Jays From the Couch presents our Toronto Blue Jays 2017 Top Prospects List in its entirety. We listed the club’s top 15 for 2017.
It’s that time of year again! We have counted down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2017. We’ve selected our Top 15 and have been profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”.
To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2017 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
CHECK OUT EACH INDIVIDUAL PLAYER ON OUR 2017 TOP PROSPECTS, INCLUDING HONORABLE MENTIONS HERE
#1- Vladimir Guerrero Jr
Vlad Guerrero did better at 17 than most 20-t0-23 year olds do with their first taste of Rookie ball. Over 62 games with Bluefield, Vlad the Younger smashed eight HR, driving in 46 runs and scoring 32 of his own thanks to 15 steals in 20 chances. Oh, and he walked 33 times while striking out 35 times, aiding in building a .359 OBP and an .808 OPS. At seventeen. While he piled up the steals this season in the Appy League, there’s very little reason to believe he won’t be clogging the bases in the future. Guerrero will probably take his talents to the bright lights of Lansing, Michigan to start 2017. There, the thick third baseman will look to improve upon his defense at the hot corner, which to be completely honest, is not where he projects to stick as a professional. Guerrero will likely spend a year at every level, splitting 2017 and 2018 between Lansing, Dunedin and New Hampshire before polishing up in Buffalo around 2019-2020. As a best-case scenario, he’s on the Opening Day roster in April 2021.
#2- Anthony Alford
Despite having his season interfered with by injury, Alford managed to see an increase in his power game, which resulted in 9 HR. What is interesting is that his 2016 ISO of .144 is right around normal for him. He has shown power in the past, but it has not translated into home runs. That could be due to his swing lacking in loft, but we should not get too hung up on his HR totals. With some adjustments, that kind of power can come. While Blue Jays fans might be hoping he can duplicate his 2016 OBP (.338) and improve upon his .234 average so we could see him in Toronto sooner, rather than later, we should not expect the organization to be so quick. They’ll look to see that he can handle the jump from A+ to AA over a period of time before they think about promoting him. He could be an addition in May of 2018, assuming everything works out for him this season.
#3- Rowdy Tellez
During his 124 games with the Fisher Cats the power-hitting lefty had his best season as a professional slashing 297/387/430 to along with 52 extra base hits, including 23 HR and 81 RBI. This also included a 264/345/456 slash versus left-handed pitching over 125 at-bats. While defense has not always been a strong calling card for Tellez, he has, according to reports, improved his overall profile at the position. He may never be a plus defender at the position, however, his .992 fielding percentage in 2016 (7 errors in 897 total chances) was the highest of his professional career. The 2017 season could be a significant one for, Tellez. With reports having him starting the season in Triple-A, Buffalo he is one step closer to his ultimate goal. It would not be out of line to expect him to compete for the 1B job during Spring Training of 2018.
#4- Sean Reid-Foley
After some mechanical adjustments, Reid-Foley, saw his command become much sharper which helped him increase his K/9 rate from 9.2 in Lansing to 11.1 in Dunedin. He sits at 92-94 with the ability to still touch 97 on occasion.The Guam born prospect will more-than-likely start his 2017 season in Dunedin. But, should he show the same progression at that level as he did in 2016, he should be promoted to Double-A, New Hampshire by mid-season. Though it has been said his slider showed a little less consistency at times, both his curveball and slider flash as plus pitches. His change-up has shown some improvement, but still sits as an average pitch for him at the moment. A successful 2017 season for Reid-Foley could see him possible make it to Toronto as a September call-up. However, it wouldn’t be a wise bet. It seems more likely Reid-Foley will get a chance to compete for a rotation spot in 2018.
#5- Richard Urena
Look for Urena to start with AA New Hampshire to continue to work on his game. If he can produce close to his career numbers in AA, there’s a good chance we’ll see him called up to AAA Buffalo by the end of the season. Urena must also work on his defense before getting the call to the MLB. A career FPCT of .939 at shortstop is not enough to put him in front of the other call-ups just yet. If anything we could see Urena more as a 2018 call-up. Look for 2019 to be the season where he’s with the Blue Jays on more of a full time basis.
#6- Conner Greene
Greene seems pegged to start his age 22 season where he left off 2016 in Double-A, New Hampshire, of the Eastern League. His pure stuff will allow him to be competitive at this level; however, his ability to make strides in all aspects of this game, including his rumored “off-field” issues (Multiple outlets have made mention of his possible lack of commitment to learning his craft), will determine how fast he progresses in 2017. With several aspects of this game needing improvement before he’s remotely ready to become a major league starting pitcher, it is highly doubtful fans will see him in Toronto during 2017. Though should Toronto’s bullpen need help this coming season, it is not unrealistic to think he could make an appearance as a reliever at some point. Outside of complete failure by the big club’s bullpen it is more likely we won’t see Greene in Toronto until 2018.
#7- Bo Bichette
The Florida native looks to be headed to Lansing with the Lugnuts (A) for the 2017 season. With him not turning 19 until March, Bichette, will be facing competition consistently two-plus years older than himself. This could be a test for him, one hopefully he will be pass with flying colors. Another aspect will be the pitcher friendly Cooley Law School Stadium. Bichette, has the sort of power where this may not be much of a factor, however, it may be prudent to ignore the homerun totals. Instead electing to look at his extra-base hits, and strikeout totals. It should also be noted that 2017 will be the young Florida native’s first full-season of professional baseball. While he has played predominately a High School & travel ball schedule, they are vastly different from a 140-game professional season. He’s young and should handle the physical demands easily, however, the grind of a 140 game season will test his mental approach. With continued maturation and development of his hitting approach 2020 could be a realistic goal.
