Toronto Blue Jays- The Pursuit of a More Productive Outfield
The Blue Jays have spent a great deal of time and effort building up a strong minor league farm system over the past several years. However, one position that hasn’t been flooded with talent in the farm system is the outfield.
The almost-there group
Let’s look at the upper level of the system. There are players like Billy McKinney, Derek Fisher ( I’ll put him here because I didn’t mention him yet), Anthony Alford, Jonathan Davis, Joshua Palacios, and Forrest Wall. Of this group, McKinney, Fisher, Alford, and Davis have all been given a look at the MLB level. The problem is that none of them has really grabbed the opportunity. I’m sure the Jays will hang onto these players for the time being and give each another look, but I’m not sure any of them is an all-star in the waiting.
Further down the line
If we look at the top 30 prospects list from MLB.com, there are only four outfielders listed. We have already touched on Anthony Alford, who is listed at #21. Beyond that, we have Griffin Conine, Dasan Brown, and Will Robertson. Brown has excellent speed, but he’s only 18, so he will still be a bit far off from actually helping the Jays. Robertson has good power but will need to advance through the system to a higher level before I get too excited, and then there’s Conine. Baseball savant stated that team officials believe that Conine has the best raw power in the organization. On the flip side, he did have a 35.9 strikeout rate in 2019 with the Lansing Lugnuts.
A change of position
The Blue Jays currently have a young, controllable infield for the next six years. The Blue Jays top 30 prospects list currently has eight middle infielders that could potentially be MLB ready in the next 1-3 years. Where does everybody play?
An argument could be made that the Blue Jays have made drafting and signing middle infielders a priority over the past several years. Many middle infielders have successfully made the transition from the dirt to the grass. Do the Jays have some players in the minors that could make the switch? Currently, the #22 prospect on the Jays top 30 list is Santiago Espinal. Espinal had a good 2019 season, which was split between AA New Hampshire and AAA Buffalo. Espinal was also having a good spring training, but there doesn’t appear to be room for another middle infielder on the 26 man roster.
Would a .350 OBP and good defense in CF be better then Grichuk’s 30 homer potential and his .290 OBP? Kevin Smith is another player that could force himself into a crowded middle infield picture with a successful 2020 campaign. Could Smith provide 20 homer potential, good defense, and a better OBP than Grichuk? Besides those two, there is also the Jays #2 prospect, Jordan Groshans, and #13 prospect Otto Lopez that could be ready for MLB action in the next two years.