Slugging prospect turns season around in May

June 4th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

TORONTO -- While the Blue Jays spent most of May booting the ball around, their top prospects finally bounced back from an ugly month of their own. 

April held few positives for Toronto’s Top 30 prospects, particularly the hitters. This compounded some of the organization’s broader depth problems, particularly on the infield. That’s changing, though. 

May brought some much more encouraging stat lines, especially when it comes to power numbers. Any look at an organization’s farm system requires a long-term lens, and with a free agent next offseason and the duo of and on one-year deals, filling a job internally can be incredibly valuable. 

At each level, this is how the affiliate’s top power-hitting prospect looks lately:

Triple-A Buffalo Bisons: Schneider still slugging

Davis Schneider has gone from a fringe, non-priority prospect to one of the stars of the Bisons' lineup. He leads the team comfortably with 11 home runs, reaching base at a .364 clip in between all that power. 

Playing second, third and left field, the Blue Jays’ No. 28 prospect is starting to profile as a very interesting piece in the system. There could be some legitimate upside for Schneider as a righty-mashing utility player who provides some pop off the bench. Players such as Otto Lopez or Addison Barger rank ahead of him, but all Schneider has done these past few seasons is exceed expectations.

Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats: Who is Orelvis Martinez?

No, seriously. Who?

In April: .089 AVG, .409 OPS, 3 HR

In May: .236 AVG, 1.010 OPS, 11 HR

Martinez dramatically increased his walk rate in May, too, which is the most important part of his long-term value. Martinez has exceptional power, perhaps the best in the system, but that doesn’t matter if he provides no value in between home runs. 

“He’s bought in, and I think he’s seeing that he doesn’t need to try to generate the power, he’s just got so much natural power,” director of player development Joe Sclafani said in camp. “When he starts to refine that zone, guys are going to have to come to him and he does damage when it’s in there.”

This quote foreshadowed exactly what Toronto’s No. 4 prospect has done. When he forces a pitcher to throw strikes, he can be one of Minor League Baseball’s most dangerous hitters. Already at 15 home runs through 44 games, he’s on pace to blow past his 30 homers at the same level in 2022. Credit to the 21-year-old for suddenly turning around what looked like a horrendous season through the first month.

Martinez’s boom-or-bust profile is still very hard to bet on against Triple-A or MLB pitching, but like all great gambles, the payoff if he reaches his ceiling would be ridiculous. 

High-A Vancouver Canadians: Big man, big power

There are very few players in this organization who make me feel small. is one. Peyton Williams is another.

The massive first baseman was recently promoted to Vancouver after a hot run in Dunedin and has homered eight times in 44 total games. He’s an exit-velocity machine from the left side, and his prospect value is tied 100% to his bat, but it’s one fascinating bat. Williams is currently just outside the Top 30, but has a chance to jump onto our list over the next year.

The key? Lifting the ball in the air more consistently. If Williams does that, look out.

Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays: Toman leading young D-Jays

Williams’ promotion took Dunedin’s one true “power hitter,” but Tucker Toman remains the highest-profile hitter on the roster as Toronto’s No. 5 prospect

Toman is batting .231 with a .349 on-base percentage and a .695 OPS. He’s homered twice. None of this jumps out, but there is a more important number. Toman has taken just two plate appearance against a younger pitcher and 180 against older ones. He’s learning on the fly as a switch-hitter in pro ball, which is no easy task, but the Blue Jays have been encouraged. 

We might still be a year away from Toman really picking up some steam, but that moment is coming. Batting as a right-hander (against lefties) will be one of the most important pieces of his development, as that currently lags behind his sweet swing from the left side.