Saturday, November 6, 2010

Top 10 Jays Prospects Released... And Anthopoulos Beats the System

Baseball America released the Blue Jays top 10 prospects yesterday, and... wow.

Keeping in mind that last year's Blue Jays top 10 was released just before the Roy Halladay trade, but the lists couldn't be much different. 6 of the 10 top prospects were not on the list in 2009. BA is a scouting-based organization, which should line up well with the Jays scouting-heavy model. Here's the list for reference:

1. Kyle Drabek
2. Deck McGuire
3.Anthony Gose
4. Travis D'Arnaud
5. Zach Stewart
6. Asher Wojciechowski
7. J.P. Arencibia
8. Carlos Perez
9. Aaron Sanchez
10. Jake Marisnick

The most glaring omission to me is Adeiny Hechevaria. Many people consider him the 2nd or 3rd best prospect in the system, but Baseball America doesn't appear to be as high on him. In the chat, he was revealed to have "just missed" the list. BA tends to rank the highest-ceiling players, regardless of positional value. Keith Law recently opined that Hech's defence wasn't as good as once advertised. Not that Law had any effect on the BA rankings, but maybe he still needs some more work before we anoint him as the next coming. Either way, Escobar is doing more than keeping his spot warm, so the Jays can afford to be patient.

Last year, Zach Stewart was the top prospect. He's down to 5th, after his best minor league season ever. Which really seaks volumes to the amount of talent that has been infused into the system. This is the second time in the past week that I've read a glowing review on Deck McGuire. If BA is that high on him, then I'm going to elevate him in my personal esteem. It also follows logic that they love a "toolsy-but-raw" player like Gose. D'Arnaud's ranking was a bit of a surprise considering his down season. AWoj (come on, you didn't expect me to type that thing out every time, did you?) ranked surprisingly high. I would have expected Snachez or Syndergaard here, but it again shows how valuable first rounders can be. AWoj was expected before the draft to be a top-20 pick by both BA and Baseball Prospectus. Great to have him in our system. I will be interested to see if they continue to develop him as a starter, a-la Stewart, or, if they move him to the 'pen to move him through the system faster. Perez really established himself as a prospect this year, and I would not be surprised to see him top next year's list with another solid season. He's one of the most complete all-around players in the Jays' system. It also gives the Jays 3 Catchers in the top-10, a feat that can likely only be matched by the Yankees (assuming that anyone still realistically considers Montero and his horrid defense as a Catcher.) Marisnick appears to be the saving grace from the miserable '09 draft, and his athleticism has impressed scouts around the league.

BA is likely going to rank the Blue Jays system in the top 10 this year. They were a consensus bottom-10 last year, so this is a DRAMATIC turnaround. Obviously, trading your best major-league starter (and one of the best ever) has to add value to your system. That said, it's still a tremendous accomplishment to make such a huge change year-over-year. It also shows the value of type-B free agents (Sanchez and Woj were compensation picks for Scutaro and Barajas respectively)

Which brings me to the first ever MLB draft pick trade. Alex Anthopoulos is too clever by half, for he has worked out a way to leverage the Rogers bankroll into extra first round picks. He said all the right things in the media to keep the commisioner off his back, but I can't see any way that this isn't a straight draft pick trade. AA has repeatedly stated that JP Arencibia "has nothing left to prove in the minors." Translation: He is our starter. Since Olivo wants a starting job, he's almost certain to decline arbitration. When he signs a major league deal elsewhere, BOOM: extra pick. John Buck will also add a pick, along with the recently option-declined Kevin Gregg. My bet is that Jason Frasor will accept arbitration, but Scott Downs will add another 2 picks. It looks like another great draft for all those scouts that the Jays recently hired.

The Southpaw provides a pretty good recap of the top-10 chat here. I suggest that if you are interested in the Jays' future, you should read it. The most exciting thing for me was that there was an indication that the system goes as much as 20 players deep. Talk about sustainable. I can imagine that, pending trades, that the organization could be ranked 1st sometime in the next 2-3 seasons.

The future is bright for this team. Spread the word, it's a great time to be a Jays fan. The bandwagon is picking up speed, so people should get on now, before it gets too full.

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