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The middle 10 of our top 30 prospects is a real mix of players, from newly drafted pitchers to several players in AAA.

20. Cade Doughty | OF

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2023 22 VAN 375

Cade Doughty did not quite match the pace of his promising pro debut in 2022 but still managed to put in a solid season as one of the offensive leaders of the 2023 Northwest League champion Vancouver Canadians in his first full season as a pro.

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native brought some impressive credentials to the table before turning pro. Doughty batted .505 in his senior season at Denham Springs High School to go along with a 1.17 earned run average. He was named the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year and received 2019 Collegiate Baseball All-American honours.

Doughty could have turned pro then and there was some thought he could have been drafted in the first three rounds of the 2019 MLB Draft. Instead, he fell to the 39th round to the Detroit Tigers because of his strong commitment to some tigers of a different stripe, the Louisiana State University Tigers. Cade opted to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Frank Doughty (basketball, 1937), his father Richard (1989) and his brother Braden (2020) who were catchers. Cade and Braden were teammates at LSU in 2020 before the season was shortened by COVID.

In 2021, Doughty hit .308 and slugged .546 with 13 homers. During the NCAA Tournament, he hit .346 and helped LSU get past the Oregon Ducks—and future C's teammate Josh Kasevich—to capture the Eugene Regional. Doughty would homer off future C's teammate Chad Dallas but Dallas got the last laugh by striking out 12 LSU Tigers over six innings to get the win.

After playing mostly third base with 51 starts for LSU in 2021, Doughty would make the same amount of starts at second in 2022. He went on to slug 15 homers while batting .298/.393/.567. He missed the SEC Tournament with a left shoulder injury but hit .444 with three home runs in the Hattiesburg Regional.

Blue Jays scout Chris Curtis recommended the selection of Doughty with the 78th pick in the supplemental second round by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2022 MLB Draft. The Jays got that draft pick as compensation for lefty Robbie Ray signing with Seattle as a free-agent deal. After getting a signing bonus of over $830,000, Doughty started his career with a 10-game hitting streak and a 17-game on-base streak. He helped lead the charge in Dunedin's run to the postseason by batting .381 for the D-Jays, including a home run in Game 1 of the Florida State League final against St. Lucie on September 18.

Baseball America tabbed Doughty as the best pure hitter with the best pro debut among Toronto's 2022 draft picks, citing Doughty "was 47% better than the average Florida State League hitter in his 26-game stint and he impressed with solid on-base skills, solid power and the ability to handle both second and third base."

Speaking to C's Plus Baseball early in the 2023 season, the right-handed hitting Doughty said his goal in the batter's box was to use the opposite field more.

"It's kind of just reopening the right side of the field for me, you know. Getting those 'oppo' line drives, 'oppo' doubles and whatnot because last year sometimes I could just focus on pulling the ball. So if I can open up the right side of the field, I think I can be a much more efficient hitter."

According to FanGraphs, Doughty went to the opposite field over 25 percent of the time in 2023, an increase of five percent from his short time in Dunedin in 2022. He pulled the ball a bit more at nearly 51 percent but did not go up the middle as much as that dropped from 32 percent to nearly 24 percent.

Doughty's walk rate held steady at just over eight percent but he struck out nearly 30 percent of the time, a hike of almost five percent from his time in the Florida State League. He turned in a BABIP rate of .346 with Vancouver which is a 22-point increase from 2022. On the positive side, Doughty finished just five points shy of a .200 ISO mark and FanGraphs points out his home run/fly ball rate was 18.8, tied with Orelvis Martinez for the best mark in the Jays system.

He slugged .512 in April but his batting average sank to as low as .176 before heating up over the summer months that included a .299/.392/.567 in July. In the Northwest League final, Doughty batted .333 but had some troubles with the glove. After committing six errors in 53 starts at the hot corner, he had four miscues in the playoffs with three coming on throws.

Doughty made 31 starts at second base for the C's in 2023 and some observers feel the keystone may be his better position moving forward, much like former LSU Tiger and Toronto Blue Jay Aaron Hill who Doughty has been compared to.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Doughty should start 2024 in Double-A New Hampshire. He will be 23 years old on March 26.

