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Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays system is thin, particularly with Gabriel Moreno not being eligible because of service time (greater than 45 days of MLB Service). 

Ricky Tiedemann leads the list and is developing into one of the top prospects in the game.  He had a strong season in 2022 and could help in Toronto as soon as next season.  Orelvis Martinez continues to show power but hit .203 last season in Double-A.   The most exciting player in the system is Yosver Zulueta.  He has a great arm but has been limited by injuries.  He’ll be 25 next season, and the Blue Jays might move him to the bullpen to get his arm to Toronto.  After that, there is plenty of young talent, and the 2022 Draft was strong but much uncertainty as well.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Ricky Tiedemann
  • Biggest Mover: Yosver Zulueta
  • Emerging Prospect: Luis Meza

1. Ricky Tiedemann (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP
  • Tools Summary: Continued to improve as the season progressed with a solid-average arsenal, including a double-plus change-up.

After being drafted in the third round out of junior college in 2021, Ricky Tiedemann shoved it in his debut season.  He started the season in Low-A and pitched to a 1.80 ERA in six starts striking out nearly 15 per nine.  Once he was promoted to High-A in May, he showed no fear by posting a 2.39 ERA, striking out nearly 13 per nine and walking less than three per nine.  He then finished the season in Double-A with three starts.  The Blue Jays have improved his arm strength, and now he’s sitting 93 to 94 MPH with a solid slurvy slider/curveball.  He also has a plus change-up that has been difficult to handle, particularly in A-Ball.

2. Orelvis Martinez (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: He has 70-grade raw power, but it comes with an aggressive approach and plenty of strikeouts.

There’s little doubting Orelvis Martinez’s double-plus raw power and the 30 home runs he hit last season in Double-A proved that point.  But the approach is aggressive, and I am concerned about how much contact he will ultimately make.  In 2021, he hit .214 in High-A; last season, he hit .203 and struck out 29% of the time in Double-A.  Granted, the Blue Jays have been aggressive with him as he played the entire season at 20 and was the youngest hitter in the Eastern League.  However, the swing is long, and he’s not afraid to swing the pole.  I would love for the Blue Jays to slow his development down so he has time to improve his approach.  Therefore, repeating Double-A next season could be in the cards.

3. Yosver Zulueta (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer or Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: He has electric stuff with a simple and clean delivery but hasn’t pitched much in the last four years and needs time to work on his control.

At 24, Yosver Zulueta finally got a chance to throw a baseball in professional baseball.  He was signed in 2019 out of Cuba but immediately had Tommy John Surgery and then missed the 2021 season with a knee injury.  He pitched 54 innings last season across all levels (Low-A through Triple-A), striking out well over 13 per nine, but he also walked five per nine.  He’s got the big fastball and a double-plus curveball that is his primary out pitch.  Plus, the delivery looks great.  It’s simple and easy, but he doesn’t repeat it well.  I think a big part of the problem is that he hasn’t pitched.  There could be something special here with Zulueta, but he needs more time to work on his delivery to be an effective starter.  But he turns 25 in January, and the Blue Jays might want to extract some value from him and move him to the bullpen.  Regardless of the role, he has a chance to make an impact in the big leagues.

4. Brandon Barriera (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Athletic lefty with premium stuff.

Brandon Barriera was the Blue Jays’ first pick last July (pick #23).  He’s only 6-foot-1 but has premium stuff with a fastball that sits 94 to 96 MPH with high spin and a hard, boring slider.  The Blue Jays held him back at the Complex last season. Consequently, he will make his professional debut in 2023.  He’s athletic with a simple delivery, so there is hope he will be able to repeat his delivery and throw strikes.  The ceiling is a number three starter, but we should have a better feel for his upside once he’s pitched.

5. Addison Barger (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 SS
  • Tools Summary: Improved his contact rate and showed more power in 2022.  There could be something here.

Addison Barger quietly built upon his solid 2021 season by improving his contact rate and showing more pop.  In 124 games across High, Double, and Triple-A, he slashed .308/.378/.555 with 26 home runs and nine stolen bases.  He struck out 25% of the time with a 9% walk rate.  While his approach still needs to improve, with his developing power and ability to play multiple positions, including short, the floor is at least a solid utility player.  I think there is more and the tank, and consequently, he’s a guy that I’m watching carefully.

6. Gabriel Martinez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with risk
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing player with a chance to hit and hit with power.

He was one of the pop-up players in May as the bat speed he showed in 2021 started to translate into power in 2022.  He did break his wrist and missed a month of action, but when he returned, he continued to play well and eventually was promoted to High-A to finish the season.  He’s an average runner and will likely slow down as he fills out.  However, he makes excellent contact, and if he can become more patient at the plate, he has a chance to be a full-time regular.  The progress in 2022 has been encouraging, but ultimately, we need to see how he handles better pitching as he moves through the system.

7. Manuel Beltre (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS
  • Tools Summary: At 18, he’s already showing a mature approach with solid contact skills.  While he has excellent bat speed, the in-game power has not yet been established.

