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Prospect Profiles Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays

MLB

A Look at the Toronto Blue Jays Farm System

After back to back to seasons of being eliminated in the ALCS, the Blue Jays lost some of their key players to the club’s success. Despite their recent success for the first time in 23 years at the major league level, they gutted the farm system during their 2015 postseason run, shipping off names like Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. Last year management showed an unwillingness to deal from their prospect pool in an attempt to rebuild their future while having sustained success at the major league level.

Toronto still has a chance to compete for a wild card spot for the second straight year, in what should be a highly competitive AL East, they have 4 prospects in the top 100 from MLB.com‘s prospect pipeline.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr, 3B

The son of former Montreal Expo great, Vladimir Guerrero, Vlad Jr is a bit smaller than his father was at age 17 he still profiles as the same type of player. Guerrero Jr is a bit less athletic than his father, and a below average defender, he has shown the ability to make some plays at third with his arm that since his signing has developed into another plus tool.

The biggest draw when it comes to Guerrero Jr is his bat. Much like his father, he can put the bat on any ball he desires with power, slashing .271/.359/.449 and an OPS of .808 with 8 home runs, 46 RBI’s, and 16 steals in 62 games as the youngest player in the Rookie Ball Appalachian League. Vlad also showed his ability to judge the strikezone, as he walked 33 times compared to 35 strikeouts. His bat should play him into a major league line up, and lead him to All-star games and possibly even into the MVP discussion.

ETA: Late 2019-2020

Sean Reid-Foley, RHP

The former 2nd round pick in 2014, has shown flashes of being a front line starter to pair with Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. Reid-Foley had a breakout campaign in 2016, advancing to Class A Advanced Dunedin. Reid-Foley is emerging as a legitimate top prospect has been due to his new found ability to throw strikes, trimming his BB/9 down to 3.0 from 6.3 in his pro debut.

Flashing a fastball in the Mid 90’s with arm side run that generates swings and misses as well as weak ground ball contact. Combining that with an above average Slider and Curveball and a Change-up that could be average or better when it is fully developed. His stuff combined with an unusual arm angle makes him very tough on right handed hitters. The only drawback to Sean Reid-Foley right now is his injury history as he was shut down this past August with an elbow injury.

ETA: 2018

Richard Urena, SS

The switching hitting shortstop is just 20 years old, and features 4 out of the 5 tools as at least average or better. He has hit all but 2 of his home runs from the left side of the plate since 2015, he consistently barrels up the ball with good bat speed.

He is at his best when he hits for the gaps, allowing his speed to create havoc on the base paths. His arm will allow him to stay at shortstop, but he lacks the mental focus right now committing errors on routine plays. With a little more time in the high minors, Urena could refine his plate approach a little more seeing his strikeout rate decrease and walk rate increase while dealing with his mental focus. He has drawn comparisons to former Jays shortstop Tony Fernandez as a strong hitter and athletic defender with an arm.

ETA: 2018

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. IF/OF

The younger brother of Yuleski Gurriel, Lourdes exploded onto the Cuban scene his last two seasons. Since he was 16, Gurriel Jr has been known for his glove work and his ability to play multiple positions. Primarily playing 2B/SS in the Serie Nacional before showing his versatility in his next few seasons as he had time 1B, 2B, SS, LF, CF, and RF.

It was his in his second to last year when his bat finally matched his versatility and defense, as he would go on to hit .308/.388/.466 with 8 HR, 42 RBI, 11 2B and even stealing 7 bases. His strongest tools seem to be his arm strength, power potential, and his defensive versatility. The jury is out on whether Gurriel Jr can continue his surge at the MLB level. The Blue Jays roster is lacking a set in stone roster with LF and 1B as well as 2B should Travis be injured again this year.

ETA: Late 2017

Anthony Alford OF

A 3rd round pick in 2012, Alford was a two sport star, committing to Southern Mississippi to play football before deciding to commit to baseball full time in 2014. The right handed hitter has lots of promise as he shows to have the athleticism and all the tools needed to be a strong outfielder. His speed is his biggest asset, as it allows him to cover lots of ground defensively, and cause havoc on the base paths with the threat of extra bases and steals.