#8- T.J. Zeuch
Since he finished 2016 in Lansing, he’ll probably start there as well in 2017. While he’ll likely stick there most of the year, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him promoted to High-A Dunedin by late summer, especially if he treats his second taste of the Midwest League like he did the Northwest League. While his control is solid, his size makes it difficult to command all of his pitches, so smoothing out his mechanics should be a priority in his developmental process. In addition, 2017 should be the season where the Blue Jay evaluate his secondary pitches, which at worst, have a solid base to improve upon. He projects as a back-end starter, but the Jays might utilize him in a relief role prior to that, possibly by 2018.
#9- Harold Ramirez
The Toronto Blue Jays added Harold Ramirez to the 40-man roster this offseason. He should be fully recovered from his season-ending injury, and let’s hope, in shape when he shows up in Dunedin this spring. As Ramirez enters his age 22 season we can expect him to start establishing his power game, displaying more extra-base prowess. Ramirez has a chance – albeit slim – to crack the Blue Jays roster out Spring Training this year. Realistic ETA: September, 2017.
#10- Lourdes Gurriel Jr
Many view the $22/7yr deal Gurriel signed with the Blue Jays as a bargain, just based on his potential alone. At 21, he hit very well in the Cuban Series, slashing 344/407/560/967. He hits himself on base, isn’t afraid to take a walk, and his power seems to be developing, albeit slowly (27 HR in 305 games, but 18 of those over the last 122.) Right now, Gurriel doesn’t have a position within the Jays system. His early days were spent mostly as a middle infielder, playing second base. In 2015, Industriales kept him in LF mostly (307 innings) where he made just one error in 59 chances. 2015 was also the first year he received playing time at shortstop, but in 37 innings he was a perfect 24/24 in fielding chances there. His ETA could be 2018.
#11- Jonathan Harris
An improved delivery also allowed Harris to better utilize his mid-90’s fastball and his above average change and curve. At 23-yr-olds, Harris is expected to move more quickly in 2017. So with just 45IP of FSL under his belt, Jon Harris should return to Dunedin in 2017. One hopes to see an improvement in the K/9 department as he continues to get more comfortable with adjustments made to his delivery. A lot of Harris’ success in 2017 hinges on his ability to command his secondary pitches and his ability to develop a swing and miss pitch. Look for Harris in 2019.
#12- Reese McGuire
McGuire has excellent foot work behind the plate and features plus-athleticism, quick feet, soft hands for receiving and/or framing as well as what is sometimes considered elite arm strength. He was also predicted to be a first-division starting catcher with “multiple gold gloves” in his future. While his swing is described as a bit long, scouts praises the fact that it is the same in both batting practice and in the game, potentially speaking to his work ethic and solid, consistent approach at the plate. McGuire obviously has some things to work on in the minors before making the jump to The Show. He’s getting on base a good amount for a catcher who doesn’t clog the bases, but it would be great to see some of 18 doubles from 2016 carry over the fence and for him to just starting hitting with a little bit more authority. It wouldn’t be impossible to see McGuire behind the plate at Rogers Centre by 2019.
#13- Justin Maese
With the current front office being known to move players through the organization slower than the previous regime, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Maese start the 2017 season in Lansing. Should he continue to impress a mid-season promotion to Dunedin (A+) of the Florida State League. A major factor in his development will be his ability to refine his secondary pitches. It is reported that he had good feel for his slider but, it does need work. Maese has also added a change-up to his arsenal; however, due to his age and lack of pitching experience, it’s a pitch that needs to be developed further. His ability to do so could mean the difference of being thought of a starting pitcher or a bullpen option going forward. Seeing that Maese is only heading into his age-20 season there is no reason to believe we should see him in a major league uniform anytime soon. Expect an ETA of late 2018 at the earliest, with 2019 being more realistic.
#14- Max Pentecost
Expect Pentecost to start in the same place he finished the season, Dunedin. Assuming Pentecost can get back to fielding a position, there’s a good chance he jumps to AA during the 2017 season. If all goes well we could see a jump to AAA by season’s end. His defensive game may take time to improve but he has been working on catching drills this past year that didn’t involve throwing. Also look for Pentecost to see some time at first base this season as the Jays may look for an alternative positions for him to play. His ETA: 2018 at the earliest.
#15- Angel Perdomo
Perdomo throws a lot of fastballs, which average mid-90’s but can touch 97 mph. His tall frame allows him to achieve a good downward plain. He struggles to repeat his delivery and control tempo on the mound. This normally will lead to overthrowing and walks. As the year progressed, the lanky lefty did show improvement in this area, but there is still room to grow. Expect the Blue Jays to move Perdomo up to Advanced-A Dunedin, where he could move quickly to New Hampshire if he finds early gains in 2017. We put his ETA at 2018, as a reliever.
Cavan Biggio– 2017 will be an important season in the formative years of Cavan Biggio. He’ll likely stick at the Single-A level, and if he’s playing a full schedule by the end, he’ll be in good shape. Putting some daylight between his K% and BB% would be an ideal stepping stone in his development, but lifting a few of his doubles into home runs wouldn’t hurt either. By 2020, Biggio will be 24, and his destiny of “prospect or not” should be well-established.
Francisco Rios– With the young right-hander still needing to refine his secondary offerings he is almost certain to remain with Dunedin for the season. His ability to fortify his pitching repertoire will likely determine whether he will remain as a starter or be transitioned to a reliever. Rios has a really long way to go before any big league dreams can be realized.
Ryan Borucki– After his exceptional season with the Lansing Lugnuts (A) it would be reasonable to think Borucki will be added to the Dunedin Blue Jays (A+) roster to start the season. With him entering his age 23 season we can expect he may move quickly to New Hampshire (AA) should he continue to make progress. With his injury history it is hard to determine an ETA, however late 2018 seems like a reachable goal.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.