Manuel Beltre was the Blue Jays’ top 2021 international acquisition inking a $2.3 million signing bonus.  He played stateside in 2022, primarily in the Complex League, and more than held his own.  He showed a great approach, particularly for an 18-year-old with high on-base skills.  He has crazy bat speed but is grinding too many balls into the ground, which is the reason for the low SLG (.310). The tools are there to be a special player with a chance to hit for average and power with some stolen bases early in his career.

8. Tucker Toman (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Complex ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B or Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: He has premium bat speed and a chance to hit for serious future power.

The Blue Jays went way over slot to sign Tucker Toman in the supplemental second round last July.  He had some of the best bat speed in the draft and projects to be a power-hitting third baseman or corner outfielder.  While he’s athletic, there is little speed in the profile.  The swing can get long and out of control, but he projects to hit enough to get to his power.  He was one of the older high school players in the draft and turned 19 in November.  There has been considerable research on the age of high school players drafted, and in general, teams prefer to draft young 17-year-olds.  Teams get more time to develop and evaluate the player before age becomes an issue in the development process.

9. Cade Doughty (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 2B
  • Tools Summary: Solid hit tool with power but limited speed.

Cade Doughty was drafted in the supplemental second round last July after two solid seasons at LSU.  He has solid-average power with a mature approach at the plate, where he grinds at-bats.  In reviewing video, he has a wide stance and doesn’t stride when swinging the bat.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays tighten that up so that he can get more leverage on his swing to allow him to get to more power.  He’s never demonstrated much ability to steal bases, although he grades out with average speed.  He has an exciting skillset that might allow him to project to be a full-time regular if it all comes together.

10. Josh Kasevich (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Middle Infielder
  • Tools Summary: He’s a high-contact player with few secondary skills (speed and power).

I was intrigued when I saw that the Blue Jays’ second-round pick, Josh Kasevich, had only struck out nine times in 122 plate appearances in his professional debut.  What did he do in college?  In his junior year at Oregon, he struck out 16 times in 277 plate appearances.   In reviewing his swing, he’s short to the ball and grinds out at-bats, so a sub-10% K-Rate might be in the cards.  While that should allow him to hit for a high average, he doesn’t have much power and is an average runner.  That makes his floor very high but doesn’t give him much of a ceiling.  As I’ve mentioned many times, you can comp high-contact guys with minimal secondary skills (speed and power) to David Fletcher.

11. Luis Meza (C)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 Catcher with risk
  • Tools Summary: He has a feel to hit with enough bat speed to project double-digit future home run power.

Luis Meza was the Jays’ top international signee in January.  The Venezuelan catcher got into 28 games in the DSL last season, and while the stat line wasn’t great, he had great at-bats keeping his strikeout rate to 19%.  He needs to get stronger but has plenty of bat speed to project double-digit home runs long-term. While he’s at least five years away from sniffing the Major Leagues, the ceiling is a high average OBP catcher with 15+ home run pop.

12. Hayden Juenger (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  High-Leveraged Reliever
  • Tools Summary: He has a solid fastball-slide combination with enough control to be an effective bullpen weapon.

The Blue Jays have moved Hayden Juenger to the bullpen, which should allow his fastball-slider to play up a grade.  His control should play solid-average, allowing him to be effective in a high-leveraged role in the future.

13. Nate Pearson (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  High-Leveraged Reliever
  • Tools Summary: He just can’t stay healthy.  If he could, he could be a weapon in the bullpen.

I think Nate Pearson is still technically eligible for our list, but in all honesty, he might have more than 45 days of MLB service time…I didn’t take the time to research. 

Anyway, it was another lost season for the big right-hander.  This time it was mono and a Lat strain that limited his innings.  He still has the big fastball and effective slider to be a valuable piece for the Blue Jays, but it doesn’t matter when you can’t stay healthy.  At this point, projecting him as a starter is fool hardy, coinciding with the Jays moving him to the bullpen.  One day I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get saves.  If you still hold onto him in a Dynasty League, you have more patience than I do.

14. CJ Van Eyk (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  High-Leveraged Reliever
  • Tools Summary: Spent the year recovering from TJS.  He has good stuff but can’t always throw strikes.

CJ Van Eyk spent the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery.  The 2020 second-round pick has a good arm but struggled to throw strikes in 2021, and his surgery adds risk to an already risky profile.  He should be back in 2023, but given that he’s already 24, he’ll likely be moved to the bullpen to extract some value.  If that does happen, he could see Toronto sometime next season or in 2024.

15. Otto Lopez (SS/OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Utility Player
  • Tools Summary: Solid hit tool with a little bit of speed.

Otto Lopez spent most of 2022 in Triple-A, slapping the ball around for a ton of hits but not showing much power.  He makes excellent contact with a solid approach and should be able to post high OBP at the highest level.  He’s a 60-runner and stole 14 of 19 bases.  He doesn’t have much power, slugging .415 with three home runs.  He did see some time in the Major Leagues for the second year, but he’s a utility player on the Blue Jays.  On another team, he might be more.  The ceiling is a David Fletcher player with high OBP, stolen bases, and limited power.  I know this is the second comp to Fletcher for the Blue Jays.

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