LIVE SPORTS, SPORTSCENTRE AND MORE – STREAM ON TSN DIRECT!

LIVE SPORTS, SPORTSCENTRE AND MORE – STREAM ON TSN DIRECT!

Columnists

Read more from TSN's columnists

Jan 28, 2022

2022: TSN's Top 50 Blue Jays Prospects

TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell dives into Toronto's farm system and ranks the top 50 prospects. Here is the entire list, originally broken down in sections of 50-31, 30-11 and 10-1.

VIDEO SIGN OUT

TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell dives into Toronto's farm system and ranks the top 50 prospects. Here is the entire list, originally broken down in sections of 50-31, 30-11 and 10-1. 

 



 

 

Gregory Cano Jose Cano
50. 3B Gregory Cano

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    17
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Dominican Summer League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: After signing in the fall with the leftover international pool money the Jays had from the pandemic-delayed 2020 class, Cano showed up at the Dunedin complex during instructional league and looked like a bloodline player, aka very comfortable in the box and with a feel for making adjustments that other players his age don’t often have. His actions remind just about everybody of his older brother, borderline Hall of Fame second baseman Robinson Cano.

 

OUTLOOK: Despite a fairly modest $350,000 signing bonus and next to no fanfare, Cano has an in-the-box setup reminiscent of la familia and moves with the same controlled pace as Robinson. Unlike his keystone brother, Gregory’s strong arm has him working at third base for now, but most importantly he shows an early feel for hitting and seems to have that unteachable baseball IQ. Gregory, who’ll be 18 in July, signed with the Jays exactly twenty years after Robinson — now 39 years old and still on the New York Mets roster — inked his deal to enter professional baseball with the Yankees back in 2001.

 

MLB ETA: 2027

Luis Meza
49. C Luis Meza

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    17
  • ACQUIRED
    2022 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Dominican Summer League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Handed a $2.25-million bonus when the fresh international signing period opened earlier this month, it’s hard to argue with the Jays investing the majority of their bonus pool money in a Venezuelan catcher with the success so far of top prospect Gabriel Moreno. Meza, along with many other newly-signed teenagers, showed up in Dunedin last week for the club’s annual IFA camp.

 

OUTLOOK: The 5-foot-10 right-handed hitter is billed as a well-rounded prospect with both the bat and the glove, but he’s light years away and likely to creep up this list incrementally like Moreno and Alejandro Kirk did if things go well. The most exciting part of the profile is strong contact ability at such a young age and some hints of future power.

 

MLB ETA: 2027

Zach Britton
48. C/OF Zach Britton

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    48
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Drafted in the fifth round of the shortened 2020 draft out of the University of Louisville as an outfielder — he saved the Jays a little more than $300,000 as an under-slot sign designed to get fifth-overall pick Austin Martin inked — Britton has been transitioning back to catcher since, a position the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was familiar with but hadn’t played since his freshman season in 2018. The results in 2021 were mixed in all respects. At the dish, Britton struggled to make enough contact, striking out 30.6 per cent of the time across 333 plate appearances and slashing just .225/.372/.371. Defensively, his blocking and receiving improved with reps, but the arm is below average.

 

OUTLOOK: Even with the middling results as a college-aged played in Low-A, Britton gets a bit of a break for the grind of moving back behind the plate in his first full season as a professional. The left-handed hitter also draws his walks and has decent bat speed with a good feel for the zone, but he’ll have to hit for more power in order to project as the corner outfielder/part-time catcher the Jays envision.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Will Robertson
47. OF Will Robertson

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    29
  • 2020 RANK
    26
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: It was not the season Robertson had hoped for. A hand injury put him on the shelf in the first half of the season and when the big 6-foot-2, 215-pound left-handed hitter did finally return, he hit just .247 with five home runs in 49 games at High-A from July 22 through the end of the season. A .385 slugging percentage is not what you want to see from a bat-first corner outfielder who was drafted in the fourth round out of Creighton for his power prowess.

 

OUTLOOK: Robertson spent most of his summer hammering ground balls into the right side, leading to some attempted swing changes heading into 2022. There’s raw power in the bat, but he’ll have to hit more balls in the air to take advantage of that and it won’t get any easier in the upper levels of the minors.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Rafael Lantigua
46. 2B/OF Rafael Lantigua

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQURIED
    2016 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Barely a prospect coming into the year, Lantigua pushed his way onto the club’s radar with sneaky strong exit velocities combined with solid numbers for the displaced High-A Vancouver Canadians. Across 80 games, the pint-sized right-handed hitter slashed .280/.375/.470, showing surprising pop with 11 home runs and a .190 isolated slugging percentage. Lantigua also posted a strong 12.1 per cent walk rate and played a capable second base, while also dabbling at short, third and all three outfield spots.

 

OUTLOOK: Every year, Lantigua seems to work his way from bit player at the start of the season to everyday player by season’s end, while also showing an ability to implement changes suggested by the hitting coaches. The Jays already have a player like this on the brink of a big league role, but Lantigua might have a bit more pop than Otto Lopez. He’ll have to prove he can hit like that again in Double-A this summer.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Nick Frasso
45. RHP Nick Frasso

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    28
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Injured

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: After not seeing any game action post-draft thanks to the cancellation of the 2020 minor-league season, the lanky 6-foot-5 right-hander out of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles made just three appearances in 2021 before suffering an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery in June.

 

OUTLOOK: Prior to the injury, Frasso was showing a fastball that was comfortably up into the mid-90s and the Jays were ecstatic with what they had seen behind the scenes. Frasso’s TJ came with a slightly shorter timeline due to the nature of the surgery, so there’s a chance he’s back on a mound less than a year removed from surgery, which would give him a chance to log a decent number of innings in 2022.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Eric Pardinho
44. RHP Eric Pardinho

  • 2021 RANK
    23
  • 2020 RANK
    9
  • 2022 AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Injured

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: While Tommy John surgery has become mostly routine at this point, Pardinho’s case shows there can be bumps in the road. After making it back onto the mound last spring about a year removed from surgery, elbow setbacks limited the Brazilian right-handed to just three innings at the complex level and all the lost development time has tanked Pardinho’s prospect status. He’s a cautionary tale of never really knowing with pitching prospects, as Pardinho peaked at No. 6 overall on this list way back in 2019.

