Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
The end of the 2004 minor-league season also signals the arrival of the Batterís Box Post-Season Top 30 Prospects List. It was constructed with invaluable assistance from all members of the Minor-League Reports Team: Gerry McDonald, Mike Green, Ryan01, Jonny German and Craig Burley -- especially regarding the rankings, which were challenging this time around. A separate big thank you to Jonny, who assembled all the stats in HTML format. Bonus: Click here for an exclusive Batter's Box interview with Blue Jaysí Director of Player Development Dick Scott.

This yearís report is a little different from what weíve done before. To start with, youíll notice that numerous players are conspicuous by their absence. Specifically, you wonít find Dave Bush, Gabe Gross, Russ Adams, Guillermo Quiroz or Eric Crozier (or of course, Alex Rios) anywhere on this Top 30. Simply put, these players figure to spend a good part of next season in the majors, and for the purposes of this list, they no longer qualify as prospects. Had I included these players, they would have crowded the upper reaches of the rankings, pushing aside noteworthy players at the far end of the list. And really, thereís not much more to tell you about these guys that you havenít read here before, or that you havenít already seen for yourself at Skydome.

We should take a moment to note the depth of this farm system, which sent so many prospects to the majors this year (with assistance, admittedly, from the incumbents in Toronto). Eight Blue Jay minor-leaguers were called up to Toronto in 2004 -- a total that doesnít even include Jason Frasor or Eric Crozier, who came over from other organizations. And of course, another top prospect (Dustin McGowan) was lost to arm surgery. Accordingly, it shouldnít be surprising that this Top 30 list is not as strong as its pre-season predecessor. You donít lose that much talent to the majors and stay as strong as when you began. But itís also a testament to the Jaysí scouting and farm directors that the falloff isnít nearly as great as one would suppose -- there is still impressive depth here, particularly on the pitching side.

You may be wondering if the afore-mentioned talent drop-off contributed to the fact that the pre-season Top 40 has morphed into a post-season Top 30. Partly thatís the case, but mostly, I found that there wasnít much to be gained by ranking prospects past 30 -- the skills differential is not great enough to justify an ordering system beyond that. Baseball America limits itself to a Top 30 each year, and in this, as in many other things, I think theyíve got it right.

You may also be wondering why Iím not following my usual end-of-month Farm Report methodology of highlighting numerous players from every farm team. Iíll level with you: I just donít have the time. But I did produce an extensive report at the beginning of August, so if youíre looking for a player whoís not in this report, check that one out and you may yet find him. If heís not on either list, then heís not currently on my radar (though if heís in Auburn or Pulaski, that might be because Iím leery of results from that low down in the system -- with certain exceptions, as youíll momentarily see).

A couple of points that I made in my pre-season list are worth making again. First, Iím neither Dick Scott nor John Sickels: these reports are done based mostly on statistics, buttressed by second-hand scouting reports and other information passed on to me by interested observers. I'd welcome reader feedback, positive and negative both, but keep in mind I'm not holding myself out as an expert here. Second, these are all real people on this list -- each more talented than me, each with a dream of being a big-league ballplayer, each with family and friends throughout this hemisphere. Nothing I write here is meant to denigrate that talent, those dreams, and those friends, even if what I write is not very positive. These lists are a way to keep Batterís Box readers updated on the progress of key Blue Jays prospects; no more, no less.

Ready? Here we go. (All listed ages are as of October 1, 2004. For full birthdates of most prospects, check the August Farm Report.)

1. Aaron Hill, SS, 22.6
2004 New Hampshire
480 AB, .279/.368/.410, 78 R, 26 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 80 RBI, 63 BB, 61 K, 3 SB, 2 CS

The 2003 first-round pick out of LSU is also first on the Blue Jaysí prospect list. Hill delivered a solid performance at Double-A in his first full professional season, despite being young for the league. At the plate, he displayed excellent bat control and strike-zone knowledge, with hints of the power thatís still developing. His home park in Manchester was often blamed for the lack of pop in his batting line. But despite its generous foul areas and difficult hitting background (in the first half of the season, anyway), Gill Stadium played as a basically neutral hittersí park. Here are Hillís home and road numbers in 2004:
Location   G   AVG     AB   R   H  2B  3B HR  RBI BB  K 
HOME 66 .257 226 28 58 11 1 5 40 31 34
ROAD 69 .300 253 50 76 15 1 6 40 32 27
As you can see, only Hillís batting average suffered at home -- his power numbers were essentially the same (in fact, a higher percentage of his hits went for extra bases at home than on the road), and his walks and strikeouts were virtually identical. Still, itís good to see an even .300 average on the road.

Defensively, Hill is not widely considered to be major-league calibre at shortstop, and some scouts expect him to end up at second or third base in the majors. But they said the same thing about Russ Adams, and Brian Butterfield is doing great work with him in Toronto. If Adams claims shortstop as his own for the next few years, the Jays may have to consider alternative spots for Hill. Now, 2B and 3B are of course occupied in Toronto, for the moment anyway, so itís pretty clear that somethingís gotta give there. I think the organization likes both Hill and Adams, and would keep both if possible in the major-league infield. But itís also going to be a busy off-season, and these two young men are going to be very attractive to a lot of teams.

What we do know is this: Hill is a great talent and an extraordinary worker, and his bat and his leadership skills make him a very valuable player -- his makeup, as the saying goes, is off the charts. I sure would like to see him and Adams in the Toronto infield for the better part of this decade.

2. Josh Banks, RHP, 22.2
2004 New Hampshire
6-6, 5.03, 17 GS, 91.1 IP, 89 H, 28 BB, 76 K, 15 HR, 19.5% KBF
2004 Dunedin
7-1, 1.80, 11 GS, 60 IP, 49 H, 8 BB, 60 K, 4 HR, 25.3% KBF

On July 1, this is what the Eastern League thought of Josh Banks:
0-2, 8.39, 24 IP, 28 H, 14 BB, 17 K, 4 HR
From July 1 to the end of the season, this is what Josh Banks thought of the Eastern League:
6-4, 3.76, 67 IP, 61 H, 14 BB, 59 K, 11 HR
Banks, who tore up the Florida State League in his first 11 starts of 2004, was shelled in his first 6 appearances as a Fisher Cat, and many eyebrows were raised. But Banks rebounded to make believers out of skeptics, building terrific K/IP and BB/K rates for a young 22-year-old in Double-A. Banks was actually more dominant than those late-summer numbers would indicate: he sandwiched several great starts around a few pretty bad ones, as he continued to learn how to be consistent (he still gives up too many home runs, for example). But overall, Banks displayed both mental toughness and a growing mastery of his arsenal, which includes a low-90s fastball, a terrific slider, and a developing change.

Calling a guy ďthe best pitching prospect in the organizationĒ has been a kiss of death lately, so I wonít curse Banks the same way Dustin McGowan and Francisco Rosario have been cursed in the past. I will say that he should return to New Hampshire in 2005 and, good health and good weather permitting, reach Syracuse by mid-summer. By June 2006, he should be in Toronto. To get a sense of what he could offer when he gets there, check out Dave Bush -- and remember that Banks is two years younger, and will still be 22 when next season begins.

3. Brandon League, RHP, 21.6
2004 New Hampshire
6-4, 2 Sv, 3.38, 41 G, 10 GS, 104 IP, 92 H, 41 BB, 90 K, 3 HR, 20.2% KBF

Is he a starter? Is he a reliever? No matter what his role, Brandon League is just plain exciting. He was a 21-year-old facing more experienced competition at Double-A, getting switched back and forth between the pen and the rotation, and really having command of just one pitch. Despite all that, he more than held his own and dominated at times, posting very promising numbers overall. It helps that his one pitch is a 99-mph sizzling fastball thrown from a low ĺ angle, death on righthanders and not a whole lot of fun for lefties either. He was voted MVP of the Eastern League Championship Series last week, and one observer who watched him save the final game said League could have retired any major-league hitter that night. A week later, he did just that in Yankee Stadium in a scoreless big-league debut.

All League needs now, in addition to good health, is time -- time to add more pitches and gain command of them, and time to continue to mature physically and otherwise. The role switch -- from rotation to bullpen and back to the rotation -- served to keep Leagueís innings under control and to give the Jays a chance to see if he excelled in either role. He was slated to start next season in the rotation, probably at New Hampshire; if he remains a starter, he probably wonít see Syracuse till the end of the year. Because of his youth, I figured thatís what the Jays would do. But by calling League up to the big club with two weeks left in the season, they served notice that his arm is of interest to them right now. If the team decides he can help out in the big-league bullpen next year, heíll be fast-tracked.

4. Francisco Rosario, RHP, 24.0
2004 New Hampshire
2-4, 4.31, 12 GS, 48 IP, 48 H, 16 BB, 45 K, 6 HR, 21.6% KBF
2004 Dunedin
1-1, 4.67, 6 GS, 17.1 IP, 16 H, 11 BB, 16 K, 2 HR, 20.4% KBF

Had this list been compiled just one month ago, itís likely Rosario wouldnít have cracked the Top 10. He was struggling terribly in his recovery year following Tommy John surgery, was in and out of the trainerís room with various niggling pains, and had displayed little on the mound that reminded anyone of the vast potential he displayed in 2002. Then came August:
6 GS, 30 IP, 28 H, 8 BB, 33 K
Suddenly, Francisco got his groove back, and he kept that groove going right through the playoffs, firing 6 shutout innings in the Fisher Catsí championship-clinching victory. His stuff was already there, but what finally appeared was the command and the consistency to turn it into something special. These still arenít fabulous numbers -- his walks are still a little too high, just as they were in 2002 before his injury, and he needs to miss more bats. But weíre finally seeing again what Rosario has to offer: high-90s heat and a devastating change-up, both thrown with increasing command. After he started pitching well last month, he was quoted to the effect that his injury weighed heavily on his mind earlier in the season, robbing him of confidence. Well, itís back.

