3/10/2014 11:00 A.M. ET
How do Blue Jays' prospects fit Toronto's needs?
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays' greatest need is to bolster their starting pitching.
There is no question Toronto felt it was making significant moves to increase the depth of its roster with recent multiplayer trades. But trades have cost the Blue Jays prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Travis d'Arnaud, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Nester Molina and Yan Gomes. That's a tremendous group of prospects no longer in the system. And while they did gain returns on those players, the trades stripped the organization of pitching and position depth.
However, each of their major deals involved prospects. There are some components of the farm system that are on the brink of Major League work.
PROJECTED 2016 LINEUPProjecting the Blue Jays' 2016 lineup based on players currently in their system.
While I think it will be difficult for him to crack the rotation coming out of Spring Training, right-hander Marcus Stroman is a complete pitcher with good mechanics and an ability to step in as a starter sooner than later. When I saw Stroman in the Arizona Fall League, he was throwing with ease and retiring batters by changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance.
At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Stroman makes the most of his size, with a good arsenal of pitches that includes a four-seam fastball at 95 mph, a wicked changeup at 85 mph, a slider, a curveball and a cutter that comes in at about 93 mph. His loose arm, easy release and "attack mode" approach keep hitters guessing. I really think Stroman can step in quickly if a starter falters.
Another Blue Jays starter with potential to crack the rotation is right-hander Aaron Sanchez. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Sanchez has the size that Stroman lacks. From his big frame comes fairly reliable and smooth mechanics with a deceptive fastball that he brings regularly in the mid to high 90s. Sanchez is especially tough on left-handed batters. He keeps the ball down in the zone and is tough to hit.
Sanchez can lose focus for a batter or two and suddenly loses his release point, negatively impacting his command. But he corrects that quickly and gets back in a groove. Last year, Sanchez's walk rate was high at Class A Advanced Dunedin, where he allowed an average of 4.2 free passes per nine innings.
Catcher A.J. Jimenez may be in the mix at some future point. Even after experiencing Tommy John surgery, he has a strong arm that nails runners. He's a good defensive catcher. Jimenez is a 6-foot, 210-pound right-handed hitter who hits line drives.
Sean Nolin is a 6-foot-5, 235-pound left-handed pitcher with promise. Despite great size and strength, Nolin doesn't have an outstanding "go to" pitch. Rather, he mixes and matches between a good fastball that has a velocity from 88-94 mph, an effective slider and a changeup. Nolin also throws a curveball that doesn't have the same quality of his other offerings. He keeps hitters off balance.
Roberto Osuna is a 19-year-old prospect from Mexico. While it is still early in his development, he has shown a nice fastball/changeup combination that could allow him to remain a starter or move to the bullpen. Osuna averages over 10 strikeouts per nine innings. He is especially tough against lefties, using the changeup as an out pitch.
Left-hander Daniel Norris is another highly regarded pitcher. Norris has work to do on his mechanics, as at times he struggles to repeat his delivery and gets out of sync easily. He can hit 96 mph with his fastball and also throws a curveball and a changeup. Norris is a work in progress, but the upside is promising.
Infield help may begin with Franklin Barreto, a highly regarded Venezuelan shortstop. He is accomplished both as a hitter and a defender. Barreto is extremely athletic, with a strong 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame. A line-drive hitter, he has quick hands and feet and profiles to be an above-average Major League player.
Third baseman Mitch Nay may be just what the Blue Jays need at the hot corner. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound former first-rounder projects as a middle-of-the-order hitter with power. His contact rate is excellent.
Probably the most dynamic and exciting future Blue Jay is outfielder D.J. Davis. The 6-foot-1 Davis has power from the left side of the plate and enough speed to steal bases and patrol center field very well. He is young and inexperienced, but he has all the tools to be an impact player.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.