Blue Jays 2022 Top Prospects, #31's and Notes

Thursday, January 12 2023 @ 07:00 AM EST

Contributed by: Gerry

The Blue Jays have a lot of players who could have made the back end of the top 30 list. It was hard to pick who should be in the 27 to 30 range and who just missed. I mentioned at the start that eleven players were dropped from the top 30. They are Adam Kloffenstein, Manuel Beltre, Miguel Hiraldo, Rikelbin De Castro, Victor Mesia, Chad Dallas, Joey Murray, Eric Pardinho, Chavez Young, Luis Quinones and Trent Palmer. Some of the pitchers dropped off due to injuries, they have a chance to rebound. There are a number of international signees on this list who didn't progress in 2022 but many of them are still young and will be hoping for a rebound in 2023.

International Signings

Before we get to the 31's I wanted to look back at some of the Jays international signings. Andrew Tinnish has received plaudits for some of the Jays signings such as Vlad Jr and Alejandro Kirk. Gabriel Moreno would also fit in that category. The Jays went over the cap to sign Vlad Jr in 2015 and as a result their budget was restricted in 2016. But I wanted to look at the subsequent years.

Eric Pardinho was the top signing in 2017. He has pitched well but injuries have derailed his career. Leonardo Jimenez was another top pick with the same result, injuries have been a problem. Miguel Hiraldo seems to have hit a road block on his way up the ladder. Alejandro Melean is still in the system. The best player could be one of the least acclaimed, Rainer Nunez who made this years top 30 list.

2018's top signings were Orelvis Martinez and Gabriel Martinez.

In 2019 the Jays top signings were Rikelbin De Castro, Estivan Machado and Victor Mesia. Less heralded signings included Robert Robertis and Dahian Santos.

The only 2020 signing to have registered so far is Manuel Beltre who has been a disappointment early in his career.

Luis Meza was the top signing in 2021, he did not have aa good 2022 season.

In summary, the Jays hit the ball out of the park in the mid 2010's. But signings over the last couple of years have been more mixed. The player with the biggest bonus is the equivalent of the number one pick. You would expect those top signings to make it to AA or AAA at least. But Hiraldo, Beltre, Machado and De Castro have not yet lived up to expectations. Signings out of Latin America are heavily dependent on relationships and local personnel. I am not sure if anything has changed with these for the Blue Jays.

Gabriel Moreno

And because it was written before the trade, here is a summary of Gabriel Moreno.

When you are a number one prospect, every aspect of your game is under scrutiny. Number one prospects need to be excellent on offense but also good defensively. Gabriel Moreno hit .315 this year in Buffalo having hit .373 the previous year in New Hampshire. He then hit .319 in his short major league stint. That is a good track record for his offense. His defense behind the plate is also very good, he is very athletic and receives well. But as a number one catcher prospect every aspect of your game needs to be excellent and for Moreno there are questions around his power and game calling, and those questions are still unanswered.

Catchers in the major leagues have unique requirements. They often struggle to add offense as game calling and defence are the primary focus areas. That is the first gate Moreno has to pass through. Moreno's defence behind the plate passed all tests in 2022. He receives well, he is an excellent thrower and moves well to block pitches. However, in a small sample, pitchers ERA was higher with Moreno behind the plate. Experts are divided as to whether this means anything as there is a lot of variation in the effect from year to year. Even so, Moreno will look at 2022 as a learning experience and can work on improving in 2023.

The only negative in Moreno's offensive game is a lack of power. Moreno has a flattish swing and can shoot balls to all fields. But he doesn't get much loft and was limited to three home runs in a half season in Buffalo. He should tap into more power as he gets older but ten to fifteen home runs seems to be his upper limit. On the other hand Moreno runs well for a catcher and will get plenty of doubles and possibly the occasional triple.

Moreno should be in Toronto all season but, if the Jays don't trade a catcher, and want to play with his free agency, he could be sent back to Buffalo.

The 31's

So here are the 31's, all of whom are worth watching in 2023.

The 31's

Brandon Eisert was an 18th round selection in 2019 out of Oregon State. The 6'2" lefty did not pitch in 2019 and missed 2020 due to Covid. Eisert breezed through three levels in 2021 and was assigned to Buffalo to start 2022.

Eisert had a very consistent 2022. He pitched 10.2 innings in April, June, July and September and 10.1 in August. His WHIP went from a high of 1.41 in July to a low of 0.84 in September. For the season his WHIP was 1.14. Eisert doesn't walk too many, his BB/9 was 2.23. Eisert would pitch mainly full innings, with sometimes up to two innings, meaning he wasn't pitching like a LOOGY, he faced whoever was up. He struck out 11.4 per nine innings.