The Jays wonít baby Rosario: after all that rehab, heís much bigger and stronger than the skinny kid who landed on the operating table two years ago. Heís 24 years old, and the time is now for the Blue Jays to find out just what they have here. Depending on his performance in the Arizona Fall League (a mental as much as a physical challenge; it was in the AFL that he incurred his injury), I expect him to start 2004 at Syracuse, though a poor spring training could land him back in New Hampshire to start the season. JP Ricciardi spoke of Rosario earlier this year as a Dontrelle Willis type, who could conceivably rise rapidly through the system and hit the majors in one season. Itís pretty clear from that and other indicators that the club has high expectations for Rosario, and heíll be under the gun to prove that he merits them.

5. Shaun Marcum, RHP, 22.9
2004 Dunedin
3-2, 3.12, 12 GS, 69.1 IP, 74 H, 4 BB, 72 K, 6 HR, 25.2% KBF
2004 Charleston
7-4, 3.19, 13 GS, 79 IP, 64 H, 16 BB, 83 K, 7 HR, 26.2% KBF

Four pitchers in the Top 5? Yup, and if that doesnít bring the gods of TINSTAAP down on my head, nothing will. Partly, this is because most of the great crop of prospects who graduated to Toronto in 2004 were position players. And partly, itís because the Jays drafted a lot of pitchers in Ricciardiís first two years on the job, and the fruits of those efforts are now rising through the system.

Marcum pulled off the remarkable trick of graduating to the Florida State League and actually improving his performance, no mean feat after his stellar full-season debut at Charleston. That BB/K stat at Dunedin is not a misprint: like Jayce Tinglerís walk rates, itís so surreal that you almost find yourself laughing in disbelief. Amazing as it is, though, itís of course not going to last -- pitchers just donít strike out 18 times as many hitters as they walk. Marcum will turn 23 just before Christmas, and itís time he faced the Double-A Acid Test; I think heíll pass with honours. As Iíve said here before, Marcum is posting better numbers at a younger age than Dave Bush did when he came through the system, and Marcumís fastball/slider combo is reminiscent of Josh Banksí repertoire. If Marcum is close to as good as he appears -- and remember, this college shortstop is still learning his craft -- he will move up fast.

6. Gustavo Chacin, LHP, 23.10
2004 Syracuse
2-0, 2.31, 2 GS, 11.2 IP, 16 H, 3 BB, 14 K, 0 HR, 26.6% KBF
2004 New Hampshire
16-2, 2.86, 25 GS, 141.2 IP, 113 H, 49 BB, 109 K, 15 HR, 18.6% KBF

Anyone who saw this coming needs to give up prospect watching and move into something more important, like meteorology or Oscar predictions. (Actually, Batterís Box contributor Jabonso did see it coming, in a post earlier this year. Jabonso, who do you like for Best Director?) Chacin started out 2004 at Double-A for the fourth consecutive season, and even though he was rushed there as a 19-year-old in 2000, thatís normally a sure sign of a faded prospect. But then something remarkable happened -- three things, really, all beginning with C: Command, Confidence, and a Cut Fastball. Chacin became nigh-unhittable, sending Eastern League batters back to the dugout time and again with help from a stutter-step delivery that hides the ball till the last second. His 16-2 record there is of course gaudy, but the ERA and the H/IP canít be denied. He also did well in a brief stint at Syracuse, and delivered an astonishingly strong debut on short notice at Yankee Stadium.

There are flags, certainly. The fourth-time-around-the-league thing is one of them. Another thing that Iím (sometimes maddeningly) consistent about is BB/K and K/IP rates for pitching prospects. Chacin is outstanding in neither category, and that gives me cause for concern. Now, here are two arguments against that. First, Chacinís K/IP went up significantly as the season went on: he struck out 52 batters in 56 innings after Canada Day. Second, every rule has exceptions. Dave Gassner didnít impress anyone in those categories either, yet there he is, pitching very effectively for the Twinsí AAA team in Rochester and looking more like a useful major leaguer every day. If Chacin gets hitters out, who cares if the stats arenít as striking as they ďoughtĒ to be? Letís see what 2005 brings -- unless another team comes calling in trade. As this list makes abundantly clear, the Jays, who have at least three positions in the major-league rotation tied up for the next two years, have the arms to spare.

7. Dustin McGowan, RHP, 22.6
2004 New Hampshire
2-0, 4.06, 6 GS, 31 IP, 24 H, 15 BB, 29 K, 4 HR, 22.0% KBF

This is a first for me -- including an injured player on a pre-or post-season prospect ranking -- but it only makes sense. McGowan, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this summer, was the consensus #2 prospect in the organization and was ripping through the Eastern League as a 22-year-old when disaster struck. TJ surgery is now so common as to be considered almost routine, and the prospects for a full recovery are very strong. In fact, since the injury occurred on a pre-existing tear, itís almost just as well that McGowan had the surgery now, when heís younger and better able to recuperate.

All that said, Francisco Rosario should be considered a cautionary tale here: following his surgery in 2002, Rosario struggled mightily for most of 2004 and seems to have only just gotten back to where he needs to be. There are no guarantees with arms, especially not those that have undergone ligament transplant surgery. If all goes well, McGowan should be back on a mound next spring or summer and could conceivably be a competitive force in the minor leagues by the end of 2005. But keep your fingers crossed.

8. Jamie Vermilyea, RHP, 22.7
2004 New Hampshire
3-2, 5 Sv, 2.51, 20 G, 6 GS, 57.1 IP, 43 H, 12 BB, 39 K, 2 HR, 17.2% KBF
2004 Dunedin
5-1, 0 Sv, 3.09, 18 G, 6 GS, 55.1 IP, 54 H, 13 BB, 37 K, 4 HR, 15.9% KBF

Sometimes, a prospect is rated highly as much for his proximity to the majors and his expected ability to help the big-league club as he is for his raw talent. Thatís how Vermilyea, who has four very good pitches but no single outstanding offering, ends up in the Top Ten. Like Brandon League, he was switched back and forth from the pen to the rotation; in fact, he was moved to the bullpen shortly after throwing a 7-inning perfect game. Not many pitchers would accept that kind of ďdemotion,Ē but Vermilyea appears to be a smart guy who understands the developmental plan behind his role switches.

Vermilyea posted solid numbers, although like Chacin, the overall BB/K and K/IP numbers arenít as great as youíd like them to be. But he should open the 2005 campaign in the Syracuse bullpen, and the Blue Jays have made it clear theyíre going to be looking inside the organization for low-cost relief alternatives. With Adam Petersonís implosion, Brandon League figures to be the only pitcher closer to a big-league bullpen spot than Vermilyea -- and I really think League should be starting in the minors, not relieving in the majors, at 21. Vermilyeaís versatility in the minors and his overall good command would make him an ideal long and middle reliever sometime in 2005.

9. John Hattig, 3B, 24.7
2004 AA Totals
406 AB, .296/.391/.532, 77 R, 28 2B, 1 3B, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 59 BB, 109 K, 3 SB, 4 CS

Acquired from the Red Sox in the Terry Adams trade, Hattig immediately became one of the Blue Jaysí better hitting prospects. A third baseman who is already drawing predictions of a move to first base, Hattig has always had an excellent batting eye and has delivered solid batting averages in the .280-.290 range. But this year, he added power -- he cranked out 22 homers between Portland and New Hampshire, a huge improvement on his previous career high of seven.

But heíll be 25 next spring, and he has a history of taking half a season to adjust to a new level. By that reasoning, assuming heíll start 2005 at Syracuse, it may take him till the end of the year before he has the kind of numbers that make him attractive as a late-season call-up and bench player. Now, of course, if his power surge reflects an equal acceleration in his learning curve, then he could bust out early for the Skychiefs.

At the moment, no oneís quite sure if what the Jays have here is Kevin Youkilis Lite or Simon Pond Heavy. The Jays intend to find out in a hurry, as Hattig is one of three position players (along with Vito Chiaravalotti and Aaron Hill) to play in the Arizona Fall League this autumn. Weíll have some more data to work with when the AFL season ends. No matter what Hattig does, however, the Jays won the Terry Adams trade the minute JP Ricciardi hung up the phone.

10. David Purcey, LHP, 22.5
2004 Auburn
1-0, 1.50, 3 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 13 K, 0 HR, 30.2% KBF

Another first -- ranking a player this high who has exactly 12 professional innings under his belt. Drafted in June and signed very late in the season, Purcey made a last-minute debut with the Auburn Doubledays. The Blue Jays were in no hurry to get him onto a mound -- he had a solid workload in college, and it wasnít like the Doubledays needed the help during their 50-24 romp through the NY-Penn League. Purcey is a giant of a player (6í5Ē, 240 lbs) with a power curve, a power fastball, and some mechanical issues. ďIf heís able to get out over his front side a little bit more and get some extension, we think heís going to be able to pound the strike zone,Ē Ricciardi told us back in June. ďHeís a guy who reminds us of [Jeremy] Affeldt, with that kind of power.Ē

Purcey has tremendous raw stuff -- unlike the more polished command pitchers previously drafted by the Jays (e.g., Bush, Marcum, Banks), Purcey has clear ace potential. But he will need good coaching and constant attention to ensure he becomes the pitcher he can be. In his few appearances in the NY-Penn League, Purcey was as dominant as youíd expect at that level, including a perfect outing in one of his starts. He could begin 2005 as the nominal ace of the new Low-A Lansing Lugnuts, or, if the Jays think heís ready, they could promote him directly to Dunedin and see how he does there. Health is always a concern, but if Purcey clicks with the instruction heíll be sure to receive, he could advance rapidly up the organizational ladder.

