Blue Jays: Now that Nate Pearson has arrived, who’s next?

BOSTON, MA - JULY 21: Nate Pearson #71 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 21, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 21: Nate Pearson #71 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 21, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The Blue Jays graduated their top prospect on Wednesday night, and Nate Pearson was fantastic. Who is their next high-end prospect on the way?

Blue Jays diehards and casual fans alike have been treated to some of baseball’s most prized prospects over the past couple years, and the names Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette seemed to be household names in Toronto long before even arriving in the country.

Guerrero was the top-ranked prospect by Baseball America heading into 2019 while Bichette came it at No. 5. Heralded junior college right-hander, Nate Pearson, was ranked No. 65 in those same rankings but has since jumped up No. 7 and is the top-ranked right-hander.

Pearson made his highly anticipated (and successful) debut on Wednesday against Max Scherzer in Washington and with the promotion, you might begin to ask yourself who’s coming up next in the pipeline and when are they coming?

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Toronto has had a top 15 pick in each of the past three drafts and two first-rounders in the 2017 draft, which has allowed them to continue beefing up the farm system, not to mention trading assets, which have acquired the club players like Santiago Espinal, Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay. Various scouting outlets have agreed on the Blue Jays top-six beyond Pearson, so let’s see what value each of these youngsters can provide the big-league club in the future.

Austin Martin

Toolsy, versatile first-rounder back in June out of Vanderbilt who already finds himself at No. 16 on Baseball America’s Top 100. He was drafted as a shortstop but the consensus is he will eventually land at either third base or centre field, the two positions he played in his final two years in Nashville. Of course centre field is a need within the organization, but wherever he lands his bat and offence will be a big boost to the lineup. Martin will miss out on some development with no minor league season, but the college track record shows the signs of a potential fast-track to the big leagues.

Jordan Groshans

Another right-handed hitting infielder that has garnered lots of attention in the scouting world, Groshans jumped up to No. 31 on the Baseball America Top 100 list this year. He split time between third base and short in 2018, but worked solely at third in 2019. A foot injury led to just 21 games played in Low-A last year, but the hype is still there for the Jays first-rounder in 2018.

While he’s no slouch defensively, he receives high praise for both his hit tool and the power that comes with it. Groshans has slashed .309/.376/.475 through 71 minor league games, also hitting seven home runs. The timetable will be a little longer for Groshans who is still only 20 and has yet to play a full minor-league season, but the small sample size shows a ton of promise.

Simeon Woods Richardson

The third and final Jays prospect to crack the BA Top 100 at No. 66, Woods Richardson is the top pitching prospect in the organization (now that Pearson has graduated) and has really impressed since arriving in Toronto via the Marcus Stroman trade. Another young player out of high school, Woods Richardson is just 19-years-old but pitched to an ERA of 2.54 over six starts with 29 strikeouts and just seven walks since joining Dunedin late in 2019. It’s a four-pitch mix from the 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander with command of all of his offerings, and a ton of pitchability on the mound. It’s an intriguing arm at a young age, and he’ll be one to follow when the MiLB season returns in 2021.

Alek Manoah 

A big, strong right-hander selected 11th overall out of West Virginia in last years’ draft, and he’s another pitcher whose impressed in a small sample size with the organization. He started seven games in short season Vancouver last summer where he racked up 27 punch outs and walked just seven over 17 innings, working to an ERA of 2.45. A power pitcher at 6-foot-6, 260-pounds who will sit 94-97 mph and has good secondary stuff, and it was the ability to command his off-speed pitches that shot him up the draft boards in 2019. Another player to miss out on a big year of development in what would have been his first full minor league season.

Alejandro Kirk

The Jays have had good luck in the catching prospect department recently with their current tandem of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire and it looks like they have another good one with Kirk, a burly 5-foot-8 catcher out of Mexico. Despite the unathletic body, Kirk is one of the best pure hitting catchers in the minors which makes it easy to look past the frame. He’s had a gaudy slash line through 115 games in the minors, .315/.418/.500, and was set to bear the bulk of the work behind the dish in Double-A New Hampshire this summer.

Orelvis Martinez

An intriguing 18-year-old prospect out of the Dominican Republic and one of the most highly regarded international free agents in 2018. It’s more projectability from the 6-foot-1, 188-pound shortstop as opposed to present stuff, but it’s the offensive upside from Martinez that draws the most excitement. According to MLB Pipeline, Martinez has drawn comparisons to a young Adrian Beltre as a “hard-hitting infielder with a projectable body and strong arm.” The timetable for Martinez will be longer than the others listed here but there’s lots to be excited about after an impressive 40-game pro debut in rookie league Bluefield.

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Despite the fact that Pearson joins high-profile prospects like Vlad Jr., Bichette, and others in the big leagues, the Blue Jays still have plenty of talent in their minor league pipeline. Who do you think we’ll see next at the highest level?