Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Not all prospects worth following can be found on our top 30 list. Some are rising, and others, once noteworthy, have to work to get it back. We have chosen five of each.

Rising Prospects

Matt Liuzza, C
Born February 3, 1984. Selected in the 19th round of the 2006 amateur draft.

2004 20 NCAA 229 14 0 9 23 36 0 0 .328 .391 .507
2005 21 NCAA 171 10 0 3 19 36 0 0 .251 .326 .363
2006 22 A- 194 14 1 6 16 56 0 0 .268 .333 .443

Liuzza was a 19th round draft pick this June and was assigned to Auburn. He was considered to be a solid defensive catcher, with a slightly above average arm, but there were questions about his ability to hit. Liuzza began to answer those questions in the affirmative this summer, as can be seen from the stat line above. He picked up steam as the season wore on, putting up a nice .306/.360/.536 line after the NYPL All-Star game and earned the cleanup spot during the playoffs. He still must work on his strike zone control at higher levels, and will start 2007 in either Lansing or Dunedin. Brian Jeroloman, the 21 year old chosen by the Jays in the sixth round of the 2006 draft, will likely hold down the catcher spot for the other full-season A ball affiliate.(MG)

Balbino Fuenmayor, 3B

The Jays don't often make a splash with international signings, but did so this summer when they signed the 16 year old Venezuelan in August for $725,000 (US).

The 6-3, 190 lb third baseman best tool at this point is his bat. One scouting director compared Fuenmayor to a 'thicker version of Chipper Jones' in a Baseball America article while an international scouting director compared Fuenmayor to Kendry Morales. At this point you're not going to see a lot of power but given his size and age you'd expect it to develop. With the glove Fuenmayor reportedly has soft hands, but an erratic arm. Given his tools expect Fuenmayor to climb the top 30 list over the next few years. (P)

Chase Lirette, RHP
Born June 9, 1985. Selected in the 16th round of the 2006 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 19 NCAA 21 8 74 9.44 0.00 2.78 7.14 4.84
2005 20 NCAA 21 6 54 11.68 0.00 2.14 5.26 5.60
2006 21 NCAA 36 0 40 8.70 0.22 1.78 10.04 2.90
2006 21 A- 10 6 40 7.14 0.22 1.56 8.25 2.23

This 16th-rounder out of South Florida -- not to mention another Cape Cod League graduate -- had a terrific debut season with the Doubledays, highlighted by an 8-strikeout performance against Batavia. And he only gave up two homers all year -- one in college, one with Auburn. Also, Lirette was one of a few players singled out by not only Auburn manager Dennis Holmberg for his performance at the end of the year, but also Dick Scott, the Director of Player Development. I'd say that's a pretty good endorsement. (R)

Mike MacDonald, RHP
Born October 29, 1981. Selected in the 15th round of the 2004 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 22 NCAA 15 13 92 8.35 0.00 2.62 8.83 3.11
2004 22 A- 8 8 46 5.82 0.38 1.16 5.82 1.55
2004 22 A 7 6 32 7.98 0.55 2.47 6.33 1.93
2005 23 A+ 25 23 127 9.61 0.28 2.82 6.14 4.24
2006 24 AA 28 28 171 9.45 0.47 1.94 5.41 3.94

Breaking the trend of 2006 draftees/signees on the “Rising” list is Michael MacDonald. Some may ask why Macdonald rates behind David Purcey and Ismael Ramirez, among others, who also pitched at New Hampshire without noticeably better stats. The answer is that MacDonald doesn’t have the high end potential they have, which one can see from his age and strikeout totals. However, MacDonald’s pitched at four levels in three years and has produced solid, if unspectacular, numbers at each stop. This year MacDonald dropped his BB/9 rate by almost a walk, which was a crucial step forward for the 24-year-old.

It’s tough to survive in the majors with a K/9 ratio under 5 and MacDonald’s ratio will likely fall as he faces tougher competition. But, one need only to look in the AL East to see a pitcher who not only survives, but is successful with few strikeouts. Chien-Ming Wang uses his sinker, and sometimes his slider or four-seamer, to induce groundballs, which is how he manages to be so successful with a K/9 ratio of about 3. Wang’s a rarity with his GB/FB ratio of 3, but he proves it is possible to succeed with miniscule strikeout totals. MacDonald’s a groundball pitcher with a 2.26 GB/FB ratio, so that is a good sign. The difference between MacDonald becoming a major leaguer as opposed to someone who bounces around in the high minors for several years is whether he can further refine his sinking pitches or improve his strikeout totals (or at least keep them steady) upon his promotion to Triple-A. (T)

Brandon Magee, RHP
Born July 26, 1983. Selected in the 4th round of the 2006 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 20 NCAA 15 10 69 11.6 0.78 4.04 6.78 6.00
2005 21 NCAA 16 14 103 9.28 0.52 2.77 6.77 4.43
2006 22 NCAA 14 14 105 9.34 0.51 2.40 8.65 2.66
2006 22 A- 11 11 52 8.77 0.17 3.26 6.87 3.10

Brandon Magee was picked by the Jays in the fourth round of this years draft. Magee reported to Auburn after the draft and made eleven starts and also started game one of the playoffs. Magee held batters to a .254 average with 51 hits allowed in 52.1 innings. Magee allowed only one home run. Magee is tall and thin and features a mid-90's fastball, a slider and a change. Magee has the tools to be a major league pitcher, his first full season in 2007 will be interesting to follow. (G)

Falling Prospects

Brian Pettway, OF
Born July 29, 1983. Selected in the 3rd round of the 2005 amateur draft.

