In April, Clutchlings came out with the Top 10 Blue Jays Prospects. We've focused exclusively on that group, and a few players who have merited consideration for inclusion in that group (we're talking about you, Kevin Pillar. Maybe Andy Burns, too) since the start of the season.
We didn't do a Top 20 list, because most of the players on it, given the relative lack of depth in the minor league system, won't be starting their seasons until sometime in the next week or so, when short season and rookie ball campaigns open in the Gulf Coast, Appalachian, and Northwest Leagues.
In no particular order, here are 9 players we're looking forward to reading about, and hoping to see at least a few of when we make a visit to Vancouver in early July: Ranking them based on the small sample sizes they accrued at the rookie level isn't realistic or fair to us, so let's not worry about their minor league numbers from last year.
Chase DeJong rhp
DeJong was the Jays 2nd pick out of California high school in the 2012 draft. DeJong is a tall (6'4"), athletic pitcher, with the type of build Tampa Bay seems to prefer. Drafted in the 2nd round, but received a bonus comparable to a first rounder. Lots of projection here. Touches 92 on the gun, curve and change are works in progress. Keith Law is high on DeJong. Limited to 12 innings in the GCL last year. Will start the season again in the GCL, should easily reach Bluefield by mid-season.
Tyler Gonzales, rhp
A sandwich round pick (60th overall) out of Texas High School in 2012. Fastball sits low to mid 90s, with a good slider. Changeup still developing. Another power arm on a projectable frame. Some scouts see a future for him in the bullpen. Saw brief action in the GCL as well last year. Should follow a developmental path similar to DeJong's.
Alberto Tirado, rhp
Pitched in the Appy League as a 17 year old last year. A relatively cheap and unheralded International signing out of the Dominican in 2011, Tirado had a jump in velocity last year. The club lowered his arm slot last year, and it added bite to his slider, which is his second-best pitch after his fastball. Lack of size is a concern. Will likely start with Bluefield, but if he repeats his success of last year, could advance to Vancouver.
Franklin Barreto, ss
A huge bonus signing out of Venezuela, widely regarded as one of the best International signings of 2012. His speed and bat are plus tools - numerous scouts have projected him as a .300 hitter. His arm is strong, but his footwork doesn't project well as short, and a move to second or centrefield is possibly in his future. Only 17, he played only in instructional league games last year, and will open the season with the GCL Blue Jays. One of the best U18 prospects in the game.
Jacob Anderson of
A sandwich round pick in 2011, Anderson tore up the GCL in a brief stint in 2012, but struggled at Bluefield. Given the high opinions many had about him in his draft year, there still is plenty of hope. Will start the season at Bluefield, and should benefit from repeating that level.
Mitch Nay 3b
Nay was Arizona's HS Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012. Another 2012 sandwich round pick (58th overall), Nay didn't play last summer because of wrist and back ailments. Nay has a compact, powerful stroke. He likely will start in the GCL, but could move quickly to better competition at Bluefield.
Adonys Cardona and DJ Davis already are members of our Top 10 list, but like the above prospects have yet to make their 2013 debuts. The same goes for two-sport athlete Anthony Alford, who is not in our Top 10 list, but has perhaps the best tools in the system.