We've all heard plenty about Ricky Tiedemann, Orelvis Martinez and other top prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system. But what about some of the other lesser-known players currently grinding through the minor leagues?
While there are plenty of young, potential big leaguers in the system, here are five prospects I'm watching as they push toward the big leagues in the hope of one day donning a Blue Jays uniform.
Sem Robberse, RHP
Signed out of the Netherlands as a 17-year-old, Sem Robberse joined the Blue Jays' system late in 2019 before losing the entire 2020 season to the pandemic. He has since developed into one of the top arms and the sixth-ranked prospect, by MLB Pipeline, in the Jays' system.
The 6-foot-1 right-hander throws a four-pitch mix with a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup that are all projected as 50 to 55-grade offerings (average to slightly above average on the 20-80 grade scale).
What makes the 21-year-old so intriguing is his quick progression, physical ability and evident cerebral approach to the game at such a young age, especially considering the lost year of competitive development. According to his MLB Pipeline scouting report:
"The Blue Jays like Robberse’s feel for pitching and his athletic delivery, which comes naturally and is more self-taught than other prospects in these ranks. Coaches also compliment Robberse’s ability to take feedback and immediately implement it on the mound, which lends to their belief that his development will continue at this rate through the upper levels. He also used much of the down time during the shutdown to develop his mental game, diving into pitch sequencing and mound strategies. "- MLB Pipeline
As a 19-year-old in 2021, he pitched at both Low-A and High-A, starting 19 games across the two levels. He faired well in Low-A, pitching to a 3.90 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP, 9.52 K/9 and 3.12 BB/9.
His initial foray into High-A with the Vancouver Canadians didn't go as smoothly. He had a 5.23 ERA over seven starts but still carried a 9.14 K/9.
He was ready for the challenge when he returned to Vancouver to begin the 2022 season. Over 17 starts, he posted a 3.12 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. While his K/9 dipped slightly to 8.10, he also managed to drop his BB/9 rate to 2.49.
After a promotion to Double-A, Robberse struggled over four starts against stronger competition. He adjusted, however, and went six innings with nine strikeouts and zero earned runs in his final start of the season.