Blue Jays: Five Prospects to Watch for in 2021
The Blue Jays have a deep pool of pitching prospects, among other positional players. Here is a list of five prospects in Toronto’s organization that are prepped for a big seasons.
The 2019 first round pick, Alek Manoah was set to have a big year in 2020 after just getting started in professional ball the season before. After being drafted eleventh overall, the Blue Jays elected to start him off slowly after he threw over 100 innings earlier in the college season. The 6’6”, 260 lb right-handed monster finished his first year pitching in just six games and 17 innings with the Vancouver Canadians. Manoah allowed runs in just two of his six appearances and struck out 27 batters to just five walks.
Last season, I predicted that he would finish the season in AA, however, due to the Coronavirus the minor league season was cancelled. The Blue Jays did add Manoah to the 60-man player pool and assigned him to the alternate training site. Manoah went to Rochester with two high caliber pitches, with a high 90’s fastball and a dominating slider, however, if he wanted to be a Major League starter he would require a third MLB-ready pitch. In a previous article by Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, Manoah stated that he added a change-up to his arsenal. Manoah explained that he felt so comfortable with the pitch by the end of the season that he could throw it in any count.
More from Jays Journal
- Blue Jays: Snapping cold streaks at the right time
- Who Should the Blue Jays Extend First: Guerrero, Bichette or Manoah?
- Blue Jays now hold the top Wild Card spot, and yes that’s a good thing
- Blue Jays may have the tools to use a Bullpen Day
- Blue Jays win important first game after Bichette’s late inning heroics
If a full season happens 2021, I think the goal should be set that he sees time in AAA Buffalo, with a potential September call-up. Manoah will turn 23 later this week and has the potential of being a middle to front of the rotation starter.
The Blue Jays found themselves very lucky when Austin Martin fell to fifth overall in last year’s MLB Draft. Martin can play almost any position on the field and after spending three seasons with Vanberbilt he finished his NCAA career with a slash line of .368/.474/.532 over 140 games. Martin was immediately added to the 60-man player pool after he signed with the Blue Jays shortly after the draft.
Martin has the body type and skill of Bo Bichette and the versatility of Cavan Biggio. As he is so versatile, he could still end up almost anywhere on the field, and the current free agent class could decide where the Blue Jays try to develop him. Martin is currently ranked as the Blue Jays’ top position player prospect and could climb the through the system very quickly. A full season in New Hampshire would likely be the goal with a push for the MLB roster in 2021.
Simeon Woods Richardson
Simeon Woods Richardson “SWORD”, has potentially the highest ceiling of any of the Blue Jays prospect pitchers. Woods Richardson was acquired as the top piece in the Marcus Stroman trade during the 2019 season. He will still be just 20 years old for the majority of the season and had the minor league season not been cancelled this past year, there is a good chance you would have seen him in New Hampshire. Woods Richardson was added to the 60-man player pool where, like Manoah worked on a change-up. A late call-up this season is likely on the mind of Woods-Richardson, but for development purposes a full season in New Hampshire would be ideal.
One of the most determined prospects in the Toronto organization, Adam Kloffenstein did not take any down time in 2020 after a successful 2019 season. In 2019, Kloffenstein had a very successful season in Vancouver with the Canadians, where at the age of 18 he was named to the All-Star Game and then was awarded with Team MVP.
When the pandemic occurred and cancelled the minor league system, Kloffenstein found himself on the outside looking in for the 60-man player pool. Instead of taking it easy, Kloffenstein went out and found the Constellation Energy League, which is an Independent League in Texas. The 19-year old spent the summer developing with his pitching coach Roger Clemens and under strict guidelines from the Toronto Blue Jays. Kloffenstein would be put on an innings pitch per limit that would max him out with three innings per game. Kloffenstein found himself playing against players who were on the cusp of the Major Leagues, so he was able to test himself.
In the 2021 season, Kloffenstein could see himself playing the majority of the year in New Hampshire and could see an end of the year appearance in Buffalo.
In my opinion, the top catching prospect in the organization is Gabriel Moreno and that is ahead of Alejandro Kirk. Moreno was added to the Blue Jays 60-man player pool in mid-August last year and is still just 20-years old. You may have heard about Moreno recently due to his winter ball numbers in Venezuela. Moreno is the starting catcher for Cardenales de Lara and hit .373 with six extra-base hits. His eye at the plate is already showing beyond his age as he has walked almost twice as much as he has struck out. Defensively he has thrown out 35% of base runners through his minor league career, including throwing out three of seven runners in winter ball.
Moreno played his 2019 season with Lansing and he is another player that may end up seeing most of his season in New Hampshire. Moreno could see an opportunity with Toronto this coming season, depending on how injuries and production on the current major league catchers go.
If the minor league season goes ahead this year, you could have a lot of fun going to some games in New Hampshire.