The building of the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays roster has thinned out the farm system a bit and has made the 2014 top prospect list a little less extraordinary than in previous years. Trading away top prospects like Travis D’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and Jake Marisnick will do that to a farm system. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays have a bright future, especially with the amount of pitching which graces the 2014 prospect list (7 pitchers in total).
Thought to have the makings of a number 1 or 2 starter in the future, the 21 year old is getting his first experience in a big league spring training in 2014. Although he is unlikely to break camp with the club, a 2014 debut is not out of the question. Sanchez still needs to command the strike zone better before he gets a real taste of major league hitters as he had a BB/9 of 4.19 in 26 starts last season. If Sanchez is able to show better command of the strike zone, his plus fastball, curveball, and developing change-up could see him in Toronto sooner rather than later.
One of a few players battling for a spot in the Jays rotation this spring, 5’9 Stroman isn’t a prototypical starter. But with his four pitch mix and ability to miss bats (10.36 K/9 in AA in 2013) the Blue Jays would love to have Stroman’s arm in their rotation. Even if Starting is not in Stroman’s future, comparisons have been made to Tom Gordon, who was quite successful as a reliever after beginning his career as a starter.
Projected to be a back of the rotation innings eater, Nolin comes in at number 3 on this list because he has one thing that nobody else on this list does, major league experience, albeit only one start. He is also the only one of this list who has pitched above AA. Nolin was knocked around by Baltimore in his start in which he only lasted an inning and a third. However, with Toronto’s rotation currently in a state of flux, Nolin may receive a few starts in 2014, even though he will likely start the year in AAA.
Following the departure of D’Arnaud, and Dioner Navarro only being signed through the next two seasons, the future of the Jays catching duties seem to fall on A.J. Jimenez. Jimenez is touted as a defensive catcher with strong receiving skills. As a hitter, he is a line drive hitter that makes consistent contact who may never hit for a great deal of power. But as a catcher this may not hinder him due to lowered offensive expectations, especially from a good defender.
A failed attempt at avoiding the late Frank Jobe’s revolutionary surgery has most likely cost Osuna any chance at pitching in 2014, but at only 19 years old, he has time on his side. The 6’2, 230 pound right hander has a mid nineties fastball and an above average change-up. His breaking ball is his least developed pitch, and he will need to continue to develop it if he hopes to live up to the projections of being a No. 2 starter.
Pitching in high A last year, Norris showed what some consider to be the best stuff from the left side in the Jays system. With above average velocity, a potential plus curveball, and a developing change-up, Norris needs innings to fully develop his repertoire and command of the strike zone, if he is able, he could be very well turn into a number 2 or 3 starter at the big league level.
Another 19 year old on this list, Tirado is projected as a possible number 2 or 3 starter. Like Norris, he also needs to command the strike zone better (3.79 BB/9). Tirado also needs to figure out how to get left handed hitters out (.290 BAA vs. .200 for righties). If he is unable to completely develop, he may also work out as a situational reliever.
Only the second position player to appear on this list, Nay spent 2013 in Advanced-Rookie Appalachian League. In his 258 plate appearances he showed a strong understanding of the strike zone (25 BB vs 35 K’s), which allowed him to hit .300 and slug .426.
Coming in at #9 on this list, Davis was the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft. The outfielder has plenty of tools to work with, but he needs to figure out how to use them. Davis has good speed but only stole 13 bases in 21 attempts last season in the Appalachian League. While he does have good power, he needs to make more contact as he struck out 76 times in 258 plate appearances and only hit .240 in his second professional season. If he is able to improve on his pitch recognition, he can be a future stat roaming the outfield in Toronto.
A potential front of the rotation starter, 2013 didn’t quite turn out as hoped for the 19 year old. In just over 25 innings (5 starts), he walked 26 batters and had an ERA of 7.01. The plus side is that he had 27 strikeouts, while only allowing 22 hits (only one homerun). If he can find the strike zone, the 6’9 Smoral may find himself moving through the Jays system.