11. Adam Peterson, RHP, 25.4
2004 Syracuse
2-2, 0 Sv, 12.86, 19 G, 0 GS, 21 IP, 38 H, 16 BB, 19 K, 6 HR, 16.2% KBF
2004 New Hampshire
2-2, 15 Sv, 2.54, 27 G, 0 GS, 28.1 IP, 20 H, 10 BB, 38 K, 1 HR, 33.2% KBF

The season couldnít end fast enough for Peterson, who went from the thrill of being the first Ricciardi draftee to make it to the majors, to the nadir of a pummelling in the big leagues and an even worse brutalizing upon demotion to the International League. Like a monster home run that was still rising when it hit the facing of the mezzanine, Petersonís ERA was still soaring when the Skychiefsí season mercifully came to an end. The Blue Jays braintrust has had many more good ideas than bad ones -- but the two-level promotion of a pitcher who was dominating AA without yet having gained command of his repertoire was on the wrong side of the ledger.

Thereís no reason to believe the damage done to Peterson is permanent, however; Roy Halladay came back from a worse experience, albeit with plenty of attention. I assume the Blue Jays wonít simply send Peterson home to stew over his terrible last two months all winter; a little off-season coaching and conversation ought to help him forget the latter part of 2004 (except, of course, all the reasons he went so badly off the rails; heíll want to remember those). Peterson has electric stuff, but he has very little professional pitching experience, and it may well be that he had never learned how to pitch himself out of a bad place. He should spend all of 2005 at Syracuse learning just that: how to react, how to adjust, and how to beat experienced hitters. His flight has been delayed, but I donít think itís been cancelled.

12. Vito Chiaravalloti, 1B, 23.11
2004 Dunedin
447 AB, .266/.376/.438, 63 R, 33 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 71 RBI, 69 BB, 110 K, 0 SB, 1 CS

He injured his wrist early in the season, and he played in the power-sapping Florida State League. These are the two reasons normally given to explain why Big Vito, a professional hitter who captured the NY-Penn Triple Crown in his 2003 debut, posted much less spectacular numbers in his first full-season campaign. Both of these things are true, and his continued strong walk rate is very reassuring, but that doesnít mean Jays fans should be entirely sanguine.

Chiaravalottiís batting average fell off a cliff in August -- just .139. There was no report of an injury, and I suppose it could have been just a monumental slump, but that is a really bad stretch for such an accomplished hitter. Heíll be 24 when he starts next season at New Hampshire, and he canít afford to have any more months that poor. Big Vito, a favourite of many Bauxites and of this reviewer, must have a smashing Double-A debut if he wants to make his mark as a future big-leaguer. Personally, I think he can do it.

13. Raul Tablado, IF, 22.7
2004 Dunedin
323 AB, .300/.351/.582, 62 R, 28 2B, 0 3B, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 24 BB, 91 K, 0 SB, 0 CS

Thereís a little black spot on the sun todayÖ. Everything was coming up roses for Tablado in 2004: he came to spring training in great shape physically and mentally, tore the cover off the ball, got injured, came back and continued to drive pitches into the corners and out of the park. Tablado, whoíd never hit higher than .266 in any professional season, batted an even .300 on the year. His doubles and homers totals represented career highs, and slugging .582 in the Florida State League is impressive. Even better, he played a pretty good third base (and some forgettable shortstop -- heís destined for the hot corner), giving the Jays yet another prospect on the left side of the infield. His BB/K rate was of course a major red flag, but his walks were within shouting distance of 1 in every 10 at-bats, and anyway, Alex Rios never posted great walk rates either. At 22, he looked like a major breakout candidate.

Then, last month, came word that Tablado had been suspended by major-league baseball for an indefinite period. No reason was given then, and no reason has been given since. There has been a lot of speculation since that time on what happened to Tablado -- but there are no facts yet. For a whole host of reasons, primarily those connected with common decency, weíre not going to join in the speculation, and we will respectfully ask that you do the same in this thread. What we hope is that Tablado is back with the Blue Jays organization as soon as possible, and that he continues his ascendance when he returns. But for the suspension, heíd be higher on this list.

14. Robinson Diaz, C, 21.0
2004 Charleston
407 AB, .287/.341/.361, 62 R, 20 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 42 RBI, 27 BB, 31 K, 10 SB, 4 CS

Quick introductory note: Iíve seen his first name spelled Robinzon as well, but for the moment, Robinson seems to be the most commonly used version. Diaz, who got everyoneís attention by hitting .374 as a 20-year-old in limited action at Pulaski last year, held his own in his full-season debut two levels higher. As you can see, the average returned to earth, the power is pretty much latent, and he doesnít walk a whole lot.

But striking out just 31 times in over 400 at-bats is extraordinary, and suggests terrific bat control; his 10 steals from behind the plate were also remarkable. Thereís no word on his defence, but good catching ability usually takes a while to acquire anyway. With Guillermo Quiroz the current favourite to backstop in Toronto for the next several years and Curtis Thigpen coming on strong behind him, Diaz might get lost in the shuffle; but heís only 21 and has some very intriguing skills.

15. Vince Perkins, RHP, 23.0
2004 Dunedin
1-4, 3.95, 13 G, 9 GS, 54.2 IP, 53 H, 24 BB, 47 K, 2 HR, 19.6% KBF

When I did these rankings in the pre-season, Francisco Rosario posed a problem for me. He couldíve been ranked anywhere from #3 to #13, depending on how taken one was with tools and how optimistic one was about surgical recoveries. Iím now in the same boat with Vince Perkins, who spent much of 2004 on the disabled list and who often struggled when he did appear on a mound. Although he allowed more hits in his second stint at Dunedin (following his callup from Charleston in 2003), his walks decreased markedly and his strikeouts rose, a very promising sign.

Perkins is still on the young side for a pitching prospect, and his high-90s heat and improving off-speed pitches, when theyíre on, promise front-of-the-rotation results. This time next year, this ranking could be ridiculously pessimistic; the bottom line is, arms like this are worth all the chances you can give them. Perkins is the only Canadian in the Top 30.

16. Davis Romero, LHP, 21.6
2004 Charleston
5-4, 2.53, 32 G, 14 GS, 103.1 IP, 77 H, 30 BB, 108 K, 6 HR, 25.9% KBF

Romero is one of my personal favourites, a sleeper who broke out in a big way this year. Moving from the bullpen to the rotation late in the season for Charleston, Romero lost some of his strikeout brilliance, but retained his dominance in every other facet of his game. Itís remarkable to think that he posted these numbers as a 21-year-old; the fact that heís a lefty just makes him that much more intriguing.

If you had to identify a concern here, it would have to be his size. The bias against short pitchers is thankfully passing away, but the fact remains that at 5í10Ē, 140 lbs, Romero could blow away in a stiff wind. Itís hard for a player that small to generate the velocity needed to retire hitters at the highest levels. The Jays have been cautious with him so far -- maybe too cautious? -- and I really would like to see him start 2005 in Dunedin. A visit to his local weight-gain clinic wouldnít go astray, either.

17. Ismael Ramirez, RHP, 23.7
2004 Dunedin
15-6, 2.72, 27 GS, 165.1 IP, 151 H, 25 BB, 131 K, 5 HR, 19.5% KBF

The flow of Blue Jays prospects from Venezuela has slowed in the last few years, as the team both cut back its Latin American operations and turned its player development focus to U.S. colleges. There are still some gems in the system, however, including Ismael Ramirez. A six-year veteran of pro ball (he signed as a free agent at 18), Ramirez has slowly rounded into form and, as a 23-year-old, broke out in the second half of 2003.

Ramirez, who relies on command more than raw power, was always stingy with walks and home runs, but his H/IP and K/IP numbers left doubts about his ability to succeed at higher levels. Starting in July, however, Ramirez put those doubts to rest with this remarkable line: 9-1, 12 GS, 82 IP, 57 H, 7 BB, 73 K. That BB/K line is almost Marcumesque, and offers the possibility that Ramirez has suddenly figured it out. His BB/9 and K/9 numbers last year were a middling 2.34 and 5.28, respectively; this year, they were an electrifying 1.36 and 7.13. Ramirez appears to have taken the first step towards elite prospect status, but at 24 next spring, heíll have to prove he can post the same kind of results against more experienced Double-A hitters.

18. Curtis Thigpen, C, 21.5
2004 Auburn
166 AB, .301/.390/.518, 34 R, 11 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 23 BB, 32 K, 1 SB, 1 CS

Yes, it was only 116 at-bats in short-season ball, but Thigpen looks like the real deal. Probably the best catching prospect in an organization knee-deep in good backstops, Thigpen barely broke stride from the College World Series finals before roughing up NY-Penn pitching. Despite an exhausting schedule, Thigpen showed up ready to play and posted very good power and patience numbers, while holding his own behind the plate. There were few players in the system JP Ricciardi appeared to like more than Thigpen: he had already bestowed on the youngster his favourite moniker of ďdirtbag,Ē which means that Curtis is probably already doomed to carry the nickname ďPigpenĒ around with him at some point. But Thigpen is hard-working and talented, and that goes a long way.

So now itís time to address the DUI he incurred in mid-September. The optimist in me says that at least he was arrested for going 30 kph under the speed limit, not over -- you take your silver linings where you can get them, I suppose. I donít have any more detailed information on the charge, and frankly, I donít really need it: drunk driving is drunk driving. In the absence of facts, we will not speculate, and as with the Tablado situation, we ask that you join us in that moratorium as well.

The Blue Jays draft players for their character as much as for their skills, and Thigpen evidently showed extremely poor judgment here. Itís a big, big strike one, but I expect the front office will allow him the opportunity to redeem himself. The more serious question is whether the law allows him the chance to get back to his baseball career soon. Like Tablado, heíd be higher on the list if not for his off-field situation. We hope, for a host of reasons, that it gets resolved as well as it possibly can.