19. Hagen Danner | RHP

Photo from Instagram @hagyd

Year Age Team G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
2 0 2.0 4.5 0.0 9.0 22.5 4.50
2023 24 NH 8 0 9.0 9.0 0.0 2.0 16.0 5.00
2023 24 BUF 23 1 28.1 6.4 2.5 2.2 11.1 3.81
2023 24 TOR 1 0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.00

Hagen Danner had another disrupted season, one in which he threw 40 innings. After missing most of the season in 2022, Danner started 2023 on the IL. He came off the IL at the end of April, spent May in New Hampshire and moved to Buffalo on May 31. He had two good months in Buffalo that earned him a promotion to the Blue Jays where he pitched in one game then went on the IL with an oblique injury through the end of the season.

Danner was a catcher in the Blue Jays system from 2017 through 2019. Having failed to hit, he switched to pitching and had an excellent season in Vancouver in 2021 before missing most of 2022. It is tough on the body to transition to a pitcher from being a hitter, while the throwing seems similar, some of the muscles used are different and pitching puts different stresses on the body.

In 2023 Danner had a 3.00 ERA in NH and had 16 K's in nine innings. On May 30th Danner was promoted to Buffalo. After two appearances in Buffalo Danner had a 15.43 ERA, but he improved from there and in July he had a 0.87 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and ten K's in 10 innings. He then struck out ten hitters in five August innings leading to his promotion. Danner finished the year with 12.8 K/9, and a 36% strikeout percentage, one of the highest in the system, behind other pitchers in the top 30 such as RickyTiedemann, TJ Brock and Connor Cooke. Danner's only blip was his 1.8 HR/9 rate.

Danner throws an upper-90s fastball and a slider. In his one MLB appearance, he averaged 96 mph on his fastball and topped at 97.1. He mixed his fastball with his slider, but it was just seven major league pitches. Danner's fastball tends to be a bit straight which could account for his home run issue. His slider drops straight down which has some observers thinking is a curveball. Depending on what the Jays do with their bullpen in the off-season, Danner will be in the mix with Cooke, Zulueta, Pearson and Pop for a bullpen job on the major league team. Failing that he will be back in Buffalo.

18. Josh Kasevich | SS

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Josh Kasevich starred at his local California High School in Palo Alto as a two-way player, batting .398 and .408 in his junior and senior seasons of 2018 and 2019 and winning fix of six decisions with a 0.52 earned run average and 48 strikeouts over 40 innings as a senior. Even though he was ranked the 33rd-best player in the nation and the fourth-best high schooler from California, Kasevich went undrafted in 2019.

Instead, Kasevich went up the coast to the University of Oregon and the plan was for him to continue as a two-way player but that was scuttled. Instead, he played at third in his freshman season before manning the shortstop position the last two years in Oregon. An Honourable Mention All-Pac-12 Conference in 2021, Kasevich hit .324 and drove in 50 runs. The Ducks got to host an NCAA Regional in Eugene but fell to Cade Doughty and the LSU Tigers in the championship final despite Kasevich going 2-for-8 with a walk, an RBI and a stolen base.

Kasevich starred on both sides of the ball in 2022 as he was named to the First-Team All-Pac-12 Conference squad and was a member of the Pac-12 Conference All-Defensive Team. He batted .310 with seven home runs and 44 RBI in the regular season and took up it a notch in the NCAA Tournament by hitting .455 with two doubles, a triple, four RBI and six runs scored in the Louisville Regional. Over his three-year college career, Kasevich only struck out less than 8.5 percent of the time over his college career, including a less than six percent rate in his senior season. He matched his 48 whiffs with 48 bases on balls.

The Toronto Blue Jays would select Kasevich in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft after being scouted by Ryan Fox. With a signing bonus of $997,500 in the bank. Kasevich joined the Dunedin Blue Jays and helped them reach the Florida State League final after hitting .262 with a .344 on-base percentage. he got on base at a .375 clip over five postseason contests.

Baseball America released its Report Card on the Toronto Blue Jays 2022 draft class and rated Kasevich as the top man with the leather, saying he rated above-average with his fielding and arm strength.

