Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Top 15 Prospects

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Bluefield Blue Jays' Dawel Lugo hit a game-winning home run on July 19, 2013. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue

Bluefield Blue Jays’ Dawel Lugo hit a game-winning home run on July 19, 2013. Mandatory Credit: Jay Blue

Welcome to the first edition of our Top 15 prospects lists, the Toronto Blue Jays. Why are we starting with them? Mainly because I know the players the best, coming from two Blue Jays blogs (our FanSided sister site Jays Journal and my own blog Blue Jays from Away).

If you’re planning on following along with Jays Journal’s Top 30 prospects, you’ll notice that our list here is not the same. I’m doing this for a reason. At Jays Journal, they like to keep the audience in suspense on who the prospects are so I won’t be giving away the big finale over there. I’m going to rely more on my own list which is based on getting out and seeing a lot of the players this season. In fact, I saw 12 of the Top 15 prospects in person at some point this summer.

With each list, we’ll also give you a handy-dandy guide to the team’s minor league system.

Triple-A: Buffalo Bisons (International League)
Double-A: New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League)
High-A: Dunedin Blue Jays (Florida State League)
Class-A: Lansing Lugnuts (Midwest League)
Short-Season A: Vancouver Canadians (Northwest League)
Advanced-Rookie: Bluefield Blue Jays (Appalachian League)
Complex-Rookie: GCL Blue Jays (Gulf Coast League)

And without further ado (drum roll, please)…

#15

Mitch Nay – 3B
Date of Birth: September 20, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’3″/195 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (58th overall) of the 2012 draft

2013 Stats:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 19 Bluefield APPY Rk TOR 64 258 230 41 69 11 0 6 42 0 1 25 35 .300 .364 .426 .790
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/27/2013.


Analysis
: For a player who spent his Age-19 season making his professional debut, Nay didn’t show any growing pains. Unable to play in his draft year due to a foot injury, Nay took to pro ball like he was born to it, tearing up the Appalachian League and leading the Bluefield Blue Jays to the playoffs. He shared a lead in home runs for the club with 6, hit .300 and had almost as many walks as strikeouts (25 walks, 35 strikeouts). In addition to seeing Nay hit monstrous home runs in both batting practice and a regular game, I also found out from talking to Bluefield play-by-play announcer Trey Wilson that Nay’s situational hitting was excellent; he was always finding ways to drive a run in or move a runner over. Nay has one of the best all-around bats in the system and if he can stay at third base, he can really move on up.

2014 Prognosis: 2014 should see Nay playing a full season for the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts. He already stepped up against Short-Season A pitching in the playoffs for the Vancouver Canadians (earning the Northwest League playoff MVP award) and, if he continues to show the patience and plate control that he did in Rookie Ball, should have another good season.

#14

Dawel Lugo – SS
Date of Birth: December 14, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’0″/188 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011; received a $1.3 million signing bonus

2013 Stats:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 18 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-A- TOR 67 272 261 34 74 15 2 7 44 1 0 6 41 .284 .301 .437 .738
2013 18 Bluefield APPY Rk TOR 51 202 192 28 57 11 2 6 36 1 0 5 28 .297 .317 .469 .786
2013 18 Vancouver NORW A- TOR 16 70 69 6 17 4 0 1 8 0 0 1 13 .246 .257 .348 .605
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/27/2013.


Analysis
: Lugo is part of a group of very young Latin American shortstops who are starting to make a lot of noise at the bottom levels of the Blue Jays’ system. Lugo is a strong young man with excellent hand-eye coordination who is solid in the field. He split the 2013 season between Bluefield (where I saw him) and Vancouver and displayed some excellent raw skills. His footwork at shortstop is good and he makes most of the routine plays (he’ll sometimes lose focus mentally) but his range is only adequate and he may end up moving at some point in the future. With the bat, Lugo already shows excellent raw power and uses the whole field. I saw him pull a home run over the left field wall and hit a triple off the top of the wall in right center over a five-game span. At this point, he may rely on his outstanding hand-eye coordination too much for the higher levels; he doesn’t walk nearly enough (a combined rate of just over 2% last year) but he also doesn’t strike out too much because he’s able to reach borderline pitches and at least foul them off.

2014 Prognosis: I foresee that Lugo will be part of a large group of talented young players moving up to the Midwest League’s Lansing Lugnuts in 2014. I think that full-season ball will be a real test for a guy who relies on batting average to get on base. Either he will start to be more patient at the plate or the more mature pitchers will start to eat him up. Even if he suffers a setback, Lugo will only be 19 and there will be lots of time for him to develop.

