Oct 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Fans line up to enter Rogers Centre prior to game three of the ALCS between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
SS Jean Carlos (J.C.) Cardenas, 21 years old, Bluefield
- 5’10” 155 lbs, Bats Both, Drafted in 6th rd of ’15 , Barry University FL, signed to $250,000 Bonus
The Jays selected another Barry University player when they drafted C Yan Gomes in the 10th rd of the 2009 draft. However, Cardenas is the highest draft pick ever to be made out of that University, surpassing the previous high of the 10th round. On being drafted, Cardenas had this to say:
"“My dream, since I was a little kid, has been to play pro ball. The Blue Jays were my first workout and they’ve been following me since high school. It feels really good to be going somewhere I’m wanted and appreciated.”"
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While playing for Barry in 2015, Cardenas managed to hit 15 extra base hits in 162 AB (7 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 HR). He walked 26 times and only struck out 22 times, and stole 24 bases in 25 attempts. He led his team with a line of .357/.457/.519.
The intrigue that made Cardenas a 6th round Jays pick lies in the possibility of having a 5-tool middle-infielder in their grasp. Sure, he’s still learning the SS position and is making his fair share of errors (11) along the way, but he’s more than able to handle the position so far and no move is anticipated yet. Cardenas has the range and ability to get to balls, he just needs to learn to make routine plays consistently. If the Jays can get him going as a power capable LHB SS, they’ll be ecstatic.
He hasn’t let down expectations altogether, but I do believe many expected more from his bat as he played in Vancouver last season. It remains to be seen whether he gets a bump up to LoA Lansing, but wherever he winds up the expectations on his bat will be higher than they were last season.
Sometimes it bugs me that the majority of lists you see from MLB.com and Baseball America only go 30 players deep. Often, as is the case this season, they miss out on many of the lesser know, yet just as exciting to consider, prospects that deserve more attention. When I look at these three players I see a lot of potential, enough for them to make it to the majors.
Barreto has the potential to be an every day 2B in the right situation, or to become an effective utility player. Juan Kelly has the determination and skill to climb up the minors handily and challenge others for a spot on the roster. And Cardenas has a higher ceiling than both of them, with the abilities to become an impact middle-infield bat if he makes the most of his skills.
None of them are likely to become all-stars in MLB, but all of them will challenge their peers to perform as they fight for their opportunity to reach The Show. Good luck to them all, and keep a good eye on them!