Blue Jays: Ricky Tiedemann is the only top-100 prospect. What is the concern level?
On Thursday evening, MLB Pipeline finally released its top-100 prospect rankings list for the 2023 season.
As widely expected, Blue Jays stud lefty Ricky Tiedemann made the list, coming in at No. 32 in all of baseball, which is great to see, even if there's a chance he could've made it a bit higher.
However, the biggest issue here is that Tiedemann, as incredible a player as he is, was the only member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization to make the list. Of the 100 best minor league players, only one Blue Jay made the cut.
Tiedemann, 20, has already started off his professional career with a bang, going 5-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 18 appearances last year between three minor league levels. He struck out a whopping 117 batters in just under 79 innings and allowed only three home runs along the way. As young and inexperienced as he is, it's easy to see that he's the real deal.
To be perfectly honest, it's somewhat concerning that he was the only Jays player to be in the top-100. While everyone is well aware that the organization is not teeming with prospect talent, it's surprising that someone one of the young up-and-coming infielders didn't come in near the back end of the list at least.
It's a weird situation to be in for the Jays, who are currently firmly in their contention window. No team in the league is able to sustain World Series contention year after year unless you're one of the baseball giants like the Dodgers or Yankees, who could actually both be due for a regression in the upcoming season but that's a discussion for a different time.
Say the club is not able to lock up all of their extension candidates like Matt Chapman, Bo Bichette, or even Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Who is going to be available to step in and replace players of that caliber? It's crucial that Ross Atkins and Co. find a way to fill out the minor league system a bit in the next few years because this club is one or two major player losses away from losing quite a bit of its steam.
If there's one positive note about the current farm system, it's that so many of its players are nearing major league ready. It's the wave after this next one that has a bit of concern surrounding it, at least for now.
Addison Barger and Orelvis Martinez are the next big things in Toronto. Both players are third base/shortstop hybrids who could make moves to either second or even first down the line, but have tons of thump in their bats, which is each of their calling cards. Each of the young infielders are already on the 40-man so it is clear that they are next in line for infield opportunities in the not-so-distant future.
Barger, 23, is coming off of a season in whic hhe hit 33 doubles, 26 home runs and drove in 91 along the way. He also hit .308 which certainly doesn't hurt. He has played the majority of his innings at shortstop but seems like a candidate for third base down the road thanks to so-so range but an absolute cannon of a throwing arm. Should Chapman walk in free agency, Barger is the obvious candidate to step into his shoes.
Martinez, 21, may be just a step or two behind Barger in terms of how ready he is for the big leagues, but the talent is there. His defensive home is a bit more of a question mark as he has spent the entirety of his professional career at third or short but to less-than-favorable reviews. He seems more like a 30-homer first base/designated hitter type down the line, which there is nothing wrong with. A scenario in which Vladdy is either the first baseman or DH and Martinez fills the other hole in the lineup is a damn good one for the Jays either way.
Yosver Zulueta, 25, is the closest pitching prospect to the big leagues that the Jays have, unless you count Nate Pearson who technically still qualifies as a prospect, but for this piece we'll say he isn't one. "Zulu" made it all the way to Triple-A last season and went 2-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 55+ innings as a whole last season, spending time in both the starting rotation and bullpen of the clubs he appeared for. He has shown off an impeccable ability to strike batters out and limit home runs but control has been mentioned as an issue for him, so it remains to be seen which role he slots into long-term in the bigs.
Brandon Barriera is also on hand but he is just 18-years-old and is too early in his development to project much. Other than that there's Adam Macko and Sem Robberse but neither are currently top-100 material.
Tiedemann absolutely deserves the honor of being labeled one of the best prospects in the game today. However, it's a bit concerning that no other Blue Jays made the cut. Strong seasons from one of Barger, Martinez or Zulueta could push them into the picture at the mid-season rankings but only time will tell.