John Manuel's Top 20 Prospects.

John Manuel of Baseball America has just released his top 20 prospects list. One Blue Jay made the list: Kyle Drabek. Here's what he had to say,

16. Kyle Drabek, rhp, Blue Jays
WHY HE’S HERE: The son of 1990 Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek was the key piece in the Roy Halladay trade and instantly became Toronto’s top prospect. His stuff wasn’t always consistent in 2009, but at his best he has an excellent curveball, a plus fastball and a decent changeup.
WHAT HE’LL BE: If his changeup gets better, Drabek can be a No. 2 starter on a championship team. If not, he could become a Tom Gordon clone as a closer, bringing mid-90s heat and finishing off hitters with his curve.
WHEN HE ARRIVES: Drabek was vulnerable to lefthanded hitters last year, and the Blue Jays have pitching depth, so Drabek should be able to move up to Triple-A and hone his changeup in 2010 without having to immediately deal with the burden of being the Player Traded for Roy Halladay.

Pretty much what we all expected. It seems like people bounce back and forth between both Stewart and Drabek as the number one arm in the system. I suppose that Drabek is a little more iffy: He's younger and less polished; a lot of his potential as a dominant starter is dependent on how well he's able to develop a changeup; and he does have long term injury concerns. Manuel makes an excellent point about the pitching depth. I'm leaning more toward having Drabek spend the entire year and Las Vegas. Let's let the kid cook there for a bit; there's no need to push him throw the system on a team that really has no chance to contend over the next few years.

Sickels releases his top Blue Jay prospects

Minor League guru John Sickels has just released his ranking of Blue Jay prospects. Here are the top 10:

1) Brett Wallace, 1B-3B, Grade B+
2) Zach Stewart, RHP, Grade B+
3) Kyle Drabek, RHP, Grade B+
4) Travis d'Arnaud, C, Grade B
5) Chad Jenkins, RHP, Grade B-
6) David Cooper, 1B, Grade B-
7) Josh Roenicke, RHP, Grade C+
8) Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Grade C+
9) Carlos Perez, C, Grade C+
10) Brad Mills, LHP, Grade C+

Take a look at his post for the complete top 20 list. He also adds brief comments on each player (full comments on every team availible in his yearly).

A few interesting notes: Sickels states that he likes Stewart's stuff a little better than Drabek's. The more I hear about Stewart, the more I'm really starting to get excited about the kid. Sickels also states, "A rotation of Drabek/Stewart/Jenkins could spin a lot of quality innings if everyone pans out." Now, just think of all the possible 4-5 guys.

On the League trade.

Sometimes brilliant, sometimes very frustrating reliever for a young sometimes brilliant, sometimes very frustrating starter; both are fireballers. Obviously, this deal is too heavily weighted in the Jays' favour to not have another player involved: a prospect. Consensus now seems to be that the prospect is Johermyn Chavez. Cringe. This doesn't sit well with me—although it does sit a lot better than the delusion of some Mariner fans believing that we'd actually deal Wallace, Snider, Stewart, or Lind. The nerve!—I was looking forward to Chavez: The kid is young, and he plays a position that seems to be a deep dark void in the organization.

Yeah yeah, he repeated Low-A last year. The kid was 20 years old and he put up decent numbers at the plate during his mulligan year: He posted a wOBA of .371, a ISO of .191, and a .346 OBP; the kid hits for decent power and gets on base. He could certainly improve on his 7.3% BB rate and 27% K rate. He's young and needs polishing—of course. But I'd certainly take a 20% K rate if his ISO was .200+. All in all, he's a RF/LF prospect. Enough said.

A quick look at Brandon Morrow. He's projected to be a number 3 guy. He's hard throwing: his fast ball sits at around 95mph. He's got control issues and sometimes has trouble with his curve. He spend time in both AAA and the MLB last year playing in 10 (starting all 10) and 26 (starting 10) games respectively. His numbers weren't spectacular with Seattle: His tRA was 5.54 (a tRA of 3.00 would be considered very good), and his xFIP was 4.89 (again an xFIP of 3.00 would be considered elite for a starter). He averaged a nice 8.14 K/9 in the MLB last year, but also recorded a 5.68 BB/9.

So, why Morrow. Simple: (i) He's major league ready and can eat innings; (ii) He does have potential; and (iii) We might one day see him as a setup/closer type in the bullpen. Personally, I still think hanging on to Chavez would have been better; there must have been another Hi-A prospect? Is the pantry that bare?

Mat at Blue Jays Daze postulates what the rotation could be like in 2010:

1 - Ricky Romero (25): stats for 2009, 29 GS, 178 IP, 141 Ks, 4.30 ERA, 1.522 Whip (14 IP in minors)

2 - Shaun Marcum (28): stats for 2009, did not pitch due to injury (15 IP in minors as rehab)

3 - Brett Cecil (22): stats for 2009, 17 GS, 93.1 IP, 69 Ks, 5.30 ERA, 1.650 Whip (49 IP in minors)

4 - Brandon Morrow (25): stats for 2009, 10 GS, 69.2 IP, 63 Ks, 4.39 ERA, 1.579 Whip (55 IP in minors)

5 - Marc Rzepczynski (24): stats for 2009, 11 GS, 61.1 IP, 60 Ks, 3.67 ERA, 1.321 Whip (88 IP in minors)

Zack Stewart could be ready to see some action next year, and look forward to Kyle Drabek in 2011. The above rotation also leaves Scott Richmond out, and he could find a good home in the pen—frankly, he's probably better there. Best case for Jesse Litch is July-August, which might be perfect timing when innings begin to be a problem for the young arms. And, of course, there's also the Dustin McGowan mystery. A little further down the line we also have Reidier Gonzalez and Luis Perez.

