Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #28 Michael McDade


If only this guy could spend a month or two learning about how to make consistent contact with Tony Gwynn or another great hitter. Since he hasn’t done so yet, he chimes in at #28, the highest rated 1B on our list…

#28: Michael McDade

Switch Hitting 1B / 21 years old / 6’1″ 260 lbs

Born: May 8th 1989, in Las Vegas Nevada

Bats Both   Throws Right

High School Team: Silverado HS (the Jays also drafted Eric Nielsen from the same school in the 12th rd of the ’04 draft – he last played in ’08 for AAA Syracuse)

College: NA

Drafted: in the 6th round of the 2007 draft, 1 spot after the Red Sox took Anthony Rizzo

Signed: on June 12th 2007 for an undisclosed amount

Jersey Number: #40 for the Dunedin Blue Jays

Quick Facts:

  • Was drafted as a catcher before making the move to 1B after the draft
  • Fields his position extremely well with a .992 fielding % in ’10
  • Won the R. Howard Webster Award in Dunedin, the award that is given to the MVP at each of the Jays minor league affiliates
  • Takes a ton of pride in playing D, most likely a result of being a catcher before turning pro
  • Likes to lead and maintain a does everything possible to provide a relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse


Rankings amongst Dunedin, FSL, and AFL Players in 2010

  • Lead Dunedin in HRs with 21 and RBIs with 64, but also in strike outs with a whopping 141 total
  • 2nd in Dunedin in the following categories: ABs with 480 ABs, Hits with 128, Runs with 60, Doubles with 22, SLG with .448 and AVG with .267. Wait a minute, second in average with a .267 average? That tells you something about the hitting woes in Dunedin for the 2010 season (is the coaching staff to blame?) and adds to the speculations as to why Adeiny Hechavarria did better once he moved on to New Hampshire. Will the same happen to McDade if he moves up in 2011? I hope so!
  • Tied with Travis d’Arnaud for 8th in Dunedin with a .315 OBP amongst regulars
  • Led the FSL with 21 HRs but was way behind in RBIs. That’s no surprise when you know he was second in average with a .267 on the season. Barely anyone was ever on base for him!
  • Finished 4th in the FSL in strike outs, and also in slugging with .448
  • Ranked 9th in hits in the FSL with 128
  • Tied for the lead in doubles for the AFL with 11 and was tied for 2nd in hits with 33 despite having fewer ABs than most in the league
  • Finished 3rd in the AFL with a .375 average
  • Was 4th in the AFL with a .450 OBP
  • Tied for 11th in the AFL with a .557 Slugging %
  • Most importantly and most encouragingly, he had 11 walks to go with 13 SO in the AFL, making me look forward to what could be in store for us in 2011 if he begins the year in New Hampshire


  • Video of Michael signing autographs for fans
  • Interview with Jesse Goldberg-Strassler while he played for Lansing, where he speaks of his progression as a 1B, as a switch hitter, and the effort it took to get used to 1B instead of catching: Mike McDade Interview 1
  • A second interview with Jesse Goldberg-Strassler has him speaking about his success on the road in comparison to playing at home, another reason hitting stats at Dunedin may be worst than elsewhere. He also touches on why he has more success from the left side: Mike McDade Interview 2

Extra Information and previous experience:

  • In a very brief 12 spring training ABs in 2010, McDade had 6 hits for a .500 average. His short time included 3 doubles, 4 strike outs, and no walks, but left us with the impression that he could be ready for a jump to The Show at some point in 2011 if something forced the Jays hand.

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for underdog stories, and Michael McDade fits the profile fairly well. If you looked at his stats through 19 years old, you would wonder how he could ever blossom as he has to become arguably the best 1B talent in the Jays organization. While scouts trumpeted David Cooper‘s talent and potential, I really focused in on McDade’s performance in 2009 and immediately became a fan of his potential. His size, calm demeanor, work ethic, team first attitude and his drive to win are all attributes that make him a potential star. Some of these traits are missing from Cooper’s repertoire, which is why we have him lower in both the overall rankings and the 1B rankings. His defensive skills are also better than Cooper’s, as he is a lot more athletic as you would think for a player his size.

I’m not going to beat around the bush about this one because it is something that needs to be said in terms of Michael McDade‘s performance in HiA Dunedin. Aside from the times that had Travis d’Arnaud healthy and the end of the season when Anthony Gose joined the club, he had absolutely no offensive help on that roster and thus became the focal point of every single pitching staff in the FSL when they faced the Blue Jays. When you put that in context and still see him hit 21 HRs to lead the entire league, you can put aside the fact that he struck out at an alarming rate and chalk it up to “somebody trying too hard to do something with the nothing he was being thrown” aspect of hitting on a bad team.

Yes, McDade doe have some holes in his swing that I’m certain AA pitchers will focus on when he is promoted to the level, but they’re not as big as some make them out to be. He gets absolutely no love from Baseball America and other prospect evaluators, while they focus in on David Cooper (who was ranked 4th of all Jays prospects by BA in their 2010 edition of the handbook) and other Jays 1B prospects. I have yet to see the 2011 top 30 Jays from the Baseball America handbook, but if I see Cooper listed well above McDade again I will be very disappointed. He deserves higher rankings than he’s getting, he has a higher ceiling due to his power and defensive skills, and he’s not getting nearly enough coverage. After all, you don’t win MVP of your squad at a level above LoA by not having some real MLB potential, and if you have real MLB potential, you deserve to be within your squad’s top 30 as a minimum.

So, with that in mind, off goes Michael to the AFL to attempt to prove that both hitting in a pitcher’s ball park such as the one that exists in Dunedin and doing so on a bad offensive club were the reasons for his struggles in terms of strike outs. Did he ever prove that this may be the case. By striking out only 13 times in the AFL while walking 11 times, McDade showed us that he is more than willing to be patient as a hitter and that he has the potential to hit for average, not just power. He hit .439 with a .465 OBP, .634 SLG, and 1.099 OPS over his last 10 games in the AFL, showing what he can do when surrounded by talent. He did all of this while still maintaining some power with an extra base hit in close to 15% of his ABs.

It’s obvious that McDade’s mind was set on proving that the SO totals in Dunedin were not reflective of his skills at the plate. Still, he’ll have to prove that this is the case in New Hampshire before he can make the leap up the prospect ranking charts and become a viable alternative as a full time 1B in the majors. At a still very young 22 years old for his level, McDade should be promoted to what is rated as one of the best minor league environments and organizations in all of baseball in New Hampshire. He’ll be supported by much better hitters in AA, as he’ll have stars like Anthony Gose and Travis d’Arnaud coming up with him from Dunedin, and will join the likes of Brett Lawrie, Adam Loewen, Adeiny Hechavarria, and perhaps Eric Thames on the squad. Having more talent around him should help him succeed in 2011, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.

If he can lower his strike out numbers and increase his walks, McDade will soon become one of the favorite prospects for Jays fans all over. His power combined with great defensive abilities make him a force to be reckoned with if he can make better decisions at the plate. We’ll be watching how that develops in 2011 and do expect that he’ll open a lot of eyes after his promotion to AA.

Expected 2011 Team: AA New Hampshire Fishercats

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Excellent defensive 1B with Power

The Jays could definitely use him or Adam Lind as trade bait if both have good starts to the 2011 season. I expect that he will be in The Show by 2012 at the latest and that he’ll surprise many people who doubt he’ll ever hit for good enough average to be an every day 1B.

– MG

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