The Pulse on MLB – Prospects Abound, All Star Rant and Blue Jay Ramblings

Correa

Prospect Pipe Line

It is very difficult to think of another season that rivals this one in terms of top prospects making their MLB debuts. The only year that really comes to mind would be the 1995 season which marked the first appearance of the Yankees “Core Four” (Jeter, Posada, Pettite and Rivera) and Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Hideo Nomo, Billy Wagner, Troy Percival, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Cameron, Phil Nevin, Brian Giles, Matt Lawton, Esteban Loaiza, Brad Radke and (current Rockies pitcher) LaTroy Hawkins.

Through 64 games this season, not only have we seen the arrivals of MLB.com’s Top 5 prospects (Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, Addison Russell and Francisco Lindor), but we have also had the privilege of witnessing the MLB introductions of: Joey Gallo, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Carlos Rodon, Archie Bradley, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Austin Hedges, Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez, AJ Cole, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Yasmany Tomas, as well as a trio of Blue Jays (Roberto Osuna, Miguel Castro and Devin Travis). And that is not even including the highly talked about debut of ambidextrous relief pitcher, Pat Venditte.

Venditte

This year’s “bumper crop” of prospects is just the latest in a five year boom of young talent arriving at the MLB level. Since 2010 baseball fans have had the privilege of witnessing the arrivals of: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton, George Springer, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Michael Wacha, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Zach Wheeler, Matt Moore, Corey Kluber, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Craig Kimbrel and half of the foundation of the Kansas City Royals roster (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, Lorenzo Cain) to name a few .

Hosmer Moose

And those are just players who were drafted through the MLB Draft; we’re not including players who were signed as International Free Agents like: Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Jose Abreu, Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Alex Guerrero and the rest of the Royals roster foundation (Yordano Ventura, Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera).

yordano sal

The funny thing is that this recent prospect yield is far from over. Obviously in the coming years we will be privy to see the arrivals of numerous prospects, but with this year not even half way over, we may be in line to witness more (young) talent embark upon their career. Depending on how the division and wild card races play out down the stretch, not to mention the rosters expanding in September, we could see the likes of Corey Seager (LAD), Mark Appel (HOU), Steven Matz (NYM), Alex Meyer (MIN), Miguel Sano (MIN), Carl Edwards (CHC), Aaron Nola (PHI) and J.P Crawford (PHI) before all is said and done.

2015 MLB ASG

Thoughts on the Mid Summer Classic

With EIGHT Royals set to start for the AL in Cincinnati in just under a month’s time, a lot of bitching and moaning has been cast toward the fan’s ability to vote and decide the starters for the All Star team. Even the players have been sharing their two cents. Detroit Tigers starting pitcher and an All Star himself, David Price, tweeted that the voting system “is not funny but it’s kind of a joke,” and further chided “I wanna know how many votes Jeter has right now… I know people have written him in and voted… my guess is 1.5 million.”

Despite the American League All Star roster starting to look more like a regular season affair, some of the Royals own players weighed in on the voting process. Outfielder Alex Gordon, who is currently sitting as one of the starting OF in the game, had this to say when interviewed by USA Today Sports:

“To be honest with you, I’ve never agreed with the All-Star voting, I always thought that guys most deserving, and having the best years, should go, especially now that the All-Star Game decides who wins home-field advantage. But it’s a popularity thing now, and after getting to the World Series, we got popular.”

It is hard not to agree with Price, Gordon and the side who vehemently oppose fans having the final say on who starts the All Star game. In fact, I am one of those people who believe that the system needs to be changed.

Having the fate of All Star starters rest in a fan held vote robs players who DESERVE to be there! With a fan vote, a player who is having a career year or one who is a “feel good story” might not get the chance to be named an All Star because one fan base is larger than another and voted more often for their hometown players; regardless of the season they’re having.

With that in mind, I do believe that fans should still play a role in selecting players, just not the starters. Why can they not vote on who will take place in the Home Run Derby? I understand that not everybody is an option to take part, but why can they not vote out of those who are willing to participate? I also like the idea of fans selecting the last player to be named to the All Star game. It really tends to be a selection made more for depth in case of extra innings, so why can we not limit them to voting for that, or even expand it so they can vote for the last three roster positions?

All that being said, until the system is changed, I (unfortunately) have to side with Kansas City Royals manager, Ned Yost, on the fan voting and All Star selection…  “If you don’t like it, go out there and vote.”