With a "hit-over-power" profile, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Kasevich spoke to C's Plus Baseball about trying to tap into some power with his righthanded swing.

"I made some swing changes in the off-season that were pretty drastic, so just getting comfortable with that and focusing on driving the ball a little bit more. Mechanical tweaks were a lot of just getting into better positions with my load and then kind of just relaxing a little bit, not being so tense, let my athleticism take over."

Kasevich may not have been tearing the ball off the cover as he slugged just .292 but he helped offset that with a .400 on-base percentage in April with Vancouver. He batted .329 and .262 through May and June with his first professional home run coming against Hillsboro at Nat Bailey Stadium on June 13.

After missing the first part of July with a baserunning injury in late June when he pulled up lame out of the batter's box, Kasevich had a power surge upon his return in mid-July with a slash line of .310/.408/.524 in a dozen games.

The month of August saw Kasevich maintained a decent batting line of .284/366/.383 but tailed off by hitting just .182 over a half-dozen games in September. He finished second in the Northwest League batting race at .284 to teammate Alan Roden. He only had just one single and one walk in the postseason but played stellar defence with a number of key plays at the six-spot to help the C's win the Northwest League Championship.

A near 10-percent walk rate with Vancouver represented a nearly three percent hike from his Dunedin total in 2022. His 2023 strikeout rate did tick up from over seven percent of the time to nearly 11 percent but his line drive rate did spike to 18 percent from just over 14 percent in 2022.

Defensively, Kasevich spent most of his time at short where he committed 13 errors in 69 starts. He made 13 starts at third base and made no miscues and some observers feel the hot corner is his best defensive position. The problem is conventional wisdom suggests that third base should be manned by someone with a power bat.

Turning 23 years old on January 17, Kasevich should be on his way to Double-A New Hampshire to begin 2024.

17. Chad Dallas | RHP

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Year Age Team G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
5 5 26.2 4.4 0.3 4.1 12.5 2.03
18 18 96.2 7.9 1.4 3.4 10.0 4.47

Chad Dallas was a COVID draftee, selected in the fourth round of the shortened 2020 draft. 2021 was his debut season, he spent it all in Vancouver. It was an up-and-down season, a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts. After the season he admitted that first season was difficult at times as he adjusted to the professional lifestyle.

He returned to Vancouver this season and was outstanding in five starts, a 2.03 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. With that he was off to New Hampshire where he made 18 starts. As was noted in the daily minor league reports this season Dallas had some unusual starts in NH. In his 18 starts, Dallas allowed 0-2 earned runs ten times. He gave up five or more runs six times. Only twice did he allow 3-4 runs. So he was usually either very good or very bad.

There is a clue when you look at Dallas's repertoire. He is not a hard thrower, his fastball sits around 92-93 mph. He also throws a slider, a curveball, and a change-up and recently he added a cutter. And he likes to spin the ball, his quote about himself is he "spins to win". So Dallas can usually use his pitch mix to keep the hitters off balance, especially the aggressive young hitters in AA. But sometimes, his control deserts him and he walks too many hitters. Or he falls behind and has to throw a hittable fastball.

Here is how Dallas described how he pitches to David Laurila of FanGraphs. “I throw a four-seam, a slider, a curveball, an occasional changeup, and I recently added a cutter. I spin the ball a lot. I don’t attack a whole bunch of people with the fastball. I like to attack with my offspeed, sort of a pitch backwards kind of deal. Some teams know that, so there are also games where they start sitting soft and I mostly attack them with the heater and the cutter. Either way, I’m out there trying to throw as many strikes as possible.”

When you put it all together, the good and the bad, Dallas had a 4.10 ERA in AA. He started the year at age 22 and turned 23 mid season. He struck out 10.5 per nine but walked 3.6 per nine.

Dallas has a good chance to start 2024 in Buffalo. In AAA he will be facing more experienced hitters who won't be quite as aggressive against the spin. He will be challenged to hit his spots. As a pitcher who doesn't blow hitters away, he needs to have very good control to hit his spots to avoid being hit around. Fangraphs believes Dallas's curveball comes with a different arm slot which won't fool major league hitters. That should be something he can work on and AAA will be a test of that. The Blue Jays would like Dallas to add a mile or two to his fastball to make it a more effective weapon. There are guys like Dallas in the major leagues. Their success is based n their command. Dallas is still young for AAA and has time to become more effective with his pitches.

