Over the past several years, the Blue Jays have built a solid Major League core and even snuck into the playoffs in 2020. Their development organization is not discussed with the likes of the Rays and Padres, but their success has been undeniable and is right up there with those two. The best news is their minor league system continues to be strong.
Austin Martin, Nate Pearson, and Alex Manoah should arrive in the Majors by 2022 and each has impact potential. With his speed and bat-to-ball skills, Martin has star potential along the same lines as Bo Bichette. There is also depth in the system with Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, and Miguel Hiraldo. Each has impact potential.
When you add up the financial capacity of the Blue Jays and their young players (current and future), their window should be opening soon and could stay open for a while.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Austin Martin
- Biggest Mover: Alejandro Kirk
- Emerging Prospect: Manuel Beltre
1. Austin Martin (SS/3B/OF)
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: First Round Draft Pick
- Tools Summary: Five tool talent that could move through the minor leagues quickly
Austin Martin was at the top of my draft Pref list last spring and I’m not sure it was close. How he fell to pick #7 was a mystery. He has elite bat speed that should allow him to hit for future power. In college, he was not a home run hitter but was instead a hitting machine with a .376 batting average in 188 games. He walked nearly as much as he struck out. He’s also a plus runner, so Dynasty League owners, you might want to start trading for that Top pick. While he played shortstop in college, he might move to third or even the outfield once he gets his professional career underway.
2. Nate Pearson (RHP)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Fantasy Ace
- Tools Summary: Premium stuff but health concerns have always cast doubt if he can get to his ceiling
Nate Pearson got his first taste of the Major Leagues when he started four games in 2020. In 18 innings, the results were not great as he pitched to a 6.00 ERA striking out 16 and walking 13. However, in late August, he developed a flexor strain and hit the IL. He did come back for the playoffs, but Pearson’s career has been highlighted by injuries and it does add risk for him and his Dynasty League owners going forward. But the arsenal says it all. His fastball sat 96.3 with a good spin rate (ranked 55th percentile in the league). His slider and change-up also grade out as plus. The control is still inconsistent, but he repeats his delivery enough for that to eventually come. It’s all the makings of an ace…except for my concern about his injury history.
3. Jordan Groshans (3B)
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 3B
- Tools Summary: Great swing with the potential for plus 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. 2020 was a wash due to Covid, so in April, it will be nearly two years since we last saw him play. I like the swing as he has a nice balanced approach that should allow him to hit for a high average. There is plenty of bat speed as well and assuming he adds loft, he could hit for 20+ home runs. The ceiling is very high here…he just needs to play.
4. Alek Manoah (RHP)
- Highest Level: Alternate Site 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.
Alek Manoah was the 11th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, he has the size that should allow him to remain a starter. 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. His control is inconsistent but tall pitchers historically struggled with their control and I suspect Manoah will as well. That could give some reliever risk but otherwise, the arsenal 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 signing bonus last July. The 6-foot-1 Dominican outfielder’s carrying tool is his 70-grade raw power that is born out of elite bat speed. 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. If it all comes together, the upside is a 30-home run performer with a chance to hit for average. He can be aggressive at the plate, so a lower than anticipated OBP might result.
6. Simeon Woods-Richardson (RHP)
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022 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 was traded to the Blue Jays as part of the 2109 trade of Marcus Stroman. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he has the ideal frame for a pitcher. His arsenal is promising 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 is improving. 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.
7. Alejandro Kirk (C)
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 Catcher
- Tools Summary: Undersized catcher with a solid hit-tool.
Alejandro Kirk got a surprise call-up in late September and made the most of his opportunity. In nine games, he hit .375 with a home run and four runs scored. Plus, it appeared he quickly became a team favorite. Kirk can really hit with great bat-to-ball skills and an ability to control the strike zone. In his three-year minor league career, he walked more than he struck out. There’s not a lot of power as his swing is geared more for contact than power. But, the bat speed is solid and if you told me he hits 10 to 12 home runs annually, I wouldn’t be surprised. If you saw him play, conditioning might be at the heart of whether he becomes a full-time regular or not. I hope he does as I think the upside is a full-time regular.
8. Eric Pardinho (RHP)
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 SP or Reliever
- Tools Summary: Good stuff with a feel for pitching. Did not pitch in 2020 due to recovering from TJS
Eric Pardinho has a quality arsenal with a fastball that will touch 96 MPH and a slider that misses plenty of bats. The arsenal plays up because of his ability to throw strikes and locate his pitches. That said, the elephant in the room is his size. At 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds, he’s small. Now, he does have a high three-quarters release which will help increase his plane. But, in the modern game, there are just not many pitchers with this profile. He missed the entire 2020 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
9. Gabriel Moreno (C)
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2022-23 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.
Gabriel Moreno had a nice breakout season in 2019. In 60 games in Low-A, he hit .303, slugged .516 with nine home runs. He rarely struck out, posting an impressive 8.9% strikeout rate. Most impressively, he was only 19-years-old and was playing against pitchers more advanced and older than he was. 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.
10. Miguel Hiraldo (IF)
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: Intriguing tools with both power and speed and an ability to hit.
Miguel Hiraldo has played well since the Blue Jays signed him as part of the 2017-18 International class. In 121 games in the lower minors, he’s slashed .300/.354/.460 with 9 home runs and 29 stolen bases. 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.
11. Adam Kloffenstein (RHP)
- Highest Level: DNP 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. 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.
12. Dasan Brown (OF)
- Highest Level: DNP 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.
13. CJ Van Eyk (RHP)
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Solid stuff with work to do on his control
CJ Van Eyk was drafted in the second round last June after a solid career at Florida State University. In 36 games, he pitched to a 3.45 ERA striking out nearly 12 per nine but walking four per nine. He struggles to repeat his delivery and that is leading to a high walk rate. The delivery isn’t great but he’s athletic enough that I believe average to slightly below average control can be achieved. The stuff is solid with a fastball that can scrape the mid-90s.
14. Manuel Beltre (SS)
- Highest Level: Int’l Player expected to sign ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Atheltic with potential plus hit tool with a little bit of speed and pop
Manuel Beltre is expected to sign with the Blue Jays on January 15th. Unlike many of his contemporary international players, he’s spent a lot of time playing in the showcases in the US, and therefore, there is a lot of video about him. He’s got a great swing with a more advanced approach than you typically see with a 16-year-old. There’s plenty of bat speed to project future power. He’s currently a good runner but as he fills out, the speed will likely drop a grade.
15. Kevin Smith (SS)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Streaming player
- Tools Summary: Power and speed but his strikeout rate are alarming.
2019 did not go well for Kevin Smith. He struck out way too much and rarely walked. When you combine that with a low BABIP, the results were not good. In 116 games in Double-A, he hit .209 with a .263 OBP. He still showed power by hitting 19 home runs, however, 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.
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