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Monday, we took a look at Prospects #30-#21 in the Blue Jay farm system. Yesterday, it was #20-#11. Now, we get to the part you've all been waiting for.

The top 10 classic rock songs of all time are...Never mind. There was not much debate among the minor league crew about the best of the best in the Jay system, with one exception. Who is the better Romero, Ricky or Davis? We enlisted ouija boards, oracles and Jordan Furlong to assist us in resolving this difficult question. We are pleased to advise that with their assistance, no wars were fought and no bones were broken as we came to a decision.

Shaun Marcum, Casey Janssen, Dustin McGowan and Brandon League, mainstays from last year's top 10 list, are no longer eligible due to major league service time.




10. Ryan Patterson, OF
Born May 2, 1983. Selected in the 4th round of the 2005 amateur draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2004 21 NCAA 293 23 2 14 15 46 6 1 .341 .383 .577
2005 22 NCAA 249 23 2 20 30 28 7 1 .369 .448 .719
2005 22 A- 274 23 4 13 21 53 5 2 .339 .386 .595
2006 23 A+ 354 25 0 19 20 61 2 4 .288 .327 .520
2006 23 AA 187 14 1 6 13 50 2 0 .257 .310 .439

Ryan Patterson was taken a round behind Brian Pettway in the 2005 draft. You could read one playerís profile and mistake him for the other; both were senior corner outfielders with similar builds and scouting reports. Also, both ranked very highly in Pistolís adjusted college stats. Now, they donít seem so similar anymore.

Patterson tore up Low-A last year and continued to hit this year, leading the Florida State League in slugging percentage. The most memorable night was his 6-6 performance, where he had 5 extra-base hits, 3 homers and 17 total bases. Patterson struggled upon reaching New Hampshire, striking out in over one-quarter of his at-bats and not showing the same extra-base power he did in the low minors. There were positive signs though, as Patterson kept his plate discipline constant, although it still could be improved. More importantly, Patterson struggled in his first month in New Hampshire, but put up an OPS over .830 from thereon in. He finished the season with 25 homers, second in the system to Chip Cannon. Ideally heíll spend another half-season in Double-A and then move up to Syracuse before the end of next season.(T)




9. Jesse Litsch, RHP
Born March 9, 1985. Selected in the 24th round of the 2004 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2005 20 R+ 11 11 65 6.98 0.82 1.37 9.18 2.74
2005 20 A- 4 3 10 9.90 0.00 5.40 6.30 3.60
2006 21 A+ 16 15 89 9.47 0.50 0.80 8.16 3.53
2006 21 AA 12 12 69 11.03 0.77 1.68 7.00 5.06

When someone wants to criticize J.P.ís drafting the first name they usually mention is Russ Adams. Well, it may not be too long before the first name a defender trots out is Jesse Litsch. Over two seasons this 24th round draft pick has worked his way onto a top 10 prospect list that is otherwise occupied by amateur free agents and draftees from the first four rounds. Some may point to it as more proof the Jays should be looking more closely at high school and JuCo players, but Litsch has already exceeded everyoneís expectations by making a dozen starts in Double-A in his second minor league season.

Litsch is a sinker/slider pitcher who had a GB:FB ratio of 2:1 at New Hampshire and it was even larger at Dunedin. Litsch has a lot of positives in his peripherals. He doesnít allow many homers, he gets a fair number of strikeouts and his control is good. However, at three of the four levels heís pitched at Litsch has allowed more hits than innings pitched.

Iíve spent several minor league reviews speculating about Litschís hits allowed totals. Although weíre dealing with small sample sizes, Litsch has always allowed more hits than youíd expect (or want) a promising pitching prospect to have surrendered. As Mike Green pointed out, Litsch actually doesnít surrender an inordinate amount of line drives (only about 12% of BIP at Dunedin; about 17% at New Hampshire), so his opponentsí BABIP might be a product of his defence and not a negative mark against Litsch as a pitcher. However, the only study I know of on minor leaguer pitchers and BABIP was done by Clay Davenport and he concluded that pitchers who make the majors were slightly, but consistently, better than those who didnít at preventing hits on balls in play. Itís not something to get too worried about, as Litsch is young, talented and all of his other numbers are promising. Anytime a 24th-round pick appears on a top prospect list only two years after he was drafted you know you have something to get excited about. (T)



