Toronto Blue Jays 2019 Preseason Top 10

Vladmir Guerrero Jr
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the Arizona Fall League, Courtesy: Aaron Whelan

1)

Player: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height:  6’1” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: The best-known highlight from Vladdy Jr. thus far was his walk-off home run in Montreal to end Spring Training last season, but his immense power isn’t his best tool. He has the best hit tool in years and has the upside to lead the league in average year after year. Don’t let that hit tool fool you though, he also has the power to lead the league in home runs. There is some question as to whether he can stick at third base, but he has the arm strength and has shown he may not be a liability there, so he just might get the chance to stay there long term.

2)

Player: Bo Bichette
Position(s): SS/2B Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: The Blue Jays are loaded with talent with big league bloodlines, and Bo Bichette is another of them. His hit tool would be tops in practically any system that doesn’t feature Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He possesses raw power and excellent doubles power that may turn into more home runs in the future. Bichette will never win any gold gloves in the infield, but there is a real chance for him to stick at short, although a move to second isn’t out of the question.

3)

Player: Danny Jansen
Position(s): C Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’2” Weight: 225 lbs.
Quick Report: Jansen is the cream of a deep catching crop in Toronto, and he was able to break into the big leagues for 31 games last season, where he struggled to find his rhythm. Despite a dip in batting average at the big-league level, he still showed a good eye at the plate and managed to keep his OBP 100 points better than his average. There was a time he was thought to be a bat first catcher, but he has really worked to become a solid receiver with a solid arm that will allow him to at least remain an average defensive back stop.

4)

Player: Nate Pearson
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’6” Weight: 245 lbs.
Quick Report: The real question with Pearson is whether he is a future starter or reliever. If he is to make it as a starter, he will need to prove he can handle the workload, something he hasn’t done throwing just 42 innings in 15 career pro games, all starts. He would also need to develop a quality third pitch, something he has struggled with as he has shown a curve and a change, but neither have been impressive. As a two-pitch pitcher, he can be a dominant reliever. His fastball can reach triple digits with run and big downhill plane thanks to his tall frame. He also has a slider that isn’t as sharp as you want, but it has good velo and has the potential to become a plus pitch.

5)

Player: Kevin Smith
Position(s): SS Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 188 lbs.
Quick Report: Smith is a versatile defender, having seen time at short, second, and third while showing solid at each position. He is a natural shortstop and can certainly stick there given his athleticism and arm strength but will never be one to make the highlight reel plays. At the plate he could stand to improve his contact rate, but he has shown some improvement in swing, shortening up the once long bat path. He has better than average raw power that has translated to game action thus far, as demonstrated by his 25 home runs across two levels last season.

6)

Player: Eric Pardinho
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’10” Weight: 155 lbs.
Quick Report: Pardinho is a truly unique talent given he has the upside of being a front of rotation starter despite being just 5’10” and coming out of Brazil. He has an incredibly controlled and smooth delivery that gets all the extension he can out of the smaller frame and pumping a fastball into the mid-90s. He has long had a curve that flashed plus although his slider is quickly surpassing that as his best secondary offering. He began working in his change in his first pro season last year, and already shows good feel for it. There is little doubt he is a future starter, the only question is whether he settles in the middle of a rotation, or develops into an option as a number one starter.

7)

Player: Jordan Groshans
Position(s): SS/3B Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height:  6’3” Weight: 178 lbs.
Quick Report: Currently a shortstop, Groshans future is likely at third base, especially as he fills out his 6’3” frame. After being selected 12th overall last season, he absolutely raked in the GCL earning himself a call up to the Appy League. His bat is quick to the zone and has some loft to it, suggesting there is above average power to come, which will play well at third. Despite the bat plane being one of a power approach the quickness of the bat will allow him to hit for a solid average. I expect him to be handled aggressively this season, starting at Low A with an opportunity to play his way all the way up to High A.

8)

Player: Sean Reid-Foley
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 219 lbs.
Quick Report: At first glance at the numbers, one might think Reid-Foley has decent command given he has only walked four per nine innings in his Minor League career, but his command is actually his main concern. He has three above-average pitches and a change that solid, but the delivery is inconsistent and whippy, allowing him to throw strikes, just not spot them so well. He is a starter now and has all the stuff to stay in the rotation, but the most likely future is as an elite reliever with three pitches that could possibly play to plus in short outings.

9)

Player: Cavan Biggio
Position(s): 2B Opening Day Age: 23 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Left Throws: Right Height: 6’1” Weight: 204 lbs.
Quick Report: Biggio currently plays second base, but his future is probably more of a corner outfielder. He has the baseball instincts to make up for his below average speed, but plenty of arm to play in right or third, a spot he has seen some time. Unlike his small-statured leadoff hitting dad, Craig, Cavan is a power hitter before contact. The bat can be long and looping, but he can drive the ball to both gaps and pull side.

10)

Player: Miguel Hiraldo
Position(s): 3B Opening Day Age: 18 2018 Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’11” Weight: 170 lbs.
Quick Report: Currently, Hiraldo has a very busy swing with a big bat wrap and leg kick. Despite this, he gets the bat head to the ball surprisingly well and has real plus power upside thanks to the strong frame and natural lift to the swing. His glove will never be a strong suit, but he has plenty of arm to stick at third. He already has a mature body, so there is some concern over a lack of projectability, but the raw power and bat path still give him the upside of an impact bat.

Others of Note:

Adam Kloffenstein – RHP – 18 – Rookie
Hector Perez – RHP – 22 – AA
Orelvis Martinez – SS – 17 – DNP
Anthony Alford – OF – 24 – MLB
Billy McKinney – OF – 24 – MLB
Rowdy Tellez – 1B – 23 – MLB
Griffin Conine – OF – 21 – Short Season A
T.J. Zeuch – RHP – 23 – AA
Trent Thornton – RHP – 25 – AAA

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