These 5 Blue Jays prospects have thrived in 2022

August 30th, 2022

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’s farm system finds itself in the middle now, which is a fine place to be for a club that’s pushed all-in for a competitive window that should stretch over the next few seasons.

In MLB Pipeline’s recent farm system rankings, Toronto came in at No. 20, down from No. 14 at this point last summer and No. 7 in 2020. It’s a natural progression as the club has graduated talent and built around the young core of top prospects who once made them one of the best systems in baseball.

That throne belongs to the Orioles now, and if you’re a Blue Jays fan who’s annoyed by their sudden resurgence, get comfortable. Baltimore is a threat today, tomorrow and for the next five years in an AL East that’s already stacked.

Outside of Ricky Tiedemann, the Blue Jays haven’t had many stories of prospects skyrocketing through the system in 2022, but there’s been an encouraging philosophical change as the club continues to chase higher outcomes and velocity with their young pitchers. Looking ahead, though, there are plenty of players who have changed their outlook entering ’23.

With a few weeks left in the Minor League season, here are five of those players:

LHP Ricky Tiedemann (No. 2, No. 34 MLB)
Back on Feb. 26 in Dunedin, Fla., I watched Tiedemann face live hitters on a back field at the Blue Jays’ player development complex. He received the highest compliment you can get in Spring Training, which is the rest of his teammates stopping to watch, crowding around the fence behind home plate to watch “Ricky T.”

Immediately, it was evident why.

Bigger, stronger and far more advanced than anyone expected when the Blue Jays selected Tiedemann in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft, he blew hitters away. That’s all he’s done since, posting a 2.17 ERA across 78 2/3 innings, rising from Single-A Dunedin to Double-A New Hampshire.

What Tiedemann does as a 20-year-old lefty is rare. It’s difficult to overstate just how much excitement surrounds him, both inside and outside of the organization. Six months ago, Tiedemann was an intriguing arm to keep an eye on. Now, he has top-of-the-rotation potential and could debut next summer.

Hayden Juenger (No. 8)
Another member of the 2021 class (Rd. 6), Juenger’s numbers have looked nice between Double-A and Triple-A, with a 3.84 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 75 innings. What’s more important, though, is his role.

Juenger is being developed as a bulk reliever. His Double-A outings ranged from 2.0-4.0 innings, while his Triple-A outings have hovered around two innings each. This is a role the Blue Jays value, and instead of trying to find swingmen on the open market, the conscious choice to develop Juenger in this role gives him an excellent chance to compete for a roster spot in 2023.

OF Gabriel Martinez (No. 9)
A 2018 signing out of Venezuela, Martinez has been a fringe name to watch the past couple of years, but finally took the jump many were waiting on this summer.

Martinez has hit .290 with 12 home runs and an .836 OPS across 85 games this season, now with High-A Vancouver after opening with Dunedin. He just turned 20, and while a Rule 5 decision looms this offseason, Martinez gives the Blue Jays some outfield depth in their system, which they’ve sorely needed. He’s a candidate to make some serious noise in 2023 at Double-A.

3B/SS Addison Barger (No. 14)
Barger has quietly emerged as one of the Blue Jays’ top hitting prospects, carrying his success from Vancouver to New Hampshire. This season, he’s hit .301 with 21 home runs and a .906 OPS while splitting time between third base and shortstop.

The 22-year-old had added some strength since the lost 2020 Minor League season and it’s translating to the field, where he’s making consistent, loud contact. There’s a path to him becoming a power-hitting utility infielder for the Blue Jays in the coming years, which is an impressive development from the former 2018 high school pick.

RHP Adrian Hernandez (No. 24)
You wouldn’t guess Hernandez was a dominant reliever if you passed him on the street. Listed at just 5-foot-8, the 22-year-old doesn’t look imposing on the mound, but his brilliant changeup will make you forget that quickly.

Hernandez is back with Triple-A Buffalo now, owning a 2.88 ERA across 34 1/3 innings (all levels) this season with 49 strikeouts. There was a time where a September debut looked likely, and while that’s still not out of the question, he’s firmly on the 2023 radar. He also represents something the Blue Jays need, which is high-strikeout relief options.