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Feb 11, 2021

TSN's top 50 Blue Jays prospects

TSN's Scott Mitchell digs into the farm system to rank the top 50 prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays' farm system.

Blue Jays Top 50 Prospects

TSN's Scott Mitchell ranks his top 50 prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays' farm system. Here is the full list originally released on Feb. 11, 2021.

TOP 50 BY POSITION
Catchers: 7
Corner infielders: 4
Middle infielders: 10
Outfielders: 5
Pitchers: 24

HOW THEY WERE ACQUIRED
Trade: 5
MLB Draft: 21
International free agency: 22
Rule 5 Draft: 1
Undrafted free agent: 1

GRADUATED (3): LHP Anthony Kay (6); SS Santiago Espinal (18); RHP Thomas Hatch (20).

GONE (8): RHP Kendall Williams (11; traded to Los Angeles Dodgers in Ross Stripling deal); OF Griffin Conine (13; traded to Miami Marlins in Jonathan Villar deal); RHP Josh Winckowski (22; traded to New York Mets in Steven Matz deal); OF Anthony Alford (27; claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh Pirates); RHP Hector Perez (32; traded to Cincinnati Reds for cash/PTBNL); RHP Yennsy Diaz (33; traded to New York Mets in Steven Matz deal); OF Alberto Rodriguez (HM; traded to Seattle Mariners in Taijuan Walker deal); LHP Travis Bergen (HM; traded to Arizona Diamondbacks in Robbie Ray deal).

FELL OFF (7): LF/1B Ryan Noda (34); 2B/SS Logan Warmoth (38); OF Forrest Wall (39); SS Kevin Vicuna (42); 3B/2B Cullen Large (43); RHP Kyle Johnston (44); OF Robert Robertis (49).

2021 AFFILIATE LEVELS
Triple-A: Buffalo Bisons
Double-A: New Hampshire Fisher-Cats
High-A: Vancouver Canadians
Low-A: Dunedin Blue Jays
Dominican Summer League: One full affiliate/one shared affiliate
Complex league in Florida: Replacing short-season affiliates

 

Nate Pearson
1. RHP Nate Pearson

  • 2019 RANK
    4
  • 2020 RANK
    1
  • AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: MLB Toronto

 

2020 GOSSIP: Last year, this blurb area was called “2019 rewind.” While Nate Pearson doesn’t really fit because he was in the big leagues all year, I’ve changed it to “2020 gossip” since there was no minor league season, no statistical profiles to delve into and, really, no concrete info on how young players progressed. Even at the best of times, concrete and trustworthy info on prospects isn’t easy to track down. Many of the names high on this list showed up at the Jays’ alternate site in Rochester, which featured a few standouts, but it’s a murky picture for prospects across the league heading into 2021. When it comes to Pearson, it was health that got in the way. After debuting with a whole lot of fanfare on July 29 against the Washington Nationals, striking out five across five high-octane innings, Pearson suffered a flexor tendon strain in mid-August and didn’t return until the postseason. That two-inning stint against the Tampa Bay Rays was exciting because Pearson’s stuff was back — even in a short stint — and he looked like the potential ace he is.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: This is a tricky one and Pearson’s workload and usage will be a story all season long. The Jays will be careful with their prized possession due to the elbow scare, but throwing just 20 total innings last year doesn’t exactly put Big Nate in a position to ramp up in a big way in 2021. I’ve never looked at the bullpen as a near-term option for Pearson, but there’s an argument to be made that 100-ish high-octane innings either as a short-stint starter or a multi-inning ‘pen weapon would best serve his development this season — I repeat: this season only — and put him on track to be a full-time rotation piece in 2022. The stuff is scary good when he’s healthy and the ceiling is huge, but patience may be a virtue here.

 

ETA: Debuted in 2020

Austin Martin
2. INF/OF Austin Martin

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A

 

2020 GOSSIP: After agreeing to the largest bonus in franchise history at just north of $7 million, Martin would’ve likely made his way to High-A as an advanced college bat. That would’ve set him up to start 2021 in Double-A and leave him a hot couple of months away from a quick big-league debut. That’s the pie-in-the-sky scenario if he adapted quickly to professional pitching, which most think he will. His time at the alternate site seemed to reinforce that. Everything matched up with the college scouting report. Martin was having good at-bats against far more advanced pitching than he would’ve faced in the minors in a normal year, showing a line drive approach but not much game power.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: It will be interesting to track Martin’s statistical profile, especially the pop, when minor league games start, but the clear storyline for Martin is his position. The versatility he brings was an attraction, allowing the Jays to develop him at a number of spots and then fit him into the major league lineup when the time comes. The Jays’ philosophy is to keep amateur shortstops at that spot as long as possible, so Martin will see time at shortstop, but there isn’t much belief that’s where he’ll end up long-term. When he showed up at summer camp in Toronto in July, he immediately worked at third base and took reps in left field. Third and outfield seem to be the priority as they work to get him comfortable, but a lot of scouts see a second baseman. How the power manifests will decide whether he’s a star or more of an across-the-board valuable player. My personal comp for him since the draft has been Alex Bregman … if the power shows up. Bregman faced similar questions about the pop as the second-overall pick in the 2015 draft and then went out and erased those concerns with 14 homers in his first 62 games at Double-A, taking off from there and arriving in the big leagues at the tail end of his first full professional season.