T20. Carlo Cota and Ryan Roberts
Cota, 2B/3B, 24.0
2004 Dunedin
463 AB, .294/.356/.449, 81 R, 37 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 63 RBI, 45 BB, 101 K, 2 SB, 1 CS

Roberts, 3B, 24.0
2004 Dunedin
205 AB, .239/.350/.356, 29 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 36 BB, 51 K, 0 SB, 3 CS
2004 Charleston
226 AB, .283/.440/.496, 38 R, 9 2B, 0 3B, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 55 BB, 50 K, 0 SB, 0 CS

On the face of it, thereís very little to separate these two players, born exactly one day apart in September 1980. Both are late-round draft picks (18th for Roberts, 33rd for Cota) with experience at second and third base, though neither is considered a defensive whiz at either position. They both had stellar campaigns in the lower minors (Roberts tore up the Sally earlier this year before being promoted, while Cota ripped the NY-Penn League to the tune of a 937 OPS last season). But they havenít been as overpowering in the FSL (Cota has made the jump better than Roberts, although Robertsí success had come in full-season ball). Roberts has much better plate discipline, while Cota seems to have better overall extra-base power.

How to choose between them? Well, we can take a clue from the fact that when Roberts was promoted from Charleston, he stayed at second base while Cota was bumped to third. The organization seems to be leaning in favour of Roberts, who apparently projects better as a potential big-leaguer. That may well be the case; thereís only so much that statistics can tell you, and the internal scouting reports on these guys may tell very different stories. But from this perspective, theyíre virtually twins, and Iíd be hard-pressed to say which of them will do better at higher levels. What I do know is that at 24, they each need to be ready for the challenges of the Eastern League, because they should be debuting there next spring.

21. Miguel Negron, OF, 22.1
2004 Dunedin
372 AB, .269/.341/.411, 46 R, 16 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 38 BB, 81 K, 3 SB, 1 CS

Iím really not sure where to place Negron, to be honest with you. On the one hand, a mid-season power surge proved to be illusory, and he finished with pretty poor slugging numbers. His BB/K rate demonstrates that he still hasnít picked up the organizational ability to command the strike zone; unlike Alex Rios, he does not have a high batting average to explain and compensate for a lack of walks. He peaked in mid-summer and fell back from there. On the other hand, he only turned 22 in August, the FSL saps power, and he managed to post the same OPS at Dunedin as he did in his brief but breakout season in Charleston in 2003. Heís also a fine defensive centerfielder, and that is a very useful commodity.

It took Negron two campaigns in the Sally League to get his average over .300, and he may need to spend another year in Florida to adjust fully to the higher level. There is still a ton of raw talent here, and there would be no shortage of teams willing to take a flyer on him, but his learning curve has been over-long and gradual. I imagine Toronto will give Negron another opportunity to catch the wave, but personally, Iím skeptical that heíll be able to put it all together enough to help the organization at the major-league or high-minors level. This time next year, I expect heíll be either much higher on this list, or gone altogether.

22. Ron Davenport, OF, 22.11
2004 Dunedin
442 AB, .278/.345/.495, 63 R, 40 2B, 4 3B, 16 HR, 92 RBI, 47 BB, 68 K, 0 SB, 1 CS

On a team with such promising hitters as Chiaravalotti, Cota, Negron and Roberts, Davenport arguably might have had the best overall season. Davenport came out of nowhere: a 22nd-round high-school draft pick in 2000, he posted mediocre numbers his previous two seasons in Dunedin. This was his third trip through the Florida State League, which at least partly explains his success this year. As an outfielder, he figures to make a pretty good first baseman someday.

But the fact remains: he broke the franchise record for doubles, he batted a solid .278 and slugged nearly .500, he posted acceptable walk rates, and he didnít strike out often. Most importantly, he wonít turn 23 until next month; heís a full year younger than Chiaravalotti or Cota. Davenport will almost certainly receive a promotion to New Hampshire in 2005, and weíll find out then whether this was a fluke campaign for a three-time repeater, or whether he really has broken out.

23. Tom Mastny, RHP, 23.8
2004 Charleston
10-3, 2.17, 27 GS, 149 IP, 123 H, 41 BB, 141 K, 4 HR, 23.1% KBF

There is nothing wrong with these numbers, and Iíd like to rank him higher. In his two pro seasons (Auburn and Charleston), Mastny has averaged one strikeout an inning and has a WHIP only slightly over one during that time. Mastny has anchored the starting staffs of two consecutive playoff teams and has an 18-4 record over that time. So why isnít he higher on this list?

Partly itís because Mastnyís stuff is not reported to be overpowering: a selection of good pitches with fine (though not fantastic) control. And partly itís because he's always been a little too old for his leagues: he turns 24 next February, and 24-year-old pitchers who want to be taken seriously really shouldnít be pitching in A-Ball, let alone Low A-Ball. Thatís out of Mastnyís control, of course: the Blue Jays have been very conservative in their approach to him and have not challenged him the way they challenged his former rotation mates Shaun Marcum and Justin James. They might have a reason for that, but I donít know what it is.

24. John-Ford Griffin, OF, 24.10
2004 New Hampshire
467 AB, .248/.330/.454, 66 R, 28 2B, 1 3B, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 56 BB, 128 K, 1 SB, 1 CS

John-Ford Griffin hit .403 as a junior at Florida State University, in a tough, competitive college conference. Then he went out the next year and left that mark in the dust, batting an amazing .450 for the Seminoles; his 50/23 BB/K rate gave him a tidy little .542 on-base percentage, to go with his .797 slugging percentage. Today, however, that remarkable college career seems like a distant memory.

On the positive side, Griffin continued to add power in his second stint in Double-A, and heís walking more than every ten at-bats; his OPS by month (603, 737, 791, 903, 791) showed improvement. After spending most of the year striking out in a third of his at-bats, he managed to get that percentage down to a slightly less appalling 27%. But his .248 average is not just low, itís actually close to his season high: he spent much of the year mired within shouting distance of the Mendoza Line. Griffin has now spent parts of three seasons in Double-A: his batting average in those three years has gone .328-.279-.248 (in an increasing number of at-bats each year). Griffin appears to be running out of prospect power.

Iíve been a booster of his through his struggles, and the possibility still exists that Griffin could launch himself back to glory next season and make a legitimate run at the first-base job in Toronto. This ranking does not properly reflect his chances of making an impact at Syracuse or even Toronto; it does reflect the fact that his star has dimmed. At 25 this November, it seems increasingly likely that heís not going to figure largely in the teamís future plans -- not unlike the player who accompanied him via trade to the Toronto systemÖ..

25. Jason Arnold, RHP, 25.5
2004 Syracuse
1-3, 3.65, 7 GS, 37 IP, 40 H, 12 BB, 15 K, 6 HR, 9.2% KBF
2004 New Hampshire
0-1, 3.15, 4 GS, 20 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 14 K, 4 HR, 17.1% KBF
2004 Dunedin
1-1, 4.35, 3 GS, 10.1 IP, 13 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 HR, 24.3% KBF

To put things in perspective, Arnold was ranked 9th on my pre-season prospect list. A lot of people thought I had him ranked too high then, and I imagine some people will think heís too low on this one; like Griffin, he probably is. Arnold started off very poorly at Syracuse this year, posting BB/K and K/IP rates so awful that something had to be wrong. Something was -- an unspecified shoulder ailment -- and it kept him out of action until two late-season rehab assignments. His stint in Dunedin was strong, as was expected, but he was less overpowering at New Hampshire, and Iím not very optimistic about his results next year in Syracuse. Look at it this way: Arnold will be 26 next May. He is currently crossing the event horizon between prospect and journeyman.

JP Ricciardi dealt away a prized prospect in Felipe Lopez (well, prized by other organizations, anyway) to bring Griffin and Arnold, the Yankeesí first- and second-round 2001 draft picks, to Toronto. JP is just the latest smart baseball guy to see more in these two players than they have managed to produce on the playing field. For one of these guys to prove a flop would be disappointing; for both to flame out before ever reaching the majors would be something of a kick to the gut. Iíd estimate that both of these players have one more year left to make that most difficult of all jumps and succeed against top-rank competition; after that, the organization might simply run out of patience and roster spots.

26. Chi-hung Cheng, LHP, 19.3
2004 Auburn
0-0, 4.50, 0 GS, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 42.9% KBF
2004 Pulaski
3-1, 2.82, 14 GS, 60.2 IP, 47 H, 35 BB, 74 K, 4 HR, 28.2% KBF

The youngest player on this list and one of the youngest in the entire organization, Cheng spent his last year of adolesence adjusting to the culture change between Taipei and the Appalachians. He also spent it baffling the overmatched young hitters of Rookie League ball, who had never seen anything like Chengís paralyzing curve. As those walks totals demonstrate, however, the hitters eventually figured out that Cheng didnít always know where his pitches were going either.

Chengís fastball still only tops out in the mid-to-high-80s, and heís still growing up in every respect; if he ever gets that fastball into the 90s with movement, and if he can command that breaking pitch, he instantly becomes an intriguing relief candidate. Cheng is firmly on the long-term plan; donít expect to see him even in the high minors until at least 2007. But heís worth watching.

27. Bubbie Buzachero, RHP, 23.3
2004 Dunedin
2-2, 25 Sv, 2.55, 51 G, 0 GS, 60 IP, 53 H, 20 BB, 59 K, 3 HR, 23.3% KBF

Consider this statistical selection. Here are Buzacheroís full-season numbers in Auburn in 2003:
35 IP, 25 H, 7 BB, 47 K
Here are Bubbieís numbers after an equal 35 innings at Dunedin in 2004:
35 IP, 29 H, 7 BB, 41 K
And here are his numbers in the final 25 innings at Dunedin in 2004:
25 IP, 24 H, 13 BB, 18 K
Iíd been wondering most of this season why Buzachero wasnít moving up through the system faster than he had been. Well, the Blue Jays developmental staff know many thing that your humble correspondent does not, and maybe they knew that Buzachero needed to stretch himself out beyond 35 innings.

