After a brief hiatus, we are back to finish off our first round of updates to the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays top prospects list. I will hopefully get to the minor league report later on today but last night this update took precedent.
The numbers for Tirado haven’t been good and after giving up seven earned runs in just 0.2 innings last night they now look even worse. He’s walked nearly one batter per inning and his ERA has ballooned to 5.24. However there have been positive signs for the 19-year-old righty. His strikeout rate (21.9%) has ticked up slightly against a higher level of competition compared to what he did in the Appalachian League last year (21.3%).His ground out to air out ratio is solid at 1.83. He’s also under the wing of Vince Horsman, who worked wonders for Daniel Norris last season. Horsman required Norris to focus on fastball command last year and in the first half didn’t allow him to use what’s probably his best pitch, the curveball. The results for Norris are speaking for themselves in 2014.
I found video of Tirado pitching during the spring in the below video from MLBProspectPortal.com) and looking quickly it appears Tirado has shortened his stride compared to another video I found of him from last year. This seems to be a new trademark within the Jays organization (see Sanchez, Aaron) and maybe Keith Law has gotten to me but I don’t really like the idea of shortening a pitcher’s stride. I’m sure the Jays have their reasons and unless you count Adonys Cardona no one’s arm has fell off recently *knock on wood* so maybe they are on to something.
Regardless we should probably be patient with Tirado during this time. He’s still just a pup and if he learns to refine his stuff there’s a good chance he’s eventually blowing by major league hitters. A future in the bullpen might be the best bet for him but I expect the Jays to give Tirado every chance to prove himself as a starter.
The numbers for De Jong have been okay during his first crack at the Midwest League and the game reports I’ve come across have been about equally inspiring.Jay Blue of Grading on the Curve watched De Jong pitch a few weeks ago and noticed despite some iffy fastball command, his changeup has looked much better this season. However Jay also noticed that his curveball didn’t look quite as sharp (after insisting that I put a “plus” grade on the pitch last year). De Jong likely profiles as a back-end starting pitcher, which isn’t the worst of projections, as he could fit the mould of an opposite handed Sean Nolin, but it’s not the most exciting either. The biggest concern is that his K rate has tumbled from 28.1% in the Appy League to 17.3% so far this season. His fastball has reportedly been sitting 87-91 MPH lately.
There was hope that De Jong would eventually grow into some more velocity but at 20 he appears to be close to topping out. He’ll need to have pinpoint command as he moves up the ranks to continue getting enough hitters out to consider himself a top prospect. That being said, his control has been very good this year as he’s walked only 10 batters in 41.1 innings.
Nay has been in a bit of a funk at the plate lately and is batting only .163/.200/.209 his past ten games but that should not take away from the early success that he’s had in the Midwest League. He’s become arguably Toronto’s best position prospect and takes an excellent approach at the plate. He doesn’t strike out very often (12.9%) and walks nearly as much (8.6%). His power numbers haven’t been quite as good as I expected but I think part of that comes from his approach of taking the ball the other way. However he doesn’t have a double this month and has only one extra base hit since April 29th.
I haven’t heard great things about his glove at third, which leads to my concern about him sticking at the position. He’ll likely hit enough to play anywhere but the margin for failure becomes much smaller once a player moves to the least valuable defensive position on the diamond, first base. There’s a logjam at the position within the Jays system right now so the Jays will likely leave Nay at third as long as possible – he’s yet to take a rep at first base this year with Lansing.
Davis has been dreadful on the basepaths and unbelievably has been caught twice as often as he has actually stolen a base. You just don’t expect that from a player with his speed – obviously some work needs to be done by Davis to start correcting this problem. At center, he’s shown good range and makes good reads but has also been inconsistent on some of the simpler plays with ten errors.
Barreto, I would assume, has been barreling up balls during extended spring training. The last time I checked in with Charlie Caskey at the Vancouver Sun he was at least. Because he’s still stuck in EST I don’t have much of an update on Barreto but it should be interesting to see where he is assigned.
He’s not very big but according to Charlie has put on some muscle this winter and “looks like a man”. Yes, that’s a direct quote. There’s a chance Barreto starts the season in Vancouver, which is a much older league, but I think there’s a slightly better chance he at least starts with Bluefield.