 

OUTLOOK: Having only thrown 40.2 innings over the last three calendar years, Pardinho needs to get back onto a mound and prove he’s healthy first and foremost. At that point, we can see whether the advanced command and smooth delivery are still part of the package. Pardinho consulted with a bevy of doctors in the fall to get a better read on the issue and there’s cautious optimism he’ll be ready to go at some point this spring.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Blue Jays Logo
43. OF Yeuni Munoz

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    18
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Florida Complex League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Signed for $315,000 last January, Munoz is a compact 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed hitter whose legit bat speed and strength could lead to typical corner outfield production down the road if things click. Debuting as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League alongside the rest of the 2021 IFA class, Munoz showed some pop, but also looked pretty raw at the plate at times. Not surprising.

 

OUTLOOK: There’s a glut of young outfielders vying for time in full-season ball at Low-A this year, and Munoz has a chance to be one of them because of his physicality. The key, like many raw international signings, will be developing a semblance of an approach at the plate, but there are some intriguing tools here.

 

MLB ETA: 2026

Cristian Feliz
42. OF Cristian Feliz

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Florida Complex League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: With the Jays’ emphasis on versatile, up-the-middle type position players, there aren’t a lot of prospects in the organization that look like Feliz. Checking in at 6-foot-4 and filling out more and more by the week, the lefty hitter possesses big time raw power and bat speed, but also some hitterish tendencies that led to a .291 batting average and a 132 wRC+ in the DSL.

 

OUTLOOK: Feliz split time between first base and right field in his 2021 debut, so the bat is going to have to hold up its end of the bargain all the way up through the system because there isn’t much defensive value here. He’s one of the more interesting Jays prospects to watch make their stateside debut this year.

 

MLB ETA: 2026

Blue Jays Logo
41. OF Gabriel Martinez

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Thanks to a high-contact profile and a bat path that looks similar to Gabriel Moreno’s in the lower minors, Martinez is player many inside and outside the organization are picking to have a breakout 2022 season. As an 18-year-old in 2021, the smooth right-handed hitter had zero problems with the Florida Complex League, torching pitching to the tune of a .330/.448/.410 slash line in 31 games. He then had four hits in 12 at-bats in a late-season cameo at Low-A.

 

OUTLOOK: The one issue with Martinez’s line above is that it did not include a home run, and the power tool will be the separator between Martinez being an interesting prospect and a very good prospect over the next couple of years. Defensively, he’s likely going to be limited to left field.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Chavez Young
40. OF Chavez Young

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    37
  • 2020 RANK
    37
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2016 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: One of only two players left on this list from the 2016 draft — Josh Palacios is the other, while Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are in the big leagues and first-round pick T.J. Zeuch was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash last summer — Young has slowly worked his way up the minor-league rungs, slashing .265/.350/.409 with seven home runs in his first taste of Double-A last season.

 

OUTLOOK: There’s no secret what’s going to get the 39th-round pick to the big leagues: His glove. Young could capably roam centre field in the majors today and he’s been given at-bats during MLB spring training games in each of the past three years because of it. Offensively, Young profiles as a Jonathan Davis-type bench piece. A switch-hitter since entering the system six years ago, the Jays almost had Young ditch hitting from the right side last summer, but a hot stretch led them to reevaluate things for the time being. That said, Young posted an .820 OPS hitting from the left side, compared to .571 from the right, a career-long trend for the Bahamian that may have him hitting strictly left-handed before long.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Cameron Eden
39. OF Cameron Eden

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: A sixth-round pick out of the University of California in 2019, Eden came out post-shutdown and performed much better than he did in his debut. With speed as his calling card, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder stole 30 bases in 32 tries and put himself on the map as one of the best defensive centre fielders in the organization. Despite hitting just four home runs across 218 plate appearances with High-A Vancouver, Eden’s line was buoyed by an 11.9 per cent walk rate that led to a .382 on-base percentage.

 

OUTLOOK: After working some as an infielder post-draft, the Jays decided to let Eden focus on centre field last season, and he took off. All that’s standing in the way of Eden and a breakout season is a bit more pop, which a couple people believe is going to happen with some more time in the weight room.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Dasan Brown
38. OF Dasan Brown

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    14
  • 2020 RANK
    15
  • 2022 AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: No Blue Jays prospect suffered more from the 2020 shutdown and the subsequent missed reps than the Oakville product. As raw as they come when he was drafted in the third round as a Canadian high schooler nearly two-and-a-half years ago, Brown has appeared in only 65 minor-league games and compiled just 289 plate appearances. That’s left him behind the curve, and it showed when he was sent to Low-A last summer, as he struck out 32.7 per cent of the time and slashed just .212/.310/.323 with four homers and 20 stolen bases.

 

OUTLOOK: Even though he slides from No. 14 on this list last year all the way down to No. 38 for 2022, don’t give up on Brown just yet. The tools — sneaky pop and legit game-changing speed — are intact, he just needs to find a way to put the bat on the ball more and refine the swing. On defence, the arm will never be a weapon, but his speed covers ample ground. Brown is getting a mulligan for his post-shutdown numbers, but it’s an important year for him to start showing progress.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Josh Palacios
37. OF Josh Palacios

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    31
  • 2020 RANK
    25
  • 2022 AGE
    26
  • ACQUIRED
    2016 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: A hand injury limited the left-handed hitter to just 29 games split between Triple-A Buffalo and the Blue Jays’ bench last season, so take the numbers with a grain of salt. Palacios didn’t hit a home run all year in 105 plate appearances, but he did chip in with a 4-for-5 game — all singles — last April when George Springer was on the IL.

 

OUTLOOK: As a left-handed bat and one of the only outfield bench options on the 40-man currently, Palacios is in line to play a role with the big club in 2022 if injuries strike. He’s a high-character player that you should bet on, but for this profile to work, Palacios has to hit. A lot.

 

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2021

Tanner Morris
36. 2B/OF Tanner Morris

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    30
  • 2020 RANK
    24
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: The University of Virginia product went out and put up a .285/.381/.401 slash line at High-A Vancouver in his first full pro season, showing off the elite bat-to-ball skills that got him drafted in the fifth round. On defence, Morris split his time between second base, third and short last season, but a lack of athleticism has him ticketed for some sort of bat-first utility role where all that’s expected of him is the routine play.