It seems strange to think that a pitcher could get winded after just 105 outs, but Buzacheroís mediocre second half begs an explanation, and the similarities between his first 35 innings the last two seasons was odd enough for me to bring it up here. In either event, Iíd like to see what Buzachero can do at Double-A next year, and in more innings.

28. Adam Lind, 1B, 21.2
2004 Auburn
266 AB, .312/.371/.477, 43 R, 23 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 24 BB, 36 K, 1 SB, 0 CS

After Purcey and Thigpen, it is really difficult to decide which other players from the amazing Auburn squad should make the list. After much deliberation, I went with Adam (ďRyanĒ) Lind, the supplemental 3rd-rounder (thank you again, Anaheim Angels) this past June from South Alabama. There were other attractive possibilities: Brian Hall, the slugging second baseman; Ryan Klosterman, the speedy shortstop with extra-base pop; or powerful first baseman Chip Cannon.

But Lind gets the nod for a number of reasons: he led the club in batting average and was second (to Eric Nielsen) in OBP, but still had enough power to crank 7 homers and lead the team in doubles. More significantly, Lind showed excellent bat control, striking out much less often than his teammates. Battersí strikeout rates in the NY-Penn League tend to get magnified as the players reach higher levels; Hall, for instance, is posting numbers strikingly similar to what Carlo Cota put up at Auburn last year. Lind, who had a lethal bat in college, has made the adjustment to wooden bats and professional pitching better than any of his teammates so far. If I had to nominate an early 2005 organizational sleeper, heís the one.

29. Yuber Rodriquez, OF, 20.10
2004 Pulaski
245 AB, .306/.394/.506, 49 R, 13 2B, 6 3B, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 28 BB, 70 K, 9 SB, 3 CS

Thereís only room on this list for one Pulaski position player, since itís difficult to rank a prospect very high when heís playing against Rookie-ball competition. Indeed, as a franchise, Pulaski's chief virtue is to allow very young players, especially those from the Dominican or Venezuelan leagues, to break into the North American game slowly. One of the chief beneficiaries of this approach is Rodriquez, who forced his way onto this list with a terrific season in the Appalachian League.

Rodriquez demonstrated extra-base power, speed on the basepaths, a fine bat, and just enough plate discipline to make himself interesting. More importantly, heís a marvellous defensive centerfielder, and that skill more than any other is what could catapult him up the organizational chart. Rodriquez is very young, and may be best suited for another short-season stint, this time at Auburn. If he does well there, he could become a very interesting commodity. Like Lind, he figures to be much higher on this list next year.

30. Jordan De Jong, RHP, 25.5
2004 New Hampshire
6-2, 14 Sv, 2.86, 57 G, 0 GS, 69.1 IP, 69 H, 30 BB, 57 K, 2 HR, 18.6% KBF

De Jong should be very pleased with his 2004 campaign: he inherited the closer role from the promoted Adam Peterson in mid-season and thrived on it, finishing with 14 saves for a championship ballclub. Moving into the closer position might have made him a better pitcher -- his ERA by month was 3.24, 4.85, 2.12, 2.70 and 1.88. After struggling for about a full season at Double-A, De Jong recovered to post numbers very similar to his solid 2003 Dunedin campaign. So with the Blue Jays needing relief help like a baby needs a diaper, why isnít De Jong higher on the list?

Principally, itís because heís still allowing too many baserunners. Allowing one hit per inning is survivable, but not when youíre walking a batter every two frames as well. His 1.43 WHIP indicates that he was dodging bullets more often than he fired them. DeJong has an assortment of fine pitches, but nothing overpowering. That would be fine, if he could command them all and rule the strike zone with an iron fist; right now, however, thatís not the case. Thereís nothing wrong with what heís doing, by the way: as Iíve reiterated in my monthly farm reports, every organization needs solid players to support the farm teams and help them win games. But at 26 next April, I donít think De Jong is likely to help out in the majors.

Bonus: High Fives

Five Who Are Rising:

1. Zach Jackson, LHP, 21.4
2004 Auburn
0-0, 5.40, 4 GS, 15 IP, 20 H, 6 BB, 11 K, 1 HR, 15.5% KBF

Iíd like to find a place on the Top 30 for him, but unlike fellow 2004 first-rounder David Purcey, Jackson struggled in his pro debut. That doesnít mean a thing long-term, though, and you should look for him to place strongly on next seasonís rankings.

2. Ryan Klosterman, SS, 22.4
2004 Auburn
269 AB, .275/.343/.409, 50 R, 13 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 22 BB, 55 K, 16 SB, 2 CS

Yet another shortstop prospect? On draft day, JP Ricciardi projected Klosterman as a Rich Aurilia type, and weíll take that as a compliment. Heís doing everything quite well so far.

3. Brian Hall, 2B, 22.8
2004 Auburn
211 AB, .294/.367/.512, 38 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 24 BB, 49 K, 3 SB, 3 CS

The other half of Auburnís double-play combination, Hall showed very surprising power in his brief stint in the NY-Penn league. I said earlier that his numbers mirror those of Carlo Cota a year ago; thatís not the worst thing in the world.

4. Brian Reed, RHP, 23.7
2004 Dunedin
2-1, 4 Sv, 3.16, 24 G, 0 GS, 31.1 IP, 38 H, 8 BB, 31 K, 4 HR, 22.3% KBF
2004 Charleston
1-0, 10 Sv, 0.35, 25 G, 0 GS, 26 IP, 17 H, 5 BB, 28 K, 0 HR, 28.0% KBF

Quietly moving up through the organization, Reed hasnít faltered yet, though he gave up too many hits at Dunedin to crack the Top 30. Iíd like to see what he could do as a full-time closer for a higher-level club.

5. Christian Snavely, OF, 22.5
2004 Charleston
331 AB, .254/.362/.459, 50 R, 22 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 53 BB, 115 K, 6 SB, 2 CS

He still strikes out way too often, but now heís adding the power to justify it, and his walk rates are still excellent. Still young, and with lots of tools, he has one year left to make a real move.

Five Who Held Steady

1. Dominic Rich, IF, 25.1
2004 New Hampshire
513 AB, .277/.351/.394, 79 R, 30 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 71 RBI, 53 BB, 72 K, 3 SB, 2 CS

Author of the first base hit in the history of the Eastern League Champion New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Rich appears to have settled into the role of solid minor-league player. Farm clubs win championships because of guys like this.

2. Clint Johnston, 1B, 27.3
2004 Charleston
468 AB, .263/.372/.436, 87 R, 36 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 79 RBI, 83 BB, 127 K, 1 SB, 0 CS

We have to send greetings to Johnston, who paced the offence of the division-winning Alley-Cats. Lately converted from the mound, Johnston might still have a crack at Calvin Pickeringís career path. But he sure is valuable to this organization in the interim.

3. Felix Romero, RHP, 24.3
2004 Dunedin
0-0, 1 Sv, 1.88, 9 G, 0 GS, 14.1 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 20 K, 0 HR, 36.2% KBF
2004 Charleston
9-4, 3 Sv, 2.96, 42 G, 0 GS, 73 IP, 62 H, 20 BB, 102 K, 4 HR, 33.9% KBF

He just missed the Top 30, and his age was the primary reason. It might well be that his raw stuff isnít enough to defeat the most experienced hitters, but Romero has done everything asked of him so far. Iíll bet he could help next yearís Fisher Cats.

4. Tyrell Godwin, RF, 25.2
2004 New Hampshire
521 AB, .253/.326/.355, 85 R, 21 2B, 7 3B, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 52 BB, 110 K, 42 SB, 12 CS

Another key member of the F-Cats, Godwin did a lot of things right this season after a very slow start. But he still figures to project best as a 25th man on a major-league roster. His speed will get him noticed elsewhere.

5. Tracy Thorpe, RHP, 23.9
2004 Dunedin
3-2, 3.64, 39 G, 0 GS, 59.1 IP, 39 H, 30 BB, 53 K, 5 HR, 21.5% KBF

We havenít forgotten about the big man. Thorpeís recovery from surgery appears to have gone well, and heís just about back to where he was before the injury. If he regains his command within the strike zone, the Jays could be on to something here.

Extra points: a special shout-out to organizational home run champ (23) and Olympic silver medallist Glenn Williams of Syracuse.

Five Who Are Falling

1. Jayce Tingler, OF, 23.10
2004 Dunedin
447 AB, .251/.373/.300, 77 R, 15 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 36 RBI, 74 BB, 25 K, 3 SB, 5 CS

Itís a little unfair to judge the Walking Man so harshly, since he made a two-level jump to Dunedin and posted staggering walk rates. But his batting average fell precipitiously, he has shown no power at all, and itís only going to get tougher at AA.

2. Kurt Isenberg, LHP, 22.8
2004 Dunedin
2-5, 5.61, 14 GS, 61 IP, 73 H, 20 BB, 40 K, 6 HR, 14.5% KBF
2004 Charleston
3-4, 3.88, 10 GS, 51 IP, 48 H, 15 BB, 34 K, 5 HR, 15.7% KBF

So masterful at Auburn last year, Isenberg also turned out to be unable to handle the two-level jump to Dunedin. He was demoted to Charleston, and then got hurt. He showed flashes of his old self upon returning, but not enough of them.

