The Future is Cloudy

So I think I've got an official list of Baseball America's top ten Jays prospects a bit before they release it on their website. Apparently, they've already distributed their magazine which has the lists in there, and someone sent it to me yesterday, and the list looks pretty legit so I'm going to run with it, and pick it a part as best as I can.

Now, I'm not about to suggest that I will be able to pass better judgement on these rankings than Baseball America. They actually see these players on a regular basis, and are pretty astute at figuring out who projects as major leaguers and who doesn't. My basic research skills essentially pertain to reading a bunch of stuff about these players online, and finding pictures of these guys on their facebook accounts that resemble 13 year old Asian girl poses (see Arencibia, Cecil and Litsch pictured top right as an example).

Alright. Here's the list:

1. Travis Snider
2. Brett Cecil
3. Kevin Ahrens
4. J.P. Arencibia
5. Ricky Romero
6. Justin Jackson
7. John Tolisano
8. Curtis Thigpen
9. David Purcey
10. Ryan Patterson

One thing that's slightly depressing is the fact that Curtis Thigpen actually makes the list of top ten prospects in the system, which seems to indicate that the farm is much thinner than I had first thought. I mean, no offense to Thigpen, but he's really not a guy who projects any thing better than, at best, a really below average starting infielder or a really below average starting catcher, or an average back up backstop. And if this guy is the 8th best guy in the system, that's not a good thing to say about the system as a whole.

Of course, a significant amount of talent has already passed through the system in the past couple of years exhausting their eligibility for prospect qualifications, so that's something, but really, aside from Travis Snider, there doesn't seem, at the surface to be much here to have faith for the next decade in Toronto.

But there are a few glimmer of hope guys that I would consider to be underrated by the likes of Baseball America, and I guess generally scouts in general: Justin Jackson (pictured above left with some guy going after his ear) and Eric Eiland. Both have been said to be really athletic guys with a tonne of potential in their blood. I am hoping this scouting report is based on more than just the scout visually reacting to the fact that both players are black. I am assuming that these scouts have seen these guys making strides on the diamond defensively and offensively. But of all the reports I've read on the upper tier of Jay prospects, both of these guys' profiles definitely seemed the most encouraging. There are flaws in their games, both have trouble making consistant contact, which is troublesome considering they are hitting low A ball pitchers, but both are young as hell, both have wheels, and both are considered to be tremendous with the glove... which makes one think that Ricciardi's scouting mantra has twitched a bit for this year's draft class.

The other guy that seemed to have a lot of splooge-worthy scouting reports was the Jays #1 pick of '07, Kevin Ahrens (the dapper youngster pictured on the right). He's a switch hitting third baseman, who has good power from both side, which immediately leads to comparisons to Chipper Jones, which is really unfair, because Chipper Jones was pretty much a top ranked prospect in all of baseball since he was drafted. Ahrens is far from that. Nevertheless, he seems like a guy who could be a possible mainstay in about five years.

Baseball America's rankings seem pretty spot on. Unfortunately, they also seem to indicate the Jays minor league system isn't quite as strong as I had thought prior to investigating it a little more further.


Jonathan said...

I agree with what you say about the Jays' system being thin, but not really about Thigpen. The average catcher these days is just so terrible (.254/.318/.395!) these days that it wouldn't take much for him to become one. I think they're just toying with making him a middle infielder because he's 'athletic'.

Tao of Stieb said...

Well, that worked really well for Joe Lawrence, didn't it?

Jonathan said...

Well if you can't hit, you can't hit...Lawrence was pretty tall to be behind the plate as well, though.