 

OUTLOOK: Another left-handed hitter with a good approach and not enough power to project any sort of major impact, the Jays have collected a number of Tampa Bay Rays-style bats that are about to spend time in the upper minors. Once in a blue moon, things click for this type of player, and they become Brandon Lowe or Jeff McNeil.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Spencer Horwitz
35. 1B/LF Spencer Horwitz

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Mentioned to me as a potential sleeper last offseason, Horwitz didn’t make the top 50 cut in 2021 and the 6-foot, 190-pound left-handed hitter out of tiny Radford University in Virginia went out and proved he’s a lot better than that 24th-round draft pedigree would suggest. Sent to High-A where the Vancouver Canadians affiliate was displaced to Hillsboro’s Ron Tonkin Field in Oregon, Horwitz raked to the tune of a .290/.401/.445 slash line, highlighted by more walks than strikeouts at 70:66. Those who saw him this year raved about the approach, one that allowed him to pile up free passes due to a calculated plan and not simply taking advantage of more inexperienced pitchers. With just 10 homers, however, Horwitz has been working to add some pop to his profile.

 

OUTLOOK: While Horwitz’s regular season was impressive, he further solidified his reputation as a bat to pay attention to with an impressive Arizona Fall League showing, finishing sixth in batting with a .375 average and a .944 OPS across 16 games in the prospect-laden circuit. If that performance was any indication, Horwitz should have no trouble keeping things going inside Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in New Hampshire this season, where a handful of lefty power breakouts have happened in the past.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Zac Cook
34. OF/2B Zac Cook

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQURIED
    2020 Undrafted FA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: A prospect with a very Dodgers-type multi-functional feel to him, Cook signed as an undrafted free agent following the shortened 2020 draft thanks to in part to the relationship he had with Low-A Dunedin hitting coach Matt Young from back in Texas. A spring injury got Cook off to an even later start in 2021, but once he debuted in late May it was evident that he had an advanced approach and some power from the left side. Promoted from Low-A to a more age-appropriate High-A mid-season, Cook continued to produce and finished with an overall slash line of .255/.378/.489. He also hit 12 home runs and swiped 15 bags.

 

OUTLOOK: The most encouraging part of Cook’s season was his hot finish, as he slashed .333/.433/.657 with six homers in 31 games to close out the year. Cook dabbled at second base last year, but the spot where he impressed most was centre field. In an organization light on outfield depth, some even think he’s in the conversation for best defensive centre fielder already. He needs to keep the strikeout rate in check as he hits Double-A, but there’s a ton to like about Cook’s skillset.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Joey Murray
33. RHP Joey Murray

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    17
  • 2020 RANK
    19
  • 2022 AGE
    25
  • ACQURIED
    2018 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Billed as a potential big-league contributor in spring training when the right-hander’s high-spin stuff looked impressive against major league hitters, Murray ended up suffering an elbow sprain that shelved him early and set him back on multiple occasions throughout the year. Murray made just one appearance all season but was healthy enough to make it back for instructional league in the fall.

 

OUTLOOK: While the elbow issue was what ruined his 2021 season, the high-spin arsenal that helped him shoot from Low-A to Double-A in 2019 needed some tweaking due to the sticky stuff ban, which isn’t surprising given the profile. If healthy, Murray could see big-league time in 2022.

 

MLB ETA: 2022

Trent Palmer
32. RHP Trent Palmer

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    22
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    23
  • ACQURIED
    2020 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Another prospect who had to wait out the 2020 shutdown to make his pro debut, Palmer’s season was a mixed bag. The stout 6-foot-1, 230-pound righty struggled to throw strikes for most of the year, issuing 42 walks, hitting seven batters and throwing eight wild pitches, but Palmer also struck out 83 over his 63 frames at Low-A and registered a 3.00 ERA. There were flashes of starter traits and excellent stuff when he was going well.

 

OUTLOOK: The reason for optimism with the third-round pick out of Jacksonville University is his finish. Over his final seven starts, Palmer posted a 2.33 ERA, striking out 54 and walking 16 over his final 38.2 innings, a stretch that included a pair of seven-inning no-hitters. If Palmer can’t find more consistency as a starter, his fastball/slider mix would work in a variety of different roles out of the bullpen.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Hayden Juenger
31. RHP Hayden Juenger

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Drafted in the sixth round out of Missouri State last summer, the Tim Lincecum-sized 6-foot, 180-pound righty impressed so much in post-draft bullpens down in Dunedin that he was immediately thrown into the bullpen at High-A Vancouver. Over 20 frames, Juenger dominated, striking out 32 batters and walking just four. It was an electric debut.

 

OUTLOOK: Despite starting just three games during his college career, there were draft evaluators who looked at Juenger’s three-pitch mix of a mid-90s fastball, slider and changeup and believed there was a chance he could start. The Jays do, too, and are at the very least evaluating the possibility of that this winter. If he stays on the fast-moving bullpen track — given the size and workload questions, this is most likely — there’s an outside chance Juenger could show up in Toronto this year.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Chad Dallas
30. RHP Chad Dallas

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: When it comes to college pitchers, the Jays definitely have a preference for big-bodied arms that have a track record of throwing strikes. That’s the 5-foot-11, 210-pound right-hander’s profile in a nutshell. Dallas, who flashed the makings of a quality four-pitch mix during his time at the University of Tennessee, was shut down by the Jays after being drafted in the fourth round last July because of his 103-frame college workload, but he logged innings during Florida Development League in the fall.

 

OUTLOOK: Featuring a low-90s fastball and a couple different breaking balls that he commanded well during his NCAA days, Dallas is one of the pitching prospects that the organization is excited to take the reins off this season. We’ll know a lot more about the college-aged arms — Dallas, Trent Palmer, CJ Van Eyk and Hayden Juenger, specifically — that the Jays have drafted recently at the end of the 2022 season.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Blue Jays Logo
29. SS Luis Garcia

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    18
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Florida Complex League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: An exciting prospect who showed better-than-expected exit velocities during his DSL debut, Garcia posted a 117 wRC+ after signing for $520,000 last January, the third biggest bonus in the Jays’ 2020-21 international free agency crop, behind only Manuel Beltre ($2.35 million) and Martin Gimenez ($1 million).

 

OUTLOOK: Those that spent time around Garcia in 2021 loved the confidence and swagger the young middle infielder carried himself with and he also showed a mature approach at the plate with two different swings, including a no-leg-kick two-strike setup a la Bo Bichette. As you could guess with a player his age, he needs to add strength to have any sort of impact with the bat.

