The top 30 is complete for another year. Here are some notes on those who are on, and who missed, the list.
The next five were Will Robertson, Anthony Alford, Zach Jackson, Chavez Young and Logan Warmoth. Alford, Young and Warmoth were on the 2018 top 30 but dropped off due to poor years. Alford's trials are well known. Through a combination of bad luck, injuries and inconsistent performance, Alford has not lived up to his potential. Young had an average year in Dunedin following a break out season in Lansing in 2018. His average was just .247, his strikeouts were up, his walk rate was down and he didn't show enough to retain his spot on the list. Warmoth went back to Dunedin to start 2019 and hit much better than he had in 2018. That earned him a mid-season promotion to New Hampshire where he didn't hit. In the AFL he did OK and played in a variety of infield and outfield positions but not enough to keep his top 30 ranking.
One the up are Will Robertson and Zach Jackson. Robertson was a fourth round pick of the Jays who at the time of the draft was reported to have a college swing that needed to be adjusted for pro ball. I don't know if the Jays did change his swing but he did pick up his performance after a slow start. Robertson was hitting under .200 on July 11th but his much better from there, ending with a .268 average. Jackson throws hard, in fact 2019 was his first season where his K/9 was not in double figures. Pitching for Buffalo, Jackson had a K/9 of exactly 9. Jackson's issue is his walk rate. He had a good year for walks in 2019, lowering his BB/9 to 4.50. That is still too high for the big leagues, although it is in Sean Reid-Foley territory. Because Jackson didn't know where the pitch was going he was also victimized by the home run ball. He conceded ten in 68 innings.
Others who missed include Julian Merryweather who remains a mystery and injury prone. With two years since his Tommy John surgery, his 2020 might show the real Merryweather. Jordan Romano is another pitcher who had his ups and downs, in his case at the major league level. Forrest Wall hits OK, but just not quite well enough to get attention. Tanner Morris was drafted in the round after Robertson and while 2019 was not great for him, there is the expectation he will hit better in 2020. One of the biggest risers in 2019, but not to the top 30, was Jackson Rees. Rees had ERA's under one in both Lansing and Dunedin. He teh went to the fall league where he held his own against higher level hitters. Rees is already 25 but he could jump a couple more levels in 2020.
Six players dropped off the list. They include Alford (#12); Young (#18); Romano (#19) and Warmoth (#30). These four were discussed briefly above as having just missed. The other two were Hagen Danner (#26) and Ryan Noda (#27). Danner showed some pop in Lansing, more than half of his hits were for extra bases but his batting average of .170 was disappointing. He also struck out more than 35% of the time. Noda was promoted to Dunedin for 2019 and his numbers all dropped. However his performance level was above average with a 138 wRC+. As a player with little defensive value, Noda needs to hit well above average to be a prospect. He has hit well but the 29% strikeout rate and the defense make him a fringe prospect and leaves him outside the 2019 list.
With so many graduates, there are fewer repeat members of the top 30 so there are fewer risers and fallers. The biggest jump in the list belongs to Miguel Hiraldo who jumped from 29th to 8th. Orelvis Martinez jumped from 15 to 5. Because the minor league crew here on Da Box relies on game reports and player interviews, international free agents, who haven't played or player much, tend to be downgraded in our list. It's only when they make their way to North America that they tend to get recognized. The jumps of Hiraldo and Martinez are reflective of this.
The biggest drops are Kevin Smith, from 5 to 30, and Hector Perez, from 11 to 29. Both are just barely hanging on.
Two players from the bottom half of the 2018 list made the major leagues. Billy McKinney was our #16 prospect last year and Travis Bergen was #21. Both had mixed results in the major leagues.
There were sixteen new players on the 2019 top 30. If we remove the newly drafted and the traded for, there were ten players who did not make the list in 2018 but did this year. Some just missed last year. They include Gabriel Moreno (#31); Alejandro Kirk (#32); Otto Lopez (#34); Leonardo Jimenez (#35); Santiago Espinal (#36); and Josh Winkowski (#38). Four players made the list who did not get a vote last season. They are Joey Murray who was a 2019 surprise. Yennsy Diaz who the Jays front office liked better than our voters. Maximo Castillo has still gets no respect and Josh Palacios who has been up and down in his pro career.
Most of the top 30 prospects can be placed for 2020 without much concern. The biggest logjam seems to be starting pitchers at the AAA level. Injuries often claim a starter or two but as of today there will be several starters from 2019 who will be headed to Buffalo to start 2020. The Jays have signed, or traded for, four starting pitchers. If we add Matt Shoemaker we have a rotation of him, Ryu, Roark, Anderson and Yamaguchi. That leaves no spot for the other 2019 starters. Therefore the following could be headed to Buffalo, Trent Thornton, Jacob Waguespack, Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley and Thomas Pannone. That's a full rotation. So where do we put Nate Pearson, Anthony Kay, TJ Zeuch, Thomas Hatch, Yennsy Diaz or Patrick Murphy? Some of these pitchers could convert to the bullpen, but this needs a serious sorting out come the spring.
Lansing could also see some battles for spots. At catcher who gets selected? Philip Clarke and Ryan Sloniger claimed a spot with their 2019 performances. Hagen Danner was there in 2019 and didn't really earn a promotion. Brett Wright will also be wanting a spot. Between second, third and short we have Miguel Hiraldo, Leonardo Jimenez and Jordan Groshans. That means Orelvis Martinez stays in extended spring training. But where do Trevor Schwecke, Ronny Brito, Luis De Los Santos, Tanner Morris, Davis Schneider, Angel Comacho or Addison Barger go? I have thrown the kitchen sink in there and not all of them deserve a trip to Lansing but Schwecke and Morris do. They might be able to squeeze them in.
That finishes our top 30 coverage for this year. It was later than normal but worth the wiat I hope. We are always trying to understand what minor league coverage works best for minor league fans. If you have any suggestions please let us know. We can always use an extra pair of hands, or fingers, so if you would like to be a contrubutor to our minor league coverage you can send an email to roster at battersbox dot ca or let us know in the comments.