Over the past few weeks, Jason and I have been looking at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.
Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.
NL West: Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
NL East: Atlanta, Miami, New York, Philadelphia
AL East: Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay
AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Minnesota
AL West: Houston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Texas
While the better part of what would have comprised their top ten prospects play for Miami and New York (Mets) next season, Toronto will reap the benefits at the major league level. They still have a system with impact and depth, as well as a lot of intrigue. Most systems would be left barren, like a grocery store in the hours preceding a winter storm, after sending away such impact talent. Not so, in Toronto where despite acquiring multiple former all-stars and the reigning NL-Cy Young winner, they managed to retain top hurler Aaron Sanchez, who leads a bevy of young arms. They also injected talent in the form of first round pick D.J. Davis, their top position prospect with the departure of Travis d'Arnaud and Jake Marisnick. The one downside to all this talent is that it is not close to bearing fruit with almost all of their impact prospects residing below Double-A. Toronto's system lists heavily toward the arm side, but remember that Anthony Gose (still just 22) graduated last year and names like Anthony Alford and Jacob Anderson are still kicking around. Alex Anthopolous has this team, and organization, on the rise.
AA in 2012
These are players who reached the Blue Jays' Eastern League affiliate in New Hampshire in 2012. They could see time in the Majors in 2013, but are more likely to arrive during the 2014 season.
Marcus Stroman (BBRef Statistics)
Standing only 5'9, Stroman might have had the best pure stuff in the draft. While starting is a concern given his frame and stature, Stroman could be a top-top-shelf reliever. The Blue Jays, benefiting from an abundance of picks, popped Stroman at 22nd overall and signed him for $1.8 million. He went straight from short season ball to Double-A as a reliever but received a 50-game suspending for testing positive for a banned substance. It would be interesting to see Stroman as a starter given his mid 90s fastball, plus slider, plus cutter and solid change. He holds his velocity deep into games, so that isn't a concern. The issue is and always will be his height. While it's probable he ends up in the bullpen, Stroman could be the closer of the future for the Blue Jays as he'll have the best stuff in that pen once he arrives. I imagine the Blue Jays will return him to Double-A New Hampshire to let him develop and refine his command/control a bit more but he could see time with the big club this year.
Sean Nolin (BBRef Statistics)
In stark contrast to Stroman, Nolin stands a healthy 6'5 and uses it quite well. Nolin uses a four pitch mix to attack hitters, including a good fastball, plus change and solid curve and slider. He pitched at two levels in 2012, spending most of the year at Hi-A, before getting 15 innings in at Double-A to end the season. His change up is his money pitch with good arm speed to throw hitters off balance. I am often weary of pitchers who succeed on the strength of their change up (see Cabrera, Edwar), but Nolin has enough going on outside of it that I am less concerned. He's not a high ceiling arm like some of those lower down in the Jays system, but Nolin should be able to eat innings and pitch in the middle of the rotation. He's not going to be a high strikeout guy, but he'll do enough to create value for himself. Assuming the Blue Jays rebuilt pitching staff holds up, Nolin should stay in the minors all year. If they run into the same luck they had last year however, Nolin could step in without much drama and produce solid numbers. He's the type of player I'd hope to snag on waivers in my 20 team/15 man minor league dynasty, as he lacks impact but is likely to be useful.
Low A in 2012
These are prospects who reached the Blue Jays' Midwest League affiliate in Lansing. These players could be at least 3 full seasons from reaching the Majors.
Sanchez has been on the periphery of top 100 prospect material since he was drafted, often going unranked except by ESPN's Keith Law, who continued to include him on the back end of his top 100. He rewarded Law's (and others) faith in him with a breakout campaign in 2012, logging 90 innings (previous high was 55), striking out 97, but walking 51. Yeah, we've seen high strikeout and high walk guys before, so what makes Sanchez special, right? Well he only allowed 64 hits in those 90 innings, adding up to an absolutely ridiculous 6.4 H/9 IP. For more on Sanchez's pitches, check out the profile above.
