The Blue Jays have turned into a major contender through various uses of their Minor League system. Homegrown talents like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Alek Manoah have become the backbone of a strong Major League roster. Major trade additions José Berríos and most recently Matt Chapman were acquired for prospects from the farm.
The graduations and departures leave Toronto’s system in a weaker place (though for the best of reasons), but there’s still a lot to like about the flock of Jays fighting for places up north, especially at the top of the system.
Top prospect Gabriel Moreno looks like a potential All-Star catcher coming off a breakout 2021 in which he hit .373/.441/.651 with eight homers over 37 games at Double-A New Hampshire. A broken thumb cut that run short, but it was enough to impress scouts and evaluators of all types. Now, the 22-year-old backstop projects for a plus hit tool, above-average power and 55-grade defense behind the plate, making him a well-rounded threat and one who’s close to usurping Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk in Toronto.
If there’s a theme moving down the list, it centers around multi-positional infielders. Moreno’s fellow Top 100 prospects Orelvis Martinez and Jordan Groshans began their careers as shortstops but have already gotten exposure to third base, where there was a larger organizational need before the Chapman trade. Otto Lopez, Leo Jimenez, Miguel Hiraldo and Samad Taylor are all Top 16 prospects and primary infielders who have moved around the dirt (and the outfield in the case of Taylor) to find a potential spot north of the border.
On the pitching side, Gunnar Hoglund’s move to Oakland means fellow 2021 pick Ricky Tiedemann takes the mantle as the organization’s top prospect on the mound. Interestingly, he is the only left-hander ranked among the Jays’ Top 30 with 13 right-handers, led by Sem Robberse, making up the rest of the pitching contingent.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2021 preseason list to the 2022 preseason list.
Jump: Gabriel Moreno, C (2021: 8 | 2022: 1)
Within the Jays’ specific Top 30, Moreno’s climb from No. 8 to the top of the list might not seem like a significant jump, or at least significant enough for this spot. But consider that he wasn’t even a Top 100 prospect and now he sits at No. 7 overall, and yes, you can see where the jump comes. Moreno has become the best catching prospect in baseball not named Adley with an impressive blend of hitting talent and athleticism behind the plate. He hasn’t arrived yet, but barring another freak injury, he should be Toronto’s catcher of the present and future quite soon.
Fall: Eric Pardinho, RHP (2021: 15 | 2022: NR)
Injuries have taken their toll on the Brazil native. Once considered one of the most interesting arms in the system after he signed in July 2017, Pardinho has yet to crack above 50 innings in a single Minor League season. He most recently underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2020 and was expected to return last season, but setbacks meant he only managed two Florida Complex League starts. There’s potential for a four-pitch mix and good control from the right-hander, and Pardinho is still only 21. But the longer he goes without a true full season, the farther his stock drops.
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 -- Gabriel Moreno (Leo Jimenez)
Power: 60 -- Orelvis Martinez
Run: 80 -- Dasan Brown
Arm: 60 -- Jordan Groshans (Orelvis Martinez)
Defense: 60 -- Rikelvin De Castro (Dasan Brown)
Fastball: 70 -- Yosver Zulueta
Curveball: 55 -- Sem Robberse (C.J. Van Eyk)
Slider: 55 -- Hayden Juenger (Adam Kloffenstein, Bowden Francis, Hagen Danner, Irv Carter, Dahian Santos)
Changeup: 65 -- Adrian Hernandez
Other: 60 -- Chad Dallas, cutter
Control: 55 -- Chad Dallas
How they were built
Draft: 12 | International: 15 | Trade: 2 | Waivers: 1
Breakdown by ETA
2022: 5 | 2023: 9 | 2024: 8 | 2025: 6 | 2026: 1 | 2028: 1
Breakdown by position
C: 2 | 1B: 1 | 2B: 3 | 3B: 1 | SS: 7 | OF: 2 | RHP: 13 | LHP: 1