Hopefully the pitchers who are going to be established parts of moving forward will make a strong case by the 2012 season. In the meantime, won't it be fun to watch it all unfold?

Just a reminder...

When John Lackey signed with the Red Sox, that sweet sweet first round draft pick we got from them turned into a second round pick; number 70 overall. You kind of had to see this coming. The Sox were bound to pickup a top corner outfielder—I was hoping Bay would resign and this wouldn't be a problem—or they would beef up the starting rotation. They did the latter and got Mike Cameron as well.

The draft situation still looks good:

First Round:

#11 (their own)


#33 (For Scutaro)

#38 (for failing to sign James Paxton, a 2009 sandwich rounder)

Second Round:

#52 (Their own)

#69 (for failing to sign Jake Eliopolous, a 2009 second-round pick)

#70 (For Scutaro)

Third Round:

#84 (the Jays' third-round pick)

#104 (for their failure to sign Jake Barrett, a Jays' 3rd-round pick in 2009).

Assume that Barajas is gone, and you can add another supplemental pick. That included, the Jays have 9 picks in the first 3 rounds, and 5 in the top 50ish.

And apparently we'll have the money to sign these picks...


Red's restructure Rolen; opening for the Jays.

The Cincinnati Reds and Scott Rolen—former GBOAT—have agreed to a restructured contract. The contract is now worth $23.625MM through 2012. I haven't heard much of Rolen since his concision, but by the sounds of this, it seems like he should be healthy and good to go for the start of the season. Gotta love Rolen.

Question: Does that put Juan Francisco on the trade radar?

Juan Francisco - 21 y/o 3B prospect ranked number 5 in the Reds' system by BA. Switch hitter.

What could the Jays ship? Overbay is unfortunately out of the question; he'd be a downgrade from Joey Votto. Would the Reds be interested in some bullpen help? Think Accardo and Tallet. Tallet is at a high right now and we all know that Accardo wants out. However, how much is Tallet worth to the Jays young starting rotation. He may be worth a lot—Tallet might have to eat a lot of innings in the pen this season.

Could add Cooper, Dopirak, Arencibia, or even d'Arnaud to the package. The way I see it, both Cooper and Dopirak are blocked at first base if Wallace works out; and one of Arencibia or d'Arnaud will hopefully turn into the infamous "catcher of the future."

Since I'm talking about 3rd base, which is a definite long term hole, I should also note that all might not be lost on the farm. Kevin Ahrens had a forgettable season in Hi-A last year. Expect him to start the season in Dunedin again. Brad Emaus had a so-so season in AA last year. He has played third base and could be permanently transitioned is need me.

Anyway. This is all a results of my lingering prospect hard-on from the Halladay swap.

On Drabek and a few other tidbits...

At the beginning of last year, people were saying number two or three starter in Drabek, but 2009 was a big year for him; it was his first year back from Tommy John's. Drabek had a very good 2009: his ERA was a little up, but his K:BB ratio was a very commanding 3.5:1. I heard something today that said he strikes out something like 30% of batters that he faces. He's got great command of his fastball, but his K pitch is a hard bitting 12-6 curve. He's currently working on a change up, which would be the final piece to make him a 4-pitch starter: fastball +, curve +, slider, change up (still young so could be a 4-plus pitcher). After his season last year, people are saying that his ceiling is very high. This will be his second season back from TJ surgery, so theoretically he should have his power back. He'll be starting in AA. Baseball America (one of the top prospect people) call him the number one prospect in the system.

Also, don't forget about Zach Stewart—remember him, we got him in the Rolan deal. He's supposed to be a pretty good young arm too. He has a chance to make the team out of spring training, but he's still young, so another year in AAA wouldn't hurt. According to BA, Stewart is the number 2 pitcher in the system, and sits about 4th overall.

Another really interesting thing that I heard today concerned scouting. One of the first thing that AA did when he came to power was to almost immediately increase the number of scouts in the organization—in fact, they about doubled the number of both professional and amateur scouts in the system. Did not know that. Actually, it was also said that under JP, the Jays ceased to scout high-schoolers... go figure.

BA is set to release their annual Prospect Handbook (I'm probably going to pick up a copy). They have Drabek ranked number one and Wallace ranked number two (I think they have d'Arnaud somewhere 6-7ish, but don't quote me yet). So, for Halladay we got two prospects better than anything we had before. Guess who they have third: our boy Arencibia. He's ranked higher than d'Arnaud because he's more advanced in development than d'Arnaud.

One more thing, I also heard that Wallace has a good chance of making the team out of spring training if there's no one blocking him at first base—ahem Overbay.