2004 20 NCAA 203 11 0 6 23 29 0 0 .305 .373 .448
2005 21 NCAA 261 19 0 21 35 47 1 1 .387 .458 .701
2005 21 A- 200 10 2 6 16 66 0 1 .225 .288 .385
2006 22 A 452 31 6 16 39 145 1 5 .246 .320 .447

A 3rd round draft pick in 2005 Pettway has struggled adjusting to the pro game. While he's still hitting for decent power (ISO Slg of .201) he's striking out way too much - 32% of his ABs in Lansing.

Left handers have been especially tough for Pettway. His OPS against LHPs this year was an ugly .553, while his OPS against RHPs was .824, helped in part by his Reed Johnson-like ability to take one for the team - 13 HBP in 2006. (P)

John-Ford Griffin, OF
Born November 19, 1979. Acquired in a January 2003 trade with the Oakland Athletics.

2004 24 AA 467 28 1 22 56 128 1 1 .248 .330 .454
2005 25 AAA 512 21 1 30 62 140 1 2 .254 .335 .475
2006 26 AAA 227 19 0 6 19 59 2 0 .225 .289 .388

JFG hit .225/.289/.388 before getting hurt on July 15 when he dove to make a catch on the terrible turf in Syracuse. Yes, it's unfortunate, but the power he showed in 2005 -- 30 HR, .221 ISO -- was nowhere to be found this year. I don't think there's much debate over this one.

And if you're curious about Jason Arnold, he went on the voluntary retired list after his last appearance on May 21. (R)

John Hattig, 3B
Born February 27, 1980. Acquired in a July 2004 trade with the Boston Red Sox.

2004 24 AA 142 7 0 10 12 41 0 1 .296 .352 .556
2004 24 AA 264 21 1 12 47 68 3 3 .295 .411 .519
2005 25 A+ 44 3 0 0 3 7 0 0 .386 .417 .455
2005 25 AAA 95 7 0 1 10 16 0 0 .316 .387 .421
2006 26 AAA 373 30 1 4 32 108 0 1 .276 .338 .394
2006 26 MLB 19



Admittedly, Hattig is probably the least deserving of a "Falling" tag of these players. After all, the Jays only offered September callups to two prospects. Our #1 is one of them; Hattig is the other. So you may wonder why we have him on the list, considering the hot start to his major league career. Well, it's mostly because of those 373 other AB he had this year.

A .732 OPS from a 26 year old in Triple-A is hardly "hitting prospect" material. Considering what he's done in the past, 2006 is a relative disappointment. He struck out more often than he ever has, didn't hit lefties at all, the only month in which he hit .300 featured a .560 (!) batting average on balls in play and he failed to slug .400. When Luis Figueroa hits more home runs than you do, it doesn't bode well for your future. I still like Hattig, I still love the Terry Adams trade, but time is running out. (R)

Ryan Houston, RHP
Born September 22, 1979. Selected in the 31st round of the 1998 amateur draft.

Year Age Level G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2004 24 AA 34 8 97 8.57 1.19 4.60 9.39 4.33
2005 25 AA 33 1 40 5.80 0.66 2.90 11.15 2.68
2006 26 AA 5 0 6 8.10 1.35 2.70 14.85 2.70
2006 26 AAA 46 0 66 9.27 0.27 5.18 9.27 3.68

At the end of last year Ryan Houston was put onto the 40-man roster ahead of names like Jamie Vermilyea, Davis Romero and Robinzon Diaz. This was probably partially due to his strong year in New Hampshire and partially due to the fact that the front office likely felt Houston would be more likely to be selected than some of the other names, as he could make the jump to the big leagues more easily than others. This proved to be an accurate assessment as Vermilyea was selected, but was returned to Toronto when Boston felt he couldn't stick in their bullpen.

Houston, 26, spent all but 5 of his innings in Syracuse this year. The team likely hoped he could refine his breaking stuff and make strides towards becoming a valuable right-handed middle reliever. In a mid-season interview pitching coach Rick Langford said, "We are working on getting him over the top to get a good tilt on his fastball, more of a downward plane. He needs a more consistent breaking ball, sometimes it stays up, again it's just a matter of consistency." Houston 's fastball has been clocked at 95-mph and a sharp, reliable breaking ball would make him a candidate to become an MLB set-up man.

