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December 6, 2013

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects

by Jason Parks

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Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Blue Jays list

The Top Ten

  1. RHP Marcus Stroman
  2. RHP Aaron Sanchez
  3. RHP Alberto Tirado
  4. LHP Daniel Norris
  5. LHP Sean Nolin
  6. C A.J. Jimenez
  7. SS Franklin Barreto
  8. CF D.J. Davis
  9. RHP Chase DeJong
  10. LHP Jairo Labourt

1. Marcus Stroman
Position: RHP
DOB: 05/01/1991
Height/Weight: 5’9” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Duke University (Durham, NC)
Previous Ranking: #8 (Org)
2013 Stats: 3.30 ERA (111.2 IP, 99 H, 129 K, 27 BB) at Double-A New Hampshire
The Tools: 7 FB; 7 CT; 7 potential SL; 6 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Stroman made 20 starts at the Double-A level, showing bat-missing ability and sharp command, doing everything in his power to convince the doubters that he can be a starting pitcher.

Strengths: Strong and athletic; generates power in his delivery with lower half; impressive arm strength; fastball works low/mid-90s; can sit mid-90s in bursts; slider is true wipeout pitch; easy 7 grade; mid-80s with sharp tilt; changeup flashes plus; projects to play at that grade; excellent action and deception from fastball; shows plus-plus cutter in the 91-93 range; nasty and late glove-side slice; plus command profile; big-time competitor.

Weaknesses: Short; has to work down to create plane; fastball can arrive flat/lack movement; if he works up, becomes hittable; changeup can get too firm/overthrown.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 6; elite late-innings reliever (closer)

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; ready for major leagues

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Stroman is that perfect combination of high fantasy potential in the rotation and a high fantasy floor in the bullpen. As a starter, he can rack up the strikeouts with multiple pitches and has the control/command to have a very strong WHIP—though his ERA may lag behind due to potential troubles with the long ball. As a reliever, he could be one of the top fantasy closers in baseball, but like any relief prospect, just because he’s awesome doesn’t mean he’ll get saves when you want him to.

The Year Ahead: Stroman might be even shorter than his listed height (5’9’’), and normally I would be the first person to put him into the reliever box—especially given the fact that he could be an elite closer in that role. But I think Stroman is a starter all the way, with more than enough strength and athleticism for the workload and a deep arsenal that he can command. He’s atypical and unorthodox, but Stroman is going to be an impact starter at the major-league level. The stuff is well above average, the delivery and arm work very well and should be able to handle a starter’s workload, and the aggressiveness and poise fit the mold of a frontline starter just as much as it does a late-innings arm. If you focus too much on the height you are going to miss the realities of the overall profile. This is a starting pitcher.

Major league ETA: 2014

2. Aaron Sanchez
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/01/1992
Height/Weight: 6’4” 190 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Barstow HS (Barstow, CA)
Previous Ranking: #3 (Org), #32 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 3.34 ERA (86.1 IP, 63 H, 75 K, 40 BB) at High-A Dunedin
The Tools: 7 FB; 6+ potential CB; 6 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: Top-shelf stuff, but a frustrating year that included some minor injury setbacks and on-the-field performances that failed to match the hype.

Strengths: Elite arm action; ball explodes out of his; fastball routinely works in the mid-90s; heavy life; hard curveball in the low 80s shows plus potential; changeup flashes plus; late arm-side action; frontline stuff.

Weaknesses: Below-average command; can get stiff and upright in the delivery; can struggle to stay over the ball; loses movement and flattens out; curveball can lack snap/get slurvy; changeup too firm; some sources question the passivity in his approach; pitchability needs work.

Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 6; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to pitch at Double-A level; some minor injury concerns.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Sanchez has the higher fantasy upside as a starting pitcher, but he’s unlikely to take enough of a step forward with his control to be a strong contributor in WHIP—making him likely a three-category guy at peak. His ability to keep the ball on the ground (58 percent groundball rate during the past two seasons) may help neutralize some of the Rogers Centre’s home run-inducing tendencies.

