With Tuesday’s action in the books, all minor league teams have played their final regular season game, making this the final Blue Jays prospect hot sheet of the year. The list of six is led by one of the usual suspects, but also includes a prospect making his first appearance of the year. The timeframe was extended by a day to include Monday night’s games, so from August 27th through September 3rd, here are Toronto’s hottest prospects.
1. RHP Noah Syndergaard (LAN): 0-0, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
On August 31st, Noah Syndergaard pitched the second best game of any Blue Jays minor leaguer this season, with the best being Roberto Osuna’s late July 13-strikeout gem. Facing South Bend for the fourth time this season, the hitters failed to take advantage of their extended looks, as just one out was recorded outside of the infield grass. The other 14 came by way of strikeout or ground out, a masterful performance from beginning to end. In total, Syndergaard allowed just one base runner, a first inning single by Tom Belza. The game finished off a fabulous second half of the season, as since the Midwest League All Star break in late June, Syndergaard has a microscopic 1.65 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Those who are thinking Aaron Sanchez is easily the top pitching prospect in the system may want to have a second look.
2. C Yan Gomes (LAS): 32 AB, .406/.444/.656 (1.100 OPS), 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 3/7 BB/K
When Yan Gomes was called up to Toronto the first time, he had a number of big hits and really helped the team when it needed it most. The other call-ups, however, didn’t go nearly as smoothly. In total, Gomes produced a .165/.225/.316 batting line in 33 games for the big club, and often times the swings were just as ugly as the box score suggested. The minor leagues were a different story, as this week capped off a breakout season for the Brazilian. He had at least one hit in each of his eight games, and showed his usual extra base power with two doubles and two home runs. Gomes has done enough over the last two seasons to show he can hit upper level minor league pitching, the next step is proving he’s not just another quad-A player.
3. LHP Sean Nolin (NH): 1-0, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
Sean Nolin has not received the credit due to him for his monster 2012 season. He had yet another dominant outing on August 30th, allowing just one run on three base runners in six innings while striking out seven, earning the win. While pitcher win/loss records are useless in terms of analysis, the outing pushed Nolin’s mark to 10-0 on the season, which certainly looks nice on paper. What’s ever better, however, is his 2.04 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Additionally, his peripheral values (9.59 K/9, 2.40 BB/9, 0.62 HR/9) suggest he’s been pitching to his talent and not just getting lucky, leading to a very strong fielding independent pitching number of 2.77. Backing up that value is his 3.16 FIP from the 2011 season, indicating we have a very real prospect on our hands.
4. CF Jake Marisnick (NH): 37 AB, .351/.359/.595 (.924 OPS), 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, 1/3 BB/K
Without a doubt, Jake Marisnick had the most disappointing season of any Blue Jays prospect. I ranked him as the second best in the system over the winter, and was certainly expecting more than the .719 OPS he produced between the Florida State League and Eastern League. At least he finished the season on a positive note, as after failing to appear on the hot sheet for two months, his late August performance earned him a spot on the final list of the year. Marisnick played in eight games this week, and had two base hits in six of them. The walks were down – as they were for his entire stay with the Fisher Cats – but he finally displayed some of the power that allowed him to bust onto the scene for the Lugnuts last season. With New Hampshire long eliminated from post season action, Marisnick can take some time and prepare himself for the Arizona Fall League, where the environment and his hitting ability should combine to produce some gaudy numbers.
5. SS Ryan Goins (NH): 29 AB, 10 H, .345/.441/.552 (.993 OPS), 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB, 5/6 BB/K
At 24 years old Goins isn’t much of a prospect, but he’s done enough over the past two seasons to receive a mention when he has one of the best weeks of his career. He filled up the stat sheet, showing good plate discipline, solid power, and surprising speed – his three stolen bases this week alone bested his 2011 total of two. Goins’ slash lines over the past two seasons have been eerily similar, as in 2011 while playing for the D-Jays, he hit .284/.340/.404 (.745). This season, with New Hampshire, he concluded the year with a .289/.342/.403 (.745) line. He doesn’t have strong enough tools to play regularly in the major leagues, but with a strong 2013 season he might be able to carve out a niche as a Mike McCoy type player, either with Toronto or somewhere else.
6. 1B Mike McDade (LAS): 23 AB, .348/.464/.522 (.986 OPS), 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 5/6 BB/K
Back and healthy after a trip to the disabled list earlier this month, McDade had a very strong week in limited playing time. Unlike the other hitters on the list who saw action in seven or eight games, McDade played in just six, but did enough in those games to earn the final spot on the final hot sheet of the season. He proved a couple of things with his 2012 performance; first, that he’s probably better than a lot of us gave him credit for, and second, that even with an uptick in performance he still doesn’t hit enough to be a major league first baseman. It’s a shame, as McDade has solid power, an average bat, and is strong defensively, but the rule of first basemen is harsh and unforgiving – and rightly so. If you’re dreaming on a first base prospect who might have an OPS upwards of .800 in his prime years, you’re probably doing the baseball thing wrong.