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The minor league system exists to develop players for the Blue Jays. Placing competitive teams at each level, moving players up the ladder, coaching, drafting: these are all -- at the end of the day -- designed to develop players to play for the Blue Jays or to trade away for someone who can. While Dick Scott and other members of his team focus on development, JP Ricciardi is probably more interested in what players will be ready to play at the major-league level.

I'm not sure if JP has a "Ready and Able" chart, but he probably does, at least in his head. When JP signed Ted Lilly to a two-year deal, most likely he was planning on having someone on the farm take Lilly's spot in 2006. If so, that player would be on JP's "Ready and Able" chart. So if he has such a chart, what names are on it? My "Ready and Able" chart is shown below.

I have defined two time frames for a player's arrival -- at the start of a season, or in the middle of a season. In practical terms, it's difficult to be more specific than that. I'm ignoring injury-related, temporary and September call-ups.

The Blue Jays are almost entirely concerned only with players who "more likely than not" will play in the major leagues. What kind of player does that imply? I define it as "a player who has demonstrated an ability to play at the major-league level." Players at AA or AAA who are performing well would meet this definition. But it would be very difficult for a player at A level to do so -- the competition at A-Ball is just not strong enough to prove major league ability.

Occasionally, a player might so dominate A-Ball that he has "major leaguer written all over him," as they say. However, I don't see any of those players in this year's Blue Jay system. This chart is not a forecast system to say who will be a star or not; it is a chart of players that JP could "pencil in" to his plans for roster construction in the future.

So who makes the list?

Alex Rios Mid 2004
David Bush Mid 2004
Gabe Gross Mid 2004
Vinnie Chulk Mid 2004
Kevin Frederick Mid 2004
Guillermo Quiroz Start 2005
Russ Adams Mid 2005
Adam Peterson Mid 2005
Brandon League Mid 2005
Eric Crozier Mid 2005
Aaron Hill Start 2006
Jason Arnold Start 2006
Jamie Vermilyea Start 2006
Dustin McGowan Mid 2006
Josh Banks Mid 2006

Just missing the chart are Gustavo Chacin, Francisco Rosario, John-Ford Griffin, John Hattig, Jordan DeJong, Rob Cosby, and the A-Ball guys: Vito, Tablado, Roberts, and Marcum. I don't believe any of those players have demonstrated yet that they "more likely than not" will be major league players.

The list is very symmetrical: I expect five players a year to be major-league ready. Not all of them will be successful. of course, but if just three can make it each year, that will provide JP with a regular pool of talent with which to stack the major-league team.

I imagine there will be some debate over the guys who just missed. Some of the Dunedin crew are not dominating A-Ball (Vito and Roberts are in this category). You could make the argument that Tablado is dominating, but this is his first big year. so that makes me cautious. Marcum does not have explosive "stuff", so that means (for me) that he has to show he can do it at AA. Chacin has been outstanding, but again, this is his breakout season, so it remains to be seen whether his stuff works at higher levels. Rosario has been up and down and is jsut not predictable based on 2004. Griffin and Hattig can hit home runs -- but will do they make enough contact to be successful in The Show?

Fire away!
Blue Jays "Ready and Able" Chart | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Jordan - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 03:54 PM EDT (#38485) #
Gerry, this is a great idea, and a fascinating debate. It's a good plan to start the process of separating the wheat from the chaff among the prospects -- while there are dozens of interesting players in the system, only a handful will make it to the majors, and they're the ones that matter most to the organization right now.

I agree with most of your choices, though not all. I think League will need a full year at Triple-A and won't be in the majors till 2006. Equally, I think Aaron Hill will be in the bigs by the middle of next summer, and Jamie Vermilyea could conceivably work his way up by then if he stays in the bullpen. If he has a great spring, Eric Crozier could break camp with Toronto next April at first base, but you're probably right that he won't be fully ready till later in 2005.

In terms of those you've left off -- while I agree that A-Ball is too low to tell much of anything in terms of future success, still I'd put Marcum on the long-range list. His numbers so far are better than Bush's, at a younger age. Also, I might add Rosario to the list; I think it's very likely he'll reach the majors, but it's still up in the air if he'll be dominant, useful or just bullpen fodder. Hopefully, we'll know soon.
_MatO - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#38486) #
I think there will be some pressure to have Crozier start the year with the Jays so as to have something to show for the Phelps trade. Also, Adams may also start with the Jays. I don't know what FA options there are at a reasonable price for the position. If it wasn't for Adams' fielding issues he would be the starting SS next year.