The Year Ahead: Sanchez has some of the best arm action you will see, a lightning fast arm that allows the ball to just explode out of his hand. His mechanics can get out of whack, and he struggles to stay over the ball and finish his pitches. This causes his fastball to elevate and lose life, and his power curveball to get too slurvy and lose its bite. If you are optimistic about his command and refinement of the secondary stuff, Sanchez is a legit frontline no. 2 starter, but there is still a sizeable gap between the present and future.

Major league ETA: 2015

3. Alberto Tirado
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/10/1994
Height/Weight: 6’1” 177 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: #10 (Org)
2013 Stats: 1.68 ERA (48.1 IP, 41 H, 44 K, 20 BB) at rookie level Bluefield
The Tools: 7 potential FB; 6+ potential CH; 6 potential SL

What Happened in 2013: Another start in extended spring training and another pass through the Appalachian League, Tirado proved to be ready for a bigger challenge in his 48 innings of short-season work.

Strengths: Loose, easy arm; good release; fastball is plus offering; works 91-95; good arm-side life; changeup is advanced for age; good fastball disguise and late action; slider also looks like future plus offering; 82-84 with sharp tilt; more to project in the body.

Weaknesses: Inconsistent mechanics; arm is whippy and release points vary; command is below average (present); slider is behind changeup; can saucer the pitch; body is underdeveloped/immature; needs to add strength.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 3/4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There may not be a more interesting pitching prospect for fantasy purposes who hasn’t yet reached full-season ball than Tirado. He could be a lot of things at this point, but if you judge it off his raw stuff, the fantasy potential is there across the board. If you can get in on the ground floor now, he’s a candidate to see a huge spike in dynasty league value during the 2014 season.

The Year Ahead: Tirado is a beast in the making, with three pitches that could end as plus offerings. The delivery is inconsistent at present, and the body needs to add strength to hold stuff and log innings. Despite the iffy command at present, Tirado shows pitchability and aptitude, and with a slow and steady approach, has a good chance to develop into a top tier prospect in the coming years. His stock is going to soar when he shoves in full-season ball, and when the command starts to refine, look out. This is an impact prospect that could develop into an impact major-league starter.

Major league ETA: 2017

4. Daniel Norris
Position: LHP
DOB: 04/25/1993
Height/Weight: 6’2” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2011 draft, Science Hill HS (Johnson City, TN)
Previous Ranking: #7 (Org)
2013 Stats: 0.00 ERA (5 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 2 BB) at High-A Dunedin, 4.20 ERA (85.2 IP, 84 H, 99 K, 44 BB) at Low-A Lansing
The Tools: 6 FB; 6 potential SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In his full-season debut, Norris showed the stuff that made him a second round pick back in 2011; a four-pitch mix that can miss bats and force weak contact.

Strengths: Athletic; excellent arm strength; fastball works 92-95; can touch 97; some arm-side wiggle; slider is bat-missing pitch; 82-84 and sharp; turns over a promising changeup; good velocity separation and some late action; shows a mid-70s curve that he can locate.

Weaknesses: Command is below average; can lose his delivery; changeup still a work in progress; curveball is more show-me than showcase.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; only one start above the Low-A level; minor injury concerns.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: After being dropped in many leagues after his brutal 2012 season, Norris showed again this year why he’s worth investing in. He may lack the fantasy upside of a Stroman or Sanchez, but he’s capable of racking up strikeouts at any level. So check and see if he’s available in your league prior to the start of your draft—you may be surprised.

The Year Ahead: While its foolish to suggest a 20-year-old pitcher is a safe bet to develop, Norris has the type of arsenal, body, and approach to minimize some of the risk normally associated with the developmental process. He’s not a finished product—the command needs a full-grade jump and the secondary stuff needs more consistency—but the profile is advanced and he could move fast in 2014 if it continues to click. I think he reaches Double-A at some point in 2014, and could set himself up for a late-season debut in 2015, assuming the command takes a step forward.

