5 Blue Jays prospects on the rise
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In many ways, this was a year of transition for the Blue Jays’ farm system.
That can be a good thing, especially when a sturdy Major League roster allows for development to take place at its natural rate without rushing your players to the big leagues. Now, coming out of 2022, the Blue Jays should be better positioned to add from within.
Gabriel Moreno was the early story of the season, and the former No. 1 prospect should be a key piece of what this club does in ’23. Many of the Blue Jays’ biggest development strides were taken on the pitching side, though, where the organization had made an encouraging shift toward embracing risk and chasing higher-end outcomes.
Looking ahead to ’23, here’s what you need to know about the system.
3 players who forced their way onto the radar in 2022
LHP Ricky Tiedemann (No. 1 prospect)
When I arrived for Spring Training back in February, Tiedemann wasn’t a priority for me to watch in the early days of camp. He was a third-round pick the year prior out of junior college and hadn’t thrown a pro inning yet.
Two days later, I’d heard his name 50 times and practically been dragged across a parking lot to watch him throw a bullpen.
Tiedemann’s ’22 season was brilliant. Period. The left-hander posted a 2.17 ERA with 117 strikeouts over 78 2/3 innings, climbing to Double-A with stuff that was MLB-ready. This is a remarkable and sudden story of development, as the 6-foot-4 Tiedemann bulked up in a hurry and embraced the Blue Jays’ plan for him. This is a potential superstar we’re talking about.
OF Gabriel Martinez (No. 8)
Martinez skyrocketed up our rankings this summer, landing at No. 8 by year’s end. The 20-year-old hit .293 with 14 home runs and an .832 OPS, finishing his season with high-A Vancouver. This organization is starved for outfield talent in the farm system, and with Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. both free agents after the ’23 season, Martinez’s emergence is very timely.
3B/SS Addison Barger (No. 13)
Barger had a fine ’21 season, but hadn’t generated much buzz as a legitimate prospect. That changed this summer, as Barger hit .308 with 26 home runs and a .933 OPS, reaching Triple-A at 22. Barger has earned his way into the discussion as a potential power-hitting utility infielder, perhaps even late in the ’23 season, and it’s a development success story after he was drafted out of high school in ’18.
2 possible breakout players to watch in 2023
OF Dasan Brown (No. 29)
It started to click for Brown offensively in ’22, hitting .283 with a .383 on-base percentage. That OBP is key, because Brown’s speed is downright ridiculous. This makes him a tremendous defender, too, but it’s always been a question of whether the Canadian could hit. If he can continue to reach base in Double-A next summer, he’ll become one of the most interesting names in this system.
SS Manuel Beltre (No. 21)
Signed for $2.35 million in early ’21, Beltre got his feet wet last summer with 54 games, finishing with a taste of Single-A. Still just 18, Beltre has plenty of development ahead of him, but he’s as mature an 18-year-old as you’ll find and has advanced fundamentals. He’s due to make a jump in ’23 and should open with a full-season team.
1 big question for next season
When does Ricky Tiedemann arrive?
Remember Spring Training of years past, when Nate Pearson was appointment viewing? It’s Tiedemann’s time, and the hype train will be real.
Tiedemann will still just be 20 for most of next season, but if he can hit the ground running next spring, there’s nothing stopping him from jumping into the Blue Jays’ rotation by mid-season. We all saw how Alek Manoah accelerated his timeline, and while Manoah has the complete package of an ace, Tiedemann possesses gifts that others in this organization simply don’t.