Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have done a lot of things right and are on the verge of going on a Championship run.  Whether they ever win a World Series will be decided on the field, but the Major League team is good and their minor league system has depth with some immediate help for next year.  Gabriel Moreno should be up at some point next season and will be the full-time catcher once he arrives.  He’s an offensive force whose catching should be adequate.  If Nate Pearson can stay healthy, the ceiling is a #1 starter.  To date though, health has eluded him.  Orelvis Martinez and Jordan Groshan both have impact potential and could see the Major Leagues next season.  I’m not sure where they play, but they are both getting close.  After that, there is depth throughout the system, especially with young Latin Players with significant upside.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Gabriel Moreno
  • Biggest Mover: Miguel Hiraldo
  • Emerging Prospect: Estiven Machado

1. Gabriel Moreno (C)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 5 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Makes great contact with solid-average power.  The combination could make him a Top 5 catcher in the game

Gabriel Moreno was tearing up Double-A when he fractured his thumb in June.  He did make it back to play a handful of games in September, even ending the season in Triple-A.  Overall, he slashed .373/.441/.651 in 32 games in Double-A hitting 8 home runs.  He makes great contact with a decent walk rate with solid power that he showed last season.  He’s not a big guy at 5-foot-11, but there’s enough bat speed to project 15 to 20 home runs annually.  If that comes with a .270 batting average and a .340 OBP, that could make him a Top 5 catcher in fantasy.

2. Nate Pearson (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Fantasy Ace with risk
  • Tools Summary: Two 70-grade pitches with his fastball and slider with his change-up also a solid pitch.  Can’t stay healthy and has struggled to throw strikes

Ranking Pearson is difficult.  Based on his size, arsenal, and overall pitchability, he’s the top player in the system and a top 25 prospect in the game.  However, the injuries are mounting and the control is not evident.  One could argue that the two are related, but I’m not sure.  Tall pitchers historically struggle with control early in their career and that could be a contributing factor.  My guess is if he stays healthy, can therefore pitch consistently, it will all work itself out.  The ceiling is that of an ace, but fantasy managers just need to understand the risk

3. Orelvis Martinez (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: 70-grade raw power but with too many strikeouts.  The approach is not all or nothing, so he could hit more like .240 to .250

Orelvis Martinez made our midseason top 100 at number 71 on the back of his 70-grade raw power and will surely be there again in the spring.  The swing gets long and he’s a big kid that’s only going to get bigger, so a move to 3B full-time is likely.  He does walk a lot, so that should help balance out his tendency to swing and miss.  If you’re looking at a stat line, he could slash .240/340/.500 with 30 plus home run pop.  Everyone’s looking for Joey Gallo comps and this one is close, but I think he hits more.  He’s a big-time prospect and likely will only get better.

4. Jordan Groshans (3B)

  • gHighest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Can hit with the potential for plus power as he matures

A lot was expected of Jordan Groshans after his fast start to the 2019 season.  He only played in 23 games but hit .337 while showing solid power potential.  While his 2021 season wasn’t particularly loud, it was solid.  More importantly, he showed me enough to continue to profile him as a full-time regular, potential all-star at third base.  He isn’t showing a ton of over-the-fence power, but there is plenty of bat speed and as he matures and continues to add strength, I think the home runs will follow.  The only downside I see is he’s an average runner at best, so don’t expect a lot of stolen bases.

5. Gunnar Hoglund (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: The Blue Jays’ first-round draft pick last June had TJ Surgery shortly before the draft.  Solid stuff across the board

After a great college career at Mississippi, the Blue Jays drafted him with the #19 pick last June.  He likely would have gone higher, but he had Tommy John Surgery shortly before the draft.  He might pitch late next season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Jays hold him back from competition until 2023.  The upside is not high, but he has a solid arsenal, throws strikes, and the Blue Jays believe he’ll move quickly once healthy.  I’ve put a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.

6. Otto Lopez (2B/SS)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Middle Infielder
  • Tools Summary: Pesky hitter who grinds out at-bats.  He has a little bit of speed but his value will come with his ability to hit

Lopez lacks a true carrying tool but he’s a pesky hitter that grinds out at-bats.  He’s always been able to make contact and can work walks.  He’s an above-average runner and while he doesn’t have a ton of power, he has enough strength for plenty of double and the occasional home run.  He’s likely a utility player in the big leagues, but because he can hit, I see him making it.  If you’re looking for a comp, maybe a David Flecther type of player.  He’ll play all over the field, rarely strikes out, maybe not at the level of Fletcher who last I looked was top three in the league, but with little power and 15 stolen bases.