Thor

 

The Return of Thor and Bitching About the Blue Jays in Bullet Points

  • Grantland’s Jonah Keri put out an incredible Blue Jays article and an accompanying podcast. The Blue Jays are discussed in the first twenty minutes of the podcast and Jonah is joined by Scott MacArthur from TSN 1050 for the segment.

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-jonah-keri-podcast-scott-macarthur-on-the-blue-jays-and-justin-halpern-on-the-padres/

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/mlb-toronto-blue-jays-playoffs-historic-offense-starting-pitching/

  • Move over Mike Trout, there is a new man crush in town. Josh Donaldson seriously makes me swoon like a high school student getting noticed by their crush. I just get butterflies looking at the dude…
  • Apparently I am not the only one either… The Don (Don Cherry) made a televised plea to baseball fans to vote for the “Bringer of Rain”
  • I am still reeling after that 11th inning loss to the Mets on Monday night that ended the 11 game win streak. Regardless of how many runs we put up on a nightly basis, it is losses like that that will define, and subsequently doom, a season

thor1

  • That Noah Syndergaard kid looked pretty damn good (6 IP · 2 H · 1 ER · 2 BB · 11 SO), but hey who needs him when you got good ol’ Runs Allowed Dickey
  • More impressive than his stat line was Syndergaard’s ability to throw his secondary pitches for strikes in fastball counts, following the Bautista home run in the 1st.
  • Gregg (Two G) Zaun made a decent point about our whipping boy Dickey during the pregame broadcast. He said that Dickey is effectively the same guy he was when he was pitching for the Mets, the main difference being that when he was with the Mets, he was pitching in a bigger ballpark, in a weaker division and against weaker lineups. I hate giving RA any benefit of doubt, but I do agree with Zaun’s analysis on this one.
  • What I don’t agree with is anytime Zaun, or any Jays other analyst (I’m looking at you Wilner) for that matter, tries to defend trading Syndergaard and d’Arnaud for Dickey. Trading Syndergaard straight up for Dickey would have been egregious enough, let alone throwing d’Arnaud into the package. I am sure if you ask AA, he’ll agree this is one he wants a mulligan on
  • I have said it before and I will say it again, but I have as much faith in Brett Cecil closing out a win, as I do in bargain bin folding chairs supporting my rotund frame

Cecil

  • Can we please (FINALLY) address our lack of pitching!? I fully understand that everybody fears making another R.A Dickey/Syndergaard type of trade, but you know what we really should fear?!?!? Not making the playoffs… AGAIN!!!
  • I am totally on board with dealing some of our tomorrow for today! You have to be willing to take a chance in order to make it to the playoffs. It might work, it might not, but it is worth trying especially when the opportunity presents itself.
  • The Giants for instance traded Zach Wheeler to the Mets for three months of Carlos Beltran in an attempt to win. Sure it didn’t work for them that season, but those are chances contenders and winning franchises make. Why can’t we?
  • As much as I love prospects like Norris, Castro and Pompey, I wouldn’t hesitate to package them for a closer and a starter. You have to figure that those three (at least) get the conversation started on a Cueto/Chapman or Clippard/Kazmir deal? Hell, just one of them should be enough to land Papelbon from Philadelphia.
  • If the prospects can’t contribute this season in helping us win, then why not use them via trade to help improve the roster and give us a chance this season? I completely agree with Scott MacArthur when he says that it is time to “bleep or get of the pot.”
  • On a positive note, the Blue Jays have signed almost all of their draft class to contracts. This includes the top three picks, all of whom signed for or under slot value. For more info, check out the link from BlueBirdBanter:

http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/2015/6/10/8755563/2015-draft-signing-table

– $

The Pulse on the Blue Jays: Futures Market – Top 5 Positional Prospects

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Last week we took a look at the top 5 pitching prospects currently in the Blue Jays farm system. Just as was the case with the pitching prospects, all the players that we have examined have yet to make their MLB debut.