Finally, Dallas's nickname is Cheese, and it has been since childhood. It's a somewhat odd nickname for a relatively soft thrower by major league standards.

16. Landen Maroudis | RHP

Photo from Instagram @landen.maroudis

Year Age Team G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.00

Landen Maroudis was the Jays fourth-round pick in 2023 out of a Clearwater, Florida high school. He did however get the second-highest draft bonus, $1.5M. The Jays had to go that high to buy him out of a commitment to NC State. Maroudis is 6'3" and had plenty of room to fill out.

Maroudis is a project at this stage. His fastball sits in the low-90s but there is plenty of time and room for improvement. He also has a decent changeup and he is experimenting with curves and sliders to find one, or both, that work best for him.

Maroudis did not pitch after the draft so it will be interesting to see how his pitches, and pitch mix, have developed with the Jays pitching lab. Maroudis could go to Dunedin or stay in extended spring training to start 2024.

15. Damiano Palmegiani | 1B/3B

Photo from / Herd Chronicles

2023 23 NH 393
2023 23 BUF 74

Damiano Palmegiani is a two-time draftee of the Toronto Blue Jays and is on the verge of making it to the majors with the team he grew up cheering for. The Venezuelan-born slugger who was raised in Surrey B.C. was first taken in the the 35th round of the 2018 draft by Toronto out of Vauxhall Academy High School in Alberta where he was teammates with fellow Jays prospect Adam Macko. Palmegiani was tempted to turn pro at first but he went to college instead. He endured struggles by hitting less than .200 at Cal State-Northridge in 2019 and in summer college ball stints in Lethbridge, Alberta and Port Angeles in the West Coast League.

It was at the College of Southern Nevada where Palmegiani found his power stroke with 26 home runs and an obscene 1.388 OPS in 2021, capturing NJCAA All-America First-Team honours.

The Jays drafted Palmegiani in the 14th round of the 2021 MBL Draft on the recommendation of scout Joey Aversa. Palmegiani decided to turn pro this time instead of transferring to the University of Arizona and agreed to a $157,500 signing bonus. Palmegiani got his feet wet at the at the Florida Complex League Blue Jays with a slash line of .333/.458/.538 line with two doubles, two homers and nine RBI over 17 games.

After homering in his first Florida State League contest in 2022, Palmegiani experienced an 0-for-23 slump in April before bouncing back with a slugging percentage of .508 with Dunedin, leading to a promotion to Vancouver in late June and he introduced himself to his new league with another home run in his first Northwest League game. The Surrey slugger had a scorching .877 OPS in July but cooled off to a .224/.343/.435 batting lines his OPS marks fell to .688 and .607 mark in August and September respectively. Still, his 13 home runs and 46 runs batted in helped the C's reach the Northwest League final where he added one more homer in the postseason.

Named to Canada's roster for the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Palmegiani did not play in any of the four games that Canada wound up splitting. His season began with Double-A New Hampshire and he got off to a good start with a three-game hitting streak and nine-game on-base streak, finishing the month with a .462 on-base mark. His batting average ranged from .250 to .270 from May to August with his slugging percentage in the .440-.460 range thanks to a .488 SLG in July and .495 mark in August.

In September, Palmegiani was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo and announced his arrival with the Herd with three straight two-hit games and he reached base at least once in his first 19 games before going 0-for-5 in the regular season finale.

The season was not over yet for Palmegiani as he was assigned to the Arizona Fall League. His power could not be contained in the desert as he slugged six home runs among 12 extra-base hits to give him a .575 slugging percentage. He was named an Arizona Fall League Fall Star and helped the Surprise Saguaros win the league championship by going 1-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored in the championship game against Peoria.

In his five minor league stops so far in the Jays system, Palmegiani has kept his isolated slugging above .200 with marks of .214 and .270 at New Hampshire and Buffalo respectively. The right-handed hitter's line drive rate was 22.5 percent with the Fisher Cats according to FanGraphs and went up to over 33 percent with the Bisons. That was a jump from the 16-18 percent range with Vancouver and Dunedin in 2022.

