Blue Jays facing a challenge in Red Sox farm system
The Blue Jays have an inside lane on a 2016 playoff spot, but the Boston Red Sox strong farm system could give them some serious deadline firepower
For years, Blue Jays fans had a “but”. The opening day roster was not the division’s most talented, perhaps not even in the top three, but… there was often a strong farm system resting below it.
Following the trade deadline fireworks show and playoff push in 2015, that system has been depleted. Given the results, that’s just fine.
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It leaves the Blue Jays with a competitive disadvantage entering the season, though, especially when matched up against someone like the American League East rival Boston Red Sox, who are expected to be highly competitive following big-name offseason additions in Craig Kimbrel and David Price.
Worrying about a direct rival’s farm system longterm remains a rather uncertain game, and one that isn’t worth much airtime. Boston’s stacked system in the 2016 picture alone, however, where their prospects values are relatively fixed (and high), could allow for them to enjoy a deadline load-up of their own should the club be in contention.
Boston’s organizational minor league talent recently ranked fourth league-wide according to Baseball America, their third consecutive season within the top-five. The Blue Jays, after ranking ninth at the outset of 2015, begin 2016 ranked 24th. [Sad trombone noise].
Blue-chip Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada leads the way for Boston on nearly every prospect list, as the lightning-fast second baseman offers legitimate plus-potential at the plate and has all the makings of a future star.
Past him, the Red Sox also boast some valuable prospect capital that is close to being MLB-ready. In a major league landscape where teams are preferring a quick rebuild to a five-year process, that holds value.
Lefty pitcher Brian Johnson and outfielder Andrew Benintendi fit that billing, while the slick-fielding shortstop Deven Marrero could appeal around the league. Their system also offers a pure first base bat with a great plate feel in Sam Travis.
The lottery tickets are plentiful, too. Boston has a 17-year-old Venezuelan righty in their system by the name of Anderson Espinoza whose ceiling is truly ace-calibre. In the field, 19-year-old Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers has immense power potential in his bat and is oozing star potential within two-to-three seasons.
Next: Blue Jays 40-man: Which players are on thin ice?
Intriguing names still exist deeper in the farm, of course, just like they do in Toronto or anywhere else. The point of this, however, is to say that Toronto will be lacking the equal ammunition of their competition should they enter late July in a dead heat.
Thankfully, there is time. A good draft, a savvy dip into the international free agent rankings and a handful of breakout seasons from Blue Jays prospects could close this gap, but Boston won’t be shying from the big splash. Especially with Dave Dombrowski in the building, and especially after the offseason they’ve just had.
It’s a factor that Toronto may be able to avoid entirely with a strong opening half, but as the coming summer drags on, it could become a difficult obstacle to clear.