‘Tis the Season for Top Prospect Lists

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As we unsteadily march towards spring training – whatever form it ultimately takes – top prospects lists are popping up like so many Wiarton Willies (Canada’s version of Punxsutawney Phil).

As you likely know, the Blue Jays have placed four prospects on MLB pipeline’s Top 100.

Nate Pearson checks in at 10, Austin Martin at 22, Jordan Groshans is at 46, and Simeon Woods Richardson at 87, with Orelvis Martinez likely knocking on the door. If you want a core for a contending team, you could do far worse with that group.

But there’s more! Over at Baseball America (behind the paywall), the good scribes at BA have broken down this year’s top prospects by position.

In the Top 40 RHP list, Pearson ranks 3rd, SWR checks in at 18, Alex Manoah is 33rd, and Adam Kloffenstein cracks the list at 38.

Here’s a sample of BA’s scouting report of SWR:

His athleticism helps him repeat his delivery consistently and locate his fastball to all quadrants of the strike zone, with a chance for plus or better control. He gets good extension out front on his 91-95 mph fastball which has late, riding life when he pitches up in the zone. He mixes and matches three secondary pitches to miss bats, including a tick above-average slider and a deceptive changeup that improved in 2020 to become a plus pitch. Woods Richardson also throws an average curveball, though he goes to his slider more with two strikes.

On BA’s top SS prospects list, Groshans sits at 7, while Martinez is 19th. Both are fairly impressive considering the short career samples both have posted so far, and that one of both will likely move off of the position in the future. There is no question about Groshans’ bat – his ability to control the strike zone and use the whole field will no doubt one day play well at the Rogers Centre as he grows into his power. The progress of his footwork and first step reactions will ultimately determine his place on the field. The bat will play. Martinez, as well, seems destined to move to a corner spot, but he too seems well suited to the Rog from an offensive standpoint. The best SS prospect in the system from a defensive position is Leo Jimenez, a glove-first player who showed some promise at the development camp in Florida last fall.

Alejandro Kirk was ranked 7th on BA’s top C prospects list, with an honourable mention to Gabriel Moreno.

It’s not surprising that Martin did not appear on any of BA’s breakdown lists. Conversations with club officials give the indication that a decision is not imminent on where he will be positioned when play returns. There is no question about his athleticism, but it seems as if he’ll need some time to develop into an average fielder. He also may well become a guy who plays a multiple of positions in order to keep his bat in the lineup.

Who might crack a Top 100 list next year? Martinez seems a solid bet, along with Manoah and Moreno, possibly even Kloffenstein. Much will depend on the graduation rate of the top guys head of them. CJ Van Eyk, last year’s 2nd round pick has an outside shot, and if you’re looking for a real long shot, Sem Robberse might be in the conversation.

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