frank Thomas signing. Those moves wreak of his finger prints. Next, the Jays failure to sign Burnett and Halladay meant that a switch in operational mode from contenders to rebuild was inevitable. Finally, the end of MLB transfers also meant the end of the Jays commitment to not go over slot in the draft. Today, AA has a farm system rich in talent with higher priced interantional signings (there are a number of international signings from the Ricciardi years in the sytem, they just weren’t big money signings), overslot draft picks, and (thanks to being in rebuild mode) compensation for letting free agents walk and prospects acquired in trades. The process for all of this began under Ricciardi. I think the time was right to fire Ricciardi and I do like AA a lot as his replacement. I just think the difference between the two isn’t as great as some people would like to believe. BTW, this is a great site. I wish it great success.

  • Keith

    First GREAT article. This is why I check this site out every day!
    While agree that AA has benefited from being in the right place at the right time, we should not make the mistake of saying JP was as good as AA has been so far. This isn’t just because AA is Canadian. He has consistently looked to upgrade this team for a long run of winning. Case in point Marcum for Lawrie.
    JP treated Toronto like a small market and primarily drafted college players who would be able to supplement his Free agents quickly. See Russ Adams. I believe this was done as he wanted to win quickly and didn’t truly assess the opportunities of the team he inherited.
    If you believe drafting “high ceiling players” is riskier and takes more time. As they need time to harness their talent. JP didn’t want to wait. He thought he was the smartest person in every room and he could go out and put together a winning team with an assembly of big name Free agents. Also supporting this is that the Gose or Morrow trades would never have happened under JP’s watch.
    Furthermore AA was smart enough to understand the brand equity the Jays have in Central America and especially the Caribbean. So let’s not defend JP too quickly he really did run this organization into the ground through his choices of Manager and players: cutting Carpenter was his first task as GM, Burnett’s contract & BJ Ryan.

    That said, it would be good to make a note and see if our belief in AA is justified. i.e. After the 2013 off season we should go back and see where our 2010 BA top 30 are.
    I know there will be some huge misses, but if AA’s philosophy of going after high ceiling guys is right we should see a distinct change in several fronts:
    1 – % on the 40 man roster
    2 – MLB regulars

    2 things that worry me:
    It is evident that we have at least 2 more years (2011 & 2012) before we will see the light at the end of this tunnel. Taking Drabek, Arencibia and even Stewart out as they will likely be regulars in 2010. The best players in our system are at least 1 maybe 2 or more years away: Hechavaria, D’Arnaud, Perez, Gose. I believe the pitching is there, but we don’t have enough of a well balanced attack to compete…. yet. We desperately need some guys with bat skills and a nack for OBP.
    Johermyn Chavez could be an impact player…..But I suppose if Morrow becomes a legitimate #1 it was well worth it.

    Does anyone know how these stats compare to Tampa’s/ Minnesota’s 2007 draft?
    Once again (as usual) well worth the read.

  • Mat Germain

    Thanks for putting so much thought and energy into your responses everyone. I’ll get to TammyBeth’s comment in a minute, but since they’re easier to address, I wanted to respond to Steve and Keith first.

    @Steve: the Jays are definitely not in rebuild mode. They are ready to compete at a high level today and I would say they are building for a championship run within the next few years. I agree that the thought process changed while JP was still around, but that’s because everything he had done before that was never enough to bring the Jays to that next level. His strategy just didn’t work in terms of getting a big enough group of top-talent together to make a run. As for the Godfrey and Beaston influences, I can’t say for sure and wouldn’t want to guess. But, I will say that I believe JP lost the confidence of the front office at the very same time as the Jays strategy changed. And 3 years later, without a top 10 pick I might add, the Jays have the 4th best system in the majors. I agree with you that the system should now start producing those missing top players that could have made the Jays 90+ game winners while JP was around.

    @Keith: I posted a comparison of the Rays and Jays picks over the last few years and it gives you a very good reason as to why JP’s strategy couldn’t work. Here’s the link:

    He wouldn’t go over slot for better talent and couldn’t outspend the Yankees or Red Sox. Meanwhile, the Rays were loaded to the brim with top 5 picks from their many years of losing. That’s why the Jays need a guy like AA. He can alter his strategy to fit the Jays situation. Would JP have obtained Miguel Olivo to get himself a sandwich pick? Never. I agree with most of everything you said Steve and am glad you’re enjoying the content! We’ll do our very best to keep it up!

    @TammyBeth: You’ve convinced me to do a JP Ricciardi post. It’s going to be a long one, so give it a few weeks before it pops up, but it will be very thorough. I’ll try to point out his lack of motivation in terms of trading and searching the world for top-talent, but will also point out his positives (which many people overlook) such as those you point out in your response – the additions of great picks and producing more MLB players than most other franchises. My point for this post was never to discredit that, it was simply to point out the difference between the cream of the crop in his prospects and those behind them. His strategy led to so few late round finds that the Jays could never supplement their roster by calling up some players to help out, finding the odd gem, or by trading some of those prospects for guys that would have helped them get into the playoffs. It’s not just about the guys you keep. If AA is smart, and I know he is, he’ll be ready and willing to package up some prospects for a top notch player when the time is right. That’s why quantity and quality are important to a franchise like the Jays, not just quality. If they don’t have both, they would be forced to wait to “get lucky” and the stars to align just to get into the playoffs. Instead, AA is trying to accumulate enough long term stars in each position so that he can trade some of his newly drafted and well thought of guys in return for the required pieces to become a powerhouse.

    Breath – haha

    What it all comes down to is that JP worked hard to get a winning Jays MLB club, while AA is working hard to build a strong DSL Blue Jays – GCL Blue Jays – Vancouver Canadians – Lansing Lugnuts – Dunedin Blue Jays – New Hampshire Fishercats – Las Vegas 51s – AND Jays MLB club.

    I’ll take the 2nd version every single time if offered the choice.

    I wish I could have read your initial post Tammy and thank you for the great response. I’m hoping that our coverage of the top 50 Jays prospects will cheer you up and give you hope for what should become the best group of Jays prospects to ever be accumulated by a Jays GM. No matter how we spin it, that can’t be a bad thing, can it?