 

MLB ETA: 2026

Blue Jays Logo
28. LHP Kendry Rojas

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQURIED
    2020 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Complex league stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s hard to ignore Rojas’ numbers in his 2021 debut. Signed out of Cuba in October of 2020 for $215,000, Rojas struck out 39 batters across 23.2 innings in the Florida Complex League, baffling hitters with a two-pitch, fastball/breaking ball mix, and leading to a 2.28 ERA.

 

OUTLOOK: Right now, Rojas is getting it done with a carrying fastball, but the number to pay attention to with this young lefty is the velocity. Currently hovering around 90 mph, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder has the frame to add more heat in the coming years, which could change his projection significantly. Considering he was an outfielder before converting full-time to the mound as recently as January 2020, there’s significant upside here if things click.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Blue Jays Logo
27. C Victor Mesia

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    46
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQURIED
    2019 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Expected to be next in what’s been an impressive catcher pipeline over the past couple of years — from Danny Jansen to Alejandro Kirk to top prospect Gabriel Moreno — Mesia showed an advanced bat in the Florida Complex League last summer in his debut, slashing .288/.371/.475 and popping a couple of home runs before a late season promotion to Low-A.

 

OUTLOOK: Injuries slowed him last season, but it was the September cameo in Low-A that reminded everyone how young Mesia is when he hit just .129 over 32 plate appearances and looked overmatched. Despite that, Mesia is a teen catcher who shows something resembling an approach and some power in his right-handed bat.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Sebastian Espino
26. 3B/OF Sebastian Espino

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 MiLB Rule 5 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Normally, the minor-league phase of the MLB Rule 5 draft is a procedural event meant to give teams a chance at some roster filler for the upcoming season. That’s sort of what Espino was when the Jays plucked him from the New York Mets last year after a total of four home runs across three minor-league seasons, but the toolsy Dominican went on to enjoy a breakout at High-A Vancouver, slashing a career-best .295/.358/.511 with 28 extra-base hits.

 

OUTLOOK: There’s no shortage of players in the lower minors with Espino’s profile. Flashes of brilliance and tools, but lots of swing and miss and too many moments of looking lost. The wiry, 6-foot-2, 175-pounder has a great arm, more than enough for third base, and some thump in the bat. What he doesn’t have is an approach at the plate or a position at this point. An up-the-middle prospect with the Mets, Espino split his time between left field (34 games) and third base (20 games) in the Jays’ org.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Samad Taylor
25. 2B/OF Samad Taylor

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    38
  • 2020 RANK
    36
  • 2022 AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Trade

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Acquired at the 2017 deadline in exchange for reliever Joe Smith, Taylor’s breakout statistical season garnered headlines and he’s become one of the more polarizing players in the system. Some love him, others don’t. Those that do point to the numbers and the obvious power/speed combo, featuring 16 homers and 30 steals across 87 games at Double-A New Hampshire. Those that don’t point to the 29.4 per cent strikeout rate and bad swing decisions. The .294/.385/.503 slash line pushed Taylor to an impressive 141 wRC+, but it was also fuelled by a .394 BABIP. He then went out and struggled mightily in winter ball in the Dominican, striking out in almost half his at-bats in eight games before that stint ended.

 

OUTLOOK: Northeast Delta Dental Stadium has produced a few mirage breakouts in the past and Taylor will have to prove his doesn’t fall into that category. He’s got speed, right-handed pop and has dabbled at short, third, outfield and second, which is his best position, but the Jays decided against adding Taylor to the 40-man roster this winter, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. He’ll have to cut down on the swing-and-miss to make it work as an everyday player, but there are bench player vibes here if the 2016 10th-round pick from the California prep ranks can keep the K-rate in check.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Hagen Danner
24. RHP Hagen Danner

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    23
  • ACQURIED
    2017 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Danner originally appeared at No. 47 on this list way back in 2019 … as a catcher. A two-way prospect when the Jays drafted him in the second round out of the California prep ranks in 2017, Danner hit .191 over his first three minor-league seasons before deciding to convert back to the mound, where many scouts liked him better in the first place. After some work behind the scenes during the 2020 shutdown, Danner reappeared as a right-handed reliever at High-A Vancouver, posting a 2.02 ERA and 42 strikeouts across 35.2 relief innings.

 

OUTLOOK: While Danner had a good regular season in his transition back to the mound, the reason he’s sitting at No. 24 on this list — and the reason the Blue Jays used a valuable 40-man roster spot on him last November — is because he not only tinkered with his slider during instructs, but he also started touching 100 mph. The Newport Beach native went from sitting 96 mph midseason to 98 mph late in the year, giving the slider new bite. He could be ready to contribute to the big-league ‘pen at some point in 2022.

 

MLB ETA: 202

Bowden Francis
23. RHP Bowden Francis

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    26
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 Trade (MIL)

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers alongside reliever Trevor Richards in exchange for Rowdy Tellez last July, Francis is viewed as your ready-made backend starter, a role he could play as soon as 2022 after being added to the 40-man roster over the winter. Across 73 innings for Triple-A Buffalo, Francis registered a 4.19 ERA, showing a fly ball profile, which could be dangerous in the AL East, but the most interesting development from Francis’ season was the addition of a slider after his trade to the Jays, giving him a four-pitch mix.

 

OUTLOOK: I’ll never forget GM Ross Atkins saying at the 2019 trade deadline in Kansas City — the infamous “years of control” scrum — that he thought they’d be able to get lucky and develop their own Mike Clevinger-type arm out of nowhere at some point. It’s probably not Francis, but it could be, and new pitches always add some mystery. His major-league debut this year won’t come with much fanfare, but there’s some under-the-radar appeal here.

 

MLB ETA: 2022

Zach Logue
22. LHP Zach Logue

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    26
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: He won’t get any “upside” or “stuff” lines jotted in the notebook, but Logue was the most “consistent” starting pitching prospect in the organization last year. Starting at Double-A New Hampshire for seven outings and finishing at Triple-A Buffalo for 18 turns, Logue registered a 3.67 ERA and struck out 144 batters across 125 innings, prompting the Jays to add him to the 40-man roster this winter.

 

OUTLOOK: A ninth-round pick out of the University of Kentucky five years ago, the big change for Logue has been the addition of a cutter, which allows the lefty to attack right-handed batters with more confidence. In addition to the new pitch, a velocity program has Logue up to around 92 mph and he should be one of the first emergency starters on call from Triple-A Buffalo in 2022.