 

ETA: Late 2022

Jordan Groshans
3. 3B Jordan Groshans

  • 2019 RANK
    7
  • 2020 RANK
    2
  • AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A

 

2020 GOSSIP: Groshans falls one spot on this list from last year, but that has everything to do with Martin just being that good and that advanced. Groshans actually had an impressive year, showing a whole lot of pop and generally impressing in every which way for a player who only has 96 plate appearances in full-season ball and missed most of 2019 with a foot injury. I can make a case for Groshans being the best prospect in this system and a full season of minor league production could have him eyed as one of the best prospects in the game a year from now.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Like Martin above and Orelvis Martinez below, Groshans has been developed as a shortstop up to this point, but the body type and skillset fit like a glove at third base. At summer camp in July, just like Martin, Groshans immediately was sent to the hot corner for reps and he just looks the part. With Pearson graduating from this list relatively quickly, it’s Martin and Groshans vying for the title of top prospect in the system a year for now and you can make a strong case for either one. Getting game reps and at-bats in the high minors is important for Groshans this year. Could Groshans go out and mash in the first half of the season and force his way into the conversation earlier than 2022? Definitely. The reports from Rochester were that good.

 

ETA: Late 2022

Orelvis Martinez
4. 3B/SS Orelvis Martinez

  • 2019 RANK
    14
  • 2020 RANK
    3
  • AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2018

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: This type of gossip is the good stuff right here. As the story goes from a number of witnesses when Martinez arrived at the alternate site late in the season just to get some experience, the then-18-year-old swung and missed on the first nine pitches he saw, striking out four times in his first four at-bats. The next day, he at least made some contact. On the third day, a couple hard hit balls including his only home run during the short ALT site experience.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: That anecdotal evidence of a young player learning on the job against the most advanced pitching he’s ever seen — don’t forget, the ALT site was littered with major-league depth arms and pitchers with tons of big-league experience, not teenagers — is type of incremental progress coaches love to see, even if it doesn’t mean much. Other than that, Martinez’s profile hasn’t changed a lot. His exit velocities are big for a player his age and loud contact from the right side of the box is a regularity with the 6-foot-1, 190-pound teenager. It’s not breaking any news to say his prospect status could really take off nationally in full-season ball this summer.

 

ETA: 2023

Alejandro Kirk
5. C Alejandro Kirk

  • 2019 RANK
    43
  • 2020 RANK
    7
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2016

Expected starting affiliate: MLB Toronto

 

2020 GOSSIP: The hype train started when he was given an invite to big-league spring training last February and impressed. Then, at the ALT site, the portly right-handed hitter with the .315 career average in the minors continued to find barrel after barrel, forcing Blue Jays’ decision-makers to reevaluate the production they were getting from their MLB catching trio of Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire and Caleb Joseph. Kirk ended up debuting Sept. 12 against the New York Mets, and then really stood out a little more than a week later when he went 4-for-4 against the Yankees with his first career homer.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Kirk’s debut was splashy, and teams have been after him in trade talks for well over a year now, but all you have to do is look at the ZiPS projections on FanGraphs to understand just how valuable the bat can be as the 22-year-old is currently projected to be the seventh most valuable catcher in baseball this coming season. The ability to put the barrel on the baseball is simply special and it might even out any concern the Jays have about his ability to control a running game over the course of a long season. Getting in better shape will be a priority and Kirk has apparently already received that message this winter.

 

ETA: Debuted in 2020

Gabriel Moreno
6. C Gabriel Moreno

  • 2019 RANK
    37
  • 2020 RANK
    8
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2016

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: There wasn’t a bigger off-the-radar star internally for the Blue Jays than this young Venezuelan backstop, one who’s just now starting to scratch the surface of his potential at the plate. Not only was he described multiple times as the “best hitter” in Rochester last summer, but apparently even the rehabbing Bo Bichette were stunned by his loud contact. The former infielder is also athletic enough to not look out of place at third base, and he’s expected to continue taking ground balls in the future just as a way to maybe develop a little bit more versatility. But don’t get it twisted, he’s a catcher. Potentially a very good one with some more polish.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Added to a loaded 40-man roster at the catcher position, Moreno has Jansen, McGuire, Kirk and Riley Adams ahead of him. He’s also never had a minor-league at-bat above Low-A, so despite his drool-worthy summer, the Jays will take this one slow. Considering the situation, he might be used as a trade chip and teams have already been clamouring to get their hands on him. Based on the reports, he’s too low on this list, but the guys ahead of him have done nothing to be bumped down.

 

ETA: 2023

Simeon Woods Richardson
7. RHP Simeon Woods Richardson

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    4
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Trade

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: Woods Richardson showed up at summer camp in Toronto in July and immediately impressed in intrasquad and live BP sessions, showing an advanced idea of what he’s doing on the mound for a pitcher who was still just 19 at the time. During his time in Rochester at the ATS, there were flashes, but the focus was on breaking ball command. He’s throwing both a curveball and slider, two pitches that are behind his fastball/changeup combo.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: This year will be about Woods Richardson refining and putting it all together in the upper minors during what still will be just his age-20 season. If he finds a dominant strikeout pitch, look out. With any young pitcher, when he gets a big league opportunity will depend a lot on what happens ahead of him and the health of others, but SWR doesn’t seem to be far off even if he begins in Double-A.

 

ETA: Late 2021

Alek Manoah Vancouver Canadians
8. RHP Alek Manoah

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    5
  • AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: Manoah arrived late at the ALT site in Rochester due to some pandemic-related issues, so it wasn’t a heavy workload for their 2019 first rounder last summer. His slight fall on this list has everything to do with Austin Martin being drafted and two catchers having sensational summers, rather than anything Manoah did or didn’t do. He also attended a throwing camp in the fall to get some more work.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The organization’s lone goal with the hulking and confident 6-foot-6, 260-pounder this season is to get him used to pitching every fifth day and go from there. The combination of his power fastball and slider gives him a great base to start with and considering his age and college pedigree, there’s no reason not to test him, despite his relative lack of experience with just 17 pro innings thanks to the pandemic. Like most young power pitchers, how the changeup develops will be key to his rotation future, but many still point to a high-leverage reliever role, especially if the Jays are contending. That’s the new wrinkle with the developmental timelines of the Jays’ young arms — the needs and goals at the big-league level have now changed and that will affect how they view some pitchers who could contribute sooner rather than later in maybe different ways than were originally planned.

