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

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