Up next on our “Out of the Top 50 Jays Prospects” series is a look at another talented catcher that gets lost among all of the talented stoppers the Jays have in their system, and a young man who has been devastated by injuries in his pitching career so far. As a reminder, the 25 prospects that make up this list are in no specific order, and can always be found here.
Out of the Top 50 Jays Prospects: Yan Gomes
Catcher / 23 years old / 6’1″ 215 lbs
Born: July 19, 1987 in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Bats: Right Throws: Right
High School: Miami Southridge H.S. (Miami, FL)
College: Barry University
Drafted By: The Jays in the 10th round (310th overall) of the 2009 draft
- Majored in psychology
- Played two years at the University of Tennessee before transferring to Barry
- 2007 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and All-SEC selection
- Started 13 games at catcher with Tennessee in 2007 when filling in for current Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia
- Had 9 RBI in a 2008 doubleheader while with Tennesee, which included a walk-off grand slam
An excellent athlete with strength and speed, Gomes was born and raised in Brazil, playing baseball there in his early years. His family eventually moved to Miami, and that’s where he really started to make a name for himself.
Even before his freshman year of college, Gomes was considered one of the top catching prospects in the country. At the plate he has good hand quickness with average bat speed, and the fact he has filled out his frame over the years has helped his power potential significantly. He is a good runner, especially for a catcher, running the 60 yards in 6.92 seconds. Gomes really shines defensively though, as his quick feet help him not only with his blocking skills but also his lightning-fast, 1.83 second pop time. His arm is perhaps his best tool, hitting up to 82 mph when attempting to stop opposing base stealers.
After being a standout at the University of Tennessee and snagging the starting job over J.P. Arencibia, Gomes transferred to the lower profile, division II Barry University where he continued to rake at the plate. Baseball America ranked him as the sixth-best Division II prospect in the United States heading into his 2009 season, and he lived up to that ranking. In his only season with Barry University, Gomes hit 405/.480/.775 with 21 home runs, 69 runs and 92 RBI in 55 games, en route to being named the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year and a Division II All-American.
Somewhat lost in the impressive list of quality catching prospects in the Blue Jays’ minor league system, Gomes has quietly risen through the ranks. After playing rookie and short season ball in 2009, Gomes started the 2010 season with Class-A Lansing and finished it with Hi-A Dunedin. Apart from his 7 game stint with Lansing, Gomes has posted at least a .800 OPS at every level he has played at so far. In his two years in the minors so far, Gomes has managed a .284/.339/.456 line with 46 doubles, 11 home runs, and 94 RBI.
Gomes has been primarily a backup catcher wherever he has been, but could surely be a starter, perhaps with another organization. He has to work on his plate discipline and improve his on base percentage, but he’s an under the radar player who’s worth keeping an eye on and who almost made our top 50 this year.
Expected 2011 Team: Double-A New Hampshire
Top 50 Range if he makes the list in 2012: #40-50
Out of the Top 50 Jays Prospects: Sam Dyson
Pitcher / 22 years old / 6’2″ 195 lbs
Born: May 7, 1988 in Tampa, FL
Bats: Right Throws: Right
High School Team: Jesuit H.S. (Tampa, FL)
College: South Carolina State
Drafted By: The Jays in the 4th round (126th overall) of the 2010 draft
- Received Sunbelt Player of the Year honors in his senior year of high school after managing a 10-1 record
- Drafted in the 19th round by the Nationals in 2006, but opted to play college ball instead
- SEC Academic Honor Roll member in 2007 and 2008
- Finished his 2008 season 4-0 with a 4.09 ERA in 12 appearances (9 starts)
- Drafted in the 10th round by the Athletics in 2009 before opting to finish his college baseball career
A right-handed power pitcher with a plus fastball and average off-speed pitches, Dyson was viewed often by scouts while he was in high school. Prior to the 2006 draft, he had already signed a letter of intent to play for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, and his strong commitment there caused him to plummet in the draft. Scouts had pegged Dyson to go in the top 5 rounds, but he fell all the way down to the 19th round when he was selected by the Nationals. Sure enough, he chose not to sign and decided to play for the Gamecocks instead.
Dyson’s college career got off to a bad start, as he was forced to lose his freshman year to a medical redshirt because of injuries. First, he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum on his throwing shoulder, then he had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, before having surgery on one of his elbows to move a nerve that was scraping against a bone.
The following year in 2008, Dyson’s numbers on the mound were limited because of his redshirt status in 2007, but he improved greatly and pitched fairly well in his sophomore season in 2009: 9-4, 5.21 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, and .237 opp. avg in 102 innings. This prompted the Athletics to use their 10th round pick on him, but he ultimately decided he wanted to finish his college baseball career with the Gamecocks.
That turned out to be a good decision, at first. Dyson had his best college season that final year in 2010, finishing 6-5 with a 4.28 ERA, 2.1 BB/9, and 8.8 K/9 in 18 starts (103 innings). The Blue Jays selected him with their fourth round pick, and shortly after being drafted, Dyson played a pivotal part in South Carolina winning the College World Series. He allowed 4 runs in 7.1 innings to get the win against No. 1 Arizona State, and got a no decision against Clemson when he allowed 2 runs on 5 hits in 6.2 innings. After winning it all with South Carolina, Dyson finally signed his first professional contract with the Blue Jays on August 16th, 2010 with a $600,000 bonus.
Dyson’s injury history came back to haunt him though, especially given the fact he had pitched in back-to-back games during his 2010 season with the Gamecocks. Dyson unfortunately underwent Tommy John surgery in November, and now his complete 2011 season will be written off, so he’ll likely have to wait to make his professional debut right before his 24th birthday in 2012.
Dyson’s fastball, which used to touch 97 mph, has dropped in velocity and is now normally thrown in the 91-93 range and occasionally touches 95. He has a four pitch repertoire — complementing his fastball with a curveball, changeup, and slider — but he’ll have to work on his three off-speed pitches significantly to bring them up to Major League caliber.
Expected 2011 Team: N/A
Top 50 Range if he makes the list in 2012: N/A