 

ETA: Late 2022

Miguel Hiraldo
9. 3B/2B Miguel Hiraldo

  • 2019 RANK
    15
  • 2020 RANK
    10
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2017

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: Forever ago, when the 2019 minor league season ended, Hiraldo and shortstop Leonardo Jimenez were elevated to Low-A for one game, introducing them to full-season ball for the first time. This summer, Hiraldo’s goal was to add a little bit more loft to his swing, something that would help his bat-first profile add more pop. The pandemic wiped out any chance of really knowing if that happened, but like a large number of players on this list, it’s a stock neutral situation from last year until these guys get back into games.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Viewed by some as one of the top bats in the 2017 international class, Hiraldo doesn’t get a lot of prospect buzz. The bat speed and contact ability, combined with emerging power, have made him one of my favourite prospects to track and ask about over the past couple of years and that won’t change at all this summer. There’s a glut of infielders around Hiraldo’s level and he should continue to see time at both second base and third base.

 

ETA: 2023

CJ Van Eyk
10. RHP CJ Van Eyk

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

2020 GOSSIP: Popped in the second round of last year’s unique draft, the Jays brought Van Eyk to the Florida Development League in the fall where he threw one inning. It may have only been one frame, but it has many excited to see the Florida State product on the mound in game action this year. It was very apparent to those who saw him that Van Eyk had worked on his body between the June draft and arriving in Dunedin, where Van Eyk was showing a starter’s repertoire with a four-pitch arsenal that includes a four-seamer, curveball, slider and changeup.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Normally, a college arm would start his first full professional season in High-A, but this year is as murky as ever, especially with the start of the 2021 minor league season completely up in the air at this point and pitcher workloads in question at every level. Van Eyk is a breakout candidate.

 

ETA: 2023

Adam Kloffenstein
11. RHP Adam Kloffenstein

  • 2019 RANK
    13
  • 2020 RANK
    12
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A

 

2020 GOSSIP: As I’ve noted off the top in each of these, this blurb area was called “2019 rewind” last year but for obvious reasons — no minor league season, no statistical profiles to delve into and, really, no concrete info on how young players progressed — it’s now a “gossip” section. Even at the best of times, concrete and trustworthy info on prospects isn’t easy to track down. Many of the names high on this list showed up at the Jays’ alternate site in Rochester, which featured a few standouts, but it’s a murky picture for prospects across the league heading into 2021. With no room at the alternate site for an arm as far away as the 6-foot-5 Kloffenstein, the Jays instead agreed to let the big right-hander pitch in the Constellation Energy League, an independent league in Texas that featured a team put together by Roger Clemens. Of the 120 or so players toiling in the thrown together circuit, more than half of them had some sort of Triple-A time or MLB experience. That gave Kloffenstein, who the Jays monitored closely via TrackMan data and many check-ins, a chance to test himself. The ERA ended up above 6.00 in a small sample size, but in the end both the young pitcher and the club thought it was a good overall experience, making the best of a bad situation.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: It’s already been three years since Kloffenstein was drafted and handed a huge over-slot bonus in the third round, so 2021 will be an important year for him as he enters full season ball and will attempt to ramp up the workload. Kloffenstein noted his velocity had ticked up from the 91-93 mph fastball he showed at short-season Vancouver in 2019, and he might get a ticket back there now that it’s the High-A affiliate.

 

ETA: 2023

Otto Lopez
12. INF/OF Otto Lopez

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    17
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQURIED
    IFA 2016

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: Born in the Dominican, Lopez spent four years of his childhood growing up in Montreal before his family moved back home. The first word you usually hear to describe the 5-foot-10, 160-pounder is competitive. Whether it’s energy on defence or competitive at-bats in the box, his tools don’t stand out, but his work ethic and versatility do. His 2019 numbers at High-A kind of tell the story. In 492 trips to the plate, Lopez slashed .324/.371/.425 with five homers and 20 steals, striking out just 12.8 per cent of the time and also showing the ability to take a walk.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Added to the 40-man roster in the off-season to shield him from Rule 5 draft poachers, that says everything you need to know about what the Jays think of Lopez. He’s ready for Double-A and has a four-position portfolio of second base — his best position — shortstop, third base and outfield. The safe bet is utility player, but everyone I talk to believes there could be more in the bat, which is why he’s at No. 12. He’s a personal favourite.

 

ETA: 2022

Julian Merryweather
13. RHP Julian Merryweather

  • 2019 RANK
    31
  • 2020 RANK
    35
  • AGE
    29
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Trade

Expected starting affiliate: MLB Toronto

 

2020 GOSSIP: I promise I did not put Merryweather at No. 13 just because he’s been perhaps the unluckiest prospect I’ve ever encountered. It’s been setback after setback with his right arm for the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, but when he finally did arrive on a major-league mound last August, Merryweather showed exactly why Jays’ brass was so high on him two and a half years ago when they sent Josh Donaldson to Cleveland for him. He had unfortunately — and wrongly — become a punchline prior to that, but it’s funny how debuting with a 98-mph fastball can change things. Once again, though, after punching out 12 hitters over his first 7.1 innings out of the bullpen for the Jays, Merryweather’s fastball was down to 94-96 mph in his final two outings before he hit the IL with elbow tendinitis on Sept. 21.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Despite yet another bump in the road for a prospect who will turn 30 years old in October — odds are I never write that sentence again in my life — Merryweather was trying to make it back for the postseason and the Jays are expecting him to be ready to go for spring training. The front office also wanted him stretched out as a starter coming into camp, but there’s a high likelihood that’s in an effort to use him in a multi-inning role, rather than as any sort of traditional 90-100 pitch starter. It’s not a question of whether he’s capable of that stuff-wise and delivery-wise, but the health concerns are obvious. If he can stay healthy, the high-octane fastball, smooth delivery and decent command will play at the back end of the bullpen for a long time, which, in this case, is into his mid-30s. I think he’s a future closer, if those still exist.

