DUNEDIN, Fla. -- After ushering in a plethora of young talent to the Majors last year, it would be difficult for the Blue Jays to graduate nearly as many players from this year’s preseason Top 30 list before the season comes to a close, but the names remaining have plenty of clout in their own right.
Last year saw nine players from MLB Pipeline’s preseason rankings debut and stick around the big leagues long enough to make room for new talent to move up the board. The most notable impressions were made by position players Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- who entered last season as baseball’s No. 1 prospect -- Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, and the man who became Toronto’s most consistent hurler in 2019, Trent Thornton.
After ranking fifth in the preseason last year among MLB’s top farm systems and 10th at the midseason mark, the Blue Jays will rank in the middle of the pack when this year’s rankings come out next week. Toronto’s dip is largely due to the number of top prospects who graduated from prospect status last year.
The Blue Jays’ commitment to scouting and player development continues to be reflected in the homegrown talent among the club’s new Top 30. In total, 24 players entered the system through the Draft or as an international signee. Among the six players acquired via trade, five entered the system with experience at or above the Double-A level.
It might not be long before Blue Jays fans get a glance at some of the organization’s highly-touted prospects, with 10 of the players on the Top 30 projected to reach the Majors in 2020. Toronto has three players among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, with flame-throwing right-hander Nate Pearson the headliner among them. He and his triple-digit fastball could be joined in the big leagues by a number of other right-handed hurlers, such as Thomas Hatch, Patrick Murphy and Julian Merryweather.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list:
Jump: Kirk (2019: 29 | 2020: 5) -- His natural hitting ability, incredible eye and good plate discipline helped the native of Mexico to his meteoric rise through the rankings, and despite his uncommon frame, his athleticism could help him stick behind the plate.**
Fall:** T.J. Zeuch, RHP (2019: 16 | 2020: NR) -- Despite pitching his way up to the Majors last season, the 2016 first-rounder was outshined by a number of other impressive right-handers in the system.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 60 -- Kirk
Power: 55 -- Griffin Conine (Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, Miguel Hiraldo, Kevin Smith, Will Robertson)
Run: 80 -- Dasan Brown
Arm: 60 -- Conine (Groshans, Martinez, Smith)
Defense: 60 -- McGuire (Brown, Rikelvin de Castro)
Fastball: 80 -- Pearson
Curveball: 60 -- Eric Pardinho (Murphy)
Slider: 60 -- Pearson
Changeup: 60 -- Merryweather
Control: 55 -- Pearson (Merryweather, Pardinho)
How they were built
Draft: 13 | International: 11 | Trade: 6
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 10 | 2021: 5 | 2022: 9 | 2023: 3 | 2024: 3
Breakdown by position
C: 4 | 1B: 0 | 2B: 1 | 3B: 0 | SS: 8 | OF: 4 | RHP: 12 | LHP: 1