On the other hand, I don't think the Jays can risk bullpen spots on League, Peterson, Rosario, Chacin and others just yet. If they fail there is no backup plan on a limited budget. So I see JP once again going out and signing 2 or 3 relievers/starters to act as a bridge until they're ready hopefully sometime in 2005.
_Peter - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 04:27 PM EDT (#38487) #
Three points of disagreement as I see it. Adams will more likely start here next April but we will have a better read on that in a months time and of course spring training will be the ultimate determination. I have seen Adams play 4 times this year in Ottawa and am amazed at the amount of criticism he gets. In my view he is currently better than any ss now playing in Toronto.

Due to the lack of lefthanders available, I think Chacin will get a real shot in spring training and possibly a look into the season. At that point, it's up to him. Jury is out.

I know it is difficult to project players who have been injured, but I think there is a reasonable chance, Rosario starts the year in TO or is moved up fairly early in the season. Health is the only issue here IMO.
He has major league stuff right now and might easily be a better bullpen option than some that are available though I believe he will eventually be a starter. I think that Jason Arnold too may arrive sooner than 06. If he has a good AFL, he may well get a long look in ST and could displace Douglass as the long man. While I'm at it I might add too that you may be a tad too conservative on League. He may well arrive sometime next season, say August.

Remember that JP said just recently that he likes the organizational options in pitching. I think for the most part he will look for improvement from within. I can see him signing a FA or non-tendered starter if one he likes is available. I think if that happens, he will trade Towers for a reliever or an extra catcher. Miller will be tried in the pen, possibly as closer but most of the movement will come from within. Once class A player that may have a quick rise ala Bush is Marcum. If he starts strong at AA next year, he will clearly move into the 06 picture.
_Mylegacy - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 04:31 PM EDT (#38488) #
Great idea.

IMO, all three of League, Rosario and Vermilyea will be mid 2005 bullpen callups. AND, Arnold may end up in the pen, if he does mid 05 for him as well. Peterson, Lopez and File all need to go to Lourdes and pray for a miracle.

If Chacin has been reborn, not just a fizzle and burn, he could be a September 05 starting call up.
_Mylegacy - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#38489) #
Just thinking...

It'll be a while till it gets here BUT: Davis Romero, Chris Leonard, Zack J and Purcey give us four VERY PROMISING lefties. I can't remember us ever having that kind of left handed talent in the pipeline.
_Useless Tyler - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 04:46 PM EDT (#38490) #
In my view he is currently better than any ss now playing in Toronto.

Why is everybody so down on Gomer? He's solid defensively and is one of the most consistent hitters on our team.
_MatO - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#38491) #
If the rumoured payroll increase to $53M is true then in combination with the above talent in the pipeline I'm becoming more and more convinced that the Jays could offer Delgado $10M and not adversely affect the budget for the next few years.
_S.K. in N.J. - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#38492) #
The affordable free agent options at SS include Rich Aurilia, Craig Counsell, Rey Sanchez, Rey Ordonez, Desi Relaford, Miguel Cairo, Denny Hocking, Royce Clayton, Alex S. Gonzalez, Deivi Cruz, Tomas Perez, and Neifi Perez.

In other words, Russ Adams is at short for the Blue Jays in 2005, with a Bordick-esque back-up.

Plus, Hill is going to be at Syracuse next year, so he will need to get playing time at SS. If you move Adams to 2B, he's trapped behind a remarkably better Orlando Hudson. Try Adams at SS in the majors and see what you got, and I hope that's the logic Ricciardi is looking at.
_greenfrog - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#38493) #
I could see Purcey and/or Jackson being called up by mid-06. For some reason (maybe better stuff) I think Purcey will rise through the system more quickly than Jackson.

Conversely, I think mid-05 for Peterson is a bit ambitious. He has basically collapsed, a la Rick Ankiel. I can't see him suddenly turning it around and becoming an effective ML reliever by June or July next year (though I hope he proves my prediction wrong!).

I think League probably needs another full year in the minors. I expect he'll need to refine his second and third pitches. Also, after the Peterson debacle this year, I imagine JP will be wary about exposing another of his best relief prospects at the big-league level.

Davis Romero has put up some great numbers, but if he is really only 5'10" and 140 lbs, I confess I'm skeptical. Again, I hope he proves me wrong.
Thomas - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 05:38 PM EDT (#38494) #
I always figured Jackson would move quicker than Purcey as what I've read indicates his control is much more refirned that Purcey's, and that while Purcey is more projectable than Jackson, he will need longer to develop and refine. It's always seemed that Jackson was the "safe bet" pick and Purcey was "the high-risk pick."

Those terms are used quite loosely here; just to demonstrate the point. I'm not saying Jackson is anything close to a sure bet to reach the Show.