 

ETA: Debuted in 2020

Dasan Brown
14. OF Dasan Brown

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    15
  • AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: The homegrown Oakville, Ont., kid possesses a rare combination of quick-twitch athleticism — think NFL cornerback here — elite speed, pop and plate discipline. It’s the package of skills forced the Jays to hand him an over-slot bonus in the third round of the 2019 draft, desperately needing to add this type of outfield upside to the system. Right now, however, that package of skills is all just a tantalizing dream as the 19-year-old is about as raw as it gets.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Still maturing physically, the right-handed hitter produced a .222/.444/.356 slash line with six steals in eight tries during his 14-game cameo in the GCL to finish out 2019. With the rookie-level affiliates now gone thanks to the MiLB restructuring, Brown will likely start his year on the complex backfields in Dunedin. Chances are good he lands in the same area of this list in 2022 and that’s perfectly fine. The fact that he’s at No. 14 already, ahead of a bunch of talented teenagers near the bottom of this list, shows just how high the ceiling is.

 

ETA: 2025

Blue Jays Logo
15. RHP Yosver Zulueta

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    45
  • AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2019

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: If you’re looking for a pitching prospect in this system who could break out in a big way and onto the national scene this summer, Zulueta is the guy. In some circles, he’s already there. Signed in June of 2019 with the late international bonus pool money acquired by trading Kendrys Morales to the Oakland A’s and Dwight Smith Jr. to the Baltimore Orioles, Zulueta underwent Tommy John surgery almost immediately — an issue the Jays were aware of at the time — so his prospect status hasn’t had an opportunity to move much over the past year and a half. That started to change in the fall when the Cuban right-hander started ramping up when he was 15 or so months removed from surgery. In Dunedin, he was regularly touching high-90s with his heat, including one secondhand report of a session where he faced Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in November and hit 99 mph on the gun, drawing a bit of an oh-my look from Vladdy.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Featuring high-90s heat and a hard curveball, the delivery is smooth enough to project as a starter. Being 23 years old, Zulueta is ready to be tested, even if the innings and pitch counts will be monitored closely in the early going.

 

ETA: 2023

Riley Adams
16. C Riley Adams

  • 2019 RANK
    44
  • 2020 RANK
    30
  • AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A

 

2020 GOSSIP: The catching prospect in the system no one talks about, Adams could have a long big-league career, albeit one that might not come with a lot of fanfare. There’s also a chance he’s much more than the 10-year backup many scouts see. A throwback-framed backstop at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Adams is athletic for his size and it serves him well in all areas, making him well-rounded across the board. If you see him in the box, the setup looks a lot like Kris Bryant’s, a fellow University of San Diego alum. As far as the gossip goes, Adams bashed five home runs in the final couple weeks at the ALT site in Rochester, leading many to believe the best is yet to come with the bat.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: He doesn’t possess the tantalizing upside of the two prized catching possessions ahead of him on this list, but Adams will be the primary backstop at Triple-A this season and is one call away from the big leagues after being added to the 40-man roster. His progress at the plate — particularly the power and strikeout rate — will be the aspect of his game to watch this summer.

 

ETA: 2022

Joey Murray
17. RHP Joey Murray

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    19
  • AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

2020 GOSSIP: The open-ended question I always start with is “Who should I be talking about more?” Murray’s name always comes up. An unheralded eighth-round pick out of Kent State University, the Ohio native led the organization in strikeouts in 2019, whiffing 169 across 137.1 frames across three different stops. That’s really good. But what’s even better is he was doing that with a rising, high-spin fastball that was sitting in the 88-91-mph range. Last summer at the ATS, the goal was to simplify and clean up the delivery. He did that and his velocity jumped to the 91-93 range, according to multiple reports, even touching 95 at times. We’ll see if that holds in 2021.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The fastball and curveball really stand out in Murray’s repertoire and he simply gets results. The Jays are hoping to get a traditional starter out of Murray in the end, but he could pitch in a valuable bat-missing multi-inning role thanks to the unique rising fastball that has given hitters fits up to this point.

 

ETA: Late 2021

Kevin Smith
18. SS Kevin Smith

  • 2019 RANK
    5
  • 2020 RANK
    16
  • AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

2020 GOSSIP: Passed over in the Rule 5 draft back in December even though he’s the type of profile teams love to take a chance on, Smith will get another chance to rebuild his prospect status with the organization that drafted him in the fourth round out of the University of Maryland in 2017. The 2018 breakout season that saw him hit 25 home runs and steal 29 bases feels like a long time ago now, and strikeout issues have plagued him since. After working with him at the ALT site, there are a few who believe he’ll be able to tone down the swing-and-miss enough to be a glove-first utility player with some pop, which isn’t a bad outcome.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: While strikeouts are a huge part of the game and completely accepted these days, striking out 32.3 per cent of the time in Double-A, as Smith did in 2019, is never a good sign. He’ll get every opportunity to turn things around in Buffalo this year.

 

ETA: 2021

Blue Jays Logo
19. SS Estiven Machado

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    18
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2019

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: Overshadowed during the 2019 international signing period by the $1.2 million bonus Rikelvin de Castro got, Machado has already taken a leap and proven to be the better hitter of the two, maybe by a wide margin. The Jays love the switch-hitter’s swing from both sides of the plate and despite standing 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, there’s some power potential here, too.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: It’s going to be a while before Machado makes much of a mark on the national prospect scene as a potential top 100 candidate, but here’s betting that happens. He’s already looking like an exciting prospect.