8. Chi-hung Cheng, LHP
Born June 20, 1985. Signed as an amateur free agent in 2003.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 19 R+ 14 14 61 6.97 0.59 5.19 10.98 2.82
2004 19 A- 1 0 2 4.50 4.50 0.00 13.50 4.50
2005 20 A 26 25 137 7.16 0.53 4.73 9.33 3.15
2006 21 A 28 28 143 8.10 0.31 4.26 9.66 2.70

Cheng spent a second year in Lansing, consolidating his gains and further establishing himself as an intriguing prospect. The curve-balling strikeout artist gave up an extra hit per 9 frames in 2006, something he was happy to do in conjunction with slashing his already stingy home run rate and putting a dent in his biggest weakness: the base on balls. Digging further into his ratios reveals nearly half of balls in play against him being grounders (49.5%) and an outstanding 10.7% line drive rate Ė thatís 5 points lower than major league leaders Derek Lowe and Randy Johnson.

Cheng also does an excellent job of holding on runners, and picking off more than his share. It is not surprising, then, that he fared better with runners on base than with the bases clear. Opponents hit .216/.302/.289 this year when runners were on base. That will do wonders for the ERA.

ETA (Estimated Toronto Arrival) is September, 2008. (JG)




7. David Purcey, LHP
Born March 30, 1982. Selected in the 1st round of the 2004 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 22 NCAA 18 18 119 6.75 0.38 4.10 9.86 3.11
2004 22 A- 3 2 12 4.50 0.00 0.75 9.75 1.50
2005 23 A+ 21 21 94 7.63 0.76 5.34 11.07 3.63
2005 23 AA 8 8 43 6.70 0.42 5.23 9.42 2.93
2006 24 AA 16 16 88 10.29 0.91 4.48 8.25 5.60
2006 24 AAA 12 12 51 8.53 1.21 6.61 7.83 5.40

David Purcey is a left-handed pitcher with great "stuff", probably the best pitches of any pitcher on this top 30 list. But David has problems with his delivery, leading to poor command, and a drop to number 7 on our list. Purcey has great potential because he is a lefty, his pitches have movement, most particularly his breaking pitches, which are knee-buckling. These characteristics get a pitcher rated highly by Baseball America and Batter's Box. However Purcey has a tendency to drop his elbow on his delivery and lose the feel for his pitches resulting in walks (82 in 140 innings pitched); hit batters (14) and wild pitches (8). The Jays will have to decide whether to leave David to work though his inconsistent delivery or whether to rework his delivery, Halladay style, to improve his control.(G)



6. Francisco Rosario, RHP
Born September 28, 1980. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1999.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 23 A+ 6 6 17 8.31 1.04 5.71 8.31 4.67
2004 23 AA 12 12 48 9.00 1.12 3.00 8.44 4.31
2005 24 AAA 30 18 116 8.59 1.24 3.26 6.20 3.95
2006 25 AAA 14 8 42 6.21 0.42 2.78 10.71 2.79

With all the starter-reliever conversions in this system, it's easy to forget where Rosario lies. Mainly a starter before he reached Triple-A in 2005, he has since made just 21 starts out of 44 games with Syracuse. However, his performance in whatever role he had was nothing short of excellent. You can see the improvements across the board in his rate stats, resulting in arguably his best post-TJ season.

Of course, he's now out of options. In fact, he's even out of special "by-request" options, and since the Jays haven't given him a serious look as a starter, 2007 will probably be a year where Rosario takes over the Vinnie Chulk role. (R)




5. Davis Romero, LHP
Born March 30, 1983. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1999.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 21 A 32 14 103 6.71 0.52 2.61 9.41 2.53
2005 22 A+ 34 18 125 9.60 0.72 2.46 9.86 3.47
2006 23 AA 12 12 73 6.96 0.36 2.32 8.55 2.93
2006 23 AAA 18 3 44 9.26 0.60 1.41 7.25 3.83

It is easy to overlook Davis Romero. At 5'10" and 170 lbs (according to milb.com), the lefty is not going to scare anyone. When the Jays left him unprotected for last year's Rule 5 draft, no other team nabbed him. Nonplussed, he went out in 2006, and proved that his success in A ball was no fluke by continuing his run of fine pitching at double A and triple A. He throws a sneaky fastball in the high 80s-low 90s, a curve and a good change. He gets out lefties and righties well. Right-handed hitters hit .275/.305/.376 off him in 2006. He struck out 8 and walked 2 per 9 innings against righties, and made them beat the ball into the ground, as over 50% of balls in play by right-handed hitters were on the ground.