I agree that I think that timeline for League is a bit optimistic. I could see him in August or September next year, but for all intents and purposes I think he's going to be a 2006 callup.
_greenfrog - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 05:57 PM EDT (#38495) #
Yeah, I'd heard that Jackson was more of a "safe bet" guy. But sometimes the safe bet players just don't have enough stuff--Jason Arnold arguably falls into this category. Maybe Isenberg too. On the other hand, guys with excellent stuff like Rosario, McGowan--and possibly Purcey--can absolutely take off.

I guess it's a fine line with the command guys. For now, Bush seems to be on the right side of the line (enough stuff plus very good control and poise). Where will Jackson, Marcum, and other similar players end up? Time will tell.
_Anthony - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 06:32 PM EDT (#38496) #
I saw an article somewhere about how some teams like to keep their top prospects at AA while keeping their AAA team stocked with players that are Major League ready. Former major leaguers, career minor leaguers who are not quite MLB material, etc.. That way they can give their top prospects more playing time and keep older players on the roster and ready to call up in case of injuries. This is why you will sometimes see top prospects skip AAA on their way to the bigs.
Pistol - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 07:21 PM EDT (#38497) #
You know, after seeing AJ Burnett's line yesterday I'm really optimistic about McGowan's chances for recovery. There's a chance that mid 2006 is a conservative estimate.
_Braby - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 08:15 PM EDT (#38498) #
Any news on Anton French? He seems to be killing the ball in AAA. What's his story? Any chance he'll be called up when the rosters expand? I know the outfield is pretty crowded as it is already.
_Jonah Keri - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 09:58 PM EDT (#38499) #
Hey guys,

Just wanted to say thank you to the members of the Batters Box crew and readership who chimed in with some good questions for J.P. in today's Q&A at Baseball Prospectus.

Here's Part I: ...and I'm typing up Part II as we speak. Both Part I and Part II are subscriber only, but feel free to drop me an e-mail or whatever if you want. Or if you've got a birthday coming up or just know someone nice, harangue 'em for the $40 subscription. ;-)

Anyway, enough of that...thanks again, really appreciate it.

Jonah, BP
_sweat - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 10:13 PM EDT (#38500) #
As a show of good faith, posting part 1 of this article for free, would be a good idea. And might show us cheapies that the sbscription is worth it.
_Jonah Keri - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 11:20 PM EDT (#38501) #
Hey guys,

Just wanted to say thank you to the members of the Batters Box crew and readership who chimed in with some good questions for J.P. in today's Q&A at Baseball Prospectus.

Here's Part I: ...and I'm typing up Part II as we speak. Both Part I and Part II are subscriber only, but feel free to drop me an e-mail or whatever if you want. Or if you've got a birthday coming up or just know someone nice, harangue 'em for the $40 subscription. ;-)

Anyway, enough of that...thanks again, really appreciate it.

Jonah, BP
_Jonah Keri - Monday, August 30 2004 @ 11:23 PM EDT (#38502) #
Oops, sorry for double-posting. Anyway, unfortunately posting the article in its entirety is not something that I can do. Happy to post a passage though:

Here a long one, on managers:

BP: You've talked in the past about this, and so has Billy Beane: Your view is that it's the manager's job to execute your plan, rather than for him to implement his own plan. What are some of the elements of your plan that you want to see carried out? Are we talking more about in-game strategy, or areas such as helping the players prepare to play?

Ricciardi: It encompasses a lot of those things. On a budget like we have, you have to build your team certain way. There are certain things you have and others you don't have. You can't ask a team to do things when you don't have the personnel to do them. It's the equivalent of you drawing up a plan for a house. You want the dining room here, the family room here, the windows looking out at the mountain. Then the builder comes in and says, 'we're not going to do any of that stuff.' You have to say, 'this is my house, this is how I want it.' We have core principles of how we want to attack situations, and our personnel is indicative of the team we have, and want to have.

Beyond that, the manager has to be someone who's bright enough to stay within that general context, but also smart enough to say 'we can get away from the usual strategy sometimes.' I'm not a big fan of the bunt, because if you play for one run, you're going to get one run. But in the 9th inning, you might be able to go for it, because all you need is one run. Or you may have a pitcher that you normally take out after the 6th inning. But if it's the 6th and he's cruisin', leave him in.
_Kevin Pataky - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#38503) #
I am amazed by everyone who thinks Rosario has potential to make it to the Majors next year. I have seen him pitch at least 5 times this year in person, and have never seen him even make it to the 5th inning. I've seen him do nothing other than get bombed. My first time was back on 5/30 where he gave up 3 homers and only got one out in the first inning vs. Portland before getting the hook. Earlier this month, I saw him pitch in Norwich with a lead and he gave up 3 homers in a row (no kidding - 3!). He was done by the 3rd and took the loss. Other than his last start vs. Erie where he only gave up 1 hit in 7 innings (finally got a Double-A win) I am so far away from being impressed by this kid...
Craig B - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 09:55 AM EDT (#38504) #
By the way, Jonah, thanks for a real good interview. I'm also quite pleased with Part II (which is up now over at BP, everyone). J.P.'s a tough target in an interview because he is extremely cagey, and he loves to ignore the parts of questions that he can't give a straight answer to.
_Sneeps - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 10:04 AM EDT (#38505) #
Kevin, how's his raw stuff look though? Is he still throwing mid to upper 90's heat? Does his change-up look as good as we've heard? Does he throw any curveballs?
Gerry - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 10:19 AM EDT (#38506) #
Craig: was there anything newsworthy in the Q&A or was it a more general philosophical chat.
_Wedding Singer - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 10:32 AM EDT (#38507) #
I think that JP likes Hill better than Adams - and that he will send Adams to a team in need of a 2B. I think we will see Hill in the majors mid-2005.
Craig B - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 10:51 AM EDT (#38508) #
Newsworthy in Part 2 : not much.