The strikeout rate for Palmegiani jumped from five percent last year to just over 27 percent with New Hampshire and over 29 percent with Buffalo. He did draw a walk in 12.5 percent of his plate appearances to bump that up by one percent from 2022. He was also pulling the ball more with a pull rate of nearly 54 percent at Double-A, after being in the 45-48 range the previous season.

The hot corner was where Palmegiani saw most of his time on the diamond again with 71 starts combined at Double-A and Triple-A. He committed 13 errors at third and three miscues in 28 starts at first. In the AFL, he made just one error in 39 chances. He also got a start in left field with Surprise, the first time he has made an appearance on the big grass since his college days. The consensus is that Palmegiani may have to move to first base down the line.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Palmegiani is likely to be Buffalo-bound to begin 2024. If he can approach his 2023 clip with the Herd, he may get the call to Toronto later in the season. Palmegiani will celebrate his 24th birthday on January 24.

14. Kendry Rojas | RHP

Photo from Instagram @kendry_rojas_fis)

Year Age Team G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
20 15 84.0 7.6 0.9 3.5 8.8 4.39

Kendry Rojas is a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher from Cuba who played for Dunedin in 2023.

Reportedly Rojas had not been pitching for long before the Jays signed him in October 2020. As a result, the Jays have been careful with his innings. He threw 23 innings in 2021, 40 in 2022 and 84 in 2023. The Jays seem happiest that he was able to build up his innings in 2023.

Rojas is a skinny 6'2" pitcher with room to fill out. His fastball sits around 92 mph but he is expected to add velocity as he matures and bulks up. Rojas also throws a slider and a change-up. Both of those pitches get plenty of swings and misses. Some scouts note that Rojas can get out of his delivery at times. As he grows stronger and more experienced that should be less of an issue.

Rojas' numbers look average across the board. His 8.8 K/9 is decent, his 3.5 BB/9 is similar. His 4.40 xFIP is not great. But this is where scouting plays a role. Scouts look at Rojas and see potential, his loose body and his quick arm lead scouts to project future development for him. The one number where Rojas excelled was his swing strike percentage at 15.3%, one of the highest in the system.

Rojas has been part of two no-hitters in his short career. The first was in 2022 and the second was in 2023. On September 2, Rojas threw six no-hit innings as part of a seven-inning no-hitter.

Rojas should be in Vancouver to start 2024.

13. Connor Cooke | RHP

Photo from

Year Age Team G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
9 0 9.1 6.8 1.0 2.9 18.3 2.89
20 0 24.2 106 1.1 2.6 16.8 4.38
9 0 10.1 5.2 0.9 7.8 13.1 4.35

Connor Cooke was, well, cooking with gas in 2023 as his pitching recipe saw him make three stops up the minor league leader and he could find himself in the Blue Jays bullpen at some point in 2024.

The Sulphur, Louisiana native played not only baseball at his local high school but basketball and football as well. In his senior season of 2018, he went 6-2 on the mound while hitting .410.

Cooke remained in the Pelican State for college by attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He won all three of his decisions in his 2019 freshman season but had a 7.99 earned run average. After being limited to just 12-2/3 innings in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Cooke joined the Ragin' Cajuns rotation and really spiced things up by going 7-3 with a 2.02 ERA and striking out 90 batters over 79-2/3 innings under the watchful eye of pitching coach and former Blue Jays and Orioles closer B.J. Ryan. A First Team All-Sun Belt Conference and First Team All-Louisiana selection, the highlight of the 2021 campaign for Cooke was a complete game three-hitter with 12 strikeouts and no walks against Arkansas State. That performance came just three days after the passing of his grandfather Fredrick Cooke Sr.. Connor's 55-year-old father Fredrick Cooke Jr. and his college coach Terry Robichaux also passed away in 2016 and 2019 respectively.

Ragin' Cajuns coach Matt Deggs also compared Cooke to a former Blue Jays hurler.

"He reminds me of a David Cone-type pitcher. He's got explosiveness to him and he can also power you or finesse you. He's got multiple ways to get you out."