 

ETA: 2025

Blue Jays Logo
20. SS Leonardo Jimenez

  • 2019 RANK
    28
  • 2020 RANK
    28
  • AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2017

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Lansing

 

2020 GOSSIP: The only bit of gossip you need to know on Jimenez is the fact he showed up to the Fall Development League in the Florida with added mass on a frame that was previously listed at 160 pounds, and then went out and hit a home run. That’s notable because through 401 minor-league plate appearances in his two pro seasons, he had never popped one over the fence.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: There’s an interesting glut of middle infielders the Jays will have to find reps for at the four affiliates this season, but Jimenez’s glove and defensive instincts are by far his calling card. If the added strength manifests in more game power, he will find himself much, much higher on this list a year from now.

 

ETA: 2023

Rikelvin de Castro
21. SS Rikelvin de Castro

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    29
  • AGE
    18
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2019

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: The glove is the calling card here, but before de Castro’s prospect status has a chance of taking off, the skinny 150-pounder will have to mature and add some man strength to the frame. When that happens, there’s an exciting package of tools to dream on, combined with excellent defensive instincts at shortstop.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Having just turned 18 in January, de Castro is a slow burn prospect who’ll probably have a stock neutral season and end up in a similar spot on this list next year.

 

ETA: 2025

Trent Palmer
22. RHP Trent Palmer

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

2020 GOSSIP: Palmer was a bit of a surprise pick out of Jacksonville University, but the Jays went over-slot to sign him in the third round. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, he doesn’t look like your prototypical starter, but he’s athletic, repeats his delivery well and there are a ton of breakout markers here as his fastball can get up into the mid-90s.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: He’s not Nate Pearson — not many are — but the fact Palmer has been seen more out of the bullpen than as a starter might leave some undiscovered upside, and one source even mentioned Big Nate’s stock jump immediately after being drafted as a comparison. There are many people both inside and outside the Blue Jays’ organization interested to see how he transitions into a full-time starter’s role every fifth day.

 

ETA: 2023

Eric Pardinho
23. RHP Eric Pardinho

  • 2019 RANK
    6
  • 2020 RANK
    9
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2017

Expected starting affiliate: Rehabbing

 

2020 GOSSIP: After starring as a 15-year-old in the 2016 World Baseball Classic, the Jays handed the right-hander seven figures based on his smooth delivery and advanced pitchability. Through his first two professional seasons, the undersized Brazilian looked good but not great, and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery last February.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Now about a year removed from the elbow surgery — and posting throwing progression videos on Twitter — the Jays will take things extremely slow with the 20 year old and he’s not likely to see any sort of game action until May or June at the very earliest. If the stuff returns, combined with the smooth, repeatable delivery, he’ll be a name to put back on the radar in 2022.

 

ETA: 2024

Blue Jays Logo
24. RHP Sem Robberse

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    50
  • AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2019

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: Armed with a fluid delivery and pitching smarts beyond his years, the focus for Robberse is adding strength to his 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame. The velocity has already crept up from the high-80s to the low-90s and the projectable frame has many believing he’s just scratching the surface.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The Dutch right-hander won’t be pushed hard, and changeup development will be the focus, but considering his impressive GCL debut in 2019, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him succeed if he was sent to Low-A.

 

ETA: 2025

Manuel Beltre
25. SS Manuel Beltre

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    16
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2021

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: He was the Jays’ prize of last year’s shifted July 2 international signing period, forcing the Dominican product to wait until Jan. 15 to officially sign. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 24th best prospect in this year’s international class, when asking around about Beltre, the makeup was always the first aspect talked about. Beltre’s personality is described as “infectious” and thanks to his extensive experience playing travel ball in the States, he’s fluent in English and even acted as the translator for the rest of the 16-year-old J15 signings in Dunedin recently. That’s impressive for anyone, let alone someone who’s still working on his geography homework.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Anyone who’s been around Beltre raves about his love for the game, which bodes well for his ability to handle the inevitable failure that will come along with a long prospect journey. Skills-wise, the 5-foot-9, 155-pounder is seen as an advanced hitter for his age with the ability to stay up the middle defensively.

 

ETA: 2026

Patrick Murphy
26. RHP Patrick Murphy

  • 2019 RANK
    24
  • 2020 RANK
    21
  • AGE
    25
  • ACQUIRED
    2013 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

2020 GOSSIP: Way back in 2019, Murphy was on the verge of a potential recall for a spot start for the pitching-starved Jays before umpires deemed his toe-tap delivery to be illegal, forcing the 6-foot-4 right-hander to overhaul his mechanics. That’s not easy and it took some time for Murphy to figure things out. After refining things at the ALT site last summer, Murphy made his big-league debut with four appearances out of the bullpen in late September, featuring a 96-97 mph fastball and a curve.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Developed up to this point as a starter, Murphy’s long-term future likely resides in the bullpen, where the fastball/hook combo would play up. But the Jays could continue to try to get him development innings in the rotation at Triple-A this year, and he’ll be called upon to play a role at some point when depth is needed.

 

ETA: Debuted in 2020

Jays starting pitcher T.J. Zeuch throws against the Red Sox on Tuesday.
27. RHP T.J. Zeuch

  • 2019 RANK
    12
  • 2020 RANK
    14
  • AGE
    25
  • ACQUIRED
    2016 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

2020 GOSSIP: Zeuch has had cups of coffee in the big leagues in each of the past two seasons, but hasn’t shown the ability to miss enough bats to fill anything more than an innings-eating middle reliever role. Last summer, the Jays toyed with his mechanics and repertoire, leaving the 6-foot-7 right-hander as a work in progress.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: As a diehard New England Patriots fan, I have to give Zeuch a bit of a break, but it’s an important year for the former first-round pick as he needs to find a way to generate enough whiffs with some sort of secondary pitch in order to give his worm-burning sinker more leeway.

