Skip to main content


Jimenez could be next key Jays prospect to get call


TORONTO — After a few years of using the minor-league system to acquire big-league help, it looks as though things could be shifting back to addition rather than subtraction.

Given the state of the Toronto Blue Jays’ prospect pipeline — it’s not good — any upcoming injection of talent will be a good thing, and with the club still unable to claw their way back to .500 it seems inevitable that they won’t be buying when the trade deadline arrives on July 30.

Maybe they won’t be selling to the extent many want or expect, but this isn’t a club that can afford to part with anymore prospect capital.

Using our annual top 50 Blue Jays prospects list as a guide, here’s a look at how some of the prominent names — one notable bat and one notable arm at each of the affiliates, plus a Canadian from the annual league-wide top 20 list — fared in the month of June.

Triple-A Buffalo Bisons

Bat to watch: SS/2B Leo Jimenez (No. 6)

Hat tip to corner infielder Riley Tirotta, a 2021 12th-round pick out of Dayton who has posted a 1.051 OPS at Triple-A since being promoted at the end of May.

Well off the top 50 radar coming into the season, Tirotta has some late-bloomer qualities and some pop, a la Davis Schneider, and is a name to remember next spring when it comes to bench bats.

The name to watch over the next few weeks, however, is Leo Jimenez, a prospect who seems to finally be putting it all together.

Asked last week about who could help from Triple-A, GM Ross Atkins pointed to Jimenez as the middle infielder returned from injury and started heating up in June.

A pure shortstop with some experience at second base, Jimenez would be next in line if a Bo Bichette trade actually came to fruition this month.

After hitting 15 home runs over his first five minor-league seasons, Jimenez has bashed seven in just 57 games so far this year.

Arm to watch: LHP Ricky Tiedemann (No. 1)

One of the reasons it hasn’t exactly been a memorable start to the year for the Jays’ pipeline is the trouble they’ve had keeping their best prospect healthy.

After throwing just 44 minor-league innings in 2023, Tiedemann has been healthy for just three Triple-A starts this season.

But the 21-year-old lefty is just about ready to return.

After three rehab appearances in the lower levels in June, Tiedemann is expected to pitch for Single-A Dunedin again this week, before returning to a full workload with Triple-A Buffalo for the outing that follows near the middle of the month.

The Jays would love to get Tiedemann built up to five or six innings over the next few weeks and see where things stand in August.

Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Bat to watch: 3B/2B Cade Doughty (No. 16)

We’re now close to two years removed from the Jays holding five of the first 98 picks in the 2022 draft, and the returns so far have been decidedly mixed.

Of the five names taken, Doughty has flown under the radar just about the entire time, mostly thanks to a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined to start the year.

Splitting time between third base and second base, the LSU product was just recently sent to Double-A, the 23-year-old’s first taste of the upper minors.

At this point, none of Brandon Barriera (23rd overall), Josh Kasevich (60th), Tucker Toman (77th), Doughty (78th) or Alan Roden (98th) are profiling as can’t-miss future pieces.

Arm to watch: RHP Braydon Fisher (not eligible)

Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for the DFA’d Cavan Biggio last month, Fisher is a lanky right-hander who has shown the ability to get a whole lot of swing-and-miss.

True to that scouting report, since being sent to Double-A New Hampshire, Fisher has struck out 10 across his five appearances.

The other part of his profile has always been lots of free passes and Fisher has been true to that, too, walking five and hitting a pair of batters across those 6.2 frames.

Fisher is your typical heater/slider bullpen arm, running his fastball up to about 96 mph.

High-A Vancouver Canadians

Bat to watch: 1B Peyton Williams (not ranked)

He might possess the most raw power in the system, but Peyton Williams and his 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame have struggled to get to that pop in games with any sort of consistency since being selected in the seventh round of the 2022 draft.

Hurt to begin the season, Williams just recently ramped back up and sent back to High-A Vancouver, where he finished out 2023.

Given the time off, it’s been a solid return engagement in Van City for Williams, who hit a pair of homers and walked 16 times across 90 trips to the plate last month.

Arm to watch: RHP Lazaro Estrada (not ranked)

Armed with a high-spin hook that has befuddled inexperienced hitters in the lower minors, Estrada is likely on his way to Double-A soon.

That test will start to tell the real story for the 25-year-old righty, and he’s one of the more intriguing arms to monitor in the second half.

It’s pitchability over pure stuff, but the Cuban has posted a 1.73 ERA across eight starts so far this year — he wasn’t able to get to Vancouver last year because of Visa issues — and he’s garnered some of the highest swing-and-miss numbers across the entire system this year.

Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays

Bat to watch: 3B/2B Tucker Toman (No. 22)

As mentioned previously, the 2022 draft class hasn’t exactly popped for the Blue Jays, and Toman is likely the biggest disappointment for most.

After looking overmatched at Single-A as a 19-year-old last season, Toman was sent back to Dunedin this year and it’s been more of the same.

The strikeout rate has risen to 32.1 per cent this season and the switch-hitter has hit just nine home runs across 186 minor-league games so far.

It’s too early to give up on the tools, but the on-paper production is starting to leave a lot to be desired.

Arm to watch: RHP Juaron Watts-Brown (No. 18)

The Jays went over slot to nab JWB in the third round last summer, and it’s looking pretty good so far.

Armed with a wipeout slider, the focus this year has been the development of a cutter, a process that looks to be coming along quite nicely.

As a college arm in the lower minors, Watts-Brown should be having success, which is exactly what he started doing last month, posting a 2.91 ERA across four starts, allowing just 14 hits over 21.2 frames in the process.

FCL Blue Jays

Bat to watch: SS Arjun Nimmala (No. 3)

Similar to Toman, Nimmala looked a bit overmatched in his full season debut at Single-A to start the year, resulting in a demotion to the complex league last month.

After a break on the developmental list to work on some things, Nimmala looked a whole lot more comfortable in the FCL, before being pushed back to A-ball to finish out the month.

Overall, the 2023 first-rounder’s slash line sits at .187/.319/.374 with five homers across 166 trips to the plate.

This one is going to take some patience.

Arm to watch: LHP Kendry Rojas (No. 10)

Just about every top pitching prospect in the system has dealt with an injury this year, some more serious than others.

Billed as a major breakout candidate coming into the year, Rojas was on the shelf since April 10 with a shoulder issue, before finally returning for a three-inning rehab outing in the FCL on June 25.

The stuff returned intact, as the Cuban lefty has pushed his peak velocities into the mid-90s, after hovering around 90 just a couple years ago as a converted outfielder.

A strong finish for Rojas would be a much-needed positive story on the starting pitching front.

Canuck of the Month

OF Denzel Clarke, Oakland A’s (No. 3)

At the end of May, Clarke, who sat third on our top 20 Canadian prospects list back in January, was swinging at everything and batting just .191 with three home runs over his first 38 games.

It was a much different story in June for the Pickering, Ont., product, as Clarke found his footing, batting .291 with five bombs across 22 games.

The one issue, however, continues to be strikeouts, as he still struck out 21 times in June, compared to just one walk.

Overall, Clarke has struck out 35.7 per cent of the time this season.