TSN's Top 50 Blue Jays prospects: Who just missed the list?
TORONTO — Weeks of copying and pasting names into different spots results in 50 players making the final cut of our TSN Blue Jays Prospect Rankings every year.
The process usually starts with about 80 prospects to sift through over the winter, and that group eventually gets whittled down to about 55-60 names under legitimate consideration after the research is done and the majority of conversations are wrapped up.
Depending on the state of the system, the difficulty from there has varied from year to year.
Thanks to some trades, graduations, a shortened 2020 draft and the loss of their second-round pick in 2021, there’s less depth in the pipeline than there would have been.
On the heels of prospects Nos. 50 through 31 on Monday, here are 12 prospects who just missed making the top 50 list for 2022.
CF Marcos De La Rosa, 20, Florida Complex League
Signed out of the Dominican in 2019, De La Rosa was shifted from the middle infield to centre field in 2021 and flourished defensively, showing a strong arm and pretty good instincts. If things click a bit offensively for the switch-hitter who’s better from the left side — he struck out 31 per cent of the time in his 84 plate appearances last year — he could break out.
2B/SS Angel Del Rosario, 20, Florida Complex League
With 27 steals in his pro debut last summer, Del Rosario showed some wheels and quick-twitch athleticism, which immediately got him noticed alongside some of the bigger bonus players. The swing works, but the 6-foot, 160-pounder — like all the young international players in this range — needs to add strength in the coming years for the bat to have any impact.
C Jonathan Peguero, 17, Dominican Summer League
A left-handed hitting backstop with athleticism and an idea of what he’s doing at the plate, Peguero was one of the more prominent signings in last year’s IFA class, inking for $400,000. Young for his class, he slashed .266/.384/.372 with two home runs in his DSL debut at the tender age of 16.
1B Rainer Nunez, 21, Low-A
One of the more interesting cases on this list, Nunez is already 21 and the last we saw him prior to the pandemic he was batting just .173 in rookie ball. Nearly released, Nunez enjoyed a resurgence in 2021, controlling the strike zone and slashing .273/.373/.476 with six homers and a 23:26 walk-to-strikeout ratio at stops in the FCL and Low-A. Signed in 2017, one comparison made was former Blue Jays farmhand Harold Ramirez, who’s still bouncing around the major leagues, because of how many hard-hit ground balls come off Nunez’s bat.
OF Amell Brazoban, 20, Florida Complex League
Just behind the group of young outfielders clumped in the No. 40 range on the top 50, Brazoban actually put up some of the best numbers of that cohort last year, batting .317/.407/.545 with a couple of home runs in the FCL. The 2018 international signing cleaned up some plate discipline issues and had a good progression season in 2021, but he’ll be challenged as the competition gets better.
OF Steward Berroa, 23, Double-A
Aided by some rule changes at Low-A, Berroa’s 58 total stolen bases jump off the page and
the speed is noteworthy. The switch-hitter was described numerous times as the best base-stealer in the organization. Normally that tool alone would get a guy on the top 50, but Berroa hasn’t shown much with the bat with a career .730 OPS and his wheels haven’t yet made up for a lack of instincts in centre field.
1B/3B Peniel Brito, 19, Florida Complex League
One of 12 prospects to fall off the list entirely from the 2021 top 50, Brito struggled as an 18-year-old in the FCL last season, striking out 28 times in 75 at-bats. The thickly built right-handed hitter has bat speed, but there’s a long way to go. At just 19, there’s lots of time to jump back onto the top 50.
SS/3B Martin Gimenez, 18, Dominican Summer League
Cut a seven-figure cheque to sign out of Venezuela in last year’s international free-agent class, Gimenez was billed as having an advanced bat, but that did not come to fruition in his DSL debut. Gimenez struggled to a .225/.304/.254 slash line with a boatload of strikeouts and might be back in the DSL again this summer with a large group of middle infielders ahead of him.
C Phil Clarke, 24, High-A
Nicknamed The Hitman coming out of Vanderbilt, the 2019 ninth-round pick struggled in his first full pro season coming out of the pandemic, slashing a muted .248/.345/.364 with six homers in 87 games. It was a tale of two halves for the left-handed hitter, as Clarke didn’t swat his first homer until July 27 before making some adjustments and finishing the season out with a .297/.364/.497 slash line in 45 games.
1B PK Morris, 23, High-A
Go read the Spencer Horwitz report at No. 35 and you can apply most of that to Morris, another low-power first base prospect with a pretty good idea of what he’s doing at the dish. Morris doesn’t have the elite approach that Horwitz possesses, but the .407 on-base percentage at Low-A this year shows the 2017 14th-round pick can put together an AB.
3B Damiano Palmegiani, 22, Florida Complex League
Born in Venezuela, Palmegiani is a grad of Vauxhall Academy in Alberta, but the only thing you need to know about the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is that he can hit. Drafted twice by the Blue Jays in the 35th round in 2018 and then again in the 14th round last year out of the College of Southern Nevada, Palmegiani slashed .333/.458/.538 with a pair of homers in his 17-game debut in the FCL last summer. If he can find a position — third and outfield are the favourites, with second base and first base also possibilities — he could quickly hit his way to relevance.
INF/OF Vinny Capra, 25, Triple-A
Selected in the 20th round back in 2018, Capra reminds some of Jon Berti with his scrappy play and versatile ways. The difference between the two at this point is that Berti, who toiled in the minors until he was 28 before finally getting a chance, is faster and hits the ball harder than Capra, who put up a 156 wRC+ at Double-A as a 24-year-old super-utility player last season. The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder is upper-minors depth.