 

ETA: Debuted in 2019

Nick Frasso
28. RHP Nick Frasso

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: An elbow injury sewered the Loyola Marymount product’s draft stock last year, but the Jays saw a buy-low opportunity and grabbed the 6-foot-5 right-hander in the fourth round.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The Jays have targeted college pitchers who maybe don’t get a full opportunity to show their stuff, whether that be due to injury or a bullpen role, sometimes both. Frasso is no different, and the riding fastball/curveball combination gives him a good base to work with as the Jays develop him as a starter. He’s expected to be healthy to start the year.

 

ETA: 2023

Will Robertson
29. OF Will Robertson

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    26
  • AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

2020 GOSSIP: The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Robertson’s game is all about strength and pop, so it’s probably a good thing that he was one of the most productive Blue Jays hitters during the Fall Development League, mashing a couple of home runs in Florida.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: With the lack of outfield depth in the Jays’ system, Robertson will have a chance to really move up this list if the game power continues to manifest and the lefty builds off a 2019 short-season debut in Vancouver that saw him slash .268/.365/.404 with 18 extra-base hits in 61 games. The more names I pencil in at High-A, the more I think I need to take a trip out to Van City for a Nooner at The Nat when this pandemic is in our rear-view. Save me a seat.

 

ETA: 2023

Tanner Morris
30. 2B Tanner Morris

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    24
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

2020 GOSSIP: As a college product with a great approach, there are some serious Cavan Biggio-type vibes with Morris, who was drafted in the fifth round out of the University of Virginia two years ago. Now, not many have Biggio’s elite pitch recognition and the power came after some swing adjustments as a pro, but the left-handed hitting Morris is a similar profile as a bat-first player who won’t provide much in the way of defence.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Those who know his game well say he rivals anyone in the organization when it comes to approach, but like Biggio, there is really no standout tool at this point in his development so he’s going to have to hit his way to the big leagues in some sort of utility infielder role. As we learned with Biggio, prospects are fluid entities and adjustments can be significant when the approach is this good.

 

ETA: 2023​

Josh Palacios
31. OF Josh Palacios

  • 2019 RANK
    46
  • 2020 RANK
    25
  • AGE
    25
  • ACQUIRED
    2016 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

2020 GOSSIP: Last year, this blurb area was called “2019 rewind,” but in this very unique year, I’ve changed it to “2020 gossip” since there was no minor-league season, no statistical profiles to delve into and, really, no concrete info on how young players progressed. Even at the best of times, concrete and trustworthy info on prospects isn’t easy to track down. A large group of the names on this list showed up at the Jays’ alternate site in Rochester, which featured a few standouts, but it’s a murky picture for prospects across the league heading into 2021. Palacios was one of those standouts. The good reports on the left-handed hitter started early last summer, as he impressed coaches at the alternate site in Rochester right off the hop. Some thought he was one of the most impressive bats there and it earned him a promotion to the big club’s taxi squad as outfielder insurance in September. By all accounts, the former Auburn Tiger used his time wisely and really cemented his stock in the organization’s eyes over the past calendar year with his work ethic.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Added to the 40-man roster in November, Palacios is on the doorstep of the big leagues and the depth chart ahead has him an injury away. The lefty hitter may never profile in an everyday role and is best suited for left field, but he’s hit same-side arms very well during his minor-league career and got back to spraying the ball around the field against the most advanced pitching he’s ever seen last summer. A right-handed heavy big-league roster may help him earn opportunities this year.

 

ETA: Late 2021

Blue Jays Logo
32. 3B/OF Peniel Brito

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    48
  • AGE
    18
  • Acquired
    IFA 2019

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: When Blue Jays’ decision-makers saw Brito for the first time in the Dominican Republic, he put on a power display that was hard to forget. Using a wide base stance that you could compare to Jeff Bagwell if you’re as old as me, Brito’s penchant for hard contact is the allure here.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The Jays’ plan is to develop Brito as a third baseman, but he could land in right field one day. Keep in mind, even if it works out, that day is going to be a long way away. Set your timers and check back in a couple years. The fact he’s already this high says a lot.

 

ETA: 2026

Nick Allgeyer
33. LHP Nick Allgeyer

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    25
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: This is a pitcher where there was a tangible change in stuff that was covered up by the obscurity of 2020 pandemic baseball. Drafted in the 12th round in 2018 out of the University of Iowa, the left-hander wasn’t really on the radar after producing a 3.95 ERA across 22 starts as a 23-year-old at High-A Dunedin in 2019. But this past summer, Allgeyer experienced a velocity bump, going from 89-91 mph to touching 95 and sitting 92-93, thanks in part to the focus he was able to put into it during the pandemic. Previously, he was seen as an athletic pitcher who showed control and pitchability, but nothing close to the stuff he started to show in 2020.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Described as one of the hardest workers in the system, the stuff playing up last year makes him one of the arms to watch early on when minor-league games start. If the velocity bump stabilizes and he comes out touching mid-90s from the left side again, the Jays might have an eventual No. 4 starter on their hands.

 

ETA: 2023

Elvis Luciano pitches during spring training in Dunedin, Fla.
34. RHP Elvis Luciano

  • 2019 RANK
    22
  • 2020 RANK
    23
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Rule 5 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: Remember this guy? Thrown into an impossible situation in 2019 as a 19-year-old Rule 5 draft pick who had to stick the whole year on the major league roster or be returned to the Kansas City Royals, the Jays — thanks to not caring one bit about results during a 67-win season — managed to keep him around, which would have allowed them to send Luciano back to the minors in 2020 to continue his development as a starter. While that didn’t quite happen thanks to the pandemic, by all accounts Luciano made strides at the alternate site, finding some consistency with both his breaking ball and changeup. He then looked pretty good in the Dominican Winter League in a small sample size.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The smooth delivery and all the reasons the Jays liked him enough to take a chance — outlined here and here — are still there. Getting into a starter’s routine and workload is the goal this year.

