Dalton Pompey checks in at number three but who is the Toronto Blue Jays top prospect? Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays Top 15 Prospects: Midseason Update

Midseason prospect updates are among us so I figured now would a good time to reshuffle the Toronto Blue Jays deck.

We last ranked the Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects in November and at the time unveiled players one after another with comprehensive profiles that included stats/analysis, scouting reports and projections.

In the spirit of most other midseason updates, we’ll be cutting the list of players in half and won’t be going into nearly as much detail with each individual player. However the net benefit is that this time you, the reader, will be getting the entire list all at once, instead of waiting what became months between the first and last individual profile.

We hope to dive into the same sort of detail once again when the season ends with another re-rank of the top 30 prospects and, more than likely, a few honourable mentions as well. Call us uncreative but I can’t think of a better way to comprehensively breakdown the top-end of the Blue Jays farm system.

As for how the rankings were determined, last time we used an aggregate system that combined several lists to come up with our results. This time around, I’ve decided to tackle to project myself in order to give our other very hard-working minor league writers a break. This also means that if you disagree with any of the rankings, which I’m sure more than a few of you will, you can yell at me directly either in the comments here or on Twitter.

Players who are currently on the Blue Jays active roster or major league disabled list are not eligible, nor are players who have surpassed rookie eligibility.

Enough of this preamble though – let’s get to the list.

1. Aaron Sanchez
Position: RHP
Level: Triple-A (Buffalo)

It’s been a bit of a bumpy road for Sanchez but he’s cleaned up the control in recent starts and in my opinion remains a potential number two starter. His fastball has both boring and sinking action, which makes him very difficult for right-handed hitters to square up. His delivery has also looked a bit more athletic of late as he doesn’t seem to be finishing quite as upright and looks a bit more explosive. He’s also pitching better to the glove side, which was a problem for him in the past. He’s far from a finished product but is much better than his thus-far uninspiring numbers. His recent move to the bullpen shouldn’t be seen as a demotion but rather a way for his big arm to hopefully contribute to the Blue Jays playoff push this season. We should soon see if his stuff will play at the big league level, which I expect it to (with maybe a few walk-induced headaches along the way).

2. Daniel Norris
Position: LHP
Level: Double-A (New Hampshire)

Norris is hot on Sanchez’s heels and has rode a wave of helium past him in many midseason top 50 lists. I’ve been extremely impressed with what I’ve seen of the former second rounder this season and gave him consideration for the top spot, which I couldn’t have imagined at this time last year. His control/command still needs refining but his fastball, slider, curve and change could all end up being plus offerings. He’s also cleaned up his delivery and made it more repeatable, which has led to him dominating more hitters than not over the past 12 months.

3. Dalton Pompey
Position: CF
Level: Double-A (New Hampshire)

We should have ranked Pompey higher than 17th at the end up last year as he was arguably the Blue Jays best position prospect at the time. Thanks to a spectacular 2014, he’s surpassed Sanchez in some people’s opinion as Baseball America had Pompey ranked 47th on their midseason Top 50 while leaving Sanchez on the outside looking in. The switch-hitter has good bat speed, can hit for average, some power, has plus speed and adds tremendous value both on the basepaths and in the outfield. He’s better from the left side but has done a good job of late firming up his back leg while hitting right-handed. Pompey has future lead off hitter written all over him and could be a first-division regular when all is said and done.

4. Roberto Osuna
Position: RHP
Level: Low-A (Lansing) Rehab

We didn’t know what to do with Osuna after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013 but early results have justified us leaving him in the top five. He worked comfortably 95-97 MPH in his first start back and was able to keep his body, which was a concern in some people’s opinion, in good shape over the time off. At one point in 2012, Charlie Caskey wrote he was so impressed watching Osuna he’d “forgotten that Marcus Stroman followed him that game”. The sky remains the limit for this advanced 19-year-old, who will likely be handled with kid gloves for at least the next two seasons.

5. Jeff Hoffman
Position: RHP
Level: N/A

Hoffman won’t throw a pitch for the Blue Jays until at least 2015 but once he arrives could be a quick mover through the minor league system, despite undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this year. Assuming a full recovery, he packs three potential plus or better pitches with a mid-90’s fastball that will touch 98 MPH, hard curve and decent changeup (to go along with an average slider). His command needs work but the ceiling is immense. They Blue Jays may choose to be cautious with Hoffman off the bat when he returns but, if he doesn’t experience any setbacks and stays on development course, could be in Toronto by the end of 2017.

6. Franklin Barreto
Position: SS
Level: Short-Season Low-A (Vancouver)

Barreto, who turned 18 in February, has continued to rake despite playing in a league where the average player is nearly three and a half years older than he is. That’s nothing new for Barreto, who has been beating up on older competition since making his professional debut in 2013. The jury is still out on whether or not he’ll stick at shortstop as he’s already made 13 errors but I wouldn’t give up on him there just yet. Even if he is eventually moved off, his bat should still play as plus and with good athleticism, he’ll likely stay somewhere up the middle.