Major league ETA: Late 2015

5. Sean Nolin
Position: LHP
DOB: 12/26/1989
Height/Weight: 6’5” 235 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 6th round, 2010 draft, San Jacinto Junior College (Pasadena, TX)
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org), #97 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: 40.50 ERA (1.1 IP, 7 H, 0 K, 1 BB) at major league level, 1.53 ERA (17.2 IP, 13 H, 13 K, 10 BB) at Triple-A Buffalo, 3.01 ERA (92.2 IP, 89 H, 103 K, 25 BB)
The Tools: 5 FB; 6 CH; 5 SL; 5 CB

What Happened in 2013: Nolin was solid across two minor-league stops, showing good control and strikeout ability, and even made a not-so-memorable appearance at the major-league level.

Strengths: Good size/strength; clean delivery; creates steep plane to the plate; fastball is setup pitch; can work all quadrants; some arm-side life; changeup plays well off fastball; good deception and action in the low 80s; shows both average slider and curveball; mixes well; changes sight lines and planes; good command profile.

Weaknesses: Fastball is pedestrian and average at best, often working 89-90 range; command has to be sharp; has to keep hitters off-balance; breaking balls lack plus projections; small margin of error.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; achieved major-league level

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Even if Nolin hits his ceiling, he will not be in a perfect environment for his skill set at the major-league level in Toronto. For a left-hander who is very fly-ball heavy, Rogers Centre (and most other AL East parks) may diminish some of his fantasy numbers—leaving him looking better in the context of neutralized stats. He can be a bulk contributor in wins and strikeouts, while not destroying your ratios.

The Year Ahead: Nolin is a very low risk major-league starter, with average stuff but good pitchability and command profile. He can move the ball around, changing sight lines and planes by backing up his fastball with a good changeup with arm-side fade, a loopier curveball in the low-mid-70s, and a hard slider in the mid-80s. He missed bats in the minors but might be more of a weak contact arm at the highest level, keeping hitters off balance and behind in counts. I think he develops into a solid number four starter with a chance for a little more if the fastball plays up.

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013

6. A.J. Jimenez
Position: C
DOB: 05/01/1990
Height/Weight: 6’0” 210 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 9th round, 2008 draft, Academia Discipulos de Cristo (Bayamon, PR)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .233/.258/.267 at Triple-A Buffalo (8 games), .276/.327/.394 at Double-A New Hampshire (50 games), .429/.448/.643 at High-A Dunedin (9 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 6 potential glove; 5 raw power

What Happened in 2013: In his return to action after Tommy John surgery, Jimenez still managed to throw out close to 50 percent of would-be basestealers in Double-A.

Strengths: Excellent catch-and-throw skills; arm is plus; footwork is excellent; slow runner but quick feet; good receiver; intangibles for position; good swing at the plate; has some pop; average raw power.

Weaknesses: Assorted injuries throughout his career; defense-first catcher; hit tool likely to play below average; game power likely to play below average; well below-average run.

Overall Future Potential: 5; major-league regular

Realistic Role: High 4; backup catcher; below-average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; numerous injuries on resume; TJ surgery in 2012.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The least interesting player on this list for fantasy purposes, Jimenez shows up here mostly due to his defensive prowess. He’s really only worth picking up on spec if you’re in a simulation league.

The Year Ahead: Jimenez is a very good catcher, a weapon in the running game and with the pitchers. The bat can show some promise, and I actually like his swing; good path to the ball and shows bat speed. I don’t see an impact bat, but with his defensive skill set, a down-the-lineup stick would still give him value as a starter. If he can actually stay on the field for a full season, Jimenez might take a step forward at the plate and emerge as a challenger to Navarro in 2015 or a good trade chip if he forces the issue sooner.

