Toronto Blue Jays Minor League System: Philosophy Change?


August has seen a flurry of movement involving some of the Toronto Blue Jays higher ranked prospects, which is not the norm. This raises two very interesting questions….Has the “Blue Jays Philosophy” of slowly moving prospects up through the farm system changed? If so, why?

If you follow the Toronto Blue Jays you’re well aware, maybe disappointed, that Alex Anthopoulos was silent at the non-waiver trade deadline. Alex received a lot of backlash from the media and the fans for this inactivity. If you listen to the Fan590 and TSN1050 as much as I do, than you might have heard the same comment about other GM’s not valuing our prospects as highly as we value them (I mean the Jays organization). It is this comment that prompted me to poise the question “Kendall Graveman: What’s the Rush?”.

Is this true?

Just so we all are on the same page, I love all our prospect and I am guilty of overvaluing even the low ceiling prospects, but even I believe this to be true. For the most part during Alex’s tenure as Jays GM, prospects have moved up one level per year and at most a prospect will jump two levels in a year. That is what made many fans and the media so excited about Kevin Pillar last season. Pillar started the season with Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, got promoted to Buffalo, and eventually made his major league debut all in the same year. It was this quick ascent that has some fans placing him above Anthony Gose on the Jays’ outfield depth charts. It hasn’t been too uncommon for the Jays to move prospect around in the lower minors, but once a prospect had advanced to Lansing it was very uncommon to see them move more than a level mid-season……especially pitchers.

One can argue that Alex is making low to mid-level prospects spend a full season at each level to prove that they can handle a promotion. Maybe, but what about Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Both have a chance to form 2/5 of the Jays 2015 rotation and both spent the entire 2013 season with New Hampshire and Dunedin, respectively. It is for this reason that I believe something WAS intead said to Alex during trade talks that’s caused him to aggressively promote some of the Jays higher ceiling pitchers since.

I’ve already covered Kendall Graveman‘s meteoric rise through the system, but since the trade deadline we have also seen Daniel Norris, Taylor Cole, Jeremy Gabryszwski, Roberto Osuna, and Miguel Castro receive some what surprising or aggressive promotions.

Daniel Norris

Taylor Cole

Jeremy Gabryszwski

Roberto Osuna

Miguel Castro

Is this simply a case of challenging talented prospect with higher calibre talent or does it have more to do with making our prospects more appealing in the off-season. I see it working out a couple different ways:

  1. Alex moves all these guys up and fills the upper minors with ‘Major League’ ready arms which he can then use to make trades for position players…or
  2. Alex moves all these guys up and fills the upper minors to show fans and management that he has accomplished everything he said he would. He made the team competitive and restocked the minors with high ceiling arms.
  3. Alex is able to increase the value of these prospect, thereby, using them to acquire help before September

The Jays system is flush with pitching prospects, but the cupboard seems kinda bare if you are looking for position prospects. Dalton Pompey could end up as one of the Jays top #3 prospects this off-season and had it not been for his recent leg issues, I am also certain, he would be manning CF in Buffalo right now. Pompey struggled to find his timing after arriving in New Hampshire, but he soon picked up where he left off in Dunedin.

Now being aggressive hasn’t worked in every case this season. Matt Boyd, Alberto Tirado, Jairo Labourt, Ryan Schimpf, and I am sure there are more have all struggled upon being promoted this summer. I love that Alex is flushing the upper minors with pitching prospects, even if he means to use them as bait. It allows a system to more accurately evaluate the talent they have and to determine how far away they are from making an impact at the major league level.

What do you think? Have the Jays changed philosophy or is this simply a product of good drafting?