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Toronto Blue Jays Top-10 Fantasy Prospects

With Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista likely moving on, the Blue Jays stand to look quite different on Opening Day. What homegrown talent could step up in 2017?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat that must be rehashed every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the off-season, and so how we view a player may evolve significantly over time. We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing players between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers that do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

The Blue Jays don't have anyone in this tier.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

The Blue Jays don't have anyone in this tier.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats, like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#1 - Anthony Alford (OF)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 22
ETA: 2018

Alford did not play baseball full-time until 2015 (his contract allowed him to play football at Southern Mississippi), so he is not as experienced as most 22-year-olds - particularly those that have been in professional baseball for parts of five seasons. It's difficult to tell, though, as Alford has flashed the high-end tools that led to the Jays accommodating his desire to play college football throughout his time in the minors. He hit .266/.389/.464 after recovering from a knee injury and concussion last season, with 8 HR and 13 SB in 252 PA, and drew praise for his approach at the plate. It's easy to see him batting .270 or better with 15 HR and 25-plus SB at his best.

#2 - Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 18
ETA: 2020

Baseball America recently ranked Guerrero as the best prospect in this system, praising him for his bat-to-ball skills, strike-zone judgment, raw power, and ability to drive the ball to all fields. The comparisons to his father (yes, that Vladimir Guerrero) aren't too far off-base, as the teenager has a similar overall skillset. He lacks the athleticism of his father, and no prospect should be expected to have that sort of contact ability - but it's difficult to not get excited about the youngest player in the Appalachian League batting .271/.359/.449 with 8 HR, 15 SB, and almost as many walks (33) as strikeouts (35). A move to first base is in Guerrero's future, but his bat will play anywhere.

#3 - Sean Reid-Foley (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 21
ETA: 2018

Reid-Foley was largely disappointing in his first full season, posting a 4.22 ERA and staggering 6.3 BB/9 in 96 IP. Much of the blame was attributed to his wonky delivery and inconsistent mechanics, and much was made about his efforts to clean that up heading into 2016. And, if the results are any indication (115.1 IP, 78 H, 38 BB, 130 K, 2.81 ERA), he did just that. The 6'3" righty features a fastball that sits in the 93-96 MPH range, an above-average slider with true swing and miss potential, and a promising change-up (as well as a show-me curveball). If the improved command and control are for real, he could be a 2 or 3 in most any rotation.

#4 - Richard Urena (SS)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 21
ETA: 2018

Urena has average or better tools across the board, with his arm and glove standing out as his best. That may not be exciting in fantasy terms, but his ability to stick at shortstop is integral to his value (though, he is blocked by Troy Tulowitzki and his contract at present). Urena's offensive ceiling may be limited by his somewhat free-swinging approach, but he has the ability to hit 12 to 15 home runs and steal 8 to 12 bases, alongside a respectable batting average. If he tones down the whiffs, he makes the sort of hard contact that portends a .280-plus average - that's the biggest if in his profile, though.

#5 - Conner Greene (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 21
ETA: 2018

This placement is focused solely on Greene's stuff, as the 21-year-old has the best one-two punch of any starter in the system. His fastball sits 93 to 97, with terrific movement, and his change-up is an above-average to plus pitch in the mid-80s. He also throws a mid-80s slider that, when it's on, is a true swing and miss offering. The issue is that Greene oftentimes has no idea where his pitches are going, due to his inconsistent mechanics. Few would argue that the 21-year-old has the highest upside of any starter in this system - but the risk profile is massive.

#6 - Rowdy Tellez (1B)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 22
ETA: 2017

First base is an incredibly deep position, and a player needs to hit and hit for power to stand out from the pack. Tellez has done just throughout his professional career, and is coming off of his best season, wherein he hit .297/.387/.530 with 23 HR in 514 PA at Double-A. The 21-year-old has the potential for an above-average hit tool (he struck out in just 17.9% of his PA in a pitcher's league) and true plus power, profiling as a player that could hit .270 or better with 25-plus home runs.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#7 - T.J. Zeuch (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 21
ETA: 2019

Zeuch was regarded as one of the top college pitchers in the 2016 draft class, largely due to his ability to throw four pitches for strikes. The 6'7" right-hander works off of a plus low to mid-90s sinking fastball, and also throws a fringe-average or better slider, curveball, and change-up. Zeuch, somewhat surprisingly given his size, has strong command and consistent mechanics. He may not rack up strikeouts, but he has the look of a solid mid-rotation innings eater.

#8 - Jon Harris (RHP)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 23
ETA: 2018

Would it be too lazy to say that Harris is a slightly worse version of Zeuch and move on? Harris is a few inches shorter (6'4"), with a bit less velocity (he is more 91-94), and a bit less polish, but he nevertheless has the look of a 3rd or 4th starter. The greatest concern is that he lacks a true plus pitch, which could cause problems against more advanced hitters.

#9 - Bo Bichette (SS)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 19
ETA: 2020

There was a bit too much talk about Bichette's power-hitting father (Dante) and first-round bust brother (Dante Jr.), as Bo is a legitimate prospect on his own strengths. The 18-year-old has a quick bat and an advanced approach, and some scouts foresee above-average hit and power tools (a .270-ish hitter with 18-plus home runs). Bichette isn't likely to stick at shorstop in the long term, but he should stick in the infield - Baseball America sees him at third, and feels that second is more doable.

#10 - Max Pentecost (C)
Age on Opening Day 2017: 24
ETA: 2018

Pentecost is a personal favorite of mine, due to his average or better tools across the board considerable athleticism. The 23-year-old has had multiple shoulder surgeries, which led him to miss all of 2015, yet he came back in full-force in 2016, batting .302/.361/.486 in 319 PA between Single-A and High-A. He has the ability to make hard, consistent contact to all fields, and above-average raw power, to boot. And, most importantly, he is a strong defensive catcher, and should stick there so long as his body allows it. The injuries are certainly a concern, and he was forced to DH for the last month of the season following a rough slide into home - but he has the potential to be a special fantasy player as a catcher.