Short Season in 2012
The prospects in this group reached one of the short season leagues as their final stop of the season. For the Blue Jays, this could mean the Appalachian League or Northwest League.
D.J. Davis (BBRef Statistics)
The other first round pick for Toronto, Davis brings elite speed to the table. Davis had success in the Appalachian League and was moved up to join Vancouver in the Northwest League, where he won a championship. Davis is short to the ball, generating good bat speed with strong hands and wrists. Just because he's a skinny fast guy doesn't mean he lacks pop though, as his bat speed helps him produce solid contact. His hit tool isn't pure, but it works and his speed helps him maintain higher averages than he might otherwise. He's an 80 runner and will endear himself to fantasy owners with his stolen base prowess. If you're looking for speed, Davis is your guy. Don't expect him quickly though, as he might not reach Lo-A until late this season or 2014.\
Roberto Osuna (BBRef Statistics)
Osuna opened eyes with his first performance in short-season ball when he recorded 15 outs, 13 of them via the strikeout. Osuna features a fastball with heavy life that is difficult to get good contact on as well as a curveball that has flashed plus. He also throws an above average splitter. While Osuna had some dominant performances, it's important to note he doesn't have the projection left that most pitchers at this level do. That said, he's got present stuff and pitchability, and should be a fast mover a la Twins prospect J.O. Berrios. Osuna has a thick body already, and that could turn into bad weight down the line. We can't knock him for it yet, as we don't know how he'll carry additional weight if he gets it, but it's something to keep an eye on.
Others of Note
Smoral is yet another 2012 first round pick by the Blue Jays, this time in the supplemental round. He was a projected top half first round pick until he broke his foot which limited the amount of looks scouts could get at him. Smoral gets great plane on his pitches, standing 6'8/220 lbs. He can bring the heat in the low 90s from the left hand side and supplements that with a low 80s slider. He didn't have much use for his change up as a prepster, but will have to blow the mothballs off of it to remain a starter. Smoral comes at hitters from a low three quarters angle, making him very tough on lefties, though that profile sometimes gets hit by righties, making the development of his change up all the more important. He did not play in 2012 due to his broken foot.
At 17 years old Tirado is eons away from the majors. That said, he shows the potential for three plus pitches (FB/SL/CH), and shoved it against older competition in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues. Given he only threw 48 innings on the year so it's far too early to make grand pronouncements. That said, I'm pretty giddy over what I've seen so far. I wouldn't draft him early in any minor league draft, but he's worth a late round selection. Big risk, big reward. I'm planning to invest.
A third round selection in this years draft, Alford was a two-sport star in high school that translated to his getting drafted in baseball and being recruited to be Southern Mississippi's starting quarterback. Fortunately and unfortunately, Alford has been suspended from school due to an incident where he allegedly pulled out a gun during a scuffle on campus. It's unfortunate from a character and make up concern, but fortunate in that it might give him time to focus on baseball instead of splitting his attention. Alford is a 70 grade runner but has severe questions on the utility of the hit tool. He had only 18 at-bats in his pro debut and he struggled mightily. We'll see what 2013 brings, but Alford is a name to keep an eye on in case he makes big strides.
Norris was a big time signee as a second round pick in 2011, and was a consolation prize for the Blue Jays after they failed to sign 1st round pick Tyler Beede. Norris is attractive due to the velocity he can bring from the left side of the mound. The southpaw throws in the low 90s and can reach as high as 96 MPH, and has an idea of a change and a curve. An impressive athlete, it's a bit of a surprise that Norris struggles to repeat his mechanics and his command and control can suffer as a result. I've never been on Norris, but it's hard to deny his potential. I'm rooting for him to figure it out, but am not optimistic on the development of his secondaries. I'd consider him a deep flier in extremely deep leagues and nothing more until he establishes himself.