Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Top Prospect Best & Worst Case Scenarios

   The arrival of pitchers and catchers across Arizona and Florida heralds another year of spring training. And from this point on until the start of the season, news about top prospects can be pretty minimal, depending on their major league readiness.  We will scour the news services for mentions of top Blue Jays prospects for the next six weeks, but in the meantime, we thought we would take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for this group, based on past performance, scouting reports, and plain old hunches. photo

1.  Aaron Sanchez

    Best Case Scenario:   Sanchez builds on his fine work in the Arizona Fall League, develops a consistent and repeatable delivery, refining his control, and bringing a lot more evaluators back onto the bandwagon as a result.  After a dominant season at AA, Sanchez is promoted to AAA Buffalo to help with their playoff run.
   Worst Case Scenario:  Control problems continue to plague the righthander, and he struggles against more advanced bats in AA.  Sanchez tumbles further in most top 100 prospects list as a result. Former teammate Noah Syndergaard advances to the majors as a result of the Mets' thin minor league system. This isn't necessarily a make or break season for Sanchez, but he does have some ground to make up.

2.  Marcus Stroman    
   Best Case Scenario:  Stroman lands a spot in the back of the starting
rotation, or at least is among the last cuts as camp breaks.  That the photo
Blue Jays have expressed only lukewarm interest over the remaining
free agent starters still on the market as spring training approaches may
be evidence of the fact that the Jays view him as a strong candidate for a starting job.
  Worst Case Scenario:  Stroman makes the club, but gets pounded,
and winds up back in Buffalo, and cries to move him to the bullpen grow.
Or, he spends most of his season with the Bisons, which actually might be
a good thing, because it would indicate that the big league club has had
effective starting pitching.  Just the same, he has nothing left to prove in the minors.

3.  Daniel Norris photo
Best Case Scenario:  Norris picks up right where he left off at the end of last season, and dominates Florida State League hitters, leaving evaluators to stop talking about him as a mid to back of the rotation starter.  A promotion to New Hampshire late in the season to replace Sanchez and a trip to the Arizona Fall League puts a cap on his season.
Worst Case Scenario:  Playing with pretty much the same team mates as he had in Lansing, Norris gets minimal support, and his control issues of 2012 and early 2013 make a return visit.  He struggles against High A hitters, and the thinking about him returns to middle of the bullpen thoughts.

4.  Sean Nolin

Toronto Sun photo
   Best Case Scenario:  Nolin beats out Stroman and several others
for the 5th starters' job after a lights out spring.  Or, is among the last
cuts, but dominates AAA hitters, and is called up to stay after the All-
Star break.
Worst Case Scenario:  Fails to make the big league club, and spends the whole season in Buffalo, where he understandably arrives in a bit of a funk, and struggles to find his form for several months.

5.  Kevin Pillar
Toronto Star photo
Best Case Scenario:   After spending the spring locked in a battle for the
fourth outfielder spot with Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra, the club
likes Pillar's versatility and bat, and he heads north with the team to open the season.
Worst Case Scenario:  With Sierra out of options and Gose likely
a bit ahead of him on the organization's depth chart, Pillar has a poor
spring, and starts the season in Buffalo.  Melky Cabrera makes a full
return to health in Toronto, and there just isn't enough playing time for
Pillar, who spends the whole year in AAA.

6.  Roberto Osuna photo
Best Case Scenario:  Osuna makes a full recovery from Tommy John
surgery, and pitches well in a few GCL starts in late August, with his
pitches and innings closely monitored.  
Worst Case Scenario:  recovery doesn't go as well as had been hoped,
and Osuna is shut down for the year in mid-summer.  Really, nothing should be expected from the young righthander this year.  A return
to competition would be a huge bonus.

7.  D.J. Davis
Toronto Observer photo
Best Case Scenario:  Challenged by the organization by an assign-
ment to full-season Lansing at the beginning of the season, Davis begins to live up to the considerable promise that led the Jays to chose him in the  first round of the 2012 draft.  After a slow start, Davis shows that he has started to polish some of his immense, but raw skills, and makes a huge leap up most top prospects lists.
Worst Case Scenario:  A poor spring causes the Jays to leave Davis behind in extended spring training, after which he is sent to short season Vancouver, where he distinguishes himself, but falls short of what the club  had planned for him this season. The toolsy-but-raw tag still applies, but there are whispers.  This is a big year for Davis.

8.  Andy Burns
Best Case Scenario:   Burns builds on his hot August and solid
AFL play by breaking camp with Buffalo.  His versatility helps the Bisons
to the International League title, and a spot on the 40-man roster after 
the season ends, along with a shot at earning a big leauge job in 2015.
Worst Case Scenario:  As a non-roster invitee to spring training,
Burns, a notoriously slow starter, is overmatched at the plate in the spring, and opens the season in AA.

9.  Frankie Barreto
MLB Prospect Portal photo
 Best Case Scenario:  Barreto starts the season at Vancouver,
and leads the C's to their 4th straight Northwest League crown.
He spends the whole year at shortstop, and develops the footwork
that detractors say he's missing. Quite an accomplishment for
an 18 year old playing against mostly college grads. A 
promotion to Lansing would be nice, but there's no rush.
 Worst Case Scenario: Barreto repeats Bluefield after a so-so
spring, and his supposed defensive shortcomings result in struggles
at the plate, amid calls for a position change. With the prospects
that follow in the system, the sample size is still small enough
that projecting scenarios for them from afar is difficult at best.

10. Alberto Tirado photo
Best Case Scenario:  Tirado is held behind in extended
spring training until the midwest weather warms up, and heads to
full season ball in Lansing, where he continues to dominate with his 96 fastball, and gains a rapidly growing following among evaluators.
Worst Case Scenario:  Command issues which
cropped up last year continue. He struggles with
the many and varied adjustments that come with
playing full season ball against higher calibre competition,
however, and loses lustre as a prospect.

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