Toronto Blue Jays: Prospects ready to contribute going forward

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Teoscar Hernandez
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Teoscar Hernandez /

With the Toronto Blue Jays season coming to an end, they will look to bounce back and build towards the future.

Well. Here we are. It is September and the Toronto Blue Jays are officially (okay not officially
official, but you get what I mean) out of the playoff hunt. While other teams geared
up for playoff runs, the Jays were sellers. Selling off bit pieces like Francisco Liriano and Joe
Smith for solid returns.

The question that many Jays fans are asking themselves is: are the Jays going to be competitive next year? And who else is there to look forward to outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette?

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The last two seasons were incredible, not only was the team constantly in a playoff position, but down the stretch, games and series didn’t only matter, but they were hyped as well. The dome
was rocking, and that lead to memorable series and events. Unfortunately, that once
potent core has vanished. Edwin Encarnacion is smashing it in Cleveland,  Jose Bautista is
probably gone, plus Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki cannot be counted on to be every day contributors.

So the question remains, outside of Roberto Osuna, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Justin Smoak, Josh Donaldson, Vlad Jr., and Bichette how are we going to compete with what looks
like powerhouses being built in Boston and New York with their top young talent and
budgets over the next few years?

Internal Talent Options

Let’s start with the positives at the major league level; despite being one of the worst
offenses in the majors, the Blue Jays got a pleasant surprise when Smoak emerged as a legit All Star first baseman who is on pace to finish the season with 40 homers and 100 RBI’s, if he and Donaldson can combine for 70 home runs next year, that’s the makings of a very potent 2-3 or 3-4 in your lineup.

Next is the emergence of a legitimate bullpen, gone are the days where the Jays were just
Osuna, now they have 5 legitimate bullpen arms who are above average in Dominic Leone, Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, Matt Dermody, and Osuna of course have all pitched well this season and should all be back next year as well. Finally it has to be the contributions of some of the call-ups. Richard Urena, Carlos RamirezLuis Santos, and Teoscar Hernandez have really surprised me at their impacts on the lineup, Urena looks like a solid utility bat with some speed that could easily
replace Darwin Barney’s role. Is he ready for that step? That is something he has to show in training camp but he could also see a permanent role with Buffalo in the infield.

Hernandez is that versatile 4th outfield who has shown some much needed speed and pop. Carlos Ramirez looks like a legit set up man who has yet to allow a single earned run ALL YEAR until he surrendered a solo shot against Kansas City. Santos looks like a middle reliever who can eat innings, for such a dismal second half, these prospects have provided some optimism for the depth of this team and given some much needed excited to a fan base that looks to have checked out for the year. If those four can make a contribution next season, that would be a good boost to a team that has lacked depth for years.

Help on the way?

While many of you are keenly aware of who young superstars like Bichette and Vladidy Jr. There are others who are likely to complement those two as well as the Jays three elite young pitchers (Sanchez, Stroman, and Osuna). I’m going to dive into who else is down in the Blue Jays farm system who can allow this team to compete next year and beyond.

Logan Warmoth: 2B/SS – Vancouver Canadians (Short Season A)

The Blue Jays first of two first round picks made in the 2017 Draft; Warmoth was the
top college shortstop available in the draft. The best hitter on a top 5 team in the
NCAA, Warmoth put together an outstanding season for the Tar Heels, starting all
63 games at SS while hitting .336 with 10 HR, 19 2B, 49 RBI and a .404 OBP. After
signing relatively quickly, Warmouth played a starring role for the league champion

Vancouver Canadians slashing .306 with 1 homer and 20 RBI in 39 games, look for
him to start next season with Lansing in A ball.

Nate Pearson: RHP- Vancouver Canadians (Short Season A)

Controversially acquired as a result of Edwin Encarnacion signing with the Indians.
Pearson was taken 28th overall by the Blue Jays in June’s draft. A massive right-
hander at 6’6 245 pounds, Pearson played his college baseball at Central Florida
Junior College, where he went on to dominate.

The 20-year- old made 13 starts for Central Florida where he struck out 118 batters and posted a 1.56 ERA over 81 innings. Pearson is described as a power pitcher who scouts argue possesses the best fastball in the entire 2017 draft, with it consistently hitting 96-99 while topping
out at an incredible 102 mph.

He has good control for a power pitcher as well as a decent arsenal that includes a slider, curveball, and even a changeup. Despite his obvious talent, people believe he needs to develop his secondary pitches if he wants to be a starter down the road and fear that a screw inserted in his elbow during high school could be cause for durability concerns down the road. Overall Pearson looks like a guy with a lot of talent who could progress through the Jays system rather
quickly and be apart of the bullpen as early as 2019, before hopefully developing into
a #2 or 3 starter long term.

Pearson was dominant in his 7 appearances for Vancouver, allowing only 2 runs over 19 innings and striking out 24 and holding opponents to a ridiculous .097 batting average. He will also more than likely start next year in Lansing.

Anthony Alford: CF – Buffalo Bisons (AAA)

The Blue Jays top outfield prospect, Alford had a cup of coffee with the Jays earlier
this year and looked to be settling in before an injuries kept him out for a while. A
former college Quarterback, Alford is a freak athlete who can play all over the
outfield and has incredible speed.

His type of versatility and speed is exactly what the Jays need and could make the team out of spring training, he has top of the order bat written all over him with his ability to get on base and wreck havoc when on the base paths, evidenced by his 55 stolen bases this year. Across three levels, Alford slashed .299 with 5 homers 26 RBI and had an impressive .390 OBP.

Danny Jansen: C – Buffalo Bisons (AAA)

Probably the biggest riser in terms of a position prospect, Jansen had an incredible
year, jumping three levels this season and dominating at each of them. A solid
defensive catcher, Jansen’s real strength is when he has a bat in his hands. Jansen
hit .323 across three levels with 10 homers, 48 RBI, and a .400 OBP.

A 2013 16th round pick, Jansen’s rise has been nothing short of incredible, and with a dearth of
catching talent at the major league level, it wouldn’t surprise me if Jansen also made
the team out of training camp as the #2 catcher behind Martin.

Ryan Borucki: LHP – Buffalo Bisons (AAA)

Borucki was one of the Blue Jays top minor league pitchers in 2017. Borucki was very similar to
Jansen in his rise through the team’s minor league system. Borucki, a left-handed
starter, was a 15 th rounder in 2012. The lefty has a solid fastball in the low 90’s as well as
a plus changeup to keep hitters off balance.

Next: Blue Jays should take one more swing in 2018

The movement Borucki’s fastball allows for him to induce a lot of ground balls a la Marcus Stroman and should allow for him to be a solid #4 starter in the majors. Borucki should start next season with Buffalo, but could be called up sometime throughout next season should he continue to perform and impress. Across three levels, Borucki pitched an incredible 150 Innings going 8-8 with a 2.93 ERA and 157 strikeouts.