The Toronto Blue Jays would select Cooke in the 10th round of the 2021 Draft on the recommendation of scout Chris Curtis and give him a $141,900 signing bonus.

Cooke's introduction to pro ball consisted of five one-inning appearances split between the Florida Complex League and Dunedin in 2021 in which he gave up just one run. Baseball America listed Cooke as the Best Athlete of the 2021 Blue Jays draft class.

Cooke saw time as a starter and reliever upon his return to Dunedin in 2022. Despite losing seven of nine decisions with a 4.86 ERA, he struck out 63 batters over 43-1/3 innings against 14 walks.

That led to Cooke going up to Vancouver in August and he became the closer where for the most part, he was lights out against everybody except the Eugene Emeralds. He converted eight saves in 10 opportunities and had nine scoreless appearances out of 11. Unfortunately, he gave up 10 runs (eight earned) against Eugene and that shot his ERA up to 6.75. Sadly, the Emeralds got to him in the clinching Game 3 of the Northwest League final as he gave up four runs over the final two innings despite five strikeouts.

The disappointing end to the 2022 season did not carry over to 2023 as Cooke was not scored upon in eight of his nine outings out of the Vancouver bullpen. He was assigned to Double-A New Hampshire halfway through May and progressed well enough to get another promotion to Triple-A Buffalo in late August.

The underlying numbers for Cooke suggested he was pitching much better than his 2023 ERAs would indicate with Vancouver and New Hampshire. His FIP checked in at 1.99 and 2.10 respectively while his xFIP marks were even lower at 1.37 and 1.98. He was extremely unlucky on the BABIP front with totals of .375 and .473.

Cooke's strikeout percentage was nearly 49 percent with Vancouver and over 41 percent with New Hampshire before dipping to over 32 percent with Buffalo. His walk rates with the C's and FC's were around the six to seven percent range before shooting up to almost 20 percent with the Herd.

In a chat with C's Plus Baseball late in the 2022 season, Cooke said his pitch mix consisted of quite a few ingredients.

"I'm throwing a lot of fastballs, sliders, a changeup and then I have a second slider. That's more of a harder one. I have a two-seam (fastball) and a curveball that I don't use very often but they're there."

The four-seam fastball and slider are considered to be Cooke's best pitches which are considered to be above-average to plus. His changeup is rated as fringe-average with average control on the 20-80 scouting scale.

According to Baseball America, Cooke picked up three more ticks on his fastball velocity from 2022 by hitting 96 miles per hour in 2023. His slider checks in around 82-85.

Cooke is expected to return to Buffalo to begin 2024 but he could be turning up the heat on Major League hitters in Toronto later in the season. The 6-foot-1, 203-pound hurler will turn 25 years old on November 2.

12. Yosver Zulueta | RHP

Photo from Toronto Star

Year Age Team G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
45 7 64.0 7.5 0.1 6.3 10.3 4.5

Yosver Zulueta was the Blue Jays number five prospect last off-season. The Batter's Box report on him said Zulueta is expected to return to Buffalo to begin the 2023 campaign and will likely be back in a starting role. That prediction proved to be correct but it only lasted for a month. Zulueta made six starts, walked 13 hitters in 15 innings, and was promptly moved to the bullpen where he remained for the rest of the season.

Zulueta is Cuban and was signed by the Jays for $1 million in 2019. Between Tommy John surgery, the Covid non-season, and a torn ACL, Zulueta hadn't pitched for the Jays before 2022. In that year he moved from Dunedin to Vancouver to New Hampshire and finally to Buffalo with a mix of starting and relieving. At each stop. the story was the same, lots of strikeouts and lots of walks. It was always said that if only Zulueta could control his pitches, he could be major league-ready.

With that in mind, his start to 2023 was disappointing. With starting now off the table his move to the bullpen was seen as the best option. But the numbers as a reliever still were not good enough. Between June and July, Zulueta walked 16 hitters in 22 innings. More worryingly he struck out 20 in those 22 innings. That was less than a hitter per inning, lower than he had struck out in lower levels, and lower than some of his teammates like Connor Cooke and Hayden Juenger. The team decided that an intervention was in order so on August 15th Zulueta was assigned to the FCL so he could work in the pitching lab. He stayed there for two and a half weeks, working on his pitches, until he was recalled to Buffalo. In September, Zulueta appeared in eight games, throwing 11.2 innings. In that time he walked just four hitters and struck out 17 for his best month of the season.