He has been used as a swingman in the minors, throwing 120-130 innings each of the last 2 years. He is likely to have a shot at a relief role on the big club in 2007, but whether that will be his limit is a matter for discussion. Time will tell.(MG)




4. Ricky Romero, LHP
Born November 6, 1984. Selected in the 1st round of the 2005 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 19 NCAA 22 22 155 8.50 0.52 2.40 7.30 3.37
2005 20 NCAA 18 18 134 6.90 0.40 2.30 9.30 2.89
2005 20 A- 1 1 2 9.00 0.00 4.50 9.00 0.00
2005 20 A+ 8 8 31 10.57 0.59 2.09 6.56 3.82
2006 21 A+ 10 10 58 7.40 0.77 2.16 9.41 2.47
2006 21 AA 12 12 67 8.68 0.93 3.47 5.48 5.08

After two innings in Auburn, Romero spent the rest of last year in Dunedin, putting up decent numbers, but nothing that made a distinct impression. This year, after taking April off, Romero made ten starts for Dunedin with strong peripherals. He was promoted to New Hampshire for July and August, where his numbers suffered and his ERA ballooned. If youíre a subscriber of the ďadjustment periodĒ theory, then Romeroís monthly splits are a good sign. He had a 7.75 ERA in July and a 2.45 ERA in August. His peripherals showed similar disparity, as he gave up more than one hit an inning in July and less than one an inning in August; he walked more than he struck out in July and his K:BB ratio was greater than 2:1 in August and he gave up 6 of his 7 homers in July.

I donít think Romeroís numbers are a huge cause for concern. The debate with Romero was never about his ability to reach the major leagues. Obviously heís not a sure thing Ė no one is Ė but he was universally considered to be the closest to a sure thing (for a non-reliever, anyway) available in the slot the Jays drafted. The debate with Romero always concerned his upside and this year didnít settle that question. Romero was good in Single-A, but not dominant. I think his monthly splits are at least as much about adjustment as they are random monthly performance, but even so, six good starts at Double-A for a 6th overall pick donít mean much.

Also, at both levels Romero recorded more flyball outs to the center fielder than to the other two outfielders combined. The only other pitcher to do that at New Hampshire was Jesse Litsch and the only one at Dunedin was Yesson Berroa, although Orlando Trias came close. I donít know what it means (probably little to nothing), but I thought it was interesting. (T)




3. Curtis Thigpen, C
Born April 19, 1983. Selected in the 2nd round of the 2004 amateur draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2004 21 NCAA 278 28 2 7 36 26 10 6 .378 .465 .568
2004 21 A- 166 11 2 7 23 32 1 1 .301 .390 .518
2005 22 A 293 18 2 5 54 34 5 0 .287 .397 .413
2005 22 AA 141 8 0 4 9 19 0 0 .284 .340 .426
2006 23 AA 309 25 5 5 52 61 5 1 .259 .370 .421
2006 23 AAA 53 3 0 1 2 9 0 1 .264 .304 .377

Curtis Thigpen has been described as a short athletic catcher, so what does that mean? Thigpen is short for a big league catcher, at 5' 10", in a league where catchers are usually over six feet tall. In many ways this isn't an issue except that so called "long time baseball experts" will doubt Thigpen's ability to last a complete season as a full time catcher. Indeed Thigpen is often profiled as a potential backup at the major league level. The benefit of being a small catcher is his athleticism, he can run and he moves well behind the plate, call him the anti-Molina.

Thigpen started the year at AA and spent four months there before being promoted to Syracuse for the last few weeks of the season. Thigpen hit .259 at AA with excellent plate discipline, 52 walks and 61 K's. The walks and doubles power (25 in 87 games) generated a .791 OPS at AA, a .370 OBP and a .421 SLG. Thigpen has a short sharp stroke and as a result hits the ball to all fields. Thigpen's defense has improved significantly and he has developed from being the backup catcher in college to being the best defensive catcher in the Eastern League according to Baseball America.

Thus far in his professional career Thigpen has shown he is a quick learner so it would be a mistake to bet against him. Thigpen will spend 2007 in AAA and potentially help the Jays in 2008.(G)




2. Travis Snider, OF
Born February 2, 1988. Selected in the 1st round of the 2006 amateur draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2006 18
R+ 194 12 1 11 30 47 6 3 .325 .412 .567

When Travis Snider came along in this yearís draft he was too good for even the most college oriented drafting team to pass up. The Blue Jays nabbed the left handed hitting slugger with the 14th selection in the draft and so far he has lived up to all the hype.

Considered by most to be the best high school hitter in the draft Snider had a good start in Pulaski. Then August came along and he started putting up video game numbers prior to a wrist injury ending his season prematurely.