Max Pentecost

Max Pentecost · C · 22 years old · 6’2 · 190lbs

Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (11th overall) of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Vancouver Canadians (Single A)

What You Need to Know:

  • Finalist for the Johnny Bench award – given annually to the Best Catcher in Division I College Baseball – and was considered the best catching prospect available in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft.
  • Still waiting for Pentecost to make his 2015 season debut following offseason shoulder surgery to repair a partially torn labrum, but we were able to see a small sample of what he is capable of when he hit .324/.330/.749 with 7 extra base hits and 12 RBI in 105 at bats split between two levels of Single A after signing his MLB contract.
  • Baseball America: “Pentecost’s athleticism stood out then and still does after catching for most of the last three seasons. Scouts consider him an above-average runner, fairly exceptional for a catcher. The body and his speed earn him Jason Kendall comparisons…”
  • ESPN: “Offensively, Pentecost has a line-drive swing that stays through the zone with good bat speed and transfers his weight well to generate average power, mostly to the pull side. He’s shown an ability to work counts and a willingness to hit the ball the other way, so high averages and on-base percentages are not out of the question. His swing is more geared towards contact; but 15-18 homer seasons are not out of the question.

 Blue Jays Prospect Rank:

  • 4th (Top 30 – MLB.com)
  • 5th (Top 40 – bluebirdbanter.com)

Tale of the Tape:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-o2Yg6byfU

MLB ETA: 2017

Richard-Urena

 

 

Richard Urena · SS · 19 years old · 6’1 · 170lbs

Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent in 2012

Current Affiliation: Lansing Lugnuts (Single A)

What You Need To Know:

  • Was the 9th ranked international free agent available in the 2012 class and signed with the Blue Jays along with Franklin Barreto, who was ranked 2nd. With Barreto now property of the Athletics (traded for Josh Donaldson), Urena’s path to Toronto is a little less clogged.
  • Known more for his glove than his bat, Urena uses his soft hands and good footwork combined with solid range and a strong throwing arm to earn plus grades in the defensive department. This should help ensure that he stays at SS at the major league level.
  • Even with having an advanced glove, Urena shouldn’t be considered an “all glove, no bat” shortstop. Through 51 games with Lansing, Urena is currently hitting .284/.300/.754 with 8 HR and 42 RBI in 218 AB.
  • Has been credited with having advanced patience at the plate for his age, yet he still manages to strike out in 20% of his at bats. This is an area that will definitely need to be addressed going forward if he plans to progress rapidly through the minors.

Blue Jays Prospect Rank:

  • 7th (Top 30 – MLB.com)
  • 12th (Top 40 – bluebirdbanter.com)

Tale of the Tape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBvK0uqSH14

 MLB ETA: 2018

 

Mitch-Nay- 

 

Mitch Nay · 3B · 21 years old · 6’3 · 200lbs

Acquired: Drafted in the Supplemental 1st Round (58th Overall) of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

What You Need to Know:

  • The big bodied 3B combines his quick hands with a solid approach at the plate in order to make consistent, hard contact. Nay has also been known to put on a power show during batting practice but has had trouble transitioning that raw power into the actual game.
  • Has shown that he has enough of an arm to play third base, but other than that, he gets below average grades in range and footwork. If his defense doesn’t improve at the hot corner, a change in position may be in the cards. If that is the case, Nay definitely has the arm to play RF, but 1B is just as likely of an option.
  • Defense aside, Nay’s bat and offense will continue to dictate his ascension through the minors and will determine how much, if any, of a major league career he has.

Blue Jays Prospect Rank:

  • 8th (Top 30 – MLB.com)
  • 13th (Top 40 – bluebirdbanter.com)

Tale of the Tape:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRo6W8ZSGeY

MLB ETA: 2017

dwight smith jr

Dwight Smith · OF · 22 years old · 5’11 · 195lbs

Acquired: Drafted in the Supplemental 1st Round (53rd Overall) of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double AA)

What You Need to Know:

  • Comes from MLB pedigree. His father, also named Dwight Smith, played in over 800 games spanning 8 seasons in the majors.
  • In his first two full seasons in the minors, Smith has proven to be a difficult out at the plate thanks to his quick swing and advanced knowledge of the strike zone. He has also shown to have good eye and discipline at the plate which, when combined with his quick swing, leads to a solid on-base %.
  • Has split times between CF and LF during his time in the minors, but seems better suited for LF long term because of his speed and arm strength.
  • The Blue Jays also had Smith take reps at 2B during the Arizona Fall League and Spring Training this year in the hopes that he could help solve the revolving door at 2B. That being said, I do wonder if the emergence of Devin Travis this season has caused them to shelve or limit his time at 2B? Either way, the time spent at 2B can’t hurt, if anything it can only help him become more versatile.