7. Kevin Smith (IF/OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B/3B
  • Tools Summary: Showed an improved swing in 2021 and made his way to Toronto for a handful of plate appearances. There is intriguing speed and power but in Toronto, he might be a part-time player

Smith has always had tantalizing tools, but in 2021 he showed a better swing and things started to click.  He improved his strikeout rate and in August, received a promotion to Toronto.  While the skillset suggests full-time regular playing time is possible, if he stays in Toronto, it’s hard to see that playing out.  For fantasy owners, you have to hope for a trade, or perhaps he gets enough playing time via an injury to force full-time at-bats.  If he gets them, I think he can hit his way to fantasy relevancy.

8. Miguel Hiraldo (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: Solid swing with some plate patience.  Has good speed but is not a burner despite the 29 stolen bases.  The power hasn’t shown up yet, but it’s in there

A Blue Jays prospect that runs under the radar is Miguel Hiraldo.  While he hasn’t yet hit for a ton of power, there is plenty of bat speed and he swings hard.  I think it comes.  He also stole 29 bases, which I never saw in the profile, but he does have good speed, just not a burner.  His swing works and he’s not a free swinger.  If it all comes together, he could be a .260/.330/.450ish type of hitter with 15 to 20 home runs and similar stolen base potential.

9. Manuel Beltre (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: Great bat-to-ball skills and the ability to control the strike zone.  Good speed now with a chance to develop future power

Beltre was our Emerging Prospect last spring and got a chance to show his skills in the DSL last season. He didn’t disappoint.  He showed great bat-to-ball skills and the ability to control the strike zone.  He has plus speed now and plenty of bat speed to project at least average future power.  He might need to move off short in the future as the footwork needs a lot of work.  I’m not sure the skills point to a star, but I see the potential for a full-time regular, perhaps at second base and that will play nicely.

10. CJ Van Eyk (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: Solid arsenal with some delivery challenges

Van Eyk was the Jays 2020 second-round pick and finally got on the mound last season.   He has a solid all-around arsenal with a fastball that will touch the mid-90s.  His delivery has issues as he rushes the landing and falls off badly to first base.  Consequently, he doesn’t always throw strikes (4.4 BB/9).  That said, there’s enough there to project a number four starter at the highest level, maybe more if he can clean up his delivery.

11. Samad Taylor (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 2B
  • Tools Summary: Impressive 2021 season showing both power and speed.  Contact problems could limit his upside

Samad Taylor had one of the more impressive seasons in 2021 of anyone in the minor leagues.  In 55 games in Double-A, he slashed .300/.387/.537 with 12 home runs and 18 stolen bases.   He’s a plus runner, bordering on double-plus.  He also has enough bat speed to hit for average power or so.  What I didn’t like was how much he expanded the strike zone.  He hit .300 because his BABIP was .402 with a 31% strikeout rate.  He does work walks and always has.  He reminds me of Cavan Biggio but given his lack of pedigree and investment, don’t expect him to get the number of chances Biggio has gotten.  There’s something there, but he’ll soon be blocked as Toronto is in their window and I’m not sure it is enough for him to break through.

12. Steward Berroa (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Added strength since he last played in 2019 and hit the ball with more authority.  Oh yeah, he also stole 55 bases in 82 games while controlling the strike zone well

Steward Berroa stole 55 bases in 82 games in High-A.  That’s nothing new.  What is new, is that he’s starting to fill out and get stronger.  This led to a .399 SLG with 7 home runs.  While that’s not great, it might be enough to at least make him a fourth outfielder, perhaps even more.  He also controlled the strike zone well, striking out 22% of the time while walking 15% of the time.  It’s an intriguing profile with 2022 being a critical season for the 22-year-old as he’ll start the season in Double-A.

13. Adam Kloffenstein (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Reliever, maybe a back-of-the-rotation starter?
  • Tools Summary: Solid stuff without a true plus pitch.  His control is lacking and that will eventually push him to a bullpen role

Kloffenstein has a starter’s body but the arsenal and lack of control point more to a bullpen role.  His fastball sits in the low-90s while scraping higher with an above-average slider.  The change-up is behind and still needs a lot of work.  His biggest challenge is he can’t throw strikes.  In 23 starts in High-A, he walked nearly 5.5 per nine.

14. Estiven Machado (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing tools with the ability to hit

Machado is a bit of a bet on the tools as he only has one plate appearance as a professional and then pulled his hamstring and didn’t return.  At least he got a hit in his at-bat.  Anyway, the Blue Jays love his bat and believe he’ll hit with solid speed and enough bat speed to eventually hit for a little power.  Dynasty League owners need to monitor him as once he starts to play, he could blow up quickly.

15. Luis Garcia (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Understands the strike zone with a little speed and power

Garcia was one of the Blue Jays International signees last January.  While Miguel Beltre has gotten most of the publicity, Garica performed well in the DSL over the summer showing a great understanding of the strike zone (13% K/9 and 9% BB/9).  While he needs to get stronger, there is plenty of bat speed to project future power.  He’ll never be a power hitter but could develop average power.  He’ll likely move to second base long-term and from a fantasy standpoint, could be an asset.