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2012 Prospect Watch: Top 3 prospects at every level

The following is a list I have compiled of the top 3 prospects at each level of full season ball. It is combination of ceiling and proximity to the majors.

Las Vegas 51’s (AAA)

Anthony Gose

Gose’s path has been well documented; arrived indirectly from Roy Halladay deal, came as a slap hitter with a propensity for strikeouts but tremendous defensive ability. The Jays saw something the Phillies did not, and as such his swing underwent a massive overhaul.

Gone was the slap approach and in was a new swing that allowed him to harness his previously untapped gap power.

Considering the season was spent learning and developing the new swing, Gose finished with a very respectable slash line of .253/.349/.415 as well as a new personal best 16 home runs.

Looking to 2012, the Jays will unleash Gose at the plate letting him utilize his small ball weapons, look for a nice increase in OBP. The main challenge will be improving his two strike approach and lowering his 26.6 K%, if both these improve look for Gose to be patrolling centerfield come September.

 

Travis D’Arnaud

After battling injuries most of the 2010 season in which he only saw 71 games, Travis returned with a vengeance in 2011. Finishing the season with an impressive .311/.371/.542 slash and an Eastern League MVP award D’Arnaud appears on the brink of big league action.

It can be argued the biggest and most impressive improvement for D’Arnaud was his .231 ISO, crushing his 2010 ISO of .152 and finally displaying his power.

The skeptics will say he got lucky with .365 BABIP, which is true, so look for some regression there.

A top 3 prospect, he will start the season at hitter friendly Las Vegas which should allow him to get off to a fast start and put some pressure on JP.

 

Adeiny Hechavarria

Hechavarria easily wins the “Most Praised by Coaches in Spring Training” award. Everyone loves the guys glove, and rightfully so.
When he was signed in 2010 his defense was Major League ready. The deal breaker for Adeiny will be his bat.

Hechavarria has had steady progress through the minor league ranks since he signed in 2010. After spending half a season at AA in 2010, Hech repeated the same level in 2011.

Some may be discouraged because his sophomore numbers were nearly identical to his 2010 numbers, but looking deeper it is important to take note that in 2010 Adeiny had a very average .307 BABIP and in 2011 suffered from an extremely unlucky .267 BABIP. If you adjust his 2011 numbers for this fluke they look my much more stimulating.

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New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA)

 

Drew Hutchison

A high school draft pick in 2009, Hutchison has accelerated through the system dominating at every stop along the way. Beginning his career at Low-A ball in 2010, he is now the ace of the rotation at NH.

While not possessing a physically imposing frame or 95mph fastball, Hutch has enjoyed success by commanding three very good pitches; low 90’s fastball, changeup and curveball.

The Jays want him to get some more seasoning in the minors but if he continues the way he left off in 2011 the organization will not have any choice but to give him a call to the bigs this season.

 

Deck McGuire

You won’t find Deck McGuire on many top prospects lists and while not as highly touted as a Hutchison or Syndergaard we should take a moment to appreciate his numbers to date.

After being drafted in the first round out of Georgia Tech, Deck split his first season of pro-ball between Hi-A and AA finishing with a combined 3.02 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.8 H/9, 3.2 BB/9, 8.9 SO/9.

Look for Deck to spend a full year at New Hampshire and improve on his numbers from last year, if he can do that a September call up is not out of the question with a legitimate shot at the rotation in 2013 a definite.

 

AJ Jimenez

Jimenez is after D’Arnaud on the list of highly touted Jays catchers. A lesser known commodity than Travis, AJ posted impressive 2011 numbers in the challenging Florida State League.

2012 will be a big year for Jimenez as we will see how he handles more MLB ready pitching. If he continues to post impressive numbers then keep your ears open around trade deadline as his name will certainly be involved in discussions, if he struggles then he risks being passed on the org. depth chart by one of our many other talented catchers.

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Dunedin Blue Jays(A+)

 

Jake Marisnick

Just two years since being drafted out of high school Jake enters 2012 rated the 67th best prospect according to Baseball America. The rating comes following a breakout 2011 campaign that saw him post a .320/.392/.496 slash at single A Lansing, while providing outstanding defense in center field.

Also impressive were the 27 swiped bases while only being caught 8 times. Marisnick projects as your prototypical 5 tool corner outfielder, but will stick in CF for now to increase his value.

Only 21, it will be very interesting to see how he fairs in Dunedin against much tougher competition this year. With the depth at and close to the major league level expect the Jays to take their time with him, letting him marinate and get as many AB’s as possible.

 

Marcus Knecht

The Canadian kid Knecht demonstrated a ton power in Lansing last year posting a .474 SLG and .851 OPS.

For all the accolades the minor league system has received power is one area where we are lacking, Knecht is a reason for optimism. 2012 will see Knecht try to improve his discipline at the plate and lower his 23.5 K%, this will be no easy feat against the stronger competition of the FSL.

 

John Stilson

John who? John Stilson was our 3rd pick last year. This was a typical AA high risk/high reward draft pick.

Stilson was originally projected to be a first round pick but a shoulder injury just before the draft brought his stock down.

By all accounts the flamethrower has healed as expected and is ready for full season ball. Projected as a closer in the majors someday, he will be a starter in 2012.

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Lansing Lugnuts (A)

Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard is the first of fantastic three from the 2010 draft. Along with Sanchez and Nicolino, Lansing will be showing off 3 of our most hyped pitching prospects.

Along with his imposing 6’5 frame, Noah brings a mid 90’s heater and plus curveball with a work in progress changeup.

Showing dominance at every level so far, expect to see Syndergaard in Dunedin by years end if all goes according to plan.

 

Aaron Sanchez

Although most prospect rankings have Sanchez below Nicolino I believe Aaron posses the higher ceiling. Inconsistency on the mound and walks have held him back so far.

The most encouraging signs are a career 10.6 K/9 and recent praise from AA during a Jays prospect about his composure so far and the fact he was hitting 98mph on the gun in his last start. Wow.

The sky is limit for Sanchez, 2012 will be a big test to see if he can begin to put all the pieces together.

 

Justin Nicolino

Nicolino could easily be #2 on this list, but fact of the matter is all 3 of these guys possess tremendous ability and upside.

For a young pitcher (20 years old), Nicolino shows outstanding command of his pitches; 1.8 BB/9, 5.5 H/9, oh and a 11.0 K/9.

Not too shabby. If he continues to dominate this year, expect a path similar to that in 2011 with the majority of the year spent at Lansing with a few starts in Dunedin at the end of the season.

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One thought on “2012 Prospect Watch: Top 3 prospects at every level

  1. Paul Reply

    Outstanding article, you did mention one disturbing chord though. A lack of pop.
    Nice arms depth.

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