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Future Watch: A look at the Jays' top prospects in 2012

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Shane McNeil, TSN.ca
9/12/2012 9:22:53 AM
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Ed. note: Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick and Adeiny Hechavarria were all sent to the Miami Marlins on November 13 as part of a 12-player deal that landed the Blue Jays Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and others.

It's been a year of ups and downs for the Toronto Blue Jays and particularly for the bright prospects that populate their farm system.

While some - like Anthony Gose, Adeiny Hechavarria and Moises Sierra - have enjoyed a taste of major league life prior to September call-ups, it has been a year to forget for a few others.

Top prospect Travis d'Arnaud had his season derailed by a knee injury in late June, surprise major league starter Drew Hutchison performed nicely in 11 starts before an elbow injury ended his season, with Tommy John surgery likely keeping him out for a large part of 2013.

Marcus Stroman - who seemed on the fast track to the majors after the Jays selected him in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft - is now serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

The dark cloud that followed the Jays for a lot of 2012 did not restrict itself to hovering over the Rogers Centre.

However, there have also been a lot of success stories throughout the system this season. With the minor league regular seasons having come to a close, we can now take a complete look at how the Jays young talent performed before breaking away for playoff runs and further development over the winter.

Here's a look at the best of the Jays' system through the end of the 2012 minor league regular season.

Justin Nicolino (LHP, 20)

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

2012 stats: 10-4, 124.1 IP, 2.46 ERA, 119 K, 21 BB, 1.07 WHIP (Lansing, A)

So much of the Jays' future hopes rest with its elite trio of pitchers from the double-A Lansing Lugnuts. Nicolino's year was parabolic in terms of his on-field success. In the first half he was electric as the Jays slowly acclimatized him to A-ball. He didn't give up a run through the first month, but once the innings started piling up, the league caught up with him. He did have an excellent August, however, posting his highest monthly ground ball/fly ball ratio and a monthly low for opposing batting average. He was named to the Midwest League All-Star team.

Jake Marisnick (OF, 21)

Selected by Toronto in the third round of the 2009 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 55 GP, .233 BA, 2 HR, 15 RBI, .622 OPS, 14/18 SB (New Hampshire, AA)

A quick glance at Marisnick's totals for 2012 only tells a fraction of the story on one of the Jays' very best young talents. Having finished 2011 in Lansing (A), the 21-year-old acquitted himself well enough through 65 games in Dunedin (A+) to earn a New Hampshire call-up. He finished on a torrid pace, hitting .375 in his final nine games of the season. Seven of those games were of the multi-hit variety with a .966 OPS over his last 10 games. MLB.com ranks Marisnick behind only d'Arnaud on the Jays' top prospects list.

Aaron Sanchez (RHP, 20)

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

2012 stats: 8-5, 90.1 IP, 2.49 ERA, 97 K, 55 BB, 1.273 WHIP (Lansing, A)

Sanchez is possibly the Jays prospect that got the most positive ink this season. He did not register a loss until July and he kept opponents well below the Mendoza line throughout the first half. The summer was not especially kind to Sanchez, who went 2-5 with a 4.36 ERA in the second half. However, that didn't stop the power pitcher from being named Baseball America's top Midwest League prospect in August.

D.J. Davis (OF, 18)

Selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 60 GP, .250 BA, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 25 SB, .741 OPS (Combined Rookie Ball and A-)

The speedy outfielder made a quick jump through the Jays system once under contract. Davis stole 18 bases and scored 30 runs in the Gulf Coast League before a torrid 12-game promotion in Bluefield (.340 average with six steals) earned him a trip to Vancouver. He struggled in five games in Low-A ball, but the fact that he's seen two promotions in two months should be encouraging to the Jays that their top 2012 pick is on the right track.

Noah Syndergaard (RHP, 20)

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

2012 stats: 7-3, 82.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 100 K, 1.142 WHIP (Lansing, A)

The towering Texan remains one of the Jays most impressive and imposing prospects. With a K-to-Walk ratio of almost 4:1 and producing twice as many ground ball outs as he does pop-ups, the 6'5" righty had a solid year with Lansing. Syndergaard was lights-out in August with a 0.84 ERA finishing the season with a one-hit, nine strikeout performance over five innings against South Bend.

Best of the Rest:

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)

Daniel Norris (LHP, 19) - Selected by Toronto in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 2-4, 42.2 IP, 8.44 ERA, 43 K, 18 BB, 1.781 WHIP (Rookie Ball, A- combined)

Marcus Stroman (RHP, 21) - Selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 3-0, 19.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 23 K, 9 BB, 1.293 WHIP (Combined AA, A-)

Kevin Pillar (OF, 23) - Selected by Toronto in the 32nd round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 128 GP, .374 BA, 6 HR, 91 RBI, .813 OPS, 51/60 SB (Combined A, A+) - Pillar was named MVP of the Midwest League for his season with Lansing.

Roberto Osuna (RHP, 17) - Signed as an International free agent from Mexico (08/03/11).

2012 stats: 1-0, 19.2 IP, 3.20 ERA, 25 K, 9 BB, 1.169 WHIP (Vancouver, A-)

Mike McDade (1B, 23) - Selected by Toronto in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 118 GP, .285 BA, 17 HR, 67 RBI, .806 OPS (Combined AA, AAA)

Adonys Cardona (RHP, 18) - Signed as an International free agent from Venezuela (07/07/10).

2012 stats: 8 GP, 15.2 IP, 6.32 ERA, 20 K, 12 BB, 1.437 WHIP (Gulf Coast League)

Chase DeJong (LHP, 18) - Selected by Toronto in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

2012 stats: 1-0, 12 IP, 1.50 ERA, 15 K, 1 BB, 0.667 WHIP (Gulf Coast, Rookie)

Justin Nicolino (Photo: John Ransom, Lansing Lugnuts)

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(Photo: John Ransom, Lansing Lugnuts)
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