Blue Jays Prospect Rank:

  • 9th (Top 30 – MLB.com)
  • 7th (Top 40 – bluebirdbanter.com)

 

Tale of the Tape:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAka3eVGnYg

MLB ETA: 2016

 

Dawel-Lugo

Dawel Lugo · SS · 20 years old · 6’0 · 190lbs

Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent in 2011

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

What You Need to Know:

  • Another high ceiling SS that the Blue Jays signed as an international free agent, Lugo was viewed as one of the best hitters in the 2011 class.
  • Regarded as a good “bad ball” hitter which helps him cut down on his strike out numbers. Lugo has a decent amount of raw power for his size and, with his quick hands; it could turn his line drive power into home run power.
  • Currently a SS in the minors, Lugo does have the hands and arm strength to stay at the position in the majors. Although his lack of speed and range could see him slide over to 2B or 3B long term, especially if he adds more size.

Blue Jays Prospect Rank:

  • 15th (Top 30 – MLB.com)
  • 21st (Top 40 – bluebirdbanter.com)

Tale of the Tape: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0cDFJrpfvk

MLB ETA: 2017

 

Honourable Mention(s):

  • Andy Burns · 2B/3B · 24 years old · 6’1 · 205lbs – MLB ETA: 2015
  • Rowdy Tellez · 1B/DH · 20 years old · 6’1 · 205lbs – MLB ETA: 2018
  • Anthony Alford · OF · 20 years old · 6’1 · 205lb – MLB ETA: 2018

    – $

The Pulse on the Blue Jays: Futures Market – Top 5 Pitching Prospects

draft1

Believe it or not, but despite the Blue Jays opening the 2015 season with six rookies – Devin Travis, Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Miguel Castro, Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez – on their 25 man roster, it hardly made a dent in the depth of their farm system.

Even with their less than stellar track record in ACTUALLY signing their first round picks (Tyler Beede and Phil Beckford, anyone?) and recent history of mortgaging the future in trades (Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Jake Marisnick etc…),  the Blue Jays front office has done a near spectacular job in restocking the farm system year in and year out.

It doesn’t matter how they go about it, whether it be in the MLB Amateur Draft or signing international free agents, General Manager Alex Anthopolous and the Blue Jays brain trust have been able to acquire an abundant amount of prospects that will be able to help the organization in the future. Only time will tell whether that impact will be felt on the actual field or via the trade market, but it is good knowing that you have that deep of a farm system at your disposal.

With the MLB Amateur draft right around the corner, we will be taking a look at the Blue Jays Top 5 pitching and positional prospects. With apologies to current Buffalo Bison teammates, Miguel Castro, Dalton Pompey and Daniel Norris, these “future reports” are only focusing on those Blue Jays prospects who HAVE NOT made their MLB debut.

Up first, we will look at the Top 5 Pitching Prospects currently in the Blue Jays organization.

hoffman

Jeff Hoffman · RHP · 22 years old · 6’4 · 185lbs

Acquired: 1st round (9th overall) 2014 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #3

What You Need to Know:

  • Report from ESPN prior to the draft: While Hoffman doesn’t have the track record of [White Sox No. 3 overall pick Carlos] Rodon, the stuff is very comparable, and if he can pitch for East Carolina like he pitched over the summer, he is a legit contender to be the first player taken in June.”
  • His college pitching coach at East Carolina, who also coached Chris Sale while he was at Florida Gulf Coast, said that Hoffman has the stuff to be an MLB ace: “Big leaguers are easy to spot at that level, and Hoffman’s unbelievable work ethic, discipline, and 99 mph fastball give him ace potential.”
  • Baseball America: “At his best, Hoffman’s athletic body, electric fastball and ability to maintain his velocity evoke Justin Verlander.”
  • Hoffman on his strike zone approach: “I’m going to pound the fastball in there until the other team proves they can hit it.”
  • Even with having to recover from TJ, Hoffman should be considered an advanced pitcher and could climb through the minors quickly.

 

Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a5cGLTvn9w

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Throws two fastballs (four seam and two seam). Four seam is a heavy fastball that sits in the mid to high 90’s and regularly touches 97-98. His two seam sits in the low to mid 90’s and features above average sink and runs inside to right handed hitters.
  • Curveball: Viewed as a plus to plus-plus pitch and as dominant as his fastball. The curve has good depth and biting action and sits in the 78 to 81 mph range.
  • Changeup: Not as good as his curveball, but he has shown to have a more consistent feel for it. The changeup is viewed as above average to plus and could continue to develop into another filthy weapon at his disposal. It sits in the mid to upper 80’s and has good, late movement down and in to right handed hitters.
  • Hoffman has also shown the ability to throw an average slider, but has seemed to put it in his back pocket for the time being.