 

MLB ETA: 2022

Blue Jays Logo
21. RHP Adrian Hernandez

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Signed out of Mexico five years by scout Aaron Acosta, who liked his competitiveness and strike throwing, Hernandez enjoyed a quiet breakout in 2021. After a nondescript debut that featured an 8.02 ERA in 2019, Hernandez tinkered with his changeup over the past two years and it has suddenly become a 70-grade, bat-missing pitch. So much so that he threw it 54 per cent of the time last season. The development led to 108 strikeouts and a 2.74 ERA across three different levels and 62.1 innings of relief last season.

 

OUTLOOK: The Jays decided against adding Hernandez to their 40-man roster this winter, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. Without a high-octane fastball — it sits in the 91-92 mph range on most days — Hernandez is a bit of a one-trick pony. But his trick is excellent and some more physical development could help him add even more life on the heater. His best role may be as a Cristian Javier-type swingman who’s used as a high-K utility arm.

 

MLB ETA: 2022

Blue Jays Logo
20. SS Estiven Machado

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    19
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQURIED
    2019 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Florida Complex League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Seen by many as a potential breakout prospect heading into the year, Machado tore his hamstring running to first base during his first at-bat of his first FCL game in June and missed the rest of the season.

 

OUTLOOK: When healthy, the switch-hitting shortstop has shown flashes of the complete package — Machado puts together good at-bats and hits the ball hard for a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder — but he’s also a complete mystery at this point. Even though he holds serve here at No. 20 based on the potential upside, it’s an important year for Machado to prove he can stay healthy and pile up some much-needed at-bats in the lower levels.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Rikelbin de Castro
19. SS Rikelbin De Castro

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    21
  • 2020 RANK
    29
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQURIED
    2019 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: The first notable change for the Jays’ top signing $1.2 million) from the 2019 IFA class was his name officially going from Rikelvin to Rikelbin before debuting in the Florida Complex League as an 18-year-old. True to the scouting report when he signed, De Castro’s wiry 6-foot frame allows him to make the spectacular play at shortstop, but also displayed a penchant for booting the routine ones. The bat, as expected, proved to be quite raw with a less-than-ideal contact rate and the lack of power you’d expect from an undeveloped teenager, but De Castro started to figure things out as the year went on. Following an 0-for-21 stretch in late June, the right-handed hitting De Castro closed out the season with a .333/.481/.567 slash line across his final 77 plate appearances. That line was punctuated by 15 walks against 18 strikeouts and his only two homers of the season.

 

OUTLOOK: Following a lost 2020 season for the 2019 J2 class, De Castro’s finish provides a lot of optimism as he heads to full season ball in 2022. All the tools are there defensively, but De Castro won’t be able to do much damage with the bat until he gains strength.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Miguel Hiraldo
18. 2B/3B Miguel Hiraldo

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    9
  • 2020 RANK
    10
  • 2022 AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Viewed as one of the better hitters in the 2017 international class, Hiraldo stalled a bit in 2021, slashing a muted .249/.338/.390 with just seven homers while spending the entire year at Low-A Dunedin. Top 10 on this list a year ago, the Jays did not add Hiraldo to the 40-man roster this winter, making him Rule 5-eligible for the first time. 

 

OUTLOOK: While Hiraldo’s stock is down, don’t give up just yet. While he doesn’t stand out with the bat, the stocky right-handed hitter doesn’t have a glaring weakness either, and Hiraldo’s bat speed could eventually allow for a whole lot more power. His glove fits at second or third base, where he split time in 2021, but the arm fits best on the right side of the infield.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Adam Kloffenstein
17. RHP Adam Kloffenstein

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    11
  • 2020 RANK
    12
  • 2022 AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: The Jays showed their love for Kloffenstein when they went nearly $1.8 million above the third-round slot value to sign the big 6-foot-5, 243-pound right-hander out of the Texas prep ranks four years ago. Since then, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Kloffenstein. Like so many others, the 2020 shutdown wasn’t ideal for a young pitcher needing innings, but Kloffenstein’s time in a Texas independent league at least resulted in an uptick in velocity. Kloffenstein didn’t have the same type of mid-90s gas when he reappeared at High-A Vancouver last season, and he finished with a disappointing 6.22 ERA across 23 starts.

 

OUTLOOK: Extremely young for his draft class, there are some positives to take away from Kloffenstein’s campaign. On the plus side, he did get up to 101.1 innings as a 20-year-old, while also showing an ability to generate ground balls at 53 per cent. After walking 61 batters and throwing 17 wild pitches last season, Kloffenstein may have to take another turn at High-A.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Yhoangel Aponte
16. OF Yhoangel Aponte

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    50
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    18
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Florida Complex League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: The biggest riser on this year’s list, Aponte had been signed for about two weeks when the 2021 top 50 was published. At that time, the reports on the glove were already glowing, but Aponte went out last summer and showed a whole lot more pop with the bat than anyone expected. The .240/.393/.357 slash line in the DSL was muted, but Aponte’s exit velocities were encouraging for a 17-year-old with so little experience. Brought to the Florida Development League last fall after not hitting a home run in 38 games, Aponte promptly crushed a 110-mph blast off Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Erik Miller, a 23-year-old lefty who ended up finishing his year in the Arizona Fall League against the top prospects in baseball.

 

OUTLOOK: He’s a long way away, but the terms “could explode” and “potential breakout” litter my notes on Aponte, which is why he’s up 34 spots from last year despite only DSL and instructional league data available. Aponte may be a year or two away from his big breakout, but he’s already the highest upside outfield prospect in the system.

 

MLB ETA: 2026

Yosver Zulueta
15. RHP Yosver Zulueta

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    15
  • 2020 RANK
    45
  • 2022 AGE
    24
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: If you follow me on Twitter, you know about Zulueta. Up to 98-99 mph in spring training, the stuff was electric and there was a certain mystery surrounding the Cuban right-hander as an under-the-radar signing for $1 million as a 21-year-old. That led to a pair of one-inning stints in Grapefruit League action where Zulueta’s stuff was erratic but with nasty flashes, and after allowing two runs in his debut, he threw a clean frame with a strikeout in his second appearance. After all the buzz, the 2021 season was supposed to be the electric 6-foot-1, 190-pounder’s coming out party as a prospect, but unfortunately that was derailed when he tore his ACL covering first base on the first batter he faced in his pro debut at Low-A Dunedin in May.

