It’s that time of year again. Time to give this prospect junkie his fix. Last year, I did farm system rankings for all of baseball, and so I wanted to do so again. As I explain with any farm system rankings, this is a completely subjective business. I do watch minor league baseball, I do a lot of research on the players, and I do talk to people who do talent evaluation in baseball. I certainly don’t have the clout in the prospect world that the guys at Baseball America have, nor do I care to. This is meant to be fun for me, and hopefully fun and informative for the reader. At the very least it should allow for some debate from other teams’ fans, as well as allow Tigers fans a glimpse into other organizations farm systems, so when the Tigers make a trade, there may be some knowledge of who they are getting. Last year, the Texas Rangers took the top spot. Who will it be this year?
1. Aaron Sanchez (SP)- Has the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter. Owns three pitches in fastball, curve, and change. Needs to command better as he moves up the ladder, but Sanchez is talented and most think he will be fine in this regard.
2. Roberto Osuna (SP)- Osuna is a big bonus baby from Mexico, and last season he showed why. Doesn’t have the physical projection you look for out of a teenager, but his polish at this stage makes up for it. The stuff isn’t bad either.
3. Marcus Stroman (P)- Stroman moved quickly last season before getting suspended for using a banned substance. His fastball/slider combination will get him to the big leagues, the change up will determine whether that is as a starter or reliever.
4. Alberto Tirado (SP)- Tirado is a name that popped up on radar screens this past season, and I am being aggressive with him for a reason. Tirado sits low 90’s and can get his fastball higher. He also has a good feel for a slider and change as well. Still some projection on the frame as well.
5. Daniel Norris (SP)- Norris had some issues last season to say the least, but it’s not like he isn’t a talented lefty still. Just might take Norris a little longer than originally thought. Should have a plus fastball and change up down the road.
6. D.J. Davis (OF)- Davis is all about tools at this point, and he has plenty of them. Speed is the best asset, but he has some pop as well. There is some work to do with pitch recognition and discipline, but he isn’t allergic to walks. Top of the order potential.
7. Sean Nolin (SP)- I’ve seen Nolin numerous times, and always put him in the “solid” type category. Reports were his stuff took a step forward in the past year or so, so maybe there is some mid-rotation potential here. Big, strong, lefty with solid mix.
8. Matt Smoral (SP)- I would like to see Smoral on the mound before I rank him any higher, but in this system, almost everyone is a crapshoot because they are almost all in short-season leagues. Smoral has a plus fastball and potentially a plus slider.
9. Christian Lopes (2B)- Lopes is one of the young Jays that showed some feel for hitting in 2012. Lopes has solid tools, and could eventually carry an above average bat to 2B with him every day. There is some pop, and Lopes could steal 10 to 15 annually as well.
10. Chase DeJong (SP)- There are guys with bigger arms in the Toronto system, but DeJong’s arm isn’t chopped liver. He combines a good feel on the mound with a low 90’s fastball and quality curve ball. If he could add a bit of velocity, he could move up this list.
Just Missed The List:
Nessy is a defensive catcher at this point, but he does have some thunder in his bat. I’m not down on Smith after a tough start to his career, still believe he can hit. Del Rosario is another young Latin pitcher to look out for, got positive reports on him from the GCL. Stilson has top 10 stuff, but his injury history and delivery are concerns.
Picking sleepers in this system is no easy feat. The Jays have a bunch of them. I heard good things about Lugo despite his pretty anemic numbers in the GCL. Labourt is a projectable lefty with a live arm, still learning how to throw strikes, let alone command.
It almost pains me to put a system like this at 21. Why? Because I’ve said before, I favor high ceiling players over safer picks. Toronto has boatloads of them. Guys like Adonys Cardona haven’t done as well as expected, but there is still time for them. Matt Dean is another that I haven’t given up on. There are plenty of guys in this group that I could name, but the problem is almost all of Toronto’s higher level talent is residing in the lower level of the minors right now. There is no organizational balance. Of course, this largely due to the amount of talent they have recently traded away this off-season, and due to some graduation. That doesn’t mean this next wave of talent won’t be interesting, however, and athletes like D.J. Davis and Anthony Alford bear some watching.