Toronto Blue Jays prospects Lane Thomas and Joshua Almonte didn’t make it onto this year’s Jays From the Couch Top 15 Prospect List, but they are worth keeping an eye on in 2016
Every year baseball fans eagerly await the multitude of top prospect lists for their favorite team. Jays From the Couch staff have been diligently working to put together our inaugural Top 15 Prospect List; unfortunately, every year there are several prospects that don’t make the list.
Despite not qualifying for our list, these prospects deserve to have their accomplishments and potential recognized.
First on the Jays From the Couch’s Honorable Mention list LHP Angel Perdomo and RHP Hansel Rodriguez looked at. Next on the list are a pair of positional players who finished 2015 playing A-ball with the Lansing Lugnuts: Lane Thomas and Joshua Almonte.
DOB- August 23rd, 1995
Lane Michael Thomas was taken in the 5th round of the 2014 draft. Thomas signed for $750K and was quickly dispatched to the Gulf Coast League where he played 34 games as a 18-yr-old. Blessed with all-round talent, Lane has a good eye, double-digit home run power, a quick bat, and athleticism to play multiple positions.
Drafted as a CF, Thomas was converted to full-time 2nd baseman in 2015. Quality second base is a position the Blue Jays are lacking at the minor league level. At times, Lane looked out-of-place and lost at 2nd, but then he would show good range and a plus arm. He committed 20 errors in 45 games, but also turned 32 double plays. After hitting just .225 with 5 home runs in 43 games in Vancouver, Lane was assigned to Lansing on August 10th. In 9 games the Knoxville native hit .114 with 2 doubles, 3 walks and 10 strike outs.
He finished the year with .206 batting average, .236 wOBA, 43 wRC+ and decent .147 ISO. He struggled with his plate discipline with 44 strike outs and only 11 walks.
After finishing 2015 on the disabled list, Lane Thomas will look to put that season behind him. Thomas will start the season in Lansing and will need to prove he can make more consistent contact, but with a little more luck (.244 BABIP with Vancouver) Lane could maintain a decent average. Thomas will also need to prove he has the glove to stick at 2nd. Look for Lane Thomas to be a mainstay with Lansing for the entire season. Thomas is not blocked by anyone in the minors and will be given every opportunity to excel or fail.
DOB- January 28th, 1994
The native of Corona, New York, Almonte was a 22nd pick of the 2012 draft. Almonte was very raw. He struggled in his first 2 seasons with the GCL Blue Jays hitting only .159 in 2012 and .167 in 2013. In 2014 with Bluefield Almonte exploded to hit .307 with 3 home runs and 15 stolen bases.
It was a surprise to see the 21-yr-old Almonte skip over Vancouver and head to Lansing. After playing over 90 games in CF over 3 seasons, the 6’3″, 210lb spend more of the year patrolling RF with 50 games. Josh collected 10 OF assists, showing off his strong-arm and his improved OF play.
In 2015, Almonte continued to fight with plate discipline with only 10 walks and 78 K’s. He produced at league average with .295 wOBA and 83 wRC+ while having lady luck on his side with .355 BABIP despite hitting only .252. Joshua’s extra base power began to show up in 2015 with career highs with 15 doubles and .100 ISO.
In 2016, Joshua will join the Advanced-A Blue Jays in Dunedin. There Josh will continue to struggle with strike zone control, but will show improvement in the power department and with the glove. Expect early season struggles with a possible assignment to Lansing to get him back on track. 2016 could be split between A-Ball and Advanced-A.
Keep an eye or two on both these players. Lane and Josh fall into the dark-horses category for 2016, as they both possess the talent and potential to be Top Prospects by the end of the 2016 season.
*Featured Image Credit: jcsullivan24-flickr-CreativeCommons
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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.