MLB ETA: 2017

Sean-Reid-Foley

Sean Reid-Foley · RHP · 19 · 6’3” · 220lbs

Acquired: Supplemental First Round (49th) 2014 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Lansing Lugnuts (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #6

What You Need To Know:

  • Considered to be one of the best prep school pitchers available in the draft, the jays landed him in the supplemental draft and signed him at slot value.
  • Could be considered a steal as he shad potential to be among first 30 names called, not to mention having signed a college commitment letter.
  • Tall and athletic frame which could allow for more velocity as he ages. His athleticism also allows him to repeat his delivery with relative ease; even if it isn’t the most fluid of deliveries.
  • One cause for concern is in his pitching mechanics. Tends to throw across his body with a high arm slot and pitching elbow. The Blue Jays have been rumoured to potentially tweak his delivery as it could result in an elbow or shoulder injury.
  • If everything clicks, he projects as a mid rotation pitcher at MLB level.

 

Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uNZSBRahBY

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Sits between the 92 and 95 mph range and can hit 97 on the radar gun. His fastball also has above average movement inside to right handed hitters due to him throwing it with his two fingers held in close proximity to one another.
  • Slider: Viewed as his second best pitch, the slider sits in the mid 80’s and has lots of spin with late biting action. ESPN wrote that: “his breaking ball is inconsistent and there’s some noticeable arm angle changes, but at its best it offers plus spin and late bite, and he has a good feel for the pitch.”
  • Changeup: Viewed as a work in progress and would currently rank as an average pitch at its best. Biggest issue with the changeup is his inability to throw it from the same arm slot as his fastball. This “tipping” of the pitch allow hitters to know that it’s coming and adjust accordingly. Until he gets a better feel for the changeup, he will be viewed as a predominant two pitch pitcher.

 

MLB ETA: 2018

Jairo

Jairo Labourt · LHP · 21 · 6’4 · 205lbs

Acquired: Signed as an International Free Agent in 2011

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #10

What You Need to Know:

  • The Blue Jays have found great success on the international free agent scene and Labourt is one of many big arm high ceiling arms that they have managed to stockpile.
  • The big Dominican southpaw has an effortless delivery with clean arm action. Should bode well for his durability in the long run.
  • Struggled with his control in his first few seasons but a change to his pitching mechanics has resulted in better control and an elevated groundball %.
  • The biggest knock against the big lefty has been his inconsistent command of his pitches. He will need to continue to improve his control and hit the strike zone in order to continue advancing through the minor leagues.
  • Development of change-up could be the difference between him starting or relieving. Has projected as a “workhorse” starter due to his large frame.

 

Scouting Video: https://youtu.be/rMAWCMrNQ8U

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Heavy with good sinking motion – aided further by Labourt’s downhill pitching delivery – that routinely sits in the 89 to 93 mph range and has hit 95 mph on the radar gun.
  • Slider: Considered the better offering of his two secondary pitches. He will throw his slider between 83 to 86 mph and it is prone to diving out of the strike zone and into the dirt as it approaches home. Definitely has the potential develop into a “wipeout” slider.
  • Changeup: Currently a work in progress and forces him to rely more on his slider as an off speed offering. Labourt’s changeup will sit between 77 and 79 mph but is rarely used in comparison to his other pitches. He will need to further develop this in order to stay as a starting pitcher at the major league level.

MLB ETA: 2017

Matt-Smoral

Matt Smoral · LHP · 21 · 6’8 · 220lbs

Acquired: Supplemental First Round (50th overall) 2012 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Dunedin Blue Jays (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #11

What You Need to Know:

  • Due to his enormous height, similar pitch arsenal and deceptive left-handed delivery, Smoral has (unfairly) been compared to both Randy Johnson and Madison Bumgarner.
  • Originally projected to be a first round draft selection but fell to the Supplemental 1st round due to a broken foot he suffered in High School. The injury could be a blessing in disguise as if he even remotely reaches his potential he could be a big time steal.
  • After dealing with an assortment of injuries in his first two seasons, Smoral made big strides in 2014 by appearing in 52.1 innings.
  • Despite this minor success, Smoral is still considered to be a work in progress. The main reason for this, aside from the injuries, has been his struggle to repeat his delivery and throw his pitches for strike.
  • Unfortunately for the 6’8 lefty, the primary culprit for his command and delivery issues is his enormous stature.  Since their size forces them to be releasing the ball practically on top of the batter, young pitchers with immense height tend to have more problems learning to hone their mechanics than their shorter peers.

