The loss of Yohermyn Chavez this off-season was a definite blow to the depth the Jays have in the minors in terms of OFers, but there is still some depth there. There is a lack of immediate help for the Jays (as all of those listed below have yet to play a full season at AA or AAA), but there is enough talent to ensure that the Jays will need to make room for someone in 2011 or 2012.
- Jacob Marisnick (3rd rd ’09) Born 31 March 1991, 6’4″ 200 lbs, from CA
- Darin Mastroianni (16th rd ’07) Born August 26th 1985, 5’10” 195 lbs, from NY
- Kristopher Hobson (6th rd ’09) Born August 22nd 1990, 6’2″ 205 lbs, from CA
- Moises Sierra (Int’l signee) Born September 24th 1988, 6’0″ 200 lbs, from the DO
- Kenneth Wilson (2nd rd ’08) Born January 30th 1990, 6’0″ 190 lbs, from FA
He’s the only OFer on this list to crack the top 10 Toronto prospect list from Baseball America this year, sitting at #6. His body type, arm strength, and ability to cover center field draw comparisons to Hunter Pence. Jacob could be the first 5-tool OFer the Jays have had in a long long time and his athletic abilities are raved about by most scouts who see him play. He has above-average power, can run very well, and has a great arm for someone who can play CF. The only reason he wasn’t taken in the first or second rounds was due to issues with his swing that scared some teams off, but there are issues with every single hitter in that draft not named Dustin Ackley, so I’m not sure how that holds water. He’s an intelligent player who should move quickly through the system now that Chavez is gone. It’s possible the Jays could start him in the GCL, but Lansing seems like a more likely destination. The Jays are hoping the $1 million bonus they handed him after the draft is money well spent, and I for one am looking forward to seeing if he can really bring 5-tools to the Jays sometime in the near future.
Darin played half of ’09 in HiA and the other half in AA. He’s the type of scrappy guy that everyone likes to cheer for and plays with a lot of heart every single day. Darin’s known to stick around and sign autographs for kids long after others have left and cares about the game. The most obvious skill Darin has is his speed, as he stole 70 bases in 2009. What many people overlook is his awesome OBP .426 in HiA and .372 in AA, which bodes well for the prospects of his becoming a lead off hitter in the future. He struck out 83 times in ’09, but also walked 76 times, showing a ton of patience at the plate. Although he’ll never become a power hitter, Darin does drive the ball well, hitting 21 doubles between both leagues and he could add some muscle as he matures in order to hit 5-7 HRs per season. His defence is great, he covers ground like no other CF in the system, and would therefore compliment an OF of Wells in RF and Snider in LF very well. Whether or not that ever happens remains to be seen. Darin should begin the year in AA, but may also move quickly to AAA if he starts the year off well.
Kristopher was drafted out of high school and is already hailed as having the most power potential of any Jays prospect. Think Adam Lind with a bit less power, as he’s mainly a gap-to-gap hitter right now and has a great arm. The only thing that may keep him from playing the OF is his slow footedness, so he may be a LF or 1B in the future, but his arm would play very well in RF. He’ll turn 20 in August and should be able to add some size to an already big frame, which bodes well for his power output. I’m not sure where the Jays will start Kristopher in 2010, but we know it will be the GCL, SS Auburn, or Lansing. Wherever he begins the year, Kristopher is one Jays prospect to keep an eye on because he could turn some heads in 2010.
Although many people who evaluate minor league players say that Moises is a star in the making, I just don’t see him as highly. When I look at his stats and evaluate his progression through the minors, as well as read up on what others say, I see no proof that he’ll be more than a 4th OFer in MLB. He’s never hit more than 9 HRs in a season, doesn’t steal many bases and has slowed as he matures, and he doesn’t play the OF particularly well. However, what Moises does do well is get on base, with a .360 OBP in HiA – where he spent most of ’09, and drive the ball well with 33 extra base hits in 439 ABs. He’ll get a chance to play a full season in AA this season and I’m hoping he begins to show more power, because he can definitely hit the ball well and has enough potential to be an asset for the Jays in 2011.
The Jays may have drafted Wilson a little too early in 2008, but he has shown some streaks of potential since they sent him to Lansing as a 19 year old in ’09. Although drafted mostly as a speedster, he has shown boughts of power with 4 HRs and 19 extra base hits in only 327 ABs at LoA to go along with his 37 SBs. As with most young players, Kenneth strikes out way too much, doing so 99 times in 2009. Like most of the Jays 2007 picks, Kenneth has issues in being able to hit for average and doesn’t get on base often enough with a lowly .212 average and .306 OBP. Look for both of these issues to improve in ’10 as eh most likely returns to Lansing and gets more comfortable with his swing. Kenneth will never be a power hitter, but he could pan out to be an OFer in the mould of Shane Victorino.
Overall, the Jays OF prospects lack seasoning and have mostly projections to evaluate their true potential. The only one of the top 5 the Jays have at the position that could make a true impact in 2010 or 2011 if called upon is Darin Mastroianni. The Jays still need to add depth at the OF position in terms of prospects, but there are a couple of more dire positions for them – SS and 3B. The best part of the prospects listed above is that there is the potential for 1 of them to become a 5-tool player, and there is a good balance of power versus speed, which bodes well for them to make an impact on the bench at the very least.