|Original Published Date: December 13, 2019|
With Bo Bichette, Vlad Jr. and Cavan Biggio now in the big leagues, you would think the Blue Jays farm system would be down. Well, you would be wrong. It’s still a very strong system, particularly deep in pitching.
Nate Pearson is their top prospects and has one of the best arms in the minor leagues. It’s the stuff of an ace, and how well his command develops, will be whether he reaches that ceiling or not. He should see Toronto next season. As should Anthony Kay. Brought into the fold from the Mets, Kay has solid mid-rotation potential and from the left-side.
Their best positional player is Jordan Groshans. While he only played in 23 games due to a foot injury, he showed the Jays the kind of upside he has. He’s still a couple of years away but could be the motivator for moving Vlad Jr. to first.
If it all comes together, the Blue Jays should begin to compete in earnest in 2021. But, they should also be much better next season.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Nate Pearson
- Biggest Mover: Simeon Woods-Richardson
- Emerging Prospect: Miguel Hiraldo
Enjoy the list and please click on the baseball card to visit our partner amazon.com to explore additional information on each player.
1. Nate Pearson (RHP)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Fantasy Ace
- Tools Summary: Premium stuff and assuming his health concerns are gone, he’s got Ace potential.
I first saw Nate Pearson in the Fall League in 2018 after he spent most of the season on the Disabled List (aka IL). He was clearly rusty but showed premium stuff with his fastball scrapping the upper nineties. As he’s gotten stronger and knocked the rust off, he has blossomed. The upper nineties fastball is now scrapping triple-digits and even hit 101 MPH in the Futures Game.
Not only does Pearson have the big fastball, but he also has a hard slider that he throws in the mid-nineties. When he can throw it for strikes, is just a nasty pitch. He also throws a curveball and change-up with his change-up showing nice depth. As his 10 strikeouts per nine shows, the arsenal can miss bats. This year, he’s also showed much better control of his arsenal, walking less than three per nine. The command is not always there but that should improve as he gains more experience.
Assuming health, he has at least number two starter upside with a chance to be an ace. Just remember, the baseball Tommy John gods have not been kind to hard throwers and while you can never predict when and if a guy can blow out, just know the profile.
2. Jordan Groshans (3B)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B
- Tools Summary: Season was cut short with a foot injury but in his limit time, showed a solid hit tool with power.
Jordan Groshans got off to an excellent start to the 2019 season but hurt his left foot in late April and after a brief return in early May was shut down for the rest of the season. In total, he played in 23 games slashing .337/.427/.482 with a couple of home runs and a stolen base. The most impressive aspect of his brief season was his plate patience. In 96 plate appearance, he walked 13 times. Granted, it was a tiny sample size, but it was encouraging, nonetheless.
Despite the short season, there was a lot to like with Groshans. While he only hit two home runs, he showed good raw power in batting practice and drove the ball well during games. He can get a little pull-happy, but the belief is he should develop solid power as he moves through the system.
If you put it all together, Groshans has a chance to be a Top 15 third baseman with a solid hit tool with 20 plus home run potential. While he hasn’t stolen many bases, he’s an average runner and could add a handful of stolen bases annually.
3. Simeon Woods-Richardson (RHP)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
- Tools Summary: Size, athleticism with premium stuff. There’s a lot to like with a pitcher that many are not yet clued into.
Drafted in the second round by the Mets in the 2018 MLB, Simeon Woods-Richardson had an excellent season first with the Mets, and then to finish up the year, with the Blue Jays. The Mets limited him to three to four innings per outing in the Sally League to begin the season and he responded. In 20 starts, he posted a 4.25 ERA but struck out over 11 per nine while walking less than two per nine. After being acquired by the Jays at the trade deadline, he performed even better in High-A. In fact, his hits allowed per inning went way down. However, in digging through the game log, the same thing was happening in his tenure in the Sally League.
Woods-Richardson didn’t turn 19 until this past September and the fact that he’s already pitching well in High-A is indeed impressive. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he has the ideal frame for a pitcher. His arsenal is also very good with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s that can scrape higher, a plus curveball that misses a lot of bats and a change-up that was better than advertised when I saw him over the summer. He’s athletic with good mechanics. Honestly, it’s hard to find a lot of faults with the profile and therefore, the ceiling could be a number three starter or perhaps even higher.
4. Alek Manoah (RHP)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
- Tools Summary: Size with a power arsenal. While he showed good control in his professional debut, the delivery suggests that walks could be a problem, particularly early in his career.
At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, Alek Manoah is a large human that added $4.5 million dollars to his piggy bank when the Blue Jays made him the 11th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. He was assigned to the Northwest League to begin his professional career and pitched well. In six starts, he pitched to a 2.65 ERA striking out 27 and walking five in 17 innings of work.