3. Justin James, RHP, 23.0
2004 Dunedin
3-6, 5.40, 11 GS, 50 IP, 59 H, 19 BB, 41 K, 2 HR, 18.0% KBF
2004 Charleston
5-4, 3.00, 14 GS, 78 IP, 67 H, 24 BB, 83 K, 2 HR, 25.5% KBF

He matched Shaun Marcum almost pitch-for-pitch on the Charleston staff, and made the same trip up to the FSL. But Jamesí control deserted him there, and the batters caught up to him in a hurry. He can and will improve on a poor Dunedin debut.

4. Chad Pleiness, RHP, 24.7
2004 Dunedin
4-3, 4.40, 36 G, 4 GS, 77.2 IP, 82 H, 33 BB, 46 K, 8 HR, 13.3% KBF

As my old math teacher used to say, worse instead of better. His second go-round the Florida State League proved to be even less successful than the first for Pleiness, who has yet to show the strike-zone dominance befitting his frame.

5. Aquilino Lopez, RHP, 29.5
2004 Syracuse
1-6, 5 Sv, 7.17, 32 G, 0 GS, 42.2 IP, 58 H, 10 BB, 32 K, 8 HR, 16.4% KBF

Goodbye, farewell and amen. The Rule 5 Draft giveth, and the Rule 5 Draft taketh away. By the way, Jason Dubois hit .316/.389/.630 for the Cubsí AAA team this year, with 31 HRs in 386 AB. Hindsight is a perfect 20/20, isnít it?

By almost any measure, this was a remarkably successful season for the Blue Jays minor-league organization. Four division flags and one league championship is an amazing accomplishment for a farm system that was mired in mediocrity and drifting towards worse just three years ago. If you remove Syracuse from the mix -- a team ruined by injuries, emergency call-ups and unexpectedly poor performances from veteran acquisitions -- you have a system whose teams finished well over .500 at all five levels. Kudos are due to Dick Scott, Jon Lalonde and everyone else responsible for the excellent 2004 campaign.

You should expect a fair degree of movement on this list before next April. Some of these prospects will almost certainly disappear in trades Ė the Jays have clear needs at the major-league level and, for the first time in a long time, have the wherewithal to help acquire it. Prospects also get hurt, especially those who pitch for a living, so itís a good thing the Jays have a surfeit of them. Thereís also minor-league free agency and the Rule 5 Draft to consider. The Jays have a lot of players of interest and only 40 spots with which to protect them; some of these guys will be snatched up by other teams. But thatís the price of a healthy farm system, something that the Blue Jays unquestionably now possess.
2004 Farm Report: Top 30 Prospects | 58 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Gerry - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:22 PM EDT (#19504) #
Fantastic job, as usual, Jordan.
_Ryan Lind - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:26 PM EDT (#19505) #
When I first arrived at this site about a year ago, I knew next to nothing about BlueJay prospects. Really, I had heard of Rios...knew about Adams/Hill...that was it. Thanks to the great work you guys have done here at, my knowledge of Jays prospects has risen roughly eleventy billion percent.

The minor league threads and reports are the staple of this website in my opinion, and you all do a tremendous job.

I wonder about Felix Romero. People knock him for being old...but is 24 really that old? What if he starts out with NH, pitches excellently, and finds himself in Syracuse by the end of the year? His K/BB numbers are droolworthy, in any case.
_Jim - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#19506) #

Can't wait to dig in tonight.
_MatO - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:30 PM EDT (#19507) #
Excellent. Justin James was DL'd at the end of August. I don't suppose anyone knows why?
robertdudek - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#19508) #
Good list. Personally, I would rank Thigpen, Purcey and Jackson much higher - college stats are meaningful so it's not like you're rating someone without a track record.

I'd also rate Klosterman in the top 30. I would drop DeJong and Bubbie and add Jackson (and Klosterman). Peterson seems to be a little overrated here in light of his second half implosion.
_Ryan Lind - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#19509) #
Also, I hope Adam Lind can become a star player in the MLB one day, so he can be the first player to actually represent my last name well. :-)

At least Josť Lind was a good fielder...too bad Lind wasn't his real last name. :-(
Craig B - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#19510) #
too bad Lind wasn't his real last name

Depends on what you mean by "real", I guess. FWIW, I remember Lind being a pretty good player.
_Ryan Lind - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:09 PM EDT (#19511) #
Well, I'm just going by what Baseball-Reference has him at...

Thye call him "Jose Lind Salgado"

The Lind part makes him suck, but the "salgado" part, because it sounds like Delgado, makes him good. :)
Mike D - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#19512) #
In Latin America, Ryan, people append their mother's maiden name after their father's surname.

Thus, Roberto Alomar Velazquez is the son of Sandy Alomar Conde.

So "Chico" is definitely a Lind.
Mike D - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:35 PM EDT (#19513) #
Oh, and outstanding job, Jordan. Terrific read from top to bottom!
_Peter - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:42 PM EDT (#19514) #
I think you have to include Mike MacDonald, who arrived without fanfare and pitched so well at Auburn that he was the only draftee to move up to A ball whhere he held his own quite nicely. Know I know the knock will be that he doesn't throw hard enough but there are successfull major league pitchers who top out in the high eighties. If MIke continues to show the command and the competitiveness that he has to date he will move through the system quickly and could be a big surprise. I would have ranked him 15th, right after Robinson Diaz and at worst 20th. He is far more a prospect, in my view that Negron, who I would not have even have ranked. Same goes for Buzzie - does not belong on this list. I would have included Danny Hill instead.

Still, a thorough and thoughtful analysis. Great work. I hope you're not put off by my nitpicking. Just wanted to highlight the one guy I thought was overlooked.
_Ryan Lind - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:51 PM EDT (#19515) #
Ah, thanks for that tip Mike. Pardon me for my ignorance.

So does this mean that Carlos Delgado's last name is Juan, and his mother's maiden name was Delgado?
_Ron - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#19516) #
Excellent work.

Without these prospect/minor reports I wouldn't know anything about the Jays prospects.
Mike D - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:55 PM EDT (#19517) #
So does this mean that Carlos Delgado's last name is Juan, and his mother's maiden name was Delgado?

Nope. Juan's his middle name. He's Carlos Juan Delgado Hernandez.
_Rob - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#19518) #
"Carlos Juan Delgado Hernandez" is Carlos Delgado, and his mom was a Hernandez, I assume.
_Ryan Lind - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#19519) #
Stupid ESPN
_David R - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#19520) #
Ryan Roberts owns the strangest stats of the year: 20 HRs and only 10 doubles. Is he an extreme fly ball hitter, or is this just another one of those endearing baseball anomalies?
_Ducey - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#19521) #
Jason Dubois hit .316/.389/.630 for the Cubsí AAA team this year

He likely would not have if he spent a year pinch running on the ML roster.

I really enjoy these discussions. Thanks for all your work!

I wonder what you think of Rico, Houston, Ozias and Tate. Rico had some real nice ERA's in small doses. He is a lefty who was just coverted to the mound.

Houston seems a bit wild but has good stuff and >K/IP. I might put him ahead of DeJong. I hope the Jays don't lose him in the Rule 5

I don't know much about Ozias other than he has a good change up.

I never even notice Tate all year until I looked at the final stats:

1.10 ERA 32IP 22H 4BB 41K at Pulaski
2.20 ERA 16IP 17H 6BB 24K at Auburn

He might be a little old (I am not sure) but he is a lefty and certainly has some sort of strikeout pitch.
_Jordan - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 06:48 PM EDT (#19522) #
Thanks for all the great feedback -- I'm in between appointments right now, but I'll aim to post some answers later tonight or, maybe more likely, tomorrow.
_jim854 - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 07:52 PM EDT (#19523) #
Absolutely excellent work, Jordan et al!

I spent 2 hours this afternoon/evening reading and rereading the survey. With a bottle of good wine and not a care in the world it was a very enjoyable afternoon. How I love baseball and the Blue Jays!!

There is no other sport (or website) that can match the information with the kind of depth and detail that is evident here.

Thanks to you all for the time and effort that was put into this.
_Rob - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:18 PM EDT (#19524) #
Good stuff here, Jordan. Hard to adjust to Hill as #1 prospect, but it makes sense. Certainly isn't Rios anymore. ;)

Anyway, if Purcey does "begin 2005 as the nominal ace of the new Low-A Lansing Lugnuts", it's a good thing because all of their games are on Internet radio! I think he'll be in Dunedin, but even so, this puts 3 of the 4 full-season teams on the radio every day for the CUTL BBRadio Network to follow. Also, all the games are archived, so you can catch any games you missed.
_Jim - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:22 PM EDT (#19525) #
I'm with Robert on Thigpen, Purcey and Jackson. I know your analysis is mostly statistical, but when ranking players in a situation like this I think about would I trade Player A for Player B.

There is no way in the world that I (or 90% of you I would guess), would trade Jackson for a JFG or Jason Arnold. Because of this there is no way I could rank Jackson behind them or anyone else that I wouldn't take in a deal for him.
_Jabonoso - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:25 PM EDT (#19526) #
Good work and thanks Jordan.
Where is Sequea? At least should be around Rich. Which brings the question: Are Dave Berg's type players considered prospects? I guess anyone who plays in the majors should be...
I would drop some pitchers like De jong and Bubbie B.
With regard to Tablado's shortstop skills, somebody can provide some insight. It seems that everybody is concluding that he is not good enough but no one is telling why ( bad foot work, bad glove, no range ???? ) It is curious that when he wasnīt hitting it was reported that his fielding would take him to the bigs, now that he is hitting he has to move to third...
It seems that we are filled to the rim with "old for their playing level" dh/1st suspects...
Why Chacin was at AA at 19? It is as if young Cheng, just because of his extraordinary curve. Gustavo had a very good change up since then. I knew he was and is a capable pitcher, but i'm surprised ( happily) about the consistency of his run. Is his future to be a starter? or will he be reconverted to the pen? something to be tuned into...
For 05 i'll be following closely the Romero's show. By the way what are their repertoires?
Regarding US movie directors? well it could be among Malcovich, Tim Robbins or Clint Eastwood work, and with the tendency to single out "their guys" it will be Eastwood.
_Jabonoso - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:27 PM EDT (#19527) #
What is a Lugnut?
maybe i am one not knowing...
_Tim - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:34 PM EDT (#19528) #
Fantastic work, Jordan et al.