 

OUTLOOK: Despite the extremely disappointing and abrupt end to Zulueta’s debut, the Jays can take solace in the fact it was a leg and not an arm injury and he’s expected to be fully healthy and ready to go heading into spring training. Like a couple of other names on the list in this range, Zulueta is still a mystery heading into 2022 and things could go numerous ways. As much time as he’s lost, he could quickly make up for it in his first 10 to 12 starts in the lower minors, which would likely result in a quick promotion in his age-24 season. There’s also a chance his stuff looks explosive, but only in short stints, prompting a move to the bullpen and a fast-track to the majors by September. Since the Jays have to add him to the 40-man next winter anyway, don’t rule that out. The third scenario is that Zulueta goes out and looks rusty due to how long it's been since he pitched competitively, and he ends up back on this list next year at No. 15 for the third year in a row.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Irv Carter
14. Irv Carter

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Signed away from the University of Miami with an over-slot deal in the fifth round and the second-largest bonus of the club’s 2021 draft class, Carter did not pitch in games after being selected last July. The Jays eventually brought the 6-foot-4 righty to instructional league last fall, where he threw a handful of innings and showed off a fastball mostly in the 93 mph range and a slider. 

 

OUTLOOK: Carter is an interesting ball of clay for the Jays’ player development department to work with not only because of his starter’s build and the chance for an uptick in stuff in the coming years, but also because he’s already impressed with his competitiveness and energetic personality at the club complex. He’s a slow burn prep arm with lots of upside if things click.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Dahian Santos
13. RHP Dahian Santos

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2020 RANK
    Not Ranked
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Santos is all projection at this point, but it’s a sky-high upside thanks to a loose and athletic delivery and a present ability to throw strikes and miss bats. After mostly breezing through the FCL with 13.5 K/9, the Jays challenged Santos with a tiny five-inning sample in full-season ball at Low-A Dunedin, where he was touched up for seven runs. But despite an overall 5.58 ERA that won’t catch the eye, the numbers don’t begin to tell the story as Santos registered a 3.30 FIP and 2.45 xFIP across his 40.1 innings.

 

OUTLOOK: Currently sitting about 92 mph with the fastball, Santos has touched 94 and could add a whole lot more velocity as he gets stronger. Listed at 5-foot-11, 152 pounds, as of September, Santos has a considerable amount of filling out to do, but there will likely always be workload questions at his size. With the changeup a focus in 2022, Santos will be the key pitching prospect to watch at Low-A Dunedin as he builds innings this summer.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

CJ Van Eyk
12. RHP CJ Van Eyk

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    10
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2020 Draft

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Like many of the Jays’ top pitching prospects last year, Van Eyk’s season was marked by inconsistency. When he’s going well, the Florida State product shows a four-pitch mix led by a mid-90s fastball and a bat-missing curveball. Those that saw him during those starts called it some of the best pure stuff in the system. When it wasn’t his day, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound right-hander couldn’t find the zone and it led to a bloated 5.58 ERA over 19 starts at High-A. Despite the command issues, Van Eyk’s stuff still allowed him to strike out 100 batters across 80.1 innings. Unfortunately, Van Eyk’s season came to a halt at the end of August when he left a start with an elbow injury, and last month he revealed in an interview with csplusbaseball.ca — a blog covering all things High-A Vancouver Canadians —that he underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of September and will miss the 2022 season.

 

OUTLOOK: It’s not an excuse, but it’s easy to give the 2020 draft class a bit of a break for entering professional baseball in the middle of a pandemic with no minor-league games to play in. A lot of top prospects across the sport had trouble with consistency because of the long layoff. Seen as a potential breakout candidate this year, Van Eyk will now likely have to wait until 2023 to get back into game action.

 

MLB ETA: 2025

Manuel Beltre
11. SS Manuel Beltre

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    25
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    18
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Florida Complex League

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Expectations are always high for the top bonus babies in each year’s international free-agent class, and Beltre, who signed for $2.35 million last January, immediately went out and did his best to exceed them as a 17-year-old. While the .225/.391/.346 slash line with two home runs doesn’t jump off the page, some observers thought Beltre showed more pop than expected and he posted a handful of triple-digit exit velocities. He also walked more than he whiffed and played excellent defence, leaving most believing he’s a sure-shot shortstop with the glove. He’s not spectacular, but he makes all the plays.

 

OUTLOOK: Beltre is a bit of an odd profile, especially for a high-end international signing. He’s more polish than tools — one comparison was “the international Austin Martin, just a good baseball player” — and his size (5-foot-9, 155 pounds) limits the power projection for most. But he’s also described as a baseball rat with some of the best baseball IQ in the organization, a high compliment to pay a prospect who doesn’t even turn 18 until June.

 

MLB ETA: 2026

Leo Jimenez
10. SS Leo Jimenez

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    20
  • 2020 Rank
    28
  • 2022 AGE
    21
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Jimenez produced one of the quirkiest statistical lines you’re ever going to see in 2021, slashing .320/.523/.392 to sit top five in on-base percentage in the entire minor leagues thanks to walking more than he struck out and somehow managing to get hit with 25 pitches in 59 games. Defensively, Jimenez is slick. While the arm isn’t elite, Jimenez’s glove is the calling card, with an ability to slow the game down and make all the plays at either middle infield spot. Despite spending the entire year at Low-A Dunedin, Jimenez ended his season as one of the youngest players in the Arizona Fall League, where he once again put up a gaudy .412 on-base mark in 15 games. The Jays added him to the 40-man roster in November.

 

OUTLOOK: With an innate ability to find his way to first base and elite bat-to-ball skills, Jimenez possesses a big-league floor, but his ultimate offensive upside hinges on the ability to add some power to his game. Many believe it’s coming, and it’s easy to see why when you see Jimenez up close. Listed at 5-foot-11, 160 pounds, Jimenez has extremely broad shoulders and BP sessions uncover some added thump in his right-handed bat. Right now, it’s a very Santiago Espinal-ish profile. That’s a quietly valuable player.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Kevin Smith
9. 3B/SS Kevin Smith

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    18
  • 2020 RANK
    16
  • 2022 AGE
    25
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Smith’s prospect stock has been all over the map since he was drafted in the fourth round back in 2017. Following a breakout 2018 campaign that saw him crush 25 homers and steal 29 bases in A-ball, Smith sat at No. 5 overall on this list heading into 2019. But the wheels came off that year in his first taste of Double-A and a 32.3 per cent strikeout rate exposed swing-and-miss issues and led to a .209 batting average. Forgotten by many, Smith quietly reworked his swing and approach during the 2020 shutdown and bounced back with another breakout season, slashing .285/.370/.561 with 21 homers at Triple-A Buffalo to earn his first cup of coffee in the majors. Even though that didn’t go well — three hits in 36 trips to the plate — Smith’s season was nothing other than a huge success.