7. Mitch Nay
Position: 3B
Level: Low-A (Lansing)

Nay hasn’t been lighting up the Midwest League the way many had hoped but the good news is his defense at third base has been much better this season. I assumed he would eventually be moved off he position, hence my lower ranking of him in the past, and although I’m still concerned about his athleticism he might, just might be able to stick at third (or possibly move to right field). Anything other than first base, which is a dead zone for top prospects. The drop off in power has been concerning but he still takes a good approach at the plate and I’m willing to wait a bit on the game power to develop.

8. Sean Nolin
Position: LHP
Level: Triple-A (Buffalo)

Missed time due to a nagging groin injury has pushed back Nolin’s ETA a bit as he would probably be in consideration for a call-up to the Blue Jays bullpen if he wasn’t currently rehabbing in Florida. He doesn’t possess an explosive ceiling but should be able to eventually fill in nicely as a backend starter or bullpen arm. A big 6-5 frame helps give him natural downhill plane but a relatively low arm slot doesn’t allow him to maximize his height. He strikes out more batters than you might expect from a guy who will touch the low 90’s but could also stand to shore up his control.

9. A.J. Jimenez
Position: C
Level: Triple-A (Buffalo)

As a 24-year-old catcher with a 84 wRC+ in Triple-A this season, I debated whether or not to include Jimenez in the top ten or even top 15. Two reasons factored into my decision to slot him here. First, he’s a catcher. Second, he’s a very good defensive catcher. After suffering numerous setbacks following Tommy John surgery in 2012, he’s thrown out 42% of would be base stealers while demonstrating above average receiving and blocks skills. That’s hard to come by in minor league systems today and why Jimenez should still prove to be a capable backup at the major league level.

10. Dawel Lugo
Postion: SS
Level: Low-A (Lansing)

He’s yet to learn how to draw a walk but few possess the bat-to-ball skills of Lugo. Like many currently playing the position, he might not stick at shortstop but hasn’t looked out of place this year either. Call it the recency effect, but he’s been great in July going 19/56 with two home runs, four doubles and a triple. He’s still just 19, and I might be higher on him than I should, but Lugo’s bat continues to keep me intrigued.

11. Max Pentecost
Position: C
Level: Short-Season Low-A (Vancouver)

Mad Max is the new darling of the Blue Jays prospect world and is about as an athletic catcher as you’ll ever find. He also shows a nice approach at the plate with quiet hands and should develop an average or better hit tool, which is a huge plus from the catching position. His arm strength is considered average and he’ll need to eventually clean up his receiving skills but at the same time could grow into 15 or more home runs per year, which would more than make up for any minor deficiencies behind the plate.

12. Miguel Castro
Position: RHP
Level: Short-Season Low-A (Vancouver)

Castro appears to be a pitcher who is beyond his years based on the early returns in his young minor league career. Just 19, he’s had no problems sitting batters down who are on average more than two and a half older than him. With a fastball in the mid-90’s and two potential plus pitches, it might not be long until the prospect world starts to take real notice of Miguel Castro.

13. Andy Burns
Positon: 3B/SS/2B/1B
Level: Double-A (New Hampshire)

After making quick work of High-A last season, Burns has yet to find the same level of success at Double-A. He’s shown decent pop with 31 extra base hits and thanks to a good approach his OBP plays well above his batting average. He’s also a versatile and good defender with the ability to play multiple positions, including shortstop, but usually his strong arm is at third base. Still, it’s been a bit of a disappointing year for the 23-year-old Burns.

14. Sean Reid-Foley
Position: RHP
Level: Rookie (GCL)

The steal of the 2014 MLB Draft, Reid-Foley is yet another young, high-upside arm that the Blue Jays seem to be chalk full of. He also might be one of the best. It’s tough to judge a player who is just starting his professional career but with incredible natural movement to all his pitches I see his game translating in a big way, especially if his control is as good as suggested.

15. D.J. Davis
Position: CF
Level: Low-A (Lansing)

Davis’ prospect stock continues to fall as he’s struggled mightily in his first stint of full season ball. He remains a plus defender in center but is no closer to figuring it out at the plate. It didn’t take opposing pitchers long to figure out the only pitch he can handle is a fastball and thanks to a steady diet of off-speed pitches his strikeout rate is third highest in the league. Add to the fact he’s been caught on 59% of his stolen base attempts, I feel generous even including Davis in the top 15. When he does connect, often it’s for extra bases but he’s still too raw and doesn’t make enough contact for his speed or power to play anywhere close to its potential.

Just missed the cut (in no particular order): Alberto Tirado, Dwight Smith Jr., Chase De Jong, Jairo Labourt, Tom Robson, Richard Urena, Matt Smoral, Matthew Dean, Matt Boyd, Anthony Alford

Next Blue Jays Game View full schedule »
Wednesday, Sep 2424 Sep7:07Seattle MarinersBuy Tickets

Tags: 2014 Top Prospects Aaron Sanchez Dalton Pompey Daniel Norris Toronto Blue Jays

comments powered by Disqus