He’s primarily a two-pitch pitcher with a fastball that he can run to the upper nineties and a nasty slider that misses plenty of bats. While he showed very good control in his introduction to professional ball, he did struggle with his control in college in his Freshman and Sophomore year before pulling things together in his draft year. Tall pitchers have historically struggled with their control and I suspect Manoah will as well. That could give some reliever risk but otherwise, the stuff and delivery suggest he’ll be a starter.
5. Orelvis Martinez (SS)
- Highest Level: Rookie ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
- Tools Summary: Double-plus raw power with a chance to hit for average as well.
The Blue Jays signed Orelvis Martinez to an impressive $3.5 million dollar signing bonus last July. The 6-foot-1 Dominican outfielder’s carrying tool is his 70-grade raw power. While he was signed as a shortstop, his body type suggests that he will eventually move off the position to third base or even a corner outfielder.
The Blue Jays started him off in Rookie Ball and he’s showing no issues handling the league. In 41 games, he slashed .273/.350/.545 with seven home runs. Most impressively, he struck out 18% of the time while walking 8.6% of the time.
If it all comes together, the upside is a 30-home run performer. With his quick and strong hands, he should get adept at allowing balls to travel deep into the strike zone. If that happens, he should be able to hit for average as well. His ability to manage the strike zone is still an open question, but based on the raw tools alone, he should be owned in most deeper Dynasty Leagues.
6. Anthony Kay (LHP)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 SP
- Tools Summary: Premium stuff from the left-side. Still working on control and command.
In the Mets’ quest to make it back to the playoffs, they continued to move high-end prospects, many of which are very close to the Major Leagues. Anthony Kay was one of the players moved last July and if it all comes together, he could be a nice mid-rotation starter for the Jays.
Kay has premium stuff from the left side which includes a fastball that will touch 96 to 97 MPH while sitting 93 to 95 MPH. His curveball is his best offering and over time, it could be a knockout pitch as it has great depth and spin. His change-up is also a quality offering and if you are keeping track, that’s three potential plus pitches in his arsenal. What he can’t do yet is throw consistent strikes. Over his professional career, he’s posted a 3.6 BB/9 rate.
While I don’t see Kay having top of the rotation potential, he could slide in nicely behind Nate Pearson in the Blue Jays rotation at some point in 2020. I don’t think he has an overall number two ceiling, but I’ll take him as a number three/four.
7. Gabriel Moreno (C)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 Catcher
- Tools Summary: Potentially plus hit tool and while the power hasn’t developed, there is enough bat speed to suggest he’ll have at least average power.
The Blue Jays signed Gabriel Moreno out of Venezuela in 2016 and assigned him to the DSL in 2017 and then the GCL in 2018. He had modest success at both levels but has really broken out in 2019. In 60 games in Low-A, he hit .303 and slugged .516 with nine home runs. The most impressive thing is he rarely strikeouts, posting an impressive 8.9% strikeout rate as a 19-year-old kid playing in full-season ball. As a receiver, he does a very good job framing pitches with an above-average arm.
The upside is a full-time regular backstop with a chance to hit for a high average with 50 points on top of that in on-base percentage. His swing is more contact-oriented, but he has plenty of bat speed and strength to profile for at least 15 plus home runs as the highest level. While he’s still only a teenager, he’ll start 2020 in Dunedin and if he has a similar year, could even see Double-A before year-end.
8. Miguel Hiraldo (IF)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: Intriguing tools with both power and speed and an ability to hit.
After an impressive debut season in the DSL in 2018, the Blue Jays aggressively assigned Miguel Hiraldo to the Appy League where he once again hit .300. In addition to hitting well, he also showed power and speed by hitting seven home runs and stole 11 bases in 56 games. All total, he slashed .300/.348/.481 striking out only 14% of the time. He was aggressive at the plate, walking 5.5% of the time. The effort led to a cup-of-coffee in Lansing where he should begin his 2020 campaign.
Hiraldo is a kid that Dynasty League owners need to get on their radar. There is plenty of bat speed that could lead to solid power at the highest level with a chance to hit for average. There should also be some speed, at least early in his career. He’ll likely move to the second or third full-time or could even fill a super-utility role.
9. Adam Kloffenstein (RHP)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Size with good raw stuff.
The Blue Jays signed Adam Kloffenstein with their third pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. As a raw but talented high schooler out of Texas, the Blue Jays have brought him along slowly. They only gave him a small taste in 2018 and limited him to 13 starts in the Northwest League in 2019.
The plan seems to be working as he pitched very well. In those 13 starts, he’s pitched to 2.24 ERA striking out a batter an inning while walking 3.2 per nine.
Kloffenstein has good stuff with a fastball that he can run-up to the mid-90s with promising secondary pitches. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he’s already a big boy, so there is likely not to be physical projection remaining. If it all comes together, there’s a chance he could be a mid-rotation starter but will likely fall in as a number four.
10. Alejandro Kirk (C)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 Catcher
- Tools Summary: Undersized catcher with a solid hit-tool.