 

OUTLOOK: Perhaps the best indicators of Smith figuring some things out were the 11.2 per cent walk rate and 23.7 per cent K-rate he posted at the highest level of the minors last summer, leading to a career-best contract rate. Both of those marks represent significant steps forward for the right-handed hitting Smith, who will compete for a bench role in spring training. Smith won’t wow anyone on defence, but he can capably play every infield spot and started seeing some time in the outfield last year. It’ll be hard for Smith to carve out regular at-bats without an injury, so he’ll have to continue to hit for power and take advantage of his opportunities. He could also be a trade candidate down the road.

 

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2021

Otto Lopez
8. 2B/OF Otto Lopez

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    12
  • 2020 RANK
    27
  • 2022 AGE
    23
  • ACQUIRED
    2016 IFA

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Lopez is a well-rounded player with a compact swing who has hit for average every step of the way. In 2019, he won the Low-A Midwest League batting title with a .324 average and emerged post-shutdown in 2021 doing more of the same, hitting .331 in 70 games at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A where he put up a .289/.347/.405 slash line across 194 trips to the plate. He also earned his first big-league cameo, striking out in his only at-bat.

 

OUTLOOK: Born in the Dominican Republic and raised for a few years in Montreal, Lopez’s value is going to be derived from his ability to hit for empty average, get on base and provide extreme versatility on defence at second base, outfield and even shortstop in a pinch. He’s never going to hit for much power, but if you want to dream, Lopez could become the poor man’s right-handed hitting version of Luis Arraez. Until he’s needed on the big-league bench, Lopez will be part of an intriguing Triple-A infield alongside Kevin Smith, Jordan Groshans and, perhaps, Samad Taylor, with each player sharing time at a couple different spots.

 

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2021

Sem Robberse
7. RHP Sem Robberse

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    24
  • 2020 RANK
    50
  • 2022 AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    2019 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: High-A Vancouver

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: One of the most exciting pitching prospects in the organization, Robberse is already a success story in development for the Jays as an unheralded right-hander signed out of the Netherlands as a project three years ago. The velocity has slowly crept up into the lower-90s, touching 95, which helps accentuate his high-spin arsenal, which includes a couple different fastballs, a good breaking ball and developing changeup. Another prospect hurt in a big way by the missed reps in 2020, Robberse got better as the season went on at Low-A, posting a 3.90 ERA in Dunedin before he finished the year with seven starts as a 19-year-old in High-A.

 

OUTLOOK: The overall 4.36 ERA and 90 strikeouts across 88.2 total innings isn’t going to wow anyone, and despite getting to High-A at a very young age, there’s still a lot of development left. Mature beyond his years, Robberse is blessed with a silky smooth delivery and shown an aptitude to make changes stick. If he continues to add velocity and takes a step forward with the consistency of his secondary offerings, his prospect stock could blow up by this time next year.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Ricky Tidemann
6. LHP Ricky Tiedemann

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    19
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Low-A Dunedin

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Taken in the third round last summer as an extremely young junior college lefty, Tiedemann was in the 89-93 mph pre-draft, but looked like a different pitcher when he showed up at instructional league at the fall. Three months after being selected, Tiedemann was sitting 95-96 mph, touching 98, and showing a couple of swing-and-miss secondary offerings. Batters legitimately struggled to make contact. It was the tiniest of sample sizes, but there’s already a ton of helium surrounding the Long Beach lefty and he hasn’t even made his pro debut yet.

 

OUTLOOK: The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder didn’t test well physically pre-draft, but the Jays didn’t see that as a blemish, they saw it as an opportunity. From working out with free weights in a SoCal garage, to a professional development program inside a shiny new complex in Dunedin, added strength and balance could help Tiedemann take off, and the early results are already encouraging. Tiedemann won’t turn 20 until August, so the Jays will take it slow initially, letting him focus on the usual suspects for young pitchers: Fastball command, the changeup, and ironing out his delivery as he continues to add strength. With Nate Pearson graduating off this list in 2022, many are betting Tiedemann is the consensus top pitching prospect the Jays have by this time next year.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Gunnar Hoglund
5. RHP Gunnar Hoglund

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    Not in System
  • 2020 RANK
    Not in System
  • 2022 AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2021 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Injured

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Mentioned alongside Vanderbilt co-aces Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker as a potential top-10 pick last year, Hoglund was cruising through the SEC during his junior season at Ole Miss before Tommy John interrupted things in May. Prior to that, Hoglund’s stock was built on three traits: Command, consistency and build. Viewed as one of the most advanced college arms in the 2021 draft, the 6-foot-4 right-hander possesses a clean, repeatable delivery that scouts love and command of a three-pitch mix that features a mid-90s fastball and a bat-missing slider. With the Dunedin, Fla., native sidelined until sometime this summer, he slid to the 19th overall pick, where the Blue Jays were elated to buy low on a premier talent.

 

OUTLOOK: With a standard 12-14 month timeline in play, if everything goes smoothly Hoglund should be back on a mound in game action by July or so, giving him some time to shake the rust off in 2022. Even with the health setback, one of the reasons Hoglund was so attractive to the Jays was because of his potential to move quickly, and he could be a candidate to finish in the Arizona Fall League, which could put him on track to arrive in the second half of 2023 if he looks as polished as expected post-TJ.

 

MLB ETA: 2024

Jordan Groshans
4. 3B/SS Jordan Groshans

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    3
  • 2020 RANK
    4
  • 2022 AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: There are two ways to view Groshans’ 2021 season. If you simply look at the numbers on paper, you’re going to be left wanting more if you had Groshans projected as an impact bat. But if you dig a little deeper and digest the context, the right-handed hitting Texan actually had a pretty decent age-21 season at Double-A, especially considering he had hardly played for two years thanks to a season-ending foot injury in 2019 and a pandemic. Groshans made a ton of contact, improved his swing decisions as the year went on, his coaches thought, and hit .291 against competition nearly three years older than him on average. So, what’s the problem? For a prospect likely to spend most of his big-league time at third base, how much impact Groshans will ultimately have with the bat has slowly become the question for most that watched him. He did have 30 extra-base hits, but only seven went over the fence and his .158 isolated slugging percentage matched so-so exit velocities. But there’s lots of good, too. Over 146 minor league games since being drafted in the first round, Groshans has posted a .372 on-base mark.

