A look at the Toronto Blue Jays farm system reveals a disturbing lack of power options
At the end of the 2016 season the Toronto Blue Jays management team of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins will need to decide if they can sign Jose Bautista and/or Edwin Encarnacion or if they will let them or both walk away.
There is a consensus among Toronto Blue Jays bloggers and fans that one will be signed and the other will be allowed to enter free agency. Even if one is retained and one leaves, that is a lot of power leaving, power that isn’t easily replaced.
So how will management fill the void of losing such a prestigious bat in the powerful Toronto Blue Jays lineup?
Easy, they don’t have to. Even easier, they can’t.
Sure Shapiro and Atkins could make a trade or strike gold like J.P. Riccardi did when he traded Robinzon Diaz to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jose Bautista or when Riccardi traded Scott Rolen to the Cincinnati Reds for a pair of arms that never reached their potential and an injured, defensively flawed third baseman in Edwin Encarnacion.
Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?
There is another option……Management could look to their minor league system to fill the void. Unfortunately, though, the nest is experiencing a power outage. The truth of the matter is there aren’t many power options in the system at the moment. Former GM Alex Anthopoulos was adamant about drafting and signing players who were athletic, speedy, and played premium positions. These type of players typically play good defense but lack game changing power.
According to Fangraphs, Isolated Power (ISO) is a measure of hitters raw power and tells you how often a player hits for extra bases. It’s calculated by subtracting a player’s batting average from his slugging percentage.
I’ve compiled a Top 10 ISO list from the Toronto Blue Jays system using 2015 stats. Players needed a minimum of 50 games played to qualify for the list; unfortunately, this left a few short season players with solid ISO numbers off the list. Fear not, I will give them honorable mention at the end.
Coming in at number 1 is a 21-yr-old international free-agent from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. Rodriguez hit 9 home runs, 6 doubles, 2 triples, and drove in 35 runs while batting .251 and slugged .437 in 61GP. The powerful 1st baseman generated 0.186 ISO in his second year in the DSL and should jump straight to Bluefield in 2016.
The Midwest All-Star Homerun Derby Champ hit 12 home runs with 90 RBI in 127 games with the Lansing Lugnuts. The 23-yr-old finished with .167 ISO, good for 7th in the Midwest League and 2nd on our list. After another solid season, the over-aged Class-A 1st baseman should get an aggressive assignment in 2016, skipping Dunedin and heading to New Hampshire.
Tellez, who has impressive raw power which he’s translated into game power, appears at number 3 on our list. Tellez’ power made headlines in the Arizona Fall League, so the baseball world will have eyes on the 6’4″ 245lbs young man. Rowdy split time between Class-A and Advanced-A mashing 14 home runs (7 at each level) 24 doubles, and driving in 77 runs in 103 games. He finished with a .289 BA and .454 SLG%, good for .165 ISO. After hitting .275 with 7 dingers in 35 games in Dunedin, Tellez can expect to start 2016 with the Double-A Fisher Cats. Don’t be surprised if the 20-yr-old 1st baseman starts the year back in Dunedin….at least for the first month.
A 9th round pick of the 2015 draft, Panas displayed a well-round game with few weaknesses and lands at number 4 on the list. A Toronto boy, Connor squeezed onto the list playing 51 games between Vancouver and the Gulf Coast League. Drafted as a 3rd baseman, Connor spent most of the year in LF. He hit 5 home runs, 10 doubles, 2 triples while driving in 29 runs. Panas finished with .270 BA and .433 SLG, good for .163 ISO. The 22-yr-old should get his first taste of full season A-Ball with Lansing in 2016.
The enigma that is Matt Dean comes in at number 5 with a career high 14 home runs with the Florida State League Dunedin Blue Jays. The 23-yr-old appeared in 123 games for the D-Jays while finishing 2nd in the FSL with .157 ISO. Yet another 1st baseman, Dean strikes out too much and needs to take more walks. Matt should continue his ascent through the ranks with a move to Double-A in 2016.
A surprise name comes in at number 6. Leblebijian mashed in Lansing and struggled mightily in Dunedin. In 100 games, Jason hit 9 home runs (all with Lansing), 23 doubles, 4 triples, and drove in 53 runs. The 24-yr-old middle infielder hit .245 with .399 slugging percentage. Jason should get another shot at locking down 2nd base in Dunedin, or at the very least a utility role.
Despite his struggles in 2015, Lane lands at number 7. The 2nd baseman only managed to hit .206, slugged .353, and finished with .147 ISO in 52 games between Vancouver and Lansing. The 20-yr-old hit 15 doubles, 5 home runs and drove in 35 RBI. Lane will start the year back in Lansing.
Number 8, Urena showed power potential during his time in Lansing, but the 19-yr-old’s power dried up when he got to Dunedin. Like Matt Dean, the talented short stop needs to learn to control the strike zone by swinging at fewer outside pitches. The switch hitter appeared in 121 games between the two level and hit .262 and slug .407 good for .145 ISO. He finished with 16 home runs, 16 doubles, 5 triples while driving in 66 runs. The native of San Francisco De Macoris, DR will start 2016 back with Dunedin.
The former New York Yankee prospect split 2015 between New Hampshire and Buffalo, appearing in 104 games. Mesa swings hard, strikes out way too much and doesn’t walk enough. In his year 28 season, Melky hit 30 doubles, 3 triples, 8 home runs while driving in 39 runs. His .250 batting average and .393 slugging percentage generated a decent .143 ISO good for number 9 on our list. Melky will continue to provide the Toronto Blue Jays with outfield depth in 2016.
The last player on the list is from Panama City, Panama and just finished his 3rd season in the Toronto Blue Jays system. At 20-yrs-old, Rodrigo started 2015 with 58 games in Bluefield and finished with 3 impressive games in Vancouver. The 5’11” 155lbs outfielder generated .138 ISO by hitting .302 with .440 SLG. He finished with 18 doubles, a triple, 4 home runs and 29 RBI. Where he finished 2015 is where he will start 2016.
Noteworthy players who didn’t qualify:
- Gabriel Clark- .195 ISO in 37 in Bluefield
- Edward Olivares– .164 ISO in 38 games in GCL
- Chris Carlson– .146 ISO with Lansing. Voluntary retirement.
None of these players will be ready in 2016 but a few should begin making their way to the Rogers Center in 2017. Here’s hoping for any step forward in 2016.
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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.