The Toronto Blue Jays are currently under construction in various ways. The Rogers Center is undergoing massive renovations, and the club is making slow and steady chess moves to solidify pitching pieces and capitalize on valuable assets on the roster. Also in constructive rumors, it seems the Blue Jays are adding an established coaching piece to the bench, Don Mattingly.
What else is floating around the air? The International prospect signing period.
The Blue Jays are loaded with international prospect signees, with 12 of the top 30 prospects being international selections. Amongst others, the 2022 selection was a successful move for the long run, in signing Venezuelan catcher, Luis Meza, who ranks 21st of the top 30 Toronto catchers. The Blue Jays 40-man roster consists of 11 players originally signed as international free agents to start their careers. Needless to say, this is an important period to capitalize on non-domestic assets.
Blue Jays: Players to consider for the 2023 International Signing period
OF Enmanuel Bonilla, Dominican Republic
The word of blue bird nation is that the Blue Jays have expressed interest in outfield prospect Enmanuel Bonilla, so let’s dig into this one. Bonilla is a 16-year-old outfielder, ranked 7th of MLB’s top 50 ranking international prospects for 2023. Bonilla is 6’1”, 190 lbs, strong athletic build and still growing. He has a average of a 55 grade on the 20-80 scale, with bat speed, and the ability to stay disciplined at the plate. Bonilla can swing it, using the entire field with good contact, and can be a defensive contender with a good arm, and agility to work each of the outfield positions.
C Enrique Jimenez, Venezuela
The Blue Jays can most definitely add another back-stop to their duty-belt of catching prospects. On the big stage, Toronto is rich with catching pieces, Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen, and recent top prospect, Gabriel Moreno. These pieces are vulnerable this offseason, with a strong possibility of one of them being moved. The protection and promotion of Moreno to the 40-man roster leaves only one catcher in the top 30 Blue Jays prospects, Luis Meza.
Why not replenish the ranks with a kid who has strong tools from behind the dish, and also from Venezuela? Enrique Jimenez can fit that role, listed as 32nd of 50 top international prospects. Jimenez is 17 years old, and switch-hits with spray ability across the field. His contact ability is the watch point to his offensive profile, with the ability to shoot the other way and work the inside zone, keeping his hands tight and connected. Enrique’s strong side is from the right side of the box, with better transfer of weight from his back side, generating more power.
Jimenez has strong ability to play defensively, with an average workable arm, which is projected to develop, along with textbook blocking and receiving. Jimenez’s profile and makeup can compare to a more athletic Victor Martinez, veteran ex-Detroit Tigers catcher. Although the Tigers have eyes on this kid, the Blue Jays need to consider Jimenez during this period.
OF Brailer Guerrero, Dominican Republic
When you hear the name “Guerrero”, you definitely have the right picture in your head. The kid lives up to his name and can work towards being the second hard-hitting Guerrero in the Blue Jays lineup. This kid is a 16-year-old powerhouse, hitting from the left side and measured 60 on the scouting scale for power. At 6’1”, 170 lb, he can strong-arm fastballs, as well as track down fly-balls with above average foot speed in the outfield. This prospect can be a fit in Toronto’s farm system.
SS Camilo Diaz, Dominican Republic
My favourite middle infielder in this international prospect class is Jesus Caba; although the Blue Jays may not have a shot at him, shortly down the list is another gem shortstop, from the same island. Camilo Diaz is ranked 17th of 50 international prospects, out of the Dominican Republic.
Diaz is considered elite in his class of middle infielders, with an athletic frame, and an outstanding makeup. Although his 60-yard dash may look slightly awkward, he is great on his feet, in the hole, and down the baseline. His tools at the dish are strong, with a quick and strong compact swing. His contact is phenomenal, driving up the middle, staying middle in, and keeping inside of the ball, with contact and launch comparable to Derek Jeter. Diaz can definitely lead it off, or take the 2-spot in a lineup.
Diaz is fundamentally sound, with smooth defensive mechanics at shortstop. His defensive profile looks a lot move developed than Jeter’s did at 17 years of age. Camilo’s prep strep transitioning to a soft back hand and forehand fielding technique is textbook. His footwork is noticeable, along with his range, his arm, and ability to get rid of the ball. This kid may be the second best infielder in this signing period.
The international signing period begins this January, and concludes December 2023; we’ll track the Blue Jays and their selections as they progress.