 

OUTLOOK: With all that being said, there’s optimism Groshans’ breakout could be coming in 2022 at Triple-A Buffalo, where the offensive environment will play a role. But the Jays believe the power is coming and a more aggressive mindset will help, as will some added strength for the 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-handed hitter. A well-rounded hitter with a good approach, Groshans isn’t on the 40-man yet, but he’s one call away now if the power starts to emerge.

 

MLB ETA: 2022

Nate Pearson
3. RHP Nate Pearson

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    1
  • 2020 RANK
    1
  • 2022 AGE
    25
  • ACQUIRED
    2017 Draft

 

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: After so much hype when he arrived in an empty Nationals Park in D.C. for his debut a year-and-a-half ago, Pearson, like so many top pitching prospects before him, has struggled to stay healthy and fulfill that lofty promise since. Here’s the laundry list of injuries that have forced Pearson, who had a screw inserted into his pitching elbow in high school when a growth plate fractured, to miss time since being drafted five years ago: Back tightness, fractured forearm, elbow tightness, groin strain, sports hernia surgery. In his lone healthy season in 2019, Pearson looked dominant and in sync for a career-best 101.2 frames, but he’s thrown just 63.2 innings total over the last two years. Pearson’s 2021 season was mostly a lost cause, starting with a nagging groin strain in spring training that he never fully recovered from and eventually resulted in off-season sports hernia surgery. Handed a difficult start on the road in Houston in May, Pearson’s command deserted him as he walked five batters and got just seven outs before the recurring groin issue sidelined him again. He was deemed healthy enough to as a reliever in September, finishing with 20 strikeouts across 12.2 innings and a 2.84 ERA down the stretch. Even at less than 100 per cent, Pearson looked electric out the bullpen, and his ultimate projection is slowly trending in that direction.

 

OUTLOOK: Pearson will be healthy for spring training and the Blue Jays are stretching him out as a starter. But GM Ross Atkins has already conceded there will be workload limits on 6-foot-6, 250-pound right-hander in 2022, which may lead to a hybrid role as the Jays try to get Pearson, who will turn 26 in August, up to around 100 innings. He could also spend time at Triple-A early in the season, trying to pitch deep into games and turn a lineup over three times. With the way pitching staffs are built these days, Pearson is likely to play a huge big-league role this season in a variety of situations, while trying to build an inning base that would allow him to return to the rotation in 2023. It’s a pivotal year for Pearson, but even though he’s shown his floor is that of a dominant, high-leverage reliever who’s ready to contribute now, don’t completely throw in the towel on a rotation future just yet. He may just have to take a bit of a winding road to get there.

 

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2020

Orelvis Martinez
2. 3B/SS Orelvis Martinez

2. 3B/SS Orelvis Martinez

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    4
  • 2020 RANK
    3
  • 2022 AGE
    20
  • ACQUIRED
    2018 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Double-A New Hampshire

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: Handed $3.5 million to sign four years ago, Martinez has never been under the radar, but the buzz started to grow exponentially last spring when he spent considerable time on the big-league side as a teenager, oftentimes putting on power displays in BP and cage sessions that wowed the coaching staff. When he got into games, Martinez didn’t disappoint, posting a slash line .364/.417/.727 that culminated in his lone home run in Grapefruit League play, an impressive blast off Philadelphia Phillies closer Hector Neris on March 29 in Clearwater. With six Ks in 11 at-bats, though, there was some obvious rawness to Martinez’s approach, and that continued when he went to Low-A Dunedin as he slashed just .262/.328/.434 with three home runs through the first 29 games of the season. The adjustment period didn’t last long. Martinez hit 16 bombs over his final 42 games at Low-A, slashing .292/.398/.677 in the process. Promoted to High-A Vancouver in August, the same learning curve appeared to be happening as Martinez played through nagging elbow and shoulder injuries that eventually shut him down. While the overall slash line of .214/.282/.491 isn’t great, Martinez posted a 1.097 OPS and hit five home runs over his last 11 games.

 

OUTLOOK: Martinez surprised even some of his most ardent supporters last year with how advanced he was at the plate, making some impressive adjustments as the year went on to drop his chase rate significantly. The power is absolutely massive and it’s easy to profile Martinez as your typical power-hitting third baseman, even though he’s still dabbling at shortstop as well. There might be some strikeout issues to come in the upper minors with Martinez being one of the youngest players on the field and still prone to chasing a bit at this stage, but he’s advanced enough to start in Double-A and if he looks as good this spring training as he did last year, it will be full steam ahead on the Martinez hype train. Martinez and Gabriel Moreno are this system’s untouchable prospects in trade talks.

 

MLB ETA: 2023

Gabriel Moreno
1. C Gabriel Moreno

  • LAST YEAR'S RANK
    6
  • 2020 RANK
    8
  • 2022 AGE
    22
  • ACQUIRED
    2016 IFA

 

Expected starting affiliate: Triple-A Buffalo

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: A lot of ink was spilled nationally on Moreno’s breakout 2021 season, including some from my own pen when I caught up with him in the Arizona Fall League, as well spring training, with some commentary from Bo Bichette. If you’ve tracked the minors at all this year, not much more needs to be said about what Moreno did. Despite his monster campaign being interrupted by a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch in June, Moreno slashed a ridiculous .373/.441/.651 with eight homers in just 32 games at Double-A, finished the year with a three-game cameo at Triple-A, then looked like one of the best players in the AFL. And that’s exactly what Moreno has become — one of the best overall prospects in baseball. The numbers speak for themselves, but Moreno’s contact skills, bat speed and sneaky pop give him a chance to hit .300 with 20 home runs in the big leagues during his prime.

 

OUTLOOK: While Moreno has all the necessary tools to be an everyday big-league catcher, he started dabbling at third base in the second half of the season as a potential way to increase versatility and get his bat into the lineup. That development is expected to continue and it’s easy to attempt to put two and two together with third base being an area of need in the majors, but the Jays fully envision Moreno’s future being behind the plate. In the short term, some added versatility could allow the Jays to carry three catchers on the 26-man roster and deploy them strategically in various situations. After some polishing time at Triple-A to start 2022, Moreno should be an option by June or July and he’s too good to play a part-time role when he arrives.

 

MLB ETA: 2022