At 5-foot-9 and 220 pounds, Alejandro Kirk is short and er…has a thick lower half. He’s always shown the ability to make excellent contact with plenty of walks. In fact, over his three professional seasons, he’s walked more than he’s struck out. That continued to be the case in 66 games in the Florida State League. He hit .296 with an impressive .398 OBP. He also showed some power with 23 doubles but only left the yard four times.
Finding catchers that he can hit like Kirk is hard. With his ability to control the strike zone, he could profile as a .300 hitter or close to that throughout his career. His swing though is not geared for power as it’s more contact-oriented but once he starts using the Major League ball, he could hit 10 plus home runs. While I’ve not seen him play, I don’t get good reports about his ability to catch. The arm is solid but his ability to be nimble behind the plate has been questioned. Given his body type, I’m not surprised. If you’re thinking Willians Astudillo, well, I am as well.
11. Eric Pardinho (RHP)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 SP or Reliever
- Tools Summary: His stuff was down after he returned from an elbow scare. Plus, his small stature presents doubt as to his ultimate ceiling.
After Eric Pardinho experienced elbow discomfort in the Spring, many Dynasty League owners feared the worse and assumed he would have Tommy John surgery at some point over the summer. However, the diagnosed came back as a strain and Pardinho was back to pitching in late June and looked good. In 33.1 innings in Low-A, he pitched to a 2.41 ERA striking out 30 and walking 13. While the results were good, his stuff was down. He was no longer hitting the mid-90s with his fastball and instead was sitting 89 to 90 MPH.
The Blue Jays did take it easy with him limiting each outing to no longer than five innings and even called his season early. That made total sense and assuming health, he should be allowed to pitch a heavier workload in 2020.
Due to health and diminished stuff, Pardinho’s stock has taken a hit. Plus, when you consider his 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds frame, he becomes very difficult to evaluate. Hopefully, his arsenal will return to form and at least one concern is eliminated.
Ultimately, I think he becomes a bullpen arm, but for now, I have his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
12. Kevin Smith (SS)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Streaming player
- Tools Summary: Power and speed but his strikeout rate is alarming.
Kevin Smith was a popular addition for Dynasty League owners in 2018 as he raked in Low and High-A. While he showed good power and speed, his high BABIP and inability to control the strike zone, particularly in the Florida State League gave me pause.
2019 has not gone as well for the University of Maryland graduate. His strikeout rate has increased to 32.3% and he’s only posted a 6.4% walk rate. When you combine that with a low BABIP, the results are not good. In 116 games in Double-A, he hit .209 with a .263 OBP. He is still showing some power with 19 home runs, but unless he improves his ability to control the strike zone, he’ll never be able to get to his power as he progresses through the system.
13. Griffin Conine (OF)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
- Tools Summary: Plus power but does not control the strike zone well.
Everyone knows about the big three in Toronto – Vlad Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. All sons of former major league players. To keep the pattern moving forward, the Blue Jays selected Jeff Conine’s son, Griffin, in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft. While Griffin doesn’t have the upside of Bo and Vlad, his plus raw power got him first-round money.
Unfortunately, since draft day, things have not gone well. First, he struggled in the Northwest League hitting only .238 with seven home runs and a 27% strikeout rate. Then, he tested positive for a stimulant and missed the first 50 games of the 2019 season. Clearly wanting to make up for lost time, he hit the ground running hitting .444 in his first week with two home runs and ended the season with a slash line of .283/.371/.576.
Despite the lofty draft pedigree and obvious major-league bloodlines, Conine profiles more as a second-division starter or extra bat at the highest level. His carrying tool is his plus raw power, but there is definite swing and miss in his game and defensively, he might be limited to first base. He’s a guy to monitor but should only be rostered in very deep Dynasty Leagues.
14. Forrest Wall (OF)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
- Tools Summary: Intriguing power-speed combination is still there. Plus, he just turns 24 in November.
I know many who read our site also read a lot of other sites as well. I’m pretty sure that nobody will have Forrest Wall in their Top 15. But, I still have hope.
I’ve seen Wall throughout his career and perhaps I always catch him on a good day, but I see an athletic player who makes solid hard contact. His ceiling might ultimately be a fourth outfielder, but if someone gives him a chance, I think he could be more. Last season, the Blue Jays left him unprotected and he was not drafted in the Rule 5 draft. If that happens this season, I think he gets drafted. Regardless, I see him playing in the big leagues in 2020.
15. Dasan Brown (OF)
- Highest Level: Rookie ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF with risk
- Tools Summary: 80-grade speed but currently, not much else. If it comes together, he could be an impact performer at the top of the lineup.
Dasan Brown was drafted in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft. His carrying tool is the 80-grade speed that he showed in 14 games in Rookie Ball where he stole six bases. Other than his speed, he’s a project.
He currently has little power and evaluators don’t know how much he will hit. But, he’s very athletic, a hard worker and if he develops, he could be a dynamic top-of-the-lineup impact performer.