Prior to 8/1: .296/.358/.464 - .822 OPS
After 8/1: .377/.494/.754 - 1.248 OPS

The questions around Snider involve his defence, with some scouts feeling that heíll eventually end up at first base. However, the Blue Jays feel heís plenty athletic to play right field and will run him out there until he shows that he canít handle it. But even if he does move from right field his bat will play anywhere.

Snider will likely start out in Lansing next season, but itís possible that his bat will force his way up the system quickly. Barring injuries, heíll reach Toronto by 2010 at the latest and be a fixture in the Blue Jaysí lineup for the next decade. (P)



1. Adam Lind, OF
Born July 17, 1983. Selected in the 3rd round of the 2004 amateur draft.

Year Age Level AB 2B 3B HR BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2004 20 NCAA 232 22 2 12 26 21 8 1 .392 .456 .659
2004 20 A- 266 23 0 7 24 36 1 0 .312 .371 .477
2005 21 A+ 495 42 4 12 49 77 2 1 .313 .375 .487
2006 22 AA 348 24 0 19 25 87 2 1 .310 .357 .543
2006 22 AAA 109 7 0 5 23 18 1 0 .394 .496 .596
2006 22 MLB 56
8
0
1
2
10
0
0
.357
.390
.554


It is an old story. Young player with sweet swing adds muscle to his frame and power to his c.v. So it was with Adam Lind in 2006. The .300 hitter with medium range power in A ball became a .300 hitter with big-time pop in the high minors. He struck out somewhat more often, but the trade-off was well worth it. He hung in well against lefties, putting up a .273/.355/.500 line against southpaws with 8 homers, 15 walks and 32 strikeouts in 132 at-bats. He may start out his major league career as a platoon player, but he should be a fine everyday major league hitter in fairly short order.

He did improve as the season went on, and put up some very impressive numbers in Syracuse. As his batting average on ground balls went from .114 in New Hampshire to .474 in Syracuse, it is probably best to take his cumulative batting line in AA/AA as his current ability.

The issue with Lind, as it was with Snider, is defence. He has below average speed, and played a season at first base in college. He may become an average defensive left-fielder in time, but his bat should be good enough to carry him at first base in the long run if need be. (MG)



Tomorrow, we look at some prospects not on our top 30 who are rising and some who are falling.

2006 Post-Season Top 30 Prospects- #10-#1 | 22 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
js_magloire - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 07:50 AM EDT (#156055) #
Great list. One question, I know there are no real rules about the age of prospects, but, I've noticed that most of these guys are a little on the older side. They start in the low minors already at around the age of 21, and it still takes them all 4-5 years to develop, so they come out quite old. Is this more risky in terms of prospect development, since they could "miss the boat," become too old prospects to be good? Is there a smaller window of opportunity for them to succeed since their time frame is less?

Just guessing, but League, Marcum, Jansen, and Mcgowan would probably go 1a, 2a, 3a, and 4a, or so?

Gerry - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 09:10 AM EDT (#156057) #
I don't believe the Jays prospects are old.  Most major leaguers reach the majors at around age 24.  Only two of the top ten are 24 or older and one of them, Francisco Rosario, lost over a year to surgery and is currently in the big leagues.  The big issue is that next year needs to be a big year for most of these guys as they are close to the major leagues and need a big year to get there.
Mike Green - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#156060) #
I really do not know where League, Marcum, Janssen and McGowan would have fit on our list.  There is usually a greater disparity in opinions about pitchers than there is about position players.  Looking at the career paths of those four, it is easy to see why.

I can say that Lind and Snider were unanimous 1 and 2 picks. Last year, many people said that there were no up-and-coming boppers in the system.  Things change pretty quickly. 

braden - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 10:31 AM EDT (#156066) #

Great job, guys.

I'm very high on Ricky Romero, however, I fear his name will always be linked to Cameron Maybin.  Even looking back on the discussions leading up to the '05 draft, most people were in support of selecting Maybin ahead of Romero so this isn't even really a 'hindsight is 20/20' discussion.  I'm not sure whether JP ever seriously considered Maybin but I get the feeling he's going to wish he had, one way or another.

Anyways, it's great to see Lind and Snider 1-2.  Hopefully someone like Fuenmayor or Y. Chavez can follow their lead and this team can finally start producing some All-Star calibre bats again.

Thomas - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 11:08 AM EDT (#156069) #
Don't forget that our minor league coverage doesn't conclude with this feature. Tomorrow we look at "Risers and Fallers" which will look at 5 players who had disappointing seasons and have their prospect stock slipping and 5 other players who missed our Top 30, but who could very easily make big gains next year. On Friday we'll conclude with an interview with Dick Scott, the farm director.