The big question is, did Zulueta learn something in the pitching lab and was September the new standard of performance for him? Or was it just a one-month statistical blip?

Zulueta throws an upper-90s fastball and a changeup but his big weapon is his slider. FanGraphs notes that the automatic ball/strike system tags the slider as three different pitches. That could explain his command issues if the pitch does different things at times. How do you know where to aim for when you don't know how it will break?

Zulueta should be back in Buffalo to start 2024 as he looks to find consistency in his delivery.

11. Juaron Watts-Brown | RHP

Photo from

Year Age Team G GS IP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 ERA
0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.00

Juaron Watts-Brown was the Jays third-round selection in 2023 but he didn't pitch after the draft so all we have to review is his pre-draft reports. Watts-Brown is a 21-year-old who is 6'3" and is a right-handed pitcher. In college, he pitched for Long Beach State and Oklahoma State.

The short version of his scouting report is that he has a plus slider and curveball but a below-average fastball. The longer version is that both the slider and curveball have lots of movement. FanGraphs grades both pitches as 60's, while Baseball America puts a 60 on the slider and a 55 on the curveball. Watts-Brown also has a changeup making him a four-pitch starter.

That leaves the fastball. The fastball averages between 90-92 mph and he doesn't have the best command of it. Evaluators agree that the key to his future success depends on what the Jays can do with the fastball. Can they get more velocity on it? How much can they improve his command? Watts-Brown had an ERA over five in college last season, he walked too many hitters and used his slider and curve more than his fastball.

Watts-Brown could start in either Dunedin or Vancouver next season. Unless the fastball has picked up a grade I would guess it will be Dunedin.

Join us tomorrow for the top 10.

Blue Jays 2023 Top Prospects: 20 - 11 | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 07:53 AM EST (#441516) #
There's no danger that any of these young men have been overhyped. Hopefully one or two takes a step forward in 2024, and there is that danger entering next season.

I hadn't realized it, but overall Kasevich took a small step forward last year while Doughty took a step back. If Kasevich takes another small step forward in New Hampshire this year, he would be a pretty good prospect. A little pop, good plate control and a good glove at shortstop is a solid combination and more valuable than flashy.
bpoz - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 09:20 AM EST (#441517) #
I think I know 9 of the 1-10 prospects.

I cannot disagree with the 11-20 choices. But mine are a little different.

The 21-30 choices did not include many of my choices. This is fine because that makes the list of 31-40 very interesting. The lists were unkind to K Pillar. The way Zulueta moved out of the top 10 and the way Roden probably is in the top 10 means that there is room for movement up and down. Some significant.

Many will add a signing or 2 from the Jan 15 Int'l group and any traded prospects will gone.
John Northey - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 12:24 PM EST (#441520) #
As always...
Past 20-11's...
Always intersting.  I love how Danner is on there as a C and as a P. A shame he can't hit or pitch like Ohtani though...  Left a couple of minor leaguers on there in Tiedemann and Orelvis just because it is interesting to see them and both should be up this year with any luck.

Nigel - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 01:08 PM EST (#441521) #
Both Doughty and Kasevich would probably be lower on these lists for me. They are the exact opposite player. Kasevich is an above average defender and maybe better (I agree on the 3B comment), excellent plate control and decent baserunner. But he has zero pop or excellent velocity. I went to 13-14 games in Vancouver and he was in all but one of them. I couldn't tell you exactly how many PAs I saw of Kasevich but I didn't see one example (ball in play or foul) where I thought he displayed good exit velocity. And good velocity was a complete non starter for him to hit. Doughty is the reverse. He isn't a very big guy but he generates tremendous bat speed and a lot of exit velocity (loud contact). The problem is his strike zone control is terrible (frankly worse than the raw data suggests) and he doesn't appear to have a defensive position that he could be even an average defender. I thought he was poor at both 2B and 3B. I thought they were both very disappointing picks. They'd be in the De Jesus sort of range (I think they's all be roughly equivalent prospects) for me. There's time though.