Major league ETA: 2014

7. Franklin Barreto
Position: SS
DOB: 02/27/1996
Height/Weight: 5’9” 174 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2012, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2013 Stats: .204/.259/.333 at rookie level Bluefield (15 games), .299/.368/.529 at complex level GCL (44 games)
The Tools: 5 potential hit; 5 potential power; 6 arm; 6 run

What Happened in 2013: In his professional debut, the seven-figure Latin American signing was dynamic in the Gulf Coast League and finished the season as a 17-year-old in the Appalachian League.

Strengths: Plus athlete; excellent hand-eye coordination; barrels the ball at the plate; hands are extremely impressive; good strength for present body; line drive stroke; hit tool could end up being plus; power could play to average; arm is plus; run is plus; impact potential talent.

Weaknesses: Still raw in all aspects on the game; reactive see-ball/hit-ball approach; will chase and lose his setup; arm is strong but wild; actions aren’t smooth at short; glove unlikely to stick at short.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division/all-star

Realistic Role: High 4; utility player/below-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: He’s forever away, but Barreto has the raw ingredients to be a strong fantasy middle infielder (assuming he stays there). In what categories that future upside materializes is yet to be determined, but he makes for an interesting flier regardless.

The Year Ahead: Barreto showed off his tools—especially his ability to put his bat on the ball—in his debut, and emerged as a legit professional prospect and not just an expensive amateur signing. Huge gap between present and future, and you will be hard pressed to find a source that likes his glove enough to project him at the position to the highest level. But he has more than enough arm for third and more than enough athleticism for the outfield, so the Jays have options should a move be required in the coming years. A return trip to the Appalachian League will be in order for Barreto, and given his precocious talent, this is must-see scouting in 2014.

Major league ETA: 2018

8. D.J. Davis
Position: CF
DOB: 07/25/1994
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2012 draft, Stone County HS (Wiggins, MS)
Previous Ranking: #5 (Org)
2013 Stats: .240/.323/.418 at rookie level Bluefield (58 games)
The Tools: 8 run; 5 potential hit; 5 potential power; 5 arm; 6+ potential glove

What Happened in 2013: In his return trip to Bluefield, Davis had an up and down short-season, flashing the impact tools while wearing the inconsistency of a teenager.

Strengths: High-end athlete; can run with anybody; range for days; arm is solid; glove projects to plus; shows bat speed at the plate; can drive the baseball; power could be even better than projection (average).

Weaknesses: Still very raw on all sides of the ball; reads/routes need work; big swing-and-miss at the plate; struggles with velocity; struggles against spin; more of an athlete than a skill player at this stage.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division/all-star

Realistic Role: High 4; bench outfielder/below-average regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: It’s not exaggeration to say that Davis has the highest fantasy ceiling of anyone in this system. He’s also pretty unlikely to reach it. The speed is tantalizing and unlike many other 80-grade runners, Davis actually has the potential to contribute some in the power categories. This is exactly the type of player who sees a value bump in shallower leagues with farm systems due to his extreme risk/reward.

The Year Ahead: Davis has a monster ceiling, a prototypical leadoff type with impact speed, enough thunder in the bat to keep pitchers honest, and a plus profile at a premium up-the-middle position. He has a very long way to go on all sides on the ball, and the raw tools are most certainly raw at this point, especially when it comes to game application/utility. But this is the type of developmental project that can pay huge dividends in a few years, as Davis has all-star level talent and five-tool potential.

Major league ETA: Late 2017

9. Chase DeJong
Position: RHP
DOB: 12/29/1993
Height/Weight: 6’4” 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Woodrow Wilson HS (Long Beach, CA)
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2013 Stats: 3.05 ERA (56 IP, 58 H, 66 K, 10 BB) at rookie level Bluefield
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 6 potential CB; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2013: In his professional debut, the former second-round pick made 13 appearances (including 10 starts), missing 66 bats in only 56 innings while walking only 10.

Strengths: Very projectable (physically); good pitchability; good arm action; fastball projects to be plus offering; curveball projects to plus; good depth/heavy vertical action; some feel for a changeup; projects to at least average; good command profile.