 

ETA: Late 2022

Jackson Rees
35. RHP Jackson Rees

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    26
  • ACQUIRED
    Undrafted FA 2018

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

2020 GOSSIP: Handed a measly $1,000 to sign out of the University of Hawaii, Rees came out of nowhere in 2019 to post a ridiculous 0.73 ERA across two levels, finishing the year against top prospects in the Arizona Fall League. You’re probably asking why he wasn’t ranked on last year’s list then. Well, the answer is human error — and I’m that human. There are two reasons for that. First, he doesn’t feature a power arsenal, instead using deception and a funky delivery to strike out 88 batters and limit the damage to just 40 hits across 61.2 innings in 2019. Secondly, Rees is strictly a one-inning reliever, and those types are inherently pushed down on prospect lists for higher-upside types. With bullpens taking on more prominent roles around baseball and the Jays one of the teams looking to use good pitchers creatively, potential quality relievers — whether it’s one-inning guys or multi-inning weapons — will show up here more often. I promise.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Rees has to simply get outs in the high minors and prove the deception works. Easier said than done. At the age of 26 and needing to be added to the 40-man next winter, there’s no reason to think Rees won’t show up in the majors soon if he’s getting results at Triple-A.

 

ETA: Late 2021

Curtis Taylor
36. RHP Curtis Taylor

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    25
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Trade

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

2020 GOSSIP: Dealing with an elbow injury at the time he was acquired from the Rays in the Eric Sogard trade, the Port Coquitlam, B.C., product showed up on the Fall Development League roster and finally pitched in a Jays’ uniform. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder reportedly didn’t stand out by any means, but he was healthy and on a mound. That’s the important thing.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: When the Jays traded for Taylor, he was already being groomed by those crafty Rays as a multi-inning reliever, throwing two-to-three innings at a time. That hasn’t changed in the Jays org and the pie-in-the-sky scenario is a power arm who gets strikeouts in bunches across a couple of innings. Taylor, when healthy, has already had success at Double-A so he’s not far off.

 

ETA: Late 2021

Chavez Young
37. OF Chavez Young

  • 2019 RANK
    33
  • 2020 RANK
    37
  • AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2016 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: Despite the shutdown, Young managed to get hurt twice, including his Australian winter league stint with the Canberra Cavalry ending due to a foot injury that, as of right now, isn’t expected to impact his season. The switch-hitter profiles a bit differently depending which side of the box he’s standing in. A product of the Bahamas who will be a Kevin Pillar-type diamond-in-the-rough draft story if he makes it, Young is a better hitter from the left side but shows more pop from the right.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The speed and defence will carry him, but Young’s bat is far from light and if he can get back to the approach that led him to a .285/.363/.445 slash line in Low-A Lansing in 2018 in the upper minors, he’ll be firmly on the radar as a major-league bench piece.

 

ETA: 2022

Samad Taylor
38. 2B/OF Samad Taylor

  • 2019 RANK
    45
  • 2020 RANK
    36
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Trade

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: Taylor is polarizing. Some love him, some aren’t very high on him at all. Acquired from Cleveland way back in 2017 at the trade deadline in exchange for reliever Joe Smith, Taylor’s game is built on two things: speed and the ability to work a walk. With that in mind, the Jays feel like he made big strides with controlling the zone and his contact rate with some behind-the-scenes adjustments this past year.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: A productive stint in the Australian Baseball League this winter produced a slash line of .288/.376/.397 with a homer and three steals in 21 games, but Taylor’s bat will be tested in a big way at Double-A. After spending the majority of his minor league time at second base, Taylor also put his wheels to use in centre field for the first time Down Under, as the Jays attempt to develop his defensive portfolio.

 

ETA: 2023

Maximo Castillo
39. RHP Maximo Castillo

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    40
  • AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2015

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

2020 GOSSIP: Listed at 6-foot-2, 256 pounds, the best way to describe Castillo is he simply has the ability to pitch. The stuff isn’t sexy, but he induces weak contact, and he knows how to get results, posting a 2.69 ERA across 130.1 innings in High-A in 2019.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The type of prospect that we be forced to prove it at every level along the way, Double-A will be a stiff challenge for Castillo as he starts to face more advanced hitters. If he continues to get results with his sinker in New Hampshire, he’ll have more believers.

 

ETA: 2023

Blue Jays Logo
40. RHP Winder Garcia

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2018

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: One of the youngest players to show up in the Northwest League in 2019, the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder impressed in his one start against competition more than four years older than him on average, striking out four, walking a pair and allowing just four hits across five one-run innings.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Everyone loves comparisons, so here’s one: Components of Garcia’s delivery, stature and competitiveness remind some of prospect-era Marcus Stroman. That’s a compliment, and it also notes his small stature, even if he’s not 5-foot-7 like the Stro Show. Currently sitting 91-92 mph with two emerging secondary pitches, he’s one to watch this year.

 

ETA: 2024

Blue Jays Logo
41. RHP Roither Hernandez

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2016

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

2020 GOSSIP: With a 4.91 ERA across three very short seasons in rookie ball, Hernandez hasn’t exactly produced results just yet. Across 12 starts in 2019 in the Appalachian League, the wiry 6-foot-4 righty limited the hard contact, but the command escaped him frequently, nothing new for a rookie-ball arm. He’s a fastball/slider pitcher and while he’s regularly been clocked in the upper-90s, one unconfirmed radar gun reading had him touching 101 mph and he threw in Dunedin in the Fall Development League to finish out 2020.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Consistency is the key for Hernandez and the Jays will work to harness the velocity that’s likely to land him in a bullpen role eventually.