It is so nice to be able to read this type of information. I find the progress of minor leaguers to be a fascinating thing, so you've just provided an hour of great entertainment.

Looking forward to continued success for these prospects and continued reports from you.
_Rob - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:34 PM EDT (#19529) #
Here's the team logo:

I'm not sure how a lugnut differs from a normal mechanical nut...
robertdudek - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:36 PM EDT (#19530) #
lug nut n.

A heavy, rounded nut that fits over a bolt, used especially to attach an automotive vehicle's wheel to its axle.

Pistol - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 08:51 PM EDT (#19531) #
Great job as always Jordan.

If you were to rank Adams, Quiroz, Gross and Crozier where would you have them?
_Jabonoso - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 09:18 PM EDT (#19532) #
Thanks Rob and Robert.
_Willy - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 09:38 PM EDT (#19533) #
The logo seems to depict a bolt, not a nut--lug or otherwise. No?
_Peter - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 09:41 PM EDT (#19534) #
Pistol,re: Adams, Quiroz, Gross, Crozier

In the same order you list them although I might suggest Q has the highest ceiling but less chance of reaching it than does Adams.
_MatO - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 11:02 PM EDT (#19535) #
My only quibble is that I'd include Ryan Houston in the players who held steady section. He throws mid-90 and every once in a while will put up a jaw-dropping game before reverting to his usual mediocre form.

What's interesting is that despite the comprehensiveness of this list, there is always a player under the radar, a Rosario, Perkins, Rios or Chacin, who would never have made a list before their breakout season. It just illustrates how unpredictable the development path of a baseball player can be.
_Chris H - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 12:11 AM EDT (#19536) #
Great minor league reports, as usual!

One of the guys I would have considered for the Top 30 would have been Edward Rodriguez in Pulaski. I have read some good reports on him and his numbers were pretty solid this year...

_Kevin Pataky - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 07:55 AM EDT (#19537) #
Who do you think will be moving up from Double-A to Triple A? Which guys will be left in New Hampshire to start 2005? Where/when will McGowan be back? What about guys like Chris Baker and Cameron Reimers? Will they be back next year? Which guys need protection now on the 40 man roster? These are all good points of discussion.
_Daryn - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 08:38 AM EDT (#19538) #
GREAT JOB on the prospects list.... can we put a semi permanent link to this so we can find it easily as the year moves on??

On thought on McGowan/Rosario and Tommy John.
They are really saying that full recovery is more like 14-18 months, and that sort of proves out some of the "late resurgence" you sometimes see...
Coach - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 08:51 AM EDT (#19539) #
Absolutely outstanding, Jordan. Not only a great summary, a delightful read. There's always room for quibbling on some of the rankings, but it's a subjective list no matter who makes it. Thigpen would be higher than Diaz on mine.

If you were to rank Adams, Quiroz, Gross and Crozier where would you have them?

Pistol, I realize the question was for Jordan, but would like to offer my two cents anyway. If those guys (along with Rios and Frasor) were ranked, the whole Top 10 would get squeezed downward. I'd still put Rios above Hill, and although I think (and hope) that Hill will turn out even better than Adams, Russ has certainly improved his stock with his showing in the AL so far, so it would be a photo-finish for second and third. I'd also slot Quiroz ahead of Banks, Gross ahead of Marcum and Crozier in front of Vermilyea.

The depth is impressive. Lefty pitching is coming, and guys as good as Klosterman and Hall could find themselves "stuck" at Syracuse in a couple of years, because the big-league club will be so young and talented.
_Lucky - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 09:02 AM EDT (#19540) #
Pretty intersting list. What is you opinion of David Smith? I noticed he was absent from any list, and not as old as Roberts or Cota. Is he just a "filler" player for the Jays? His stats seemed pretty good: 436 AB, .278/.365/.431, 74R, 27 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 68 RBI, 53 BB, 119 K, 5 SB, 0 CS.

The K's were too high, but his OBP was decent. I was able to watch the Cats a few times this year, and he played excellent defence, plus that is one incredibly huge park. I wonder if playing in his hometown affected his play any?
Mike Green - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 09:20 AM EDT (#19541) #
Who do you think will be moving up from Double-A to Triple A? Which guys will be left in New Hampshire to start 2005? Where/when will McGowan be back? What about guys like Chris Baker and Cameron Reimers? Will they be back next year? Which guys need protection now on the 40 man roster?

Good questions indeed.

We took an early look at the 40 man roster decisions. It will be updated as the Rule 5 draft approaches.

There will be New Hampshire year in review piece coming fairly soon, and I imagine that there will be some discussion on where some of the players are likely to be in 2005.
Pistol - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 09:35 AM EDT (#19542) #
Thereís several ways to rank prospects, but how I did my top 10 was ask myself, Ďgiven the choice between these 2 players, who would I want?í

Like Jordan I eliminated the callup quartet (Gross, Adams, Quiroz, Crozier)

This is what I came up with:

1. Aaron Hill, SS, 22.6
2. Brandon League, RHP, 21.6
3. Dustin McGowan, RHP, 22.6
4. Francisco Rosario, RHP, 24.0
5. David Purcey, LHP, 22.5
6. Josh Banks, RHP, 22.2
7. Shaun Marcum, RHP, 22.9
8. Raul Tablado, IF, 22.7
9. Gustavo Chacin, LHP, 23.10
10. Chi-hung Cheng, LHP, 19.3
_Jordan - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 09:50 AM EDT (#19543) #
Thanks for all the responses ... here are some thoughts in return:

As I say, Felix Romero was close to the Top 30. His strikeout numbers really are amazing, and he didnít slow down at all in Dunedin. Had he thrown a few more innings in the FSL, I probably wouldíve made a place for him. Heís not old per se, but he turned 24 mid-season, and thatís a marked advantage over a lot of the players in A-Ball. He wouldíve been a defensible Top 30 choice, but the age and the organizationís cautious approach to him made me cautious as well.

I donít have any word on James being DLíed, unfortunately; injury reports among prospects are hard to discover and harder to investigate. If he had some kind of nagging problem that hurt his performance, though, fixing it could explain and reverse his struggles at Dunedin. I still think he'll rebound big-time.

Thigpen originally was higher -- 12th in my draft version -- but the DUI knocked him down, just because I can see it delaying his development. Jackson will of course rank higher next year; Purcey was an exception to rate so highly, and I might rethink their respective positioning if I did this again. I love Klostermanís speed and pop, but he struck out a little too much for my liking at Auburn.

De Jong, of course, was right on the line at # 30; he was the subject of much discussion among the minor-league crew. At the end of the day, I decided I wanted someone on the list who might never make the majors, but who was an indispensable member of the organizational backbone. It wouldnít have been a crime had he dropped off the list.

Iím going to stick with Bubbie, though; as long as keeps getting hitters out and posting fine K/IP and K/BB rates, heís going to have a place on my Top 30. I donít really understand why the Jays have been so slow with him, and those last 25 innings might just be a signal that the run is ending. But heís had a solid professional CV the last two years, and until he flames out altogether, I think heís worth watching.

Mike MacDonald could have been a reasonable choice, especially since he was successful at Charleston in his first pro season. But he just didnít have the strikeout rates, even at Auburn, to stand out as a dominant force. All the best Jaysí pitching prospects who started out in Auburn just owned the place; MacDonald did not. But weíll see what he does at Lansing next year.

Davidís right to notice the oddity in Ryan Robertsí line. Often, a hitter with few doubles and lots of homers is due for a power drop: heís hitting big pop-fly homers, not line-drive smashes. But in Robertsí case, Iím not very concerned: he had good doubles power in college and had 10 2B, 3 3B and 8 HR in his 2003 Auburn debut. Plus, heís a real streak hitter when it comes to homers; he rattled them off in bunches, especially at Charleston. I donít think heíll ever be a 25-HR power threat Ė or if he is, he might be one of those three true outcomes guys, walk-strikeout-homer.

Briefly: Erik Rico is making a great transition to the mound, and his success thus far is remarkable. But the BB/K and K/IP rates arenít yet where they need to be for him to rate higher. Ryan Houston has fantastic strikeout rates and has really come on the last two seasons. Working against him are two things: his command (50 walks in 97 innings) and his age (he turns 25 tomorrow and doesnít yet appear ready for Syracuse). Ozias had a very strong season and was a great FA acquisition by the Jays; but heís 28 and not a prospect in the sense that this list envisions. Same with Anton French and Julius Matos, whom I tried hard to find a place for. Tateís numbers were very strong, but at 22, he was a little old for the Appy League, and my understanding is that he relies mostly on breaking stuff at this point, lacking a 90s fastball. But with all these players, youneverknow.

Jim, you raise an interesting point with your ďWould I trade Player A for Player B?Ē approach to ranking. Itís not the methodology I chose, but it would be interesting to see a Top 30 list done that way: Adam Lind would be much higher, for instance. I might incorporate that approach at some point. My methodology, such as it is, is to try to integrate various factors, including: on-field performance, age relative to competition, strike-zone command (for both pitchers and batters), extra-statistical information (e.g., defence, work ethic, instincts, leadership), proximity to the majors, and the number of vowels in the leagueís level. I wouldnít trade Curtis Thigpen (all other things being equal) for Jamie Vermilyea, but my assessment is that Vermilyea is, for a number of reasons, a better and more-closely-to-be-watched prospect for the Jays than Thigpen right now. Itís the type of thing upon which reasonable people can disagree.

