Join Jays From the Couch, as we review four corner infielders which didn’t make this year’s Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospect List
Every year baseball fanatics put their heads together in an attempt to separate Top Prospects from Organizational Fillers. What should be an easy task, quickly turns into an internal struggle, especially for me. You see I am very very biased when it comes to prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system. I think they should all be on they should all be on Top Prospect Lists, therefore, I spend more time moving names up and down lists than I should.
It’s due to this internal struggle that I feel obligated to fully inform/introduce the Jays From the Couch readers of potential prospects which don’t show up on our Jays From the Couch 2017 Top Prospect List (link). I can’t list every prospect, that’s crazy. The prospects I’ll cover, either had good years, have appeared on other Top Prospect Lists, or quite simply I think they are worth recognizing.
In part 2 we look at Lansing’s standout 1st baseman, a 3rd baseman who had another up and down season, a power hitter that hasn’t shown too much power, and a 2016 Draft pick that surprised us all.
Signed as a IFA in 2012, Juan Kelly has had an uninspiring 4 seasons….until 2016. Kelly split his time between 1st (82 GP) and 3rd (44 GP) for the Lansing Lugnuts.
The 22-yr-old out of the D.R. put together a very consistent season, with a .216 BA in May being the only real bump in the road. Removing May from the argument, Juan Kelly never hit under .255 in any other month. The corner infielder batted .311 against LHP and .263 against RHP with all but one of his 12 HR.
Kelly’s breakout season earned him a Mid-Season All-Star selection and a chance to showcase his skills in the Arizona Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox.
.274 BA, 35 doubles, 6 triples, 12 HR, 67 RBI, 57/113 BB/K, and 11 SB
Kelly will head to Dunedin in 2017. He will have a chance to prove that 2016 wasn’t a fluke. At 5-foot-10, Juan Kelly is small for 1st base, so may not stick at this position; however, he showed very good skills at the position.
When Wise was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 draft, scouts loved his plus power potential. Unfortunately, Wise has a lot of swing-and-miss potential with that power. In two seasons (138 GP) Carl Wise has struck out 121 times while hitting just 5 home runs.
The 22-yr-old out of the College of Charleston played the entire year with the Low-A Lansing Lugnuts. The 6-foot-1 3rd baseman landed on the disabled list twice in 2016 but still played 84 games.
The native of South Carolina played just 26 games between July 1st and the end of the season, missing over two weeks between July 21st and August 9th. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time as it appeared Wise was getting into a groove. Prior to the injury, Wise was hitting .326 for July after starting the month batting just .223.
Wise really struggled against LHP batting just .186 versus a decent .256 against RHP. All of his HR came off of RHP. His slugging percentage was 150 lower versus LHP (.214 SLG%).
.240 BA, 15 doubles, no triples, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 21/72 BB/K, and 1 SB
Heading into his age 23 season Wise will likely return to Lansing. He will need to show he can stay healthy and be more productive before getting the call to Dunedin. Wise did show small improvements in his ISO, BB%, and K% and we can expect to see these numbers continue to trend in the right direction.
A left-handed power-hitting corner infielder, Christian Williams spend 2016 with the Vancouver Canadians. After splitting his time between 1st and 3rd as member of the Bluefield Blue Jays in 2015, Williams started 58 games at 1st, while making 2 appearances at 3rd.
Williams had some success LHP with a .283 BA but struggled with RHP after batting just .222. The 6-foot-3 Florida native drove in 12 runs in 28 July games but batting just .212. He followed with a .260 August but managed to drive in just 4 RBI in 21 games. This despite hitting 2 home runs in both months.
.236 BA, 10 doubles, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 31/55 BB/K, and no SB
Williams has shown a nice eye at the plate, but 21-yr-old will need to show more than a .104 ISO as he moves through the minor league ranks. He should find himself in Lansing in 2017. Don’t expect Williams to turn into a .300 hitter, but we can expect to see him achieve double-digit home runs with the Lugnuts this season.
The Blue Jays continue to draft Charleston grads with 21-yr-old Bradley Jones joining Carl Wise and Gunnar Heidt.
The 4th rounder signed for just 60k and reported to Bluefield. He wasn’t expected to have such an immediate impact. Jones led the Appy League in HR, RBI, TB, and SLG%.
This shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise, as his scouting report gave him good grades with above-average power and possessing average tools across the board.
.291 BA, 18 doubles, a triple, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 17/71 BB/K, and 16 SB
Before labeling Jones as a power hitting prospect, let’s see how he does against pitchers who have a more advanced control of the strike zone. Many Rookie-Ball pitchers are just beginning to learn how to get the ball over the plate with some consistency. Jones’ 2016 number will allow him to skip Vancouver and head straight to Lansing; however, he could still see Vancouver in 2017 if his K numbers get out of control and his production shows regression.
*Featured Image Credit: Wade Black- JFtC
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