Scouting Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjL2H_W2uTA

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Sits in the low 90’s but has been known to hit as high as 95 mph on occasion. His fastball is graded as an above average pitch that could eventually develop into a plus pitch as he continues to progress. Smoral’s low ¾ arm slot and smooth delivery of the pitch also helps it to appear even faster to opposing batters.
  • Slider: When he has a good feel for it, the slider will appear more as a plus pitch than an average to above average one. Throws it in the mid 80’s, but does tend to struggle with his control and command which causes it to flatten out and appear more hittable. When it is on though, it has the makings of a true “wipeout” slider.
  • Changeup: Still a work in progress compared to his slider. Will sit in the high 70’s to low 80’s range and has good late sinking and fading action as it nears the plate. His changeup comes from a similar arm slot as his fastball which allows it to be more deceiving to batters. Despite it still being a pitch in development, he has shown to have a good feel for the changeup.

MLB ETA: 2018

ryan borucki

Ryan Borucki · LHP · 21 · 6’4 · 175lbs

Acquired: Selectied in the 15th round (475th overall) in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft

Current Affiliation: Vancouver Canadians (Single A)

Blue Jays Prospect Rank (MLB.com): #12

What You Need to Know:

  • Slipped to the 15th round due to an elbow injury which would eventually require Tommy John surgery. Missed the entire 2013 season, but came back to pitch 57 innings between two levels of Single A in 2014
  • Since being drafted and undergoing surgery, has worked to “smooth out” any mechanical issues with his delivery which has allowed for better control and command of his pitches
  • Even with his career being delayed due to injury and rehabilitation, Borucki has shown an advance level of polish and a high baseball IQ. This should only continue to advance and develop as he moves throughout the minor leagues
  • His tall and athletic frame could allow for more size to be added, which in turn would result in an added boost in velocity
  • Has drawn comparisons to former Blue Jays and current Miami Marlins pitching prospect, Justin Nicolino, due to their similar build

 

Scouting Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9utr39N8Z4

 

Pitching Arsenal:

  • Fastball: Mainly sits in the low 90’s but has hit as high as 94 mph on the radar gun. His fastball has shown to have good life to it and tends to run inside to left handed hitters. As mentioned above, he could add more velocity if he adds some more size to his frame.
  • Curveball: Not as polished as his changeup but has a pretty decent feel for the pitch. Curveball will sit in the mid 70’s and may have more of a “slurve” movement depending on how he grips it.
  • Changeup: The better offering of his two secondary pitches, Borucki’s change, like his curveball, will sit in the mid 70’s range. He has shown a better feel for the pitch and seems more comfortable throwing it in high leverage situations than his breaking ball.

MLB ETA: 2018

Honourable Mention: RHP Alberto Tirado

Coming up next… the Top 5 Toronto Blue Jay positional prospects.

– $

2015 MLB Season Preview · NL East

Turner Field

Atlanta Braves

Home Field: Turner Field

2014: 79 – 83 · 2nd NL East

O/U in 2015: 73.5 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • Depth of Starting Rotation. Braves start the season with a rotation consisting of: RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Shelby Miller, LHP Eric Stults and RHP Trevor Cahill. The Braves also have LHP Manny Banuelos and RHP Mike Foltynewicz in AAA, LHP Mike Minor on the DL, and a trio of top pitching prospects on the farm (Max Fried, Matt Wisler and Lucas Sims).
  • Andrelton Simmons making glove in the field. Simmons has won the NL Gold Glove at SS in both of his two full seasons in MLB. Here are a “few” of his web gems from last season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m38fxtOA6Tk
  • Freddie Freeman at 1B. One of the few bright spots to look forward to in Atlanta this season.
  • John Smoltz getting the call to join Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and manager, Bobby Cox, in Cooperstown.

What We Hate:

  • Lackluster offense. Offseason house cleaning may have turned Atlanta into a contender for worst offense in baseball.
  • Being Nick Markakis. I wonder if Markakis was aware of the Braves plans to rebuild when he inked his 4yr/$44mil contract in the offseason. Speaking of…
  • Nick Markakis contract. Why make a point of shedding payroll and getting out from under “bad contracts,” just to dole out (potentially) another bad contract? Doesn’t make sense during (apparent) rebuild phase.
  • No more Craig Kimbrel closing games. Latest name to be shipped out of town. Takes his 90.7 SV% with him to San Diego.

