Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition, Reviewed

Now that our Pre-2011 Top 50 Jays Prospects list is complete, we wanted to review how the rankings panned out and to make our case for a few of the placements and omissions. The entire list will always be available at this link(available within our pages) and will also include links to the profiles of the next-in-line 25 prospects that we see as possibly making the list in mid-2011 or 2012. That’s 75 Jays prospects of coverage all available in one place, so hopefully it will quench your thirst for knowledge about the Jays system…..until the 2011 draft takes place and Alex Anthopoulos continues to wheel and deal that is, at which time we’ll have to edit our list and add entries as required. Therefore, there will be a release of an updated top-50 list 3 times yearly: pre-season, mid-season (post draft and international signing period – mid July range), and end of season (October – November), and each will be on its own page in order to allow for comparison, progression, and changes made.

Before we make our case for the rankings, here is a review of our list:

  The Top 50 Jays Prospects: Jays Journal Edition (Pre-2011)

Out of the Top 50 Jays Prospects (for now), in no certain order:

  • SS/SP Adaric Kelly – TBD – 18 yo – JJ Analysis Link here.
  • 2B/SS Brandon Mims – GCL Blue Jays – 18 yo – JJ Analysis Link here.
  • (23 more to come over the next 2 weeks)

Rankings discussion and review:

The first issue I wanted to address was the omission of Brad Mills (26) and Adam Loewen (26) on our list. Both will be be included in the list of 25 outside the top 50. We, Jared and I, both felt that neither player stood much of a chance to become an MLB regular, that each was getting older, and that each was lacking the dominance for the level at which they played in 2010 that would have been required to make our list. We still believe that Mills ould make a team’s pen as a lefty specialist and spot starter, and that Loewen could make it to an MLB team’s bench. But, for now, we believe that it’s more likely that each will become known as AAA mainstays and could develop into what is known as AAAA players (players who do very well in AAA but simply don’t have the stuff to stick in the majors). With their ages, ceilings, and past performances in mind, we just don’t see them as prospects any longer, even if they do prove us wrong.

We don’t believe that there are any other omissions that stand out, but if you have a favorite in mind, let us know in the comments.

The second most obvious rankings issues that needs to be discussed are our aggressive rankings in some case, most notably in the case of Shane Opitz (#23), Nicholas Purdy (#31), and Noah Syndergaard (#14). In Optiz’s case, we simply put stock in his elite athletisism and the fact that for the first time in his life as an athlete, he’ll be putting all of his efforts in one sport. We believe that this will bring his skills to a level well above and beyond what many expect of him, and that he’ll prove to be one of the steals of the 2010 draft as a result.

Purdy was a little more of a reach in that he has very little information to back up the ranking and could be outdone by many other Jays pitching prospects. However, the fact that he has so little experience and yet dominated throughout 2010 – and has the frame and stuff of a workhorse pitcher – made us push his ranking up a couple of notches.

Finally, I’ll defend Syndergaard’s top 14 placement by saying this: he could prove to be the best pitcher the Jays drafted in 2010, he’s that good. In fact, I’m a little disappointed that we couldn’t fit him into our top 10, but I entirely expect to see him there mid-season.

Now that we touched on some of the prospects we ranked a little higher than most, what about those that we ranked lower such as Eric Thames (#15), David Cooper (#34), and Justin Nicolino (#43)?

Thames is an enigma, because his progression was stalled by serious injuries and he really broke through in 2010. Just like the questions that surround Jose Bautista and his 2010 season, we had to question the season Thames had. Will he take another step forward in 2011, or will he strike out at an alarming rate? We’re hoping for the former, but we needed a little more dominance to rank him higher than 15. In this extremely talented system, that’s no knock on Thames, who I could see earning a close to full-time LF role with the Jays if he does really well in 2011. We think 15 was high enough to say that we were big fans of his, but that he still had a lot of work to do to break into the top 10.

Cooper is one prospect that I have never taken to for some reason or another. Nothing I’ve ever seen from him has ever stood out, he plays good 1B, has a tiny amount of power for a 1B, and I’d be surprised if he could ever hit more than 15 HRs in the majors (if he ever gets there). He lacks the athletisism to play any other position, and I’m not even sure how he’d fit on someone’s bench. In my opinion, he’s lucky he broke the top 35 on our list, but we had to respect the fact that so many scouts are still touting him as a decent prospect and the fact that he did knock 20 HRs in AA, so there he is.

Nicolino has a ton of potential, and as he begins to realize it, he could make leaps and bounds up our rankings. We like him a lot, but simply believe that he is still very raw and may need more time to work on his stuff than many of the other Jays pitching prospects. He could be one of the fastest movers up the rankings in 2011, so don’t think for one second that our ranking him in the 40s has anything to do with his potential or ceiling.

Does that cover the most contentious issues in your opinion? From the feedback we got, these were the most prominent.

Overall, we’re satisfied with the rankings, still expect lots of changes to be made as early as mid-season, and we enjoyed getting to know all of the prospects a lot more through this process. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and are very happy to know that we’ve enhanced the chatter around Jays prospects which was our goal from the beginning. We’re always going to have differing opinions on prospects amongst fans and experts, and believe me Jared and I had a few battles for those we believed in, but that’s also part of the fun. As you build your argument for a player, you sometimes realize that he may not be as great as you thought, or conversely, you begin to see just how great he really is. Either way, just having the conversation increases your knowledge (if you’re listening that is) and makes you a more educated fan, and that’s always a great thing.

We’re already looking forward to seeing how things shake out in the first half of 2011, to see who gets drafted, traded for, or signed, just so that we can go through this process all over again! Just looking quickly at the top 50 we have above, there are a minimum of 3 players that should be in the majors by then, and possibly as many as 6. So, there should be extra spaces available, a ton more talent to evaluate, and a whole lot more learning to do!

- MG

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