Sequea could justifiably have made the ďFive Who Held SteadyĒ list, since he battled injuries and a terrible Skychiefs team all season. But his final line was .266/.345/.367, and it didnít seem right to fit him into the Top 30. I havenít forgotten about him, and I still think he could make a good utility guy in the majors Ė Dave Berg is an excellent comp, Jabonso Ė but with Frank Menechino around, I donít think his future will be in Toronto. The reports on Tabladoís defence come second-hand from a Baseball America report, one that sang Tabladoís praises but still reported scoutsí unanimous opinion that shortstop was not the place for him. We shall see; defence is often one of the last tools to arrive. Chacin has surprised everyone; thereís no better success story in the entire organization, and another good example of why you donít rush pitchers.

Edward Rodriguez is intriguing. He didnít post stellar numbers at Pulaski -- as Mike Green pointed out in his Pulaski review yesterday, he walked 13 batters, hit 6 others and threw 9 wild pitches in 36 innings, so his command isnít quite there yet. But he also struck out 36, and he was just 20 years old. The scouting reports from his tenure in the Latin American leagues were very positive. When we get more data on him -- hopefully at Auburn next year -- we'll have a better idea. Heís definitely worth watching.

I gave serious thought to David Smith, but yes, his 119 Ks in 436 AB scared me off. He walks a lot and has good extra-base power, but Iím afraid those strikeout numbers will really hurt him in the FSL. Iím glad to hear his defence is stellar; that improves his chances when he hits Dunedin next year. Itís hard to say if playing in his hometown gave him a boost; for some players, itís the exact opposite (the Jeff Cirillo Effect). I think Smith would have been as effective playing anywhere else.

Had Adams, Quiroz, Gross and Quiroz been on this list.... you know, I still think I would've placed Aaron Hill first, because of his age and offensive tools. I was surprised too, to be honest, when Hill ended up on top of this list; it's a testament to his performance against older competition and to the fact that so many other prospects rose to Toronto. If I did a Top ten that took these four into account, it would be:

1. Hill
2. Quiroz
3. Adams
4. Banks
5. League
6. Gross
7. Rosario
8. Marcum
9. Chacin
10. McGowan

I need hardly tell you that that's an extremely strong list.

Promotions? That's always hard to guess. From Double-A to Triple-A, I expect League, Rosario, Vermilyea, Arnold, Hill, Griffin, Hattig, and maybe Rich would start 2005 at Syracuse; Banks and DeJong are possibilities. From Dunedin to New Hampshire, I would think Chiaravalotti, Cota, Tablado (if possible), Davenport, Marcum, Ramirez, F. Romero, Thorpe and one of Reed or Buzachero could make the jump; Roberts, Negron and Perkins perhaps by mid-season. Tough to say who goes to Dunedin from the three lower-level clubs, but my list would include Purcey, Jackson, D. Romero, Lind, Klosterman, and Hall.

Rankings are not only subjective things, they can also turn on a dime; I moved a lot of guys up or down two or three slots just before posting this list. The level of disagreement with some of the rankings is a very good sign, as it indicates a wide variety of views on these players and their strengths. I wouldnít really argue anyoneís preferences regarding their suggested rankings.

What has surprised me so far is the general unanimity (or at least, the absence of open disagreement) about the Top ten, both the players chosen and the order they appeared in. The positioning of the pitchers in slots 2 through 8 seemed like an open invitation to debate; Iíd be interested in hearing whether and to what extent Bauxites think those rankings are accurate.

Once again, thanks for all the feedback!
_Dean - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#19544) #
Pistol FWIW, I like your rankings. League's fastball/slider combo - and there is supposed to be a pretty good change up too - ranks him higher than Banks in my opinion too.
Pistol - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 10:35 AM EDT (#19545) #
Had Adams, Quiroz, Gross and Quiroz been on this list

I see Quiroz is 2nd, but where would Quiroz rank? :)

Thanks Jordan.

positioning of the pitchers in slots 2 through 8 seemed like an open invitation to debate;

Well, my rankings were done on Jim's 'who would you rather have' method so there's a little bit of a difference there.

I'm not as high on Josh Banks. Those HRs allowed concerns me a bit which has me thinking his ceiling isn't as high as the others I have ahead of him.

It's also possible that I'm too optimistic about McGowan coming back from TJ surgery, but given the success rate of the surgery these days the only setback in my mind is time. Instead of pitching in Toronto next year McGowan won't see Toronto until 2006 or 2007.

I also always like to take a bit of a flyer with my #10 ranking which is why I went with Cheng's youth and K rate.
_Jordan - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#19546) #
Whoops, that second Quiroz should obvously have been Crozier. he wouldn't make the top ten, but that's no insult, considering the strength there.
Mike Green - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 11:17 AM EDT (#19547) #
Everything I've read indicates that League's change is a work-in-progress, and his performance as a starter is consistent with that view. It does look like he's ready to be a very fine reliever in the immediate future.

As for Banks, he's got all the pitches to be a fine starter, plus control and a good head. As an added bonus, he was not overworked as a young pitcher, so (knock on wood) he's probably a modestly lower injury risk than many.

They're both great prospects, but Banks is ahead of League on my list.
_Jabonoso - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#19548) #
you may very well put the first 8 pitchers in alphabetical order and do not get much questioning, it is nice to have such a strong group.
I would have left Gross and Crozier below number 12.
_Mylegacy - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 11:53 AM EDT (#19549) #
Jordan you get the ultimate reward. A happy face sticker of a cuttlefish with a big smile! (Should such a thing exist.)

_Mylegacy - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 12:25 PM EDT (#19550) #
Jordan, I agree with your high ranking of a now healthy Rosario.

Do you see him in the bullpen or as a starter, in the near future and later when he gets to the show? I see him as potential closer.
_Jim - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 12:40 PM EDT (#19551) #
When this team does win again, it will be sweet to have followed the key pieces so closely through their development. To me there are few things more interesting then the building and development of a baseball team, and Toronto is a great franchise to follow because of the way the front office works along with the dedication of some of the franchise's 'top' fans.
_Magpie - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 01:49 PM EDT (#19552) #
Great job.

Ought to be required reading for anyone interested in this baseball club, and anyone who writes or talks about them for a living.
_Jordan - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 02:23 PM EDT (#19553) #
I would agree that Rosario's most likely major-league role is in short relief. A lot of great closers rely on a plus fastball, a great change, and strike-zone command. Rosario already has the first two; all he needs is the third. I expect that whichever role -- starting or relieving -- best allows him to develop that control, that's where the Jays will plug him in next year. I would consider starting him at Syracuse -- weather permitting -- and if he starts off '05 like he finished '04, I certainly can see him at Skydome during the course of next season. Thanks once again for the positive comments.
_Kevin Pataky - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 03:26 PM EDT (#19554) #
What about the future of Baker and or Reimers?
_MatO - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#19555) #
What about the future of Baker and or Reimers?

They're both six year minor league free agents. I would assume neither will make the 40 man as both have had trouble at AAA. Quite often players like these move on to other organizations where they can get a fresh start.
_R Billie - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#19556) #
JP sees Rosario as a starter and I kind of agree. He does have a third pitch which is a pretty decent curveball. In fact it was gaining the confidence to let loose with his curve after fearing injury for much of the year that allowed Rosario to go on his late season run of success. Assuming he starts in AAA in the spring, he could be in Toronto two or three months after that.

If League works successfully on his changeup then I think he could be a fine starting pitcher as well. I mean if you go into the second half of 2006 with a power rotation of Halladay, League, Rosario, McGowan, and Bush you'd be pretty well off. Or you move one or even both of League and Rosario to the pen and mix in guys like Chacin, Banks, Marcum, Vermilyea, Purcey, and Jackson in the rotation and/or pen. I personally prefer the murderer's row of power arms in the rotation myself but you could spread some of the wealth to the pen. There's no arguing with what League has done in relief, it would just be fun to see him do it over 200 innings eventually.

All these young arms are going to be the key to success. That's what is going to free up the money for offensive help supplemented by the young and cheap likes of Rios, Gross, Adams, Hill, and Quiroz.
_Jordan - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#19557) #
Sorry, Kevin, I missed your query. I still see Baker and Reimers as solid AA-level starters, with the chance to help out at AAA, though both got knocked around really badly at Syracuse this year. I don't really see either of them as future major-league prospects.
_Sneeps - Friday, September 24 2004 @ 10:49 PM EDT (#19558) #
Just 2 more drafts, and we're laughin.
_Kevin - Wednesday, September 29 2004 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#19559) #
Why is Buzachero not rated higher? He is only 23 and he tore up the FSL. His fastball is low to mid 90's and he really gets hitters out. 25 saves. He really showed us something. As far as I can see he stands a good chance of becoming a big leaguer in about 3 years.
_Jordan - Wednesday, September 29 2004 @ 05:11 PM EDT (#19560) #
Kevin, had Bubbie finished the year stronger, he'd definitely be higher on the list. I'm a supporter of his, and I'm not sure why the Jays haven't promoted him faster. But his last several weeks in Dunedin really weren't very positive. We'll need to see what he does at New Hampshire next season.
_Dan - Wednesday, November 03 2004 @ 03:39 PM EST (#19561) #
Excellant work Jordan, have been following the Jays for years, but just found this site. Sounds like pitching is very strong for the future, and I believe pitching is the most vital ingredient to a successful team. Wondering if you can answer this question for me. How does this top 10 prospect list (with regards to pitching strength) compare with the top 10 prospect lists of other major league teams. Thanks
2004 Farm Report: Top 30 Prospects | 58 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.