Weaknesses: Fastball is pedestrian at present; works 88-91; can flatten out; curveball can break too early out of the hand; start too high; changeup is below average at present; tendency to overthrow pitch.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There’s a lot to like about DeJong, and there’s no shame in ranking behind the arms ahead of him here. Like most everyone else here, he’s a long way off, but he is a starter kit for someone who can have an above-average impact in all four starting pitching categories.

The Year Ahead: Several sources waxed poetic about Dejong’s arm action and arsenal projection, suggesting the fastball velocity is going to arrive and take the 19-year-old arm to the next prospect level. He has feel for craft, and the curveball already shows its plus potential. If he can take a step forward in full-season ball, Dejong has a chance to emerge as a top 101 prospect in the game. If the fastball starts to tick up, look out.

Major league ETA: 2017

10. Jairo Labourt
Position: LHP
DOB: 03/07/1994
Height/Weight: 6’4” 204 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: International free agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: 1.92 ERA (51.2 IP, 39 H, 45 K, 14 BB) at rookie level Bluefield
The Tools: 6+ potential FB; 6 potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2013: After 12 complex-level starts in 2012, the 19-year-old climbed a level to the Appalachian League, where the big-bodied Dominican allowed 39 hits in over 51 innings of work.

Strengths: Big frame; long legs; arm works well; fastball can sit 89-93; touches a little higher; projects to throw harder; slider has wipeout potential; mid-80s velocity and sharp slice; good pitchability.

Weaknesses: Body could be high-maintenance; fastball velocity has yet to regulate in plus range; slider can flatten out; changeup is underdeveloped; more control than command.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The short-season levels of the Blue Jays system are like clown cars that fantasy-relevant pitchers keep climbing out of. As a left-hander who will need to develop a pitch to keep righties in check to remain a starter, Labourt is a slightly higher risk to end up in the pen than some of the other names on this list.

The Year Ahead: My sources absolutely love this arm, saying he has the potential to have three plus pitches to go along with good feel for craft. With a big, strong body and a clean arm, you can see a workhorse type as a floor, and if you really want to dream, Labourt could find a home in the middle of a major-league rotation (or perhaps higher if you think the fastball really ticks up during the developmental process). The Jays are ridiculously stacked at the short-season levels, and Labourt has the stuff and pitchability to stand out in a crowded prospect field.

Major league ETA: Late 2017

Notable Omission (RHP Roberto Osuna): A healthy Osuna is a likely top-five player in this system, but thanks to Tommy John surgery, the 18-year-old pitcher is on the shelf for the 2014 season. While it’s quite common for arms to make a full-recovery after such a procedure, the ones that improve their chances are the ones with advanced makeup and work ethic, two things that some sources have questioned about Osuna in the past. I can’t speak to the specifics of such opinion, but I do have my own concerns about his already high-maintenance body, and how a prolonged recovery process could affect his physical form. This could either be viewed as an opportunity for Osuna to take a step forward with his physical work ethic or a substantial roadblock, as his approach could hinder his ability to fully recover.

Prospects on the Rise:
1. RHP Clinton Hollon:
Athletic righty with big arm strength and feel for a deep arsenal, Hollon received several votes of confidence from scouts that encouraged me to include him in the top 10. He needs to stay healthy and stay on the field, but the profile is yet another impact rotation arm with projections in the two/three starter range. The Jays are growing these guys on trees in the lower minors.

2. 3B Mitch Nay: A supplemental first-round pick in 2012, Nay has legit above-average projections on the hit/power tools, but several questions about his athleticism and ultimate defensive profile pushed him off the top 10. If you really like the bat, the defensive limitations won’t bother you much, but if he has to eventually move to first base, the bat needs to be a heavy player for him to have value.