Impact Player: 1B Freddie Freeman

Potential Breakout Candidate: LHP Alex Wood

Potential Bust Candidate: OF Nick Markakis

Top Prospect: Jose Peraza · 2B · MLB ETA: 2015

MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=atl

Damian Moss

Irrelevant Throwback Player: LHP Damian Moss (2001-02)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The Braves were one of two teams that Dotel pitched for in 2007; the Royals being the other.

Final Prediction: 4th NL East.

Marlins Park

Miami Marlins

Home Field: Marlins Park

2014: 77 – 85 · 4th NL East

O/U in 2015: 81.5 · Over

What We Love:

  • Gio Stanton. Current Monster of Mash will be a fixture in Miami for the foreseeable future after inking the biggest contract in MLB history this past offseason. The Marlins slugger will make $325 million over the next 13 seasons to punish pitchers mistakes. If you like to see a ball get smashed, than Stanton at bats should be considered MUST WATCH TV.
  • Offseason acquisitions. The Marlins used their depth of pitching to bring in SP Mat Latos, SP Dan Haren, 2B Dee Gordon and 3B Martin Prado via trade. They also added the big bat of Mike Morse through free agency.
  • Christian Yelich’s toolbox. In 2015, the 23yr old Yelich hit .284/9/53 and added 21 SB in 144 games, it was his first full season with the Marlins; he also added a Gold Glove.
  • The return of Jose Fernandez. The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year missed the majority of 2014 following Tommy John surgery. The 22 year old, and his FILTHY pitching arsenal, should be back around the All Star Break.
  • Adeiny Hechavarria’s Glove. Not AS GOOD as Andrelton Simmons’ but also not that far off.

What We Hate:

  • Bullpen behind Cishek. Not a whole lot of depth here. Former All Star reliever, Aaron Crow, was brought in via trade from the Royals in exchange for another reliever, Brian Flynn. Unfortunately for the Fish, the newly acquired Crow will miss the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
  • Jarred Cosart’s (apparent) betting. The Marlins pitcher was investigated by MLB officials and fined by the Marlins in relation to gambling on sports other than baseball. Not only does it look bad on Cosart, but it also comes in the same year that Pete Rose is seeking reinstatement to MLB from new commissioner, Rob Manfred.
  • Jeffrey Loria. No reason needed.

Impact Player: RF Giancarlo Stanton

Potential Breakout Candidate: LF Christian Yelich

Potential Bust Candidate: SP Mat Latos

Top Prospect: Tyler Kolek · RHP · MLB ETA: 2018

MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=mia

Luis Castillo

Irrelevant Throwback Player: 2B Luis Castillo (1997-2005)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The veteran Dotel was a member of the Blue Jays bullpen during Henderson Alvarez’s rookie season in 2011.

Final Prediction: 2nd NL East

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets

New York Mets

Home Field: Citi Field

2014: 79 – 83 · 3rd NL East

O/U in 2015: 81 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • Matt Harvey’s return. The Mets ace missed all of 2014 after undergoing Tommy John at the end of the 2013 season. Harvey was one of the breakout stars of 2013 and, barring any setbacks, he should return back to his 2013 form. May be on a Strasburg-esque innings limit this season.
  • Future of starting rotation. Mets fans have already seen the trio of Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom graduate to the bigs. Up next, RHP Noah Syndergaard, LHP Steven Matz and RHP Rafael Montero.
  • David Wright and Michael Cuddyer’s bromance. The two played baseball in the same town as kids. The older Cuddyer, was drafted in the 1st round (9th overall) out of high school in 1997.Wright, who is four years younger than Cuddyer, modelled his game after Cuddyer’s style of play.
  • Any Bartolo Colon start. Not because of his pitching, but because you know Colon will get a chance to bat and (maybe) run the bases.

What We Hate:

  • Zack Wheeler’s torn UCL. Just as the Mets get Matt Harvey back from Tommy John, they lose the 24yr old Wheeler to the same injury.
  • Josh Edgin’s torn UCL. An already weak looking bullpen lost their top LH option before the start of the season.
  • Travis d’Arnaud’s durability. Offensive minded catcher has struggled with injuries throughout his professional career.
  • David Wright’s durability. The face of the franchise as missed (large) parts out of 3 of the last 4 seasons. Mets will need him on the field and in the lineup if they want to finish above .500 in 2015.

