MLB Toronto Blue Jays

Top 10 Prospects For 2013: Toronto Blue Jays

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Who are the current top 10 in the Toronto Blue Jays farm?

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Big-league improvements for MLB clubs often come at a steep cost to the farm, and for the Toronto Blue Jays, the cost of taking the team's biggest stride in years towards contending in the AL East amounted to a pair of top-10 prospects (and one recent graduate) – Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino.

Here's the good news, though: despite trading a pair of top prospects in its system, the Blue Jays system is alive and well. Even after the trade that significantly overhauled the outlook of the club, they were able to keep two of the Lansing trio, and the current top group of prospects still feature a good number of big arms.

Yes, the farm system has definitely taken a hit, but the depth that GM Alex Anthopoulos has built over the last few years makes it a hit that that still leaves the Blue Jays within the top 15 systems in the league.

We already know who sits at the top of the mountain here, as far as the prospects that are left; that said, after the graduation of the likes of Anthony Gose, Drew Hutchison, combined with the trade from last month, what does the rest of the Blue Jays' top 10 look like now?

With Anthopoulos not quite done adding the finishing touches to the 2013 Blue Jays, it's certainly a list that can change at any moment during this off-season. So, with an emphasis on current part, here's a brief look at who the players in the current top-10 are, and what they've done over the last year or so:

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10. A.J. Jimenez

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Age: 22

Level reached: AA

2012 at a glance: .257/.295/.371, 2 HR, 27 GP

Though the Blue Jays clearly have a heir-apparent at backstop, the system currently has a couple of guys who are what you might call insurance policies. AJ Jimenez, a defensively-minded catcher, saw his 2012 season cut short by an elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery. Will it affect Jimenez's defensive prowess upon his return to the field?

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09. John Stilson

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 22

Level reached: AA

2012 at a glance: 104.1 IP, 3.88 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 (A+ & AA)

A big-upside pick with electric stuff that fell to the 3rd round because of injury concerns to his shoulder, John Stilson survived the 2012 minor league season without significant health troubles, while striking out nearly eight batters per inning. Stilson struggled upon moving to AA with a homer rate that spiked to 1.1 per nine innings, and finished the season in the bullpen, where he's likely continue to work from in the future due to concerns about his durability.

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08. Matt Smoral

Screencap from, from the Drunk Jays Fans blog

Age: 19

Level reached: NA

2012 at a glance: Drafted in R1 (Comp.)

The teenager, who signed with the Blue Jays for twice the recommended slot money after being drafted 50th overall with a compensation pick, fits right in with the type of the big power arms that Anthopoulos has targeted over the years. At six-foot-eight, 225 pounds, Matt Smoral features a sharp slider, and can hit 94 with a fastball coming from the left side – something that should take him pretty far as he starts his pro career in 2013 after missing all of 2012 with a foot injury.

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07. Daniel Norris

David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier

Age: 19

Level reached: A-

2012 at a glance: 42.2 IP, 8.44 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 (Rk & A-)

The counting numbers for Daniel Norris' debut in pro ball doesn't look good, but this is one of those cases where you might just want to ignore those, and look instead at the 3.81 FIP that suggests that the lefty wasn't as bad as it looks on paper. Despite problems with command, Norris still managed to strike out over nine batters per nine innings, and I'm a believer that he has a bright future as he continues to navigate A ball next season.

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06. D.J. Davis

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Age: 18

Level reached: A-

2012 at a glance: 266 PA, 5 HR, .250/.355/.386, 25 SB

What's not to like about a guy with a 80 speed tool? D.J. Davis showed off his raw athleticism in his first stint of pro ball in 2012, stealing 25 bases (and getting caught 10 times) while flashing just a hint of power. Though he struck out more times than you'd like, a batting eye is something that Davis can continue to refine over the next years of his development. I'm tempted to use an obvious Rajai Davis comp here, but D.J. has the upside to be much more.

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05. Marcus Stroman

Jim R. Bounds/The Associated Press

Age: 21

Level reached: AA

2012 at a glance: 19.1 IP, 3.26 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 (A- & AA)

Perhaps the fastest-rising member on this list, there were talks of Marcus Stroman joining the Blue Jays bullpen in September of 2012, just months after the team drafted him in the first round. That didn't happen for the five-foot-eight righty, who tested positive for a stimulant at the end of August and was hit with a 50-game suspension. The stuff is big league-ready; the Blue Jays probably want Stroman to start, but is he better suited for bullpen work? We'll find out in 2013.

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04. Roberto Osuna

Stuart Davis/PNG

Age: 17

Level reached: A-

2012 at a glance: 43.2 IP, 2.27 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9

There's a whole lot to like about Roberto Osuna, who make a hell of an impression in July by striking out 13 batters in five innings of work with the Vancouver Canadians. The righty has impressive command for his relatively young age, and features a lively low-90s fastball that projects to get livelier as the six-foot-two, 230 lb kid continues to grow. He'll look to work on expanding his arsenal with the Canadians next season.

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03. Aaron Sanchez

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Age: 20

Level reached: A

2012 at a glance: 90.1 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 5.1 BB/9

The guy with the best stuff out of the Lansing trio is also the one who wound up having the worst statistical year in 2012. Still, Aaron Sanchez's arsenal of two plus-pitches give him more upside than his Lansing brethren, and the righty only needs to work on his control (easier said than done) to let his stuff take him to the next level.

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02. Noah Syndergaard


Age: 20

Level reached: A

2012 at a glance: 103.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9

With Noah Syndergaard, it comes down to having more polish and pitchability, even if he has a slightly lower ceiling than Sanchez. The righty has a plus fastball that sits in the mid-90s with good sink, complemented by a couple of breaking pitches which are still under development. Syndergaard is another in a long line of big, projectable (I know, I wish I had more words to mean the same thing) power arms whose biggest strength is the ability to throw consistent strikes – and that's nothing to scoff at.

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01. Travis d'Arnaud

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 23

Level reached: AAA

2012 at a glance: 303 PA, 16 HR, .333/.380/.595

Here we are: the cream of the Blue Jays crop. Travis d'Arnaud got off to a slow start in AAA in 2012, but quickly starting putting up numbers you'd expect to see of one of the league's top prospects in a hitter's league like the PCL (and in a hitter's park, too). He's likely to start his 2013 season in the minors after seeing his season cut short with a ligament tear in his knee, but what more can I say? D'Arnaud has the complete package of skills at backstop, and the Blue Jays will want to get him healthy and ready sooner rather than later for a shot at the big leagues.

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