3. RHP Miguel Castro: Stop me when this gets old: yet another highly projectable arm at the short-season level, Castro looks the part in the uniform and shows off the live arm on the mound, already working in the low 90s and touching 95/96. No doubt scheduled for another short-season assignment in 2014, Castro is going to be a national prospect after more people get to see this kid on the hill. It wouldn’t shock me if he’s securely in the top 10 at this time next season.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2014)
1. RHP John Stilson: It’s most likely a 7th/8th inning profile rather than a closer, but former Texas A&M arm can bring the funk in short bursts, routinely working his heater in the 95+ range and mixing in a hard, biting slider and heavy changeup. He’s going to be a very good bullpen arm.

2. 3B Andy Burns: Burns turned heads with a strong offensive campaign in the Arizona Fall League, showing good bat-to-ball skills and a mature approach. Unless you really believe in the bat, Burns is probably not going to be a major-league regular, but with some defensive versatility and enough stick to keep pitchers honest, he could find a role as a bench bat or a second-division type if everything comes together at the plate.

3. RHP Deck McGuire: Taken 11th overall in the 2010 draft, McGuire has yet to reach the heights suggested and projected by his lofty draft placement. Stuck in a Double-A purgatory since the end of the 2011 season, the 24-year-old righty has made 57 starts and logged over 320 innings at that level without advancement. It’s a solid-average at best arsenal, but McGuire did show some signs of life in 2013, and if he’s actually allowed to pitch outside the Eastern League in 2014, he might find his way to the majors where his likely role is a backend starter or middle reliever.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/88 or later)

  1. Marcus Stroman
  2. Brett Lawrie
  3. Aaron Sanchez
  4. Alberto Tirado
  5. Daniel Norris
  6. Anthony Gose
  7. Sean Nolin
  8. A.J. Jimenez
  9. Franklin Baretto
  10. D.J Davis

After making a splash with offseason acquisitions heading into the 2013 season, Toronto’s plans for immediate improvement failed to come to fruition and the club finished a distant last in the American League East. While pitching depth plagued the Blue Jays last year, this list is stacked with young, potential impact or supporting arms percolating toward the bigs. The system’s top prospect and pitcher Marcus Stroman also checks in at no. 1, edging out third baseman Brett Lawrie. Stroman’s electric arsenal of three potential plus-plus pitches and mentality on the mound point toward a player who can maintain a sustained career stretch as an above-average major leaguer, whether it comes from the rotation or back of the bullpen. That projection put him on top.

Lawrie and Sanchez are right there with Stroman in what’s a closely clustered trio at the top. Lowrie earned the nod at no. 2 based on presently being a bit clearer to project out. The feel is that 2014 will begin to show the progression toward being an above-average player at peak, provided a string of good health. Sanchez owns the higher ceiling, and in fact the highest in the system, along with the tools to be a bona fide front-line starter. He could end up headlining this list until ineligible. There is a large enough present gap, however, where it’s gazing at rather than being within arms length of that ceiling. The 21-year-old also has yet to break the 100-inning threshold in a season, and is likely to pass into those uncharted waters while also making the jump into Double-A this year.

The fourth through sixth spots feature players with solid-average to above-average upside, but multiple developmental markers or adjustments ahead of them. While outfielder Anthony Gose has made it to the Show, the swing-and-miss in his offensive game leaves the impression the contact is going to be uneven and the identity as a hitter may not reach full establishment. Eighteen-year-old right-handed pitcher Alberto Tirado has the potential to quickly rise in recognizable status over the next couple of seasons as the physical development pushes the raw pitching tools up a notch. His placement represents the potential for considerable growth. Lefty Daniel Norris is sandwiched between them after showing signs of improvement last season.

The remainder of the list follows the aforementioned prospect order. Left-handed starter Sean Nolin doesn’t have the ceiling of the arms in front of him, but offers the Jays potential stability and value in the back of the rotation. Catcher A.J. Jimenez has a shot to contribute during 2014 and beyond, while Franklin Barreto and D.J. Davis are toolsy, long-lead players in the infancy stages of their development. —Chris Mellen

A Parting Thought: If you like tools and ceilings, this is one of the deepest and most attractive farms in baseball, despite using prospects as coupons for major-league talent in recent years.


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Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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