 

ETA: 2023

Naswell Paulino
42. LHP Naswell Paulino

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2016

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: A converted outfielder, Paulino best’s attribute is that he’s a southpaw, but his ability to throw strikes has been impressive relative to his experience level. Suspended 72 games in November of 2017 for PEDs — Jol Concepcion, found in the honourable mention section below was also suspended for the same substance, Boldenone — the undersized lefty threw 40 frames for Bluefield in 2019, before showing up in the developmental league in Florida this past fall.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Paulino’s development will take time, but he’s the type of prospect the Jays like, with a fastball that plays up more than the 90-mph radar gun readings would suggest.

 

ETA: 2024

Alejandro Melean
43. RHP Alejandro Melean

  • 2019 RANK
    38
  • 2020 RANK
    31
  • AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2017

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: Pushed up this list the last couple of years as a potential breakout arm within the organization, the 6-foot, 175-pound righty is still really raw, and it has shown. At times, there has been flashes of explosive stuff, but the command and consistency come and go, as with many young arms.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: He could start on the backfields, but after struggling as an 18-year-old with 15 walks in 21 innings at rookie-level Bluefield, this year is all about refining and smoothing out just about everything for the young Venezuelan. He’s still one tweak away from a breakout, but you can say that for just about everyone.

 

ETA: 2025

Edisson Gonzalez
44. RHP Edisson Gonzalez

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    41
  • AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Trade

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: Picked up from the Rays in the Sogard trade at the deadline in 2019, Gonzalez’s numbers from the New York Penn League that season jump off the page. Across 62.1 innings, the slight Panamanian — he’s listed at just 5-10, 160 pounds — ran up a 11.1 K/9 and limited the walks at just 1.9 BB/9, leading to a shiny 2.45 ERA.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Despite those numbers, Gonzalez is more polish than projection and stuff. He’s the type of prospect that could sneak up on everyone or be off this list completely next year. Full season ball will help unfold the next chapter of his prospect status.

 

ETA: 2024

Blue Jays Logo
45. C Javier D’Orazio

  • 2019 RANK
    50
  • 2020 RANK
    47
  • AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2018

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: We start a catcher run here, and for context you need to consider the progress of the two guys atop this list — Kirk (No. 43 in 2019) and Moreno (No. 37 in 2019) — to understand how quickly these next two names could move up if things click. It’s pretty clear the Jays have an eye for catchers, especially on the international market, and even though D’Orazio struggled with the bat during his 34-game cameo in the GCL back in 2019, the long, lean, 6-foot-1 Venezuelan is very raw, so it’s not a surprise.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: After finishing in the GCL in 2019, D’Orazio will likely appear in full season ball at some point this year, depending how the catcher depth chart takes shape in front of him.

 

ETA: 2026

Blue Jays Logo
46. C Victor Mesia

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    18
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2019

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: At 5-foot-9, Mesia has all the tools needed to be an everyday backstop, showing exciting pop at a young age from the right side and at a premium position. His name came up repeatedly when asking about potential breakouts, but it may be 2022 rather than this year.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Within the new minor-league restructuring, the majority of young players who aren’t ready for the four full-season affiliates will spend their time in Dunedin honing skills on the backfields and playing games against other young prospects or being sent to the Dominican Summer League, where the Jays have one full affiliate as well as a shared co-op affiliate with another MLB club. Mesia has a chance to make a Gabby Moreno-like rise.

 

ETA: 2026

Philip Clarke
47. C Philip Clarke

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    46
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

2020 GOSSIP: Nicknamed ‘The Hitman’ during his time at Vanderbilt, Clarke is another name that gets a bit buried on a deep catching depth chart in this organization. Picked in the ninth round two years ago, Clarke was handed fourth-round money by the Jays, showing just how much they like him. There’s power, plate discipline and he doesn’t strike out a whole lot, evidenced by his quick trip to Vancouver to finish out 2019.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The lefty bat is well ahead of the glove at this point, but there’s a chance 2021 could be a breakout year for Clarke and he’ll end up being way too low on this list. He’s a name to pay attention to.

 

ETA: 2023

Zach Britton
48. OF Zach Britton

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

2020 GOSSIP: Pushed up the draft board in order to save some money for fifth-overall pick Austin Martin’s record signing bonus, the Jays nabbed Britton with their final pick in the shortened five-round draft last summer. A 6-foot-1, left-handed bat out of the University of Louisville, Britton was having a productive campaign through 17 games last spring for the Cards, slashing .322/.446/.542, before the shutdown.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: Britton showed up to Louisville as a catcher/outfielder/first baseman, but he hasn’t been behind the plate since 2018. The Jays, however, will try him as a catcher in his first professional season this year, and he’s also likely to dabble in the outfield.

 

ETA: 2024

Blue Jays Logo
49. SS Martin Giménez

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    16
  • ACQUIRED
    IFA 2021

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: A wiry 6-foot-3 already, Gimenez won’t even turn 17 until a few days after this list lands on the World Wide Web. The last couple of years I’ve reserved the last couple spots on this list for the newly-signed international class and this year is no different. There’s a very good chance the right-handed hitter isn’t a shortstop when all is said and done in half a decade, but the bat could project at multiple spots if it works out.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: The Venezuelan teen will spend the year on the backfields, developing his skills and dealing with the transition to the professional ranks.

 

ETA: 2027

Yhoangel Aponte
50. OF Yhoangel Aponte

  • 2019 RANK
    N/A
  • 2020 RANK
    N/A
  • AGE
    16
  • ACQUIRED
    IDA 2021

Expected starting affiliate: Complex

 

2020 GOSSIP: Signed last month alongside Manuel Beltre (No. 25) and Gimenez (No. 49) during the shifted J15 international signing period, Aponte is a Venezuelan defensive wizard, wowing onlookers during a showcase with his routes and feel in centre field at such a young age. There were even Jackie Bradley Jr. comps thrown around.

 

2021 OUTLOOK: See Gimenez above. Aponte won’t be seen or heard from — except maybe on lists like this — for a couple years.

 

ETA: 2027