This week, 2 of the 3 major top 100 prospect lists were released, and although the rankings don’t mean much, the commentary inside does. It’s pretty fun and breaks up the boring part of the baseball offseason. Baseball Prospectus’ prospect list, compiled by the BP prospect team led by Jason Parks was released on Monday, while former Blue Jays special assistant to the general Manager Keith Law released his top 100 on Wednesday for ESPN. Thursday saw the release of Keith Law’s top ten by system.
In a response to a question about Keith Law’s ranking of the Jays farm system on Wednesday, Jason Parks stated that for him, the Jays system was a borderline top 10 system, calling it “A boom or bust system.” That shined through somewhat on his top 101 list as 3 Blue Jays made the list, and in the chat after the release of the list he mentioned that a 4th(Daniel Norris) was one of the final cuts.
Marcus Stroman, the short right handed pitcher taken in the first round of the 2012 draft was ranked 27 on Parks’ list. This year BP produced a fantastic info graphics using players tools and how they rate. Stroman’s Fastball, Cutter and Slider all grade as 7 pitches on the 2-8 scale, with his changeup as a 6. Aaron Sanchez came in at 31 on the list, up one spot from last season, and Alberto Tirado came in at 76. Tirado’s ranking somewhat came as a surprise with Parks ranking him ahead of bigger name prospects Gary Sanchez, Austin Meadows, and David Dahl.
In Parks’ chat about the top 101, there were some Jays related questions. In regards to 2010 Blue Jays draftee (who went unsigned and was drafted #2 overall in 2013 by the Cubs) Kris Bryant, Parks thinks that he will make the majors at some point this year. Bryant came in 17th on the 101. Daniel Norris should have been on the list and was a late cut said Parks. In a testament to the high ceiling potential of the arms in the Jays system, when asked if Tirado was the highest ceiling arm in the Blue Jays farm. Parks couldn’t definitively say it was true. To quote Parks “I’m tempted to say true, but the Jays are absolutely lousy with high ceiling arms.” From another question in the chat Parks mentioned the Jays as one of 4 teams with the strongest groups of players outside the top 101 along with the Astros, Twins and Rangers.
Parks was asked if there was more talent in general in the minors this year and Parks agreed mostly, saying that from this year’s list he wouldn’t be surprised to see “Several Major League All-Stars, and possibly even a few MVP types from the top 10.”
Overall the Jays drafted (not necessarily signed), traded prospects and current prospects there were 11 (Syndergaard), 17 (Kris Bryant), 27 (Stroman), 31 (Sanchez), 48 (d’Arnaud), and 68 (Paxton), and 76 (Tirado).
Keith Law (ESPN)
If you had been on twitter at all on Wednesday or Thursday, you likely saw massive backlash with the ranking of not only Marcus Stroman, but as well as Keith Law’s ranking of the Blue Jays as the 24th best farm system in baseball, but more on the latter later on. There were two Jays who made Keith’s list.
Dropping from 19th last year was Aaron Sanchez who came in at 30th. Law noted the delivery changes that have happened with Sanchez, and notes that the stuff is still there to be a frontline pitcher. As noted earlier, Marcus Stroman’s ranking drew the ire of Blue Jays faithful as he came in at 58. Keith says most of the same things about Stroman that we’ve heard from Jason Parks about the belief that he can stay in the rotation. There weren’t really any Jays questions asked, but Law did point out that when talking to Stroman makes him feel less short.
Like with the BP list, the Overall Jays Draftees were ranked 15 (Bryant), 24 (Syndergaard), 30 (Sanchez), 36 (d’Arnaud), 58 (Stroman), 84 (Marisnick), and 93 (Nicolino).
Along with the top 100 Keith listed his top 10 prospects in each system on Thursday which produced some surprising results. Adonys Cardona ranked number 5 on Keith’s list despite completely falling off the top 10’s by BP and Baseball America. Scouting the numbers is goofy of course, especially in the low minors, but Cardona looked to have taken another step back last year and now at age 20 hasn’t advanced past Rookie ball.
A Bit of a Rant
I saw a lot of bashing on Twitter, or even in other pieces in the Blue Jays community of Keith Law’s ranking the Blue Jays. While it isn’t what we expect, with the constant talk of the low minors for the Jays and how they have stockpiled this wealth of talent up the middle and in the pitching staff, that doesn’t make it illegitimate as some have said. When it comes to any prospect evaluation from any of the three main prospect content providers there is much to be said by knowing the evaluator. Over at DJF, they transcribed the Keith Law audio clip from his podcast. Keith Law tends to value close to the majors talent with high floors over the far off “dream on” prospects, while Jason Parks loves to showcase the hopes and dreams of every team. There isn’t anything wrong with either evaluators view on ranking talent, it’s up to the reader to understand what personal bias’ are when it comes to evaluation. I’m not saying bias as in Keith Law hates the Blue Jays or anything preposterous like that, I’m not Tracy Ringolsby or something.