However, Houston didn't make the stride forward this year. He had a more difficult time at Triple-A, allowing just over a hit an inning and although he struck out 59 in his 55 frames, he also allowed 32 walks. Another troubling stat is that he allowed 10 unearned runs, giving him an Runs Against Average of 5.24. With 40-man roster space always at a premium in the offseason, I would be very surprised if he isn't removed before the Rule-V draft. Houston has a fairly good chance of making the big leagues at some point in his career, but it might well be with another organization. (T)

Sergio Santos, SS
Born July 4, 1983.Acquired in a December 2005 trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

2004 20 AA 347 19 5 11 24 89 3 2 .282 .332 .461
2005 21 AAA 490 21 3 12 34 108 2 2 .239 .288 .367
2006 22 AAA 481 24 1 5 24 96 1 2 .214 .252 .299

Sergio Santos came to the Jays in the Glaus/Hudson/Batista trade. Santos had been a minor league star in the Diamondbacks system until he hit AAA in the Pacific Coast League as a 22 year old in 2005. The Jays put him back in AAA, this time in the International League, in 2006 but the results were no better, even allowing for the less favourable hitting environment in the IL. Santos' batting average declined 25 points, his OBP went down by 34 points and his slugging was down by 68 points. In addition Santos struck out 96 times in 481 at-bats. Santos is prey to the slider away. Finally Santos made 27 errors at Syracuse and could move off shortstop to third base next season with Manny Mayorson probably moving up to AAA. (G)

The Depth Chart below shows the probable destinations for the top 30 prospects at the beginning of next season.

PosAAA-SyracuseAA-New HampshireHigh A-DunedinLow A-Lansing
SPJosh BanksEric FowlerChi-Hung ChengKyle Ginley
SPTy TaubenheimDavid PurceyBilly CarnlineShane Benson
SPIsmael RamirezKyle Yates

Ricky Romero

Jesse Litsch

RPJamie Vermilyea
Paul Phillips
RPDavis Romero
Po-Hsuan Keng
RPTracy Thorpe

CCurtis ThigpenRobinzon Diaz

1BChip Cannon
Joey Metropoulos
2BRyan Roberts
Anthony Hatch
Ryan Klosterman


Ryan Patterson

LFAdam Lind

Dustin Majewski
Travis Snider


Notes: Francisco Rosario is out of option years.

Yohermyn Chavez will start the year in Auburn.

Tomorrow, Gerry has a feature interview with Blue Jay Director of Player Development Dick Scott to complete our 2006 minor league coverage.

2006 Rising and Falling Prospects | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
MatO - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#156156) #
To be fair to JFG it was reported that he tried to play through an arm injury early in the season and struggled badly.  Eventually he went on the DL in May and got hurt again when he came back.  Basically a lost season for him.
flbball - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#156159) #

Great job all.

A few Qs though.  What do you all project will be done by way of the 40 man roster and Rule 5 eligibles?  I know there is to be a post on this issue closer to Rule 5 time, but I am curious as to your thoughts.

Also, I've been big on Orlando Trias all year, having seen him pitch (in the US and Venezuela).  How did he shake out in any analysis?

Finally, I am sure it was asked of Dick Scott, but what is the official "line" on constricting number of minor clubs, and how it is suspected that it will impact player development?

Pistol - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 11:14 AM EDT (#156162) #

I suspect that Mike Green will have a Rule 5 article up at some point in October looking at the Jays roster. 

Gerry interviewed Dick Scott last week.  The interview will run tomorrow and addresses the Jays dropping Pulaski among many other things.

braden - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#156163) #

Adam Lind was named one of the three OFs for Baseball America's First Team Minor League All-Stars.  He's in some nice company with Hunter Pence and Jay Bruce.

Etobicoke's own Joey Votto was the 'starting' 1B.


PeterG - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#156164) #
I too am surprised at the absence of Trias on the propsect lists and look forward to an explanation as to why he was not.
Jordan - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 12:07 PM EDT (#156165) #

Given his tools expect Fuenmayor to climb the top 30 list over the next few years.

Now you've jinxed him! You've brought on the infamous Curse of the Balbino.

Lucky - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 02:47 PM EDT (#156172) #

Having seen Diaz play numerous times, I don't see how or why he made your list.  Pitchers don't like the way he calls a game, he has no power, just slaps at the ball, and had probably the most passed balls in the Florida Statea League in 2005.

I am not sure about Cannon either.   Yes, he has power, but not much of anything else.  Why do you rate power with so may strikeouts so high for some players and not others? 

One player I have watched play that I do agree with being on the list is Manny Mayorson.  He really is much better defensively at short than Klosterman---much better range and jumps on the ball. 

Does Dick Scott or any of the other Blue Jays have any input into your opinions of the players?

Pistol - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 03:31 PM EDT (#156174) #

Does Dick Scott or any of the other Blue Jays have any input into your opinions of the players?

Nope - the top 30 list was totally independent. 

Pistol - Thursday, September 28 2006 @ 03:35 PM EDT (#156175) #
Trias had a K rate of about 5 in Dunedin with an average GB/FB ratio.  That's tough to overcome at higher levels.
2006 Rising and Falling Prospects | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.