Toronto Blue Jays prospects: Arizona Fall League update

Oct 18, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Mesa Solar Sox outfielder Anthony Alford of the Toronto Blue Jays against the Scottsdale Scorpions during an Arizona Fall League game at Sloan Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Mesa Solar Sox outfielder Anthony Alford of the Toronto Blue Jays against the Scottsdale Scorpions during an Arizona Fall League game at Sloan Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays AFL affiliate — the Mesa Solar Sox — are currently 9-7 and 0.5 games back of the Salt River Rafters in the East Division

Several of the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospects are currently in Arizona where they are extending their seasons with the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.

Like many of their minor league teammates playing in the Caribbean Winter Leagues, the majority of these young Blue Jays are looking to turn their extra reps into a springboard 2017 season. Ahead, we take a quick look at their performance thus far:

OF Anthony Alford

Alford, the Blue Jays number one outfield prospect, has been enjoying a new role in the Solar Sox batting order. Typically a leadoff hitter in the Blue Jays organization, he’s been moved towards the middle of the lineup and his raw power has flashed.

In 41 at-bats, Alford is hitting .293 with an impressive .903 OPS. He’s already driven in eight runs in 11 games thanks to two home runs, two doubles, and a triple. In stolen base attempts, the athletically-gifted Alford is 3-for-4.

Given how raw Alford’s talent still is in pro ball (relatively speaking) and the injuries he dealt with this season, these reps are more valuable to him than most players. If his power tool continues to take steps forward and his speed on the bases can enjoy a full season untouched by injury in 2017, he could quickly shoot up league-wide prospect lists again.

SP Conner Greene

Blue jays
Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

Greene has made three starts for the Solar Sox spanning seven innings (don’t read into the low innings for three starts — pitchers typically do not pitch full games in the AFL). He’s allowed just three hits over that short span but they have resulted in five runs. This is because Greene has walked eight batters, a troubling sign after he walked 4.4 batters per nine innings between Dunedin and New Hampshire this season. With just three strikeouts so far, Greene is still looking for his groove.

RP Tim Mayza

Mayza flashed some very promising potential in 2016, and as a left-hander with strikeout potential, he won’t face many obstacles other than himself as he climbs the organizational ladder.

With Mesa, the 24-year-old has made five appearances covering six innings and allowed six earned runs (9.00 ERA). Like Greene, he’s run into some issues with walks (five), but has struck out six batters.

After dominating in advanced-A Dunedin this season — 1.66 ERA and 9.6 K/9 over 48.2 IP — Mayza did struggle in his short debut with the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He comes with the ability to pitch multiple innings with a high velocity, so if he’s able to iron out his control, the remaining AFL schedule could be a nice showcase for him.

C Danny Jansen

Jansen remains a bit of a project and has continued to run into poor luck with injuries, but consistent playing time in 2017 could allow him to make a name for himself in prospect rankings. The 21-year-old struggled with the bat in 2016 playing primarily for Dunedin (.585 OPS over 54 games).

He’s made strides in his short time with Mesa, however, going 11-for-36 (.306) with two triples and six RBI. He’s balanced his five strikeouts with four walks. Jansen has a nice defensive profile to develop and the right body for the job at six-foot-two, 225 pounds. The 2017 season will be critical for him as he’s challenged with quality pitching.

1B Ryan McBroom

Blue Jays
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

McBroom was a 2014 college pick out of West Virginia and has produced very well for the Blue Jays at the minor league level. He’s been older than his competition throughout his minor league career and does have a bat-first profile, however, which leads some scouts to understandably question his eventual ceiling. Between Dunedin (119 G) and New Hampshire (9 G) this year, McBroom hit 22 home runs with 85 RBI.

He’s continued to produce runs with Mesa over seven games, going 7-for-28 with two home runs, two doubles, and 10 RBI. That puts Alford and McBroom 1-2 in Solar Sox RBI. He’s struck out six times with just one walk, however, which is an area of his offensive game that needs improvement.

1B Juan Kelly

Kelly has appeared in just one AFL game, but made the most of it going 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI. The 22-year-old Dominican split his time between first base and third base with Lansing this season, and seems to be done with catching (where he saw time in rookie ball). With the Lugnuts, Kelly posted an .804 OPS with 12 home runs and 67 RBI. He even went a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts.

SP Justin Shafer

Shafer is a former eighth-round pick from 2014 but has yet to find his stride in the minors. This season with Dunedin, Shafer made 20 starts with three relief appearances for 115.1 innings. He posted a 5.23 ERA and struck out just 4.8 batters per nine, so the Blue Jays have him in Arizona for the second consecutive season trying to get the right-hander on track.

The results have been mixed from Shafer as he’s pitched 7.2 innings with four earned runs allowed (4.70 ERA) on 11 hits. He’s managed seven strikeouts, however, with just two walks.

RP Matt Dermody

Dermody shot through the Blue Jays system this season, beginning in advanced-A Dunedin and finishing with the big club at year’s end. through 54.1 minor league innings, the former 28th round pick posted a 1.82 ERA and demonstrated very encouraging control. His MLB debut didn’t go as smoothly, but like Mayza, he’s got a great opportunity being a left-hander.

The AFL hasn’t been kind to him so far as Dermody has allowed five earned runs over 4.2 IP (9.64 ERA). He has two strikeouts and two walks, but should have plenty of chances to improve those numbers.

Next: How Blue Jays could go outside the box with bullpen

RP John Stilson

Now 26 and healthy, the hard-throwing right-hander remains a candidate to be a real dark-horse for the Blue Jays over the next season or two if everything clicks. After missing nearly all of 2015, Stilson returned to pitch at double-A and triple-A this season where he posted a combined 3.81 ERA. His K:BB ratio isn’t quite back to where he’s capable, but some potential remains.

Like Dermody, it’s been a rough opening to the AFL season for Stilson. In 4.1 innings he’s allowed six runs (12.46 ERA) on eight hits with three strikeouts, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.