Excellent write-ups and work!
Mike Green - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 01:42 PM EST (#441522) #
Thanks, Nigel.  I haven't seen a single pick here that I disagree with, to any significant degree.  All of the players from 11-30 need to pick up the pace to some degree to be a good prospect.  Could Josh Kasevich turn into David Eckstein?  Sure.  Maybe even a little better- arriving at the major leagues at age 25 rather than age 26 by slowly improving as moves up.  Which is what he did last year- he went from no pop to a little (even if you didn't see it).  I did a Statcast to see how many shortstops since 1980 had good careers (20 WAR plus with an OPS+ <90).  Four of them had very little power- Eckstein, Ozzies Guillen and Smith and Rey Sanchez.  Eckstein is the best target for Kasevich. 
Gerry - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 01:53 PM EST (#441523) #
I agree that Kasevich doesn't look like a major league regular. That is why I was surprised when Fangraphs put him as their number nine prospect. The number nine seems worse when you think Kasevich might have to move to third base. While his skill set could play at short, they don't really work at third.
Mike Green - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 01:58 PM EST (#441524) #
Kasevich would have to be a shortstop to have a full-time job in the major leagues, you would think. 
Nigel - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 03:38 PM EST (#441525) #
Agreed on Kasevich as a 3B not really working as he currently profiles. Also agree that my use of "disagreeing" with the ranking doesn't really make sense in a system where I'm not sure that there is much difference between #7/#8 and #30.

For a draft that was touted as being focused at the top end on players with a good hit tool, I would say the early results of last year's draft are not pretty.
Ducey - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 06:57 PM EST (#441527) #
"For a draft that was touted as being focused at the top end on players with a good hit tool, I would say the early results of last year's draft are not pretty."

I assume you mean 2022.

Toman was 19, 2 years under the average age in DUN.

Its clear that all of Roden, Kasevich, Doughty, and Toman were undertaking some swing changes, so it might take some time to click in. They still might give Kasevich the Roden/ Barger leg kick to help with power.

Who knows? You can make pretty good money betting against prospects making it, but this was their first full season.
Nigel - Wednesday, January 10 2024 @ 07:36 PM EST (#441528) #
I totally agree about it being way too early to draw any conclusions about long term success. Roden's hit tool is one of his primary calling cards, so a definite thumbs up on that front. Maybe swing changes or time will bring it out for Toman, Doughty and Kasevich, but the current evidence is that, as of their draft date, none of them had an advanced hit tool.
bpoz - Thursday, January 11 2024 @ 05:31 AM EST (#441529) #
I find Nigel's analysis and insights very valuable and "honest". Logan Warmoth is a good example. Nigel said that he was "slight in stature" and also something about observing "no loud tools". This all proved to be a sound analysis of a University draft pick in short season ball which is a low level. Also lets assume 25% of prospects succeed which is a high failure rate.

Dunedin is low A the old Vancouver was short season. Does this mean that Dunedin is a higher caliber of talent than the old Vancouver? I don't know but I suspect it is. Then again the kids at Dunedin like Toman and Beltre while being more experienced were 19 years old. While Doughty and Bohrofen were 21 when they played in Dunedin. So again I don't know the level of difficulty involved.

Nigel's analysis of TJ Brock was very, very valuable to me. This great arm that is very inconsistent that "missed badly". Thanks Nigel. Also thanks Ducey for your input. I was very optimistic and patient with prospects and suffer with the Pearson, Danner and Zulueta hard throwers.
Ryan Day - Thursday, January 11 2024 @ 11:35 AM EST (#441536) #
Toman was 19, 2 years under the average age in DUN.

This might say more about the Jays' development process than Toman. He had a perfectly adequate appearance in the FCL in 2022 but hardly blew anyone away - no one would have questioned sending him back there in 2023, particularly if they were also working on adjusting his swing.

It's one thing to challenge a prospect who's had some success, but another to throw a kid into a level of competition he can't handle.

It's true that Tucker is young, and he can go back to Dunedin as a 20-year-old and still develop into a good prospect. But they clearly overestimated the ability of one of their top draftees, something that could have a detrimental effect on his development.
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