Eisert doesn't have the fastball velocity that you usually find in today's bullpens as his fastball is in the low 90's. However he sets up with his front foot and body angled towards first base so he hides the ball well and then delivers from a low 5/8ths slot. That deception helps his fastball play up. He also throws a slider and curve. Eisert is a case of results versus tools. Eisert might not have the tools that scouts like to see but he gets results. Eisert is not on the 40 man roster and sits behind Tim Mayza and Matt Gage on the depth chart. He should return to Buffalo for 2023.

Trenton Wallace is a left handed pitcher who was an 11th round pick last year. He started the season in Dunedin where he had a 1.11 ERA in 11 games. That got him on a plane to Vancouver. Initially Wallace had a walk problem. Over his first five starts he threw 17.2 innings and walked 24 hitters. Yikes! But then he started to figure it out. His numbers for his last four starts were 21.2 IP; 12 hits; 7 walks; 30 strikeouts. This is a small sample size but if he maintains that end of season form he should be in New Hampshire before mid season.

Luis Quinones dropped off the list from 2021. He had a typical Quinones season, once he returned from a drug related suspension. In 71 innings in AA he kept the hits per nine low, at 7.0. He racks up the K's, 11.5 per nine thanks in part to an excellent curveball. But his Achilles heel has always been his walk rate, 6.3 per nine innings. If he could reduce the walks he would have a shot.

Cooper Benson was selected in the 17th round of the 2021 draft. He is a left handed pitcher who pitched in seven games for Dunedin, mostly starts. He pitched well there with a 2.45 ERA and 12.3 K's per nine. Benson had the fifth best K% in the system behind Frasso, Tiedemann, Santos and Burnette. That's good company. You always need to keep an eye on the lefties as they could end up as major league relievers down the road.

Chad Dallas was a fourth round selection in 2021 and made 21 starts for Vancouver. It was a disappointing season for Dallas. He walked too many, 5.2 per nine and didn't strike out enough, 8.8 per nine. Precedent says he should be in AA for 2023 but he could find it tough going there.

Jimmy Burnette was taken one round after Cooper Benson in 2021 and like Benson he is a left handed pitcher. Burnette is more advanced in the system than Benson, he started 2022 in Vancouver and moved up to New Hampshire. In Vancouver, Burnette struck out 18 per nine innings and in NH 13.5 per nine. His challenge is walks, he walked six per nine innings in AA. Get those walks under control and he could be in line for a call up.

Robert Robertis is a 19 year old left handed hitting outfielder who had 107 at-bats in the FCL where he hit .290 with a 755 OPS. He did not hit a home run. Robertis was called up to New Hampshire as an emergency fill in for the last week of the season. In five games there he hit .294 and he hit two home runs. He then hit .385 with a home run in seven games in the Venezuelan Winter League. This could all be a small sample size illusion, or did he find something in his swing? He bears watching in 2023 to find out which.

The Jays 3rd round pick in 2022 was Alan Roden. He had a slow start for Dunedin with a .685 OPS but he will be given more time to be evaluated. In the playoffs he batted .294 with an .808 OPS.

Peyton Williams is a large man, 6' 5" and 255 pounds. He is a first baseman or a DH so he needs big offensive numbers. The regular season was average, a .715 OPS but he exploded in the playoffs hitting .353 with a .900 OPS. As with all the 2022 draftees, 2023 is when we will get a true measure of their potential.

Mason Fluharty is another lefty pitcher like Benson and Burnette. Fluharty was a reliever in college and continued that with Vancouver. Fluharty struck out 12.3 per nine in 15 innings.

Roque Salinas is a 19 year old Mexican outfielder. He played for Dunedin in 2022, his first pro season. His OPS by month was .200; .604; .603; 713; .829; and 1.286. That's good growth and he is also hard to strike out. He is one for the Vancouver fans to watch in 2023.

Manuel Beltre was a top signing of the Jays out of the Dominican Republic. He did not hit all that well in 2022, just .234 in the FCL. BA also noted that his exit velocities were not great. But he is still young, just 18 years old, and 2022 might have been a wake up call for him. He should be in Dunedin for 2023 and could reestablish himself as a top prospect.

Devonte Brown was undrafted out of NC State where he was a .300 hitter in 2022. He stayed a .300 hitter in 78 at-bats in Dunedin. He also walked more than he struck out and ended the year with the best wRC+ in the system.

The End

That's your prospect coverage for now. If you need more you can visit #2JBrumfield/Niall O'Donohoe's site C's Plus baseball for a season in review as well as interviews with C's players. Join us again in April for some game coverage.