Alford hit .236/.344/.378 with 9 homers and 18 steals in High-A. He has shown the ability to draw walks with 53 walks, but also is prone to strike outs with 117 of them. He has faced some injuries including a concussion and a dislocated knee cap.

ETA: 2019

Rowdy Tellez 1B:

The former 30th round pick out of high school, the left handing hitting Tellez has been best known for his bat. Is currently playing first base, but lacks the range and projects as a long term DH. Tellez  struggled to stay healthy so far in his professional career, as his last two seasons have been cut short, he has landed on the disabled list.

His calling card has been his ability to hit, as he has progressed nicely to AA last season, hitting .297/.387/.530 with 23 homers, 63 walks and 92 strikeouts in 438 at bats. Tellez can hit for power to all fields, whether it be turning on an inside pitch, or muscling one out the other way. He has good strike zone control and has progressed well as he isn’t afraid to hit while behind in the count. Lacks speed and defense, but is working hard to stay at first base and in shape.

ETA: 2018

Jon Harris RHP:

The 2015 first round pick from Missouri State uses all of his 6’4″ height to generate a good downward motion on his fastball. Many believed he would go in the first half of the first round, but the Blue Jays were lucky to grab him at 29th overall. Nothing stands out with Harris but nothing of major concern.

His fastball can sit around 92-94 MPH, and he controls it very well. He will mix in a strong curveball as well as an average slider and change up. If his command can hold at the higher levels he looks to be the type of pitcher who eats innings. In his full season debut, he posted a 2.71 ERA with a 99/38 K/BB in 130 innings between High-A and Low-A

ETA: September 2018

T.J. Zeuch RHP:

A first round pick in 2016 from the University of Pitt, as a junior Zeuch put up a 6-1 record with a 3.10 ERA. He would go on to pitch to a 0-2 record with a 4.50 ERA across 34 innings of work in the GCL, NY-P, and Low A. He also had a K/BB ratio of 38/7, but gave up 31 hits.

Zeuch mixes in 4 pitches that he can throw for strikes. His fastball sits around 92-94MPH but can touch 96-97 with good sink. His slider and curve-ball have flashed as possible plus pitches, but he has struggled to remain consistent with them. Has a change up, but doesn’t quite have the feel for it so rarely uses it in game action. Could add a bit of strength to his frame to help him hold up over his first full pro season, if command stays could be another guy who can log 200 innings per season.

ETA: 2019

Conner Greene RHP:

Greene was a 7th round pick in 2013 for the Blue Jays, didn’t have a breakout season until 2015. While he was slow to develop at the start, since growing into his projected athletic frame he has been able to throw his pitches more effectively. Has a higher ceiling than Zeuch and Harris physically, but is also at the greatest risk of not reaching that ceiling.

His fastball now tops out at 96MPH, but sits right around 92-94MPH. Greene’s change up is great against left handers because he throws it from the same arm angle and the same arm speed which causes the pitch to fade away from left handed hitters. Greene’s curve-ball lacks the true bite and velocity to be his true out pitch at a major league level.

ETA: 2019

 Justin Maese RHP:

A 2015 3rd round pick from a Texas High school, Maese at just age 20 the scouts aren’t quite sure about him. His athleticism will help on the mound, as he was a 2 sport star in high school. Justin is touted as one of the best pop-up pitchers from his draft year.

Maese can hit 96MPH on his fastball, but sits in the low to mid 90’s range usually around 92-94MPH. He generates swings and misses with his fast arm and low 3/4 delivery that make his fastball more dynamic than his velocity suggests. His slider when on is a solid second pitch, but with it being new to his arsenal his command can sometimes be quite erratic with it. He also features a change up, but this is still extremely raw and he must develop this if he wants to stay in the rotation. Maese could also be a solid bullpen arm relying heavily on his sinker.

ETA: 2020

Just Missed:

Bo Bichette SS: The son of Dante Bichette, Bo hit .427/.451./.732 with 6 walks and 17 strike outs in 82 at bats in the GCL. Scouts worried about all the moving parts to his swing, but his power is undeniable, if he can continue to hit he will blast up the rankings.