The Jays Journal staff returns with our yearly Top 30 prospect rankings. The #30 spot goes to a player that was acquired last season from the Colorado Rockies.
Chad Spanberger started out the 2018 season playing with the Asheville Tourists in Low-A. He was traded to the Blue Jays in July as part of the Seunghwan Oh swap, and played nine games in Lansing before being promoted to High-A and spending 22 games with the Dunedin Blue Jays where he finished the season.
Name: Chad Spanberger
Position: 1B/RF Age: 23
Height: 6’3 Weight: 235 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Left
Acquired: 6th round pick in 2017 (Colorado), traded to Toronto in 2018
While a few of the trades the Blue Jays have made over the last couple of years have netted disappointing returns, the deal with the Rockies last year has the potential to be a very good one. The Blue Jays received Spanberger along with another prospect in Forrest Wall, and a player to be named later or cash in exchange for their talented reliever.
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We won’t know how the trade ultimately works out for the Blue Jays for a few seasons, but right now things look pretty good for Ross Atkins on this one. Spanberger had a very good season split between the two levels, slashing .298/.355/.538 with 27 home runs, 90 RBI, 22 doubles, and 17 stolen bases. He struggled a little bit after getting to High-A with a slash line of .231/.348/.372, but he still managed a solid on-base percentage by taking 14 walks against 17 strikeouts in 22 games.
According to Fangraphs, Spanberger is currently listed as a 30/45 hitter, which might be a little light on the projections. The first number represents his current value, and the second is how Fangraphs sees him projected down the line.
Our own Jim Scott profiled Spanberger after the Blue Jays acquired him last year, and rightly pointed out that he had some issues with pulling the ball too much, and being overly aggressive at times, but his numbers trended in the right direction in 2018.
The power stroke is probably Spanberger’s best tool at this stage of his development, and that’s reflected in his Fangraphs ratings as well. He’s currently listed as a 40/55 for game power, and a 70/70 for raw power, so he’s definitely got the ability to hit the ball with authority. He also won the home run derby in the Low-A prior to being traded.
For a guy who was mostly a first baseman last year, 17 stolen bases is nothing to sneeze at. That said, he’s not exactly a speedster, and fans shouldn’t expect him to continue that trend as he develops. Rated as a 40/40 by fan graphs, he’s shown that he’s an intelligent baserunner (only caught four times), so that should bode well for him in the future, even if he’s not a base stealer.
Overall he played in 70 games at first base last season, and made another eight starts in the outfield. First base will be his primary position, but at least he has the ability to bounce out to the outfield if necessary, and it could be a skill they continue to work on with him. He’s listed as a 40/45 fielder with a 50/50 arm.
Fangraphs has Spanberger listed as a 40 on their Future Value rating, which is certainly a conservative estimate. He is already 23 so he’ll need to take some significant steps in 2019 in order to progress through the system, but his performance last year was encouraging enough that there should be plenty of opportunity for him, and 2019 was just his first full season of professional baseball.
My guess is he’ll start the 2019 season back in High-A with the Dunedin Blue Jays, and hopefully he’ll be able to earn a promotion to New Hampshire before the year is out. While he’s not one of the top prospects in the Blue Jays’ system at the moment, Spanberger is still someone to keep an eye out for, especially at the plate.