#13

Alberto Tirado – RHP
Date of Birth: December 10, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’1″/177 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011; received a $300,000 signing bonus

2013 Stats:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA G GS GF IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 18 Bluefield APPY Rk TOR 3 0 1.000 1.68 12 8 2 48.1 41 13 9 1 20 44 8 2 1.262 7.6 0.2 3.7 8.2 2.20
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/27/2013.


Analysis
: Tirado had a fine season as an 18 year old pitching for the Bluefield Blue Jays (Advanced-Rookie). With a solid strikeout rate and the ability to limit his hits against, Tirado is showing that he’s ready to start moving up through the system. Throwing in the low-to-mid 90s with a plus-potential slider and a work-in-progress changeup, Tirado has the arsenal to be a starter. Coaches are praising his maturity and his ability to find his mechanics again when he loses them in the midst of a game. The biggest weakness for Tirado is his command and control. He walked 20 batters in 48 1/3 innings and I know the Blue Jays want to get him to hit his spots a little bit better.

2014 Prognosis: Like all of the other Bluefield Blue Jays mentioned, Tirado is likely headed for Lansing. With just under 50 innings in 2013, the Blue Jays will try to get that number up to about 80 for 2014 and are probably going to revive their piggy-backing tactics with the Lansing Lugnuts next year.

#12

Franklin Barreto – SS
Date of Birth: February 27, 1996
Height/Weight: 5’9″/174 lbs
Acquired: International free agent out of Venezuela in 2012; received a $1.45 million signing bonus

2013 Stats:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2013 17 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk TOR 59 252 228 34 63 21 7 4 26 10 6 15 56 .276 .343 .482 .825
2013 17 Blue Jays GULF Rk TOR 44 194 174 30 52 16 6 4 19 10 4 13 42 .299 .368 .529 .897
2013 17 Bluefield APPY Rk TOR 15 58 54 4 11 5 1 0 7 0 2 2 14 .204 .259 .333 .592
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/27/2013.


Analysis
: Barreto’s bat is making scouts’ jaws drop in his first exposure to professional baseball. Just 17 years old, Barreto bypassed the Blue Jays’ complex in the Dominican Republic and started his pro career in Dunedin in the Gulf Coast League. Barreto made mincemeat out of the GCL, hitting .299/.368/.529 and racking up extra-base hits like they were skee-ball tickets. After a promotion to Bluefield, however, Barreto’s production tailed off and his inexperience started to show. Still, many scouts think that Barreto can hit well enough to jump to full-season ball already with his quick wrists and excellent power. His big weaknesses come with plate control and defense. Despite showing some improvement at shortstop, scouts think that his footwork is unsuited to infield play and will, eventually, move to center field where he can take advantage of his great speed. I’ve seen Barreto ranked much higher than #12 in the Blue Jays’ system in other prospect lists but, for me, he’s going to have to show me that he can hit at a level above the lowest ranks of Rookie Ball.

2014 Prognosis: My gut tells me that Barreto returns to Bluefield in 2014. That would put him on a similar trajectory as Dawel Lugo and will give him an extra year in short season ball to work on his defense and his sense of the strike zone. If he has a particularly strong Spring Training, I could see him starting even higher but even if he struggles, he will still be very highly considered as a prospect in the Jays’ system.

#11

D.J. Davis – CF
Date of Birth: July 25, 1994
Height/Weight: 6’1″/180 lbs
Acquired: 1st round (17th overall) of the 2012 draft

2013 Stats:

Analysis: Davis is another one of the prospects that others are putting higher in their lists than I am. I’ve seen Davis play (and I’ve interviewed him) and I think that there’s loads of potential in this toolsy young outfielder. Davis only turned 19 this year and put up very similar numbers to his first professional season in 2012. This year, playing at the higher level of Rookie Ball in the Appalachian League, Davis put up an identical .741 OPS as he did in 2012 combined between three leagues. While the speedy outfielder showed that he can get on base at a decent clip, he also put on a much more impressive display of power in 2013, hitting eight doubles, seven triples and six home runs (tied for the team lead).

The two important deficient areas that Davis needs to work on are what keep him out of my top ten for this year. He led the team in strikeouts with 76 (representing a 29.5% strikeout rate) and he was caught stealing eight times in 21 attempts. That said, Davis is still very young and very raw and, with several center fielders ahead of him on the depth chart, he has lots of time to find his game.

2014 Prognosis: Davis will likely jump to full season ball despite being only 19 at the start of the 2014 season. Because of his young age and high strikeout totals, I don’t see the Blue Jays being aggressive with his progression through the system as they will be with someone like Nay. A full year of Class-A ball is probably in the cards.

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