Future Watch: A look at the Jays' top prospects in June

Shane McNeil,
8/5/2012 1:14:08 PM
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Despite having a pitching staff ravaged by injuries, the Jays have managed to stay in the American League playoff hunt.

Unfortunately for the team - while it does boast one of the best prospect crops in the league - most of its brightest lights are still not quite major-league ready.

While last month, many media outlets - this site included - were abuzz about the possible end of the Adam Lind era and the probable beginning of the Vladimir Guerrero era (whoops on both accounts), this month the system is focused on players maintaining development through the dog days and the prospect of a few names that haven't even begun the journey.

Here's a look at the best of the Jays' system through June.

Anthony Gose (CF, 21)

Acquired from Houston in exchange for Brett Wallace (07/29/10).

2012 stats: 82 GP / .295 BA / 3 HR / 36 RBI / .797 OPS / 29-36 SB-A (Las Vegas, AAA)

Gose's numbers tapered off a bit in June, especially by Pacific Coast League standards. The speedster hit .283 in June (vs. his May mark of .364) with a noticeable drop in most offensive categories. There's still no rush for him to make the jump to Toronto, especially with the stellar play of Colby Rasmus in centre field. The good news is that Gose has strung together multi-hit games in his last three starts (June 30 - July 2).

Adeiny Hechavarria (SS, 23)

Signed as an International free agent from Cuba (04/13/10).

2012 stats: 76 GP / .314 BA / 6 HR / 56 RBI / .810 OPS (Las Vegas, AAA)

While speculation of a promotion for Hechavarria has cooled over the last month, he has soldiered on with a consistent offensive season while providing plus defence at short. Hechavarria's average and slugging numbers were down in June, but his 20 RBI were his highest single-month total so far in 2012.

Aaron Sanchez (RHP, 19)

Selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 7-0, 57 IP, 0.63 ERA, 62K, 1.04 WHIP (Lansing, A)

It's important to temper any excitement in regards to Sanchez with the fact that he's still only pitching in A-ball, but his numbers are still outstanding. The bad news is that his walks, earned-run average and opposing batting average all rose (slightly) through June. The good news is that he's now up to five innings per start and has tossed three consecutive shutouts.

Travis d'Arnaud (C, 23)

Acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for Roy Halladay (12/16/09).

2012 stats: 67 GP / .333 BA / 16 HR / 52 RBI / .975 OPS (Las Vegas, AAA)

There's little doubt that d'Arnaud remains the Jays top prospects and is probably the best catching prospect in all of baseball. He had a very good June, hitting .341 and driving in 18 runs in 21 games. The bad news is that he tore a ligament in his knee and will miss more than a month as he recovers from surgery.

Asher Wojciechowski (RHP, 23)

Selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 5-2 / 75.1 IP / 3.94 ERA / 61 K / 1.297 WHIP (Dunedin, A+)

One of the lesser-praised of the Jays much-lauded pitching haul from the 2010 draft, Wojciechowski showed decent improvement in June, especially towards the end of the month. The righty posted three wins in 28.2 innings with a 2.20 ERA and .236 opposing batting average. All numbers represent his best single-month totals in 2012 thus far.

Best of the Rest:

Jake Marisnick (OF, 21) - Selected by Toronto in the third round of the 2009 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 64 GP / .264 BA / 6 HR / 35 RBI / .807 OPS (Dunedin, A+)

Justin Nicolino (LHP, 20) - Selected by Toronto in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 3-1 / 62 IP / 1.74 ERA / 59 K / 1.06 WHIP (Lansing, A)

Noah Syndergaard (RHP, 19) – Selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 4-2 / 53.2 IP / 3.35 ERA / 70 K / 1.25 WHIP (Lansing, A)

Moises Sierra (OF, 23) - Signed as an international free agent (12/20/05)

2012 stats: 77 GP / .306 BA / 14 HR / 51 RBI / .873 OPS (Las Vegas, AAA)

Coming Soon?

The Jays also bolstered the system nicely through some smart decisions at the MLB Draft.

The team has signed all of its picks from the first 10 rounds.

Top pick D.J. Davis signed at his slot bonus ($2 million for the 17th overall pick) while signing towering lefty Matt Smoral for the same amount, despite going 50th overall.

The last major pick to sign was first-rounder Marcus Stroman, who agreed to terms with the team on Tuesday to the tune of a $1.8 million bonus. Many believe the Duke standout could shoot very quickly through the Jays system. Capable of throwing up to 96 miles per hour, the Duke alum has been compared to former major league hurler Tom Gordon.

The Jays have played with slot bonuses in their draft class, paying market value or under for high picks like Davis and sandwich-rounder Tyler Gonzalez.

That move has allowed them to pay a premium on high-talent picks that slid down the board like Smoral, sandwich pick Mitch Nay and second-rounder Chase DeJong.

The team also inked two-sport athlete Anthony Alford, who many believed to be a tough signing due to his wishes to play football with the University of Southern Mississippi.

Finally, the Jays also signed Baseball America's top-ranked international prospect on Monday, coming to terms with 16-year-old Venezuelan Franklin Barreto. The shortstop's deal is believed to be worth close to $2 million.

Baseball Canada

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