Mike D - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 11:17 AM EDT (#156070) #
Superb job by the MLU crew.  This is a great read, as always!
slitheringslider - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 11:46 AM EDT (#156074) #
I was a little surprised that Thigpen was ranked ahead of Ricky Romero. Neither had amazing seasons, and Romero is younger and has a higher upside than Thigpen.
dan gordon - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#156075) #
Interesting reading, guys.  The comment about Thigpen's size caught my eye.  You often hear baseball people talk about preferring big catchers.  Bill James did an interesting piece about that in his Abstract many years ago.  I don't remember all of the details, but I do remember that he concluded that big catchers tend to have shorter careers than smaller catchers, and lose their skills at an earlier age.  He felt that catcher was a position where it was an advantage to be small, in that your career would be longer than for a big guy.  He said that it was likely because of the wear and tear from all the squatting and bending which is harder on your knees and back if you weigh a lot.   Obviously, there are exceptions, like Carlton Fisk.
SK in NJ - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#156079) #

I think Romero's name should be linked to Maybin because it was a mistake for Ricciardi to pass up on Maybin. Romero is a solid prospect, but seemed to be a reach at #6 and doesn't present the upside or asset value that Maybin does. I've said before, pick Kazmir instead of Adams and Maybin/Pelfrey instead of Romero, and this bottom tier farm system probably jumps into the middle of the pack or better. Maybin, Kazmir, Snider, Lind, Hill, Bush, Thigpen, etc, looks about 100 times better. That isn't hindsight either, as I was very upset at not choosing Maybin and mildly surprised that JP passed up on Kazmir at the time each of those moves happened. Oh well, you can't change the past.

It's good to see some hitting develop in the system, but the pitching regressed. The system will need some rapid improvement from Romero, Purcey, and others next season.

greenfrog - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 01:42 PM EDT (#156081) #
Did Brandon Magee (4th round pick, the second player selected by the Jays in the 2006 draft) get any consideration? He had a nice debut in Lansing (52.1 IP, 51 H, 19 BB, 40 K, 1 HR, 3.10 ERA). I would think the Jays would prefer having him to at least a few others on your list.

Here is BA's scouting report on Magee following the draft (anyone have anything more recent?): "One of the more attractive senior signs in the 2006 draft, Magee could have gone in the eighth to 12th round a year ago if scouts had had a better feel for his signability. The extra year has helped him. He has gotten stronger and his stuff has improved. His fastball is up a tick to 89-94 mph with good life down in the zone and his slider is up to 81-84 mph with increased bite. He's commanding his pitches better as well. Magee also employs a changeup, and on his best days all three of his pitches will be average or better. He's just five strikeouts short of Bradley's career record of 262, which has stood since 1957. Magee's long, lean 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame continues to draw comparisons to Matt Clement's, though scouts don't care for his maximum-effort delivery. He's one of the oldest players in the draft, as he'll turn 23 in late July. A team looking for a senior discount without sacrificing much in the way of talent could take him as early as the fourth or fifth round."
greenfrog - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#156083) #
On your top 30 list, that is. I wouldn't argue that he belongs in the top 10.
greenfrog - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#156085) #
Sorry, Magee debuted at Auburn, not Lansing.
MatO - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#156092) #

It's hard enough to rank players so I won't argue about the list.

Can we wait until Maybin is actually a lot closer to being a star before declaring him one?  This guy was arguably a better prospect than Maybin at the same age.

http://thebaseballcube.com/players/C/Sil-Campusano.shtml

The Jays considered Pelfrey to be a better prospect than Romero but Boras was a problem.

Kazmir was passed over by a lot of teams due to signability issues.  Also there have been concerns about Kazmir's delivery as an arm injury waiting to happen.  This year he's been on the DL a couple of times before being shut down for the last month due to arm problems.

Wildrose - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 06:58 PM EDT (#156123) #
Did Romero have some injury issues this year clouding his development?
Gerry - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 08:06 PM EDT (#156126) #

Romero was injured the first month of the season, his first start was May 6th.  Once he began pitching he was OK the rest of the way.

CeeBee - Wednesday, September 27 2006 @ 08:29 PM EDT (#156127) #

Great work on the prospect lists, guys. I really look forward to features like this and once again you have all done a bang-up job. :)

2006 Post-Season Top 30 Prospects- #10-#1 | 22 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.