Blue Jays trades leave Jon Harris as top pitching prospect


The Toronto Blue Jays lost six prospects in the Troy Tulowitzki and David Price deals, several of whom occupied top-5 spots in the organizational prospect rankings. Dalton Pompey and the rising star of Anthony Alford remain as the club’s top two positional players in the Minor Leagues, but this changing of the guard has left 21-year old Jon Harris as the club’s top-ranked pitching prospect.

Updated rankings from list the 6’3″ right-hander as the Blue Jays second overall prospect, sandwiched between Pompey and Alford. Sean Reid-Foley comes in at number four on the new list, and there’s a fine argument to be made that his ceiling could land him in the first couple spots over the next two to three seasons.

Toronto felt fortunate to have Harris fall to them with the 29th overall pick in the most recent MLB Draft, which was compensation for losing OF Melky Cabrera. Brian Parker, director of amateur scouting with the Blue Jays, told John Lott in June that he was thrilled to see Harris slide down the ladder.

“We actually had Jon Harris ranked significantly higher than where we picked,” Parker told Lott. “He kind of fell a little further than we thought he was going to. He was one of those guys, as you’re sitting there watching the draft, you’re like, ‘If this guy keeps falling, we had to take advantage of him.’ He’s one of those guys that was just too high on our board to pass up.”

Prior to the draft, ranked Harris as the number 10 prospect in the class. Some other scouting services weren’t quite as generous, but the selection was widely seen as high-quality value. Here’s what the scouting report had to say:

"“Harris works comfortably at 92-94 mph with his fastball, which plays better than its plus velocity. His heater features run and sink, and he uses his height to deliver it on a downhill plane. There’s still room for added strength on his lanky frame, so he could throw harder in the future.All three of Harris’ others pitches grades as plus at times. His breaking balls have power and depth, and he has improved and learned to trust his changeup. He also has bettered his control and command, though they’ll require additional refinement.”"

Harris does not come with the momentous ceiling of a Jeff Hoffman or Daniel Norris, perhaps profiling as a strong middle-of-rotation starter instead. Through seven appearances with the Vancouver Canadians in his first professional season, Harris has 20 strikeouts over 18.2 innings, surrendering a 4.34 ERA. There’s a long way to go, but as a college arm, he’ll be able to rise through the system relatively quickly once his performance allows.

Whether you want to call Harris the second-best prospect, the fifth, or even if you want to rank him behind Sean Reid-Foley, he represents the new reality of this farm system. Alex Anthopoulos has rebuilt it before, and he’ll rebuild it again. With time. The league holds a draft every year, which is a tradition that is likely to continue.

Next: Impact of Blue Jays trades on playoff chances

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