Blue Jays: Despite big graduations, the MiLB system is still very strong

SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Starting pitcher AFL West All-Star, Nate Pearson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a warm-up pitch during the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SURPRISE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Starting pitcher AFL West All-Star, Nate Pearson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a warm-up pitch during the Arizona Fall League All Star Game at Surprise Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays may have graduated some of their top prospects this season, but the minor league system still remains among the best in the big leagues.

A year ago the Blue Jays had the top rated prospect in baseball before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his way to the big leagues. After he graduated beyond prospect eligibility, Bo Bichette was viewed as one of the top prospects in the game. Of course, those two and several more rookies are now in Toronto competing at the highest level.

Despite losing some of their most talented players from their minor league ranks, the Blue Jays are still viewed as having one of the strongest minor league systems in the game. In fact, according to Baseball America, the Blue Jays still come in with the 6th ranked system, behind just the Rays, Padres, White Sox, Braves, and Dodgers.

Now that Bichette is no longer prospect eligible, the Blue Jays don’t have a top 10 ranked prospect at the moment, but that will likely change when the updated rankings come out next spring. The strongest contender for a top 10 spot would be Nate Pearson, who has been ridiculously impressive across three minor league levels this season, and is now ranked at #13 according to MLB.com’s prospect rankings.

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After Pearson, the Blue Jays don’t have another name on the list until #69 where Jordan Groshans‘ name is listed, and that’s all for MLB.com’s list. Again though, I expect that will change by the time the next prospect rankings come out.

If you have a look at the Blue Jays’ website for their top prospects, Pearson and Groshans top the list there too. What’s interesting is seeing the other top names on the list, and how things have changed from a year or two ago. After bringing up a very nice core of position players that will hopefully evolve into full-time position players, the Blue Jays’ top 10 prospect list is now pretty dominated by pitchers, and that’s a very good thing.

This year’s first round pick, Alek Manoah, is already listed at #3 and impressed in limited appearances with the Vancouver Canadians. The former college standout will likely move into High-A or even Double-A to start next season, and don’t be surprised if he’s on that list at the start of the season, and has made a significant move up. Anthony Kay is listed at #4, and while I expect he’ll compete for a rotation spot during spring training, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the back half of the top 100 list before he loses his prospect eligibility.

After Kay there are a couple more pitchers in Eric Pardinho at #5 and new acquisition Simeon Woods Richardson at #6. Both young men have very high ceilings, but neither has even reached 20 years old yet, and their youth will provide another wave of talent when they’re ready for the highest level. Rounding out the pitchers in the top 10 is Adam Kloffenstein, another talented young pitcher who could be on the same timeline as Pardinho and Woods Richardson.

As for the position players, there is still plenty of talent on the way over the next couple of years as well. The top ten features Orelvis Martinez at #7, Gabriel Moreno at #8, and Miguel Hiraldo at #9, none of whom are more than 19 years old, and Martinez is still just 17. There are others who are ranked lower but are notable and expected to make an impact at some point, including Kevin Smith, Griffin Conine, and even guys like Anthony Alford.

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When you add all of the talent coming to the young core that includes Guerrero Jr., Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and possibly others, all under the age of 25, the future looks very bright in Toronto these days.

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