Impact Player: SP Matt Harvey

Potential Breakout Candidate: C Travis d’Arnaud

Potential Bust Candidate: OF Michael Cuddyer

Top Prospect: Noah Syndergaard · RHP · MLB: 2015

benny agbayani

Irrelevant Throwback Player: OF Benny Agbayani (1998-2001)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: The Mets were the first, of thirteen teams, that Dotel played for. They signed him as a 20yr old international free agent in 1993 and he made his MLB debut for them in 1999.

Final Prediction: 3rd NL East

Citizens Bank Park

Philadelphia Phillies

Home Field: Citizens Bank Park

2014: 73 – 89 · 5th NL East

O/U in 2015: 67 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • Cole Hamels. Still one of the top pitchers, and southpaws, in the game today. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hamels get traded as some point throughout the season (Boston anyone?) but until that day comes, he will remain one of the few bright spots on the Phillies roster.
  • Backend of Bullpen. If the Phillies manage to get a lead early on, the trio of Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Ken Giles and LHP Jake Diekman could slam the door shut from the 7th inning on. But that is a big IF.
  • Ben Revere’s wheels. Revere had a breakout year in 2014, hitting for a .306 average and stealing 49 bags in 151 games; he also accounted for 71 runs.
  • Chase Utley playing 155 games last season. A very bright spot for the oft-injured All Star.
  • The Mike Schmidt era throwback jerseys.

What We Hate:

  • Reuben Amaro Jr’s. Phillies GM unwillingness to commit to a rebuild has left them with more untradeable contracts (Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Utley, and Papelbon) than valuable trade pieces. Let’s hope that he doesn’t make the same mistake when it comes to Cole Hamels’ long term future.
  • Cliff Lee’s future. Former Cy Young winner faces an uncertain future as he attempts to comeback from a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.
  • Ryan Howard’s remaining contract. Making $25mil through 2016. Club has a $23mil option in 2017 or will face a $10mil buyout. That $10mil buyout looks like a steal to get out from under this contract.

Impact Player: SP Cole Hamels

Potential Breakout Candidate: RP Ken Giles

Potential Bust Candidate: 2B Chase Utley

Top Prospect: J.P Crawford · SS · MLB: 2016

rheal cormier

Irrelevant Throwback Player: P Rheal Cormier (2001-06)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Was teammates with Phillies OF Jeff Francoeur when the two were members of the Braves back in 2007.

Final Prediction: 5th NL East

Nationals Park

Washington Nationals

Home Field: Nationals Park

2014: 96 – 66 · 1st NL East

O/U in 2015: 93 Wins · Over

What We Love:

  • That Pitching Rotation. RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Stephen Strasburg, RHP Jordan Zimmerman, LHP Gio Gonzalez and RHP Doug Fister. When Doug Fister is your 5th starter, you know your team has a loaded starting rotation. Nationals also have 15 game winner, Tanner Roark, working as the long man in the bullpen.
  • Bryce Harper’s ridiculous combo of bat speed and power. If he can stay healthy, Harper could be one of the big breakouts of 2015.
  • Anthony Rendon’s continuing emergence as an elite 3B. Although fans will have to wait for his 2015 debut as he is currently on the DL.
  • Ryan Zimmerman no longer being a defensive liability at 3B.
  • Betting on Honest Abe in the Presidents race. His 264 wins, since the race begin in 2006, have him miles ahead of George Washington (188) in 2nd

What We Hate:

  • Durability Concerns. Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, Casey Janssen and Wilson Ramos have all spent time on the Disabled List during their career. In fact, Rendon, Werth, Span and Janssen will (all) open the season on the DL.
  • Weak bullpen. Trading Tyler Clippard to the A’s didn’t help either.
  • Poor post season performers. Unceremoniously bounced in two NLDS appearances.
  • Imagining this team playing in Montreal

Impact Player: RHP Max Scherzer

Potential Breakout Candidate: OF Bryce Harper

Potential Bust Candidate: 1B Ryan Zimmerman

Top Prospect: RHP Lucas Giolito · RHP · MLB ETA: 2016

MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=was

Elijah Dukes

Irrelevant Throwback Player: OF Elijah Dukes (2008-10)

Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Free agent acquisition, Casey Janssen, pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen with the well travelled Dotel back in 2011.

Final Prediction: 1st NL East

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