J.P. does not want to give any player a no-trade going forward. He's not committed to Crozier at first; he wants to bring in a 1B and DH from outside. There will be new guys in the pen from outside and maybe a starter. He wants the bullpen guys to stretch out to longer stints. He's completely baffled by the dropoff in offense. He's happy with Batista
Coach - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 11:36 AM EDT (#38509) #
Jonah, thanks for the heads-up and the excerpt. Craig, thanks for the summary. I know BP is worth the dough, but some of us on tight budgets have to limit our baseball expenses. :)

Gerry, I like the concept. Frasor could have been on your 2004 list; he'd never pitched above Double-A until this year. I think Quiroz, Adams and Crozier all have a chance to break camp with the Jays next spring. The law of averages suggests that one of them won't, but the opportunities will be there for them. It makes no sense to bring up Russ or Q if they aren't going to be regulars, but Crozier, even if J.P. does sign a more experienced 1B and DH, could be a much better 25th man than Simon Pond, Howie Clark or Dave Berg.

Kevin, I respect your Rosario impressions, and agree that he's a long way from Toronto as a starter. However, he could move up the list if his physical woes are behind him for good next year, which would result in more confidence. Also, if he is moved to the bullpen, his ETA accelerates rapidly.

One part of the improved depth in the farm system that many of us tend to overlook in our microscopic coverage of the players there now is the increased possibility of trades. Frasor, Crozier and Hattig weren't on anyone's lists of Jays prospects in April. If another organization's scouts are raving about Rosario's stuff, or League's, there could be more interesting deals. It's certainly tempting to sell high on Chacin, too. When you cultivate so many valuable assets, it becomes much easier to fill specific needs at the higher levels.
_Kevin Pataky - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#38510) #
When I last his last start - he was in the low 90s high 80s - nothing overpowering. His changeup looked better than his his breaking pitch by far, but often led off with it and got beat. The whole idea of a changeup was to throw it after a couple of good fastballs to "changeup" the speed. You are correct that he has good raw tools, and that maybe the injuries and poor pitch selection is what is killing him - and that he truely has good stuff. But you can say that about any pitcher that looks good and can't make it. Look at Peterson.
_Kevin - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 02:52 PM EDT (#38511) #
This is Rosario I am talking about btw ...
_Rory - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 02:54 PM EDT (#38512) #
I am very optimistic for next season!!!!! We have the best young in the bigs cf wells lf gross rf rios and reed as our 4th OF. I think our infield is very good too. 1b eric crozier ( as long as we can keep delgado as dh/1b a deal in the 6-8 million dollar a year deal) 2b hudson (gold glove) ss adams ( his fielding is not that bad and i love his approaph at the plate) 3b Hinske- improved his glove but his batis to slow ( i think Aaron Hill will be the forture third baseman ) i also think john Hattig will be the future 1b he is killing aa pitching!!!! catcher Quiroz cash or zahn but we are going to need a vet catcher!!! staff looks great roy bush lilly batista and towers(17-6 in the last 2 years) JP tried this off season to get a solid pen but every one he signed or traded for was terrible (adams Speier kerry and santos ) i loved the werth for frasor trade!!!! BUT WE NEED BULLPEN HELP REAL BAD WE SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST 10-12 MIL TO SGN PLAYERS. IF ANY BODY KNOWS ANY SOLID BULLPEN GUYS THAT ARE FA PLEASE LET ME KNOW (THANK YOU) the offense will be fine it is down this year because of injury!!!!!! JAYS FANS STAY POSITIVE
Craig B - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#38513) #

I knew it! Jim Duquette is hanging around Batter's Box under an assumed name, looking to pick up pointers.
_Rory - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 06:42 PM EDT (#38514) #
_Rory - Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 06:46 PM EDT (#38515) #
Blue Jays "Ready and Able" Chart | 31 comments | Create New Account
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