Team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins have been trying to to build up the Toronto Blue Jays farm system after the previous regime blew it up. That Jays system has slowly been getting better and deeper, but it still has no top 10 prospect. With two first-round picks in June, though, the system will only get better.
10: Conner Greene, RHP
Greene was drafted in 2013 in the seventh round (pick 205) and he has slowly become one of the better pitchers in the Jays system. Last season, Greene was 6-5 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts as he split time between High-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. Greene figures to be a fourth or fifth starter in the majors, or more immediately a reliever as Greene will compete for a bullpen spot in 2017 spring training. Greene’s fastball is his best pitch, hovering around 94, and his changeup is slowly becoming a great secondary pitch but needs more velocity. Greene’s curveball may be his out pitch in the majors, but if he becomes a starter he should need to add another pitch.
Greene figures to be in Triple-A next season if he doesn’t land a bullpen spot in the big leagues. Greene will be up with the Blue Jays at some time next season and the future of the Jays is slowly arriving.
9: TJ Zeuch, RHP
Zeuch, a towering right hander at 6’7”, was the Blue Jays’ 2016 first-round pick. Zeuch was dominant at the University of Pittsburgh and scouts fell in love with the tall pitcher as he finished with a 6-1 record and a 3.10 ERA. After being drafted, Zeuch split time in three levels of the minor leagues last season. He only pitched nine games, but in his six starts with Low-A Vancouver he put up a solid 3.52 ERA. Zeuch, just like Greene, will be carried through the minors by his fastball, which touches 97 and has a sinking motion. His slider and curveball are his ‘out’ pitches, and he is slowly developing a changeup to add to his repertoire.
Zeuch figures to be in High-A Dunedin and most likely stay there all season or half the year and then New Hampshire. He is probably two or three years away from the majors and projects as a third or fourth starter in the MLB.
8: Jon Harris, RHP
Harris was one of the top prospects entering the 2015 MLB draft, but he slipped a bit and the Blue Jays snatched him up at pick 29. Harris is a tall, athletic right-hander, and his fastball is around 92 but sinks just like Zeuch. Harris’ other pitches are his curveball, changeup, and slider, and all are around average MLB pitches according to multiple MLB scouts. Harris was dominant last season with Dunedin and Lansing, and he should be playing in Double-A New Hampshire next season. Harris’ combined 2016 stats in Dunedin and Lansing were 11-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 24 starts and 129.2 innings pitched.
Harris may push for a roster spot in the big leagues in 2018, but 2019 seems most likely when Harris will be in the rotation.
7: Rowdy Tellez, 1B/DH
Tellez projects to be a designated hitter or a first baseman who hits for power. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 30th round at pick 895 in 2013. Although he was ranked as the 59th-best prospect, Tellez was deemed hard to sign given his commitment to USC, but the failure to sign first-round pick Phil Bickford led to more money being available to sign Tellez. Rowdy last season played in Double-A New Hampshire and hit .297 with 23 home runs and 81 RBIs, as well as a .387 on-base percentage.
Tellez will have a shot to make the Blue Jays out of spring training as a first baseman or DH with Edwin Encarnacion leaving, but he still has to beat out Steve Pearce, Kendrys Morales, and Justin Smoak. It will be more likely to have Tellez play a full year at Triple-A Buffalo and be a September call-up and have 2018 as his first full MLB season.
6: Harold Ramirez, OF
Ramirez was acquired by the Blue Jays along with fellow top prospect Reese McGuire and Francisco Liriano for Drew Hutchison. Ramirez’s best tool is his bat, as last season in the Pirates farm system he hit .306. Ramirez is a on-base guy who doesn’t hit for power but just gets on base. He is currently playing center field but projects more as a left fielder as his arm strength isn’t very good.
Ramirez projects to make the majors in late 2017 or early 2018. The Jays need corner outfielders badly, so Ramirez’s development can’t come soon enough for Toronto.
5: Reese McGuire, C
McGuire, as mentioned above, was acquired from the Pirates on the deadline-day trade that sent Liriano to Toronto and Hutchison to Pittsburgh. McGuire is now deemed the catcher of the future, as Max Pentecost has slowly fallen off a bit. McGuire was considered one the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues last season and, unlike most catchers who are drafted, figures to stick there when he reaches the majors. McGuire in the Pirates farm system hit .259 with a .337 OBP and 37 RBIs. He isn’t much of a hitter, but he can be a bottom of the order bat, and he is a fantastic game manager and fielder, which many teams want in their catcher.
McGuire figures to reach the majors in 2018 as the backup catcher to Russell Martin and eventually take over the starting role when Martin’s contract is up. McGuire will either slide into Double-A New Hampshire or Triple-A Buffalo as the starting catcher to enhance his development even more.
4: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B/3B
Guerrero was a massive addition to the Jays prospect pool when the signing was announced in 2015. Although he is still only 17, his development has come a long way and many scouts seem to think he may make the big leagues when he is 19 or 20. Guerrero is currently playing third base in the minor leagues, but most know he won’t stay there in the majors and will be a first baseman or designated hitter. Last season in rookie ball with Bluefield, Guerrero hit .271 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs.
Guerrero figures to be in Lansing or Dunedin next year and see where it goes from that as he was born in 1999 and and turns 18 in March. Guerrero is miles ahead of most people his age in development.
3: Anthony Alford, OF
Alford was deemed a tough sign entering the 2012 MLB Draft as he had a commitment to play football at Southern Mississippi. The Jays ended up taking a flyer on Alford in the third round and gave him a hefty signing bonus to sign. Alford is a speedy outfielder and 2015 was his breaking out party, but injuries derailed his 2016 season. Alford played in just 92 games last year, hitting .236 with 44 RBIs and 18 stolen bases, as well as a .344 OBP in High-A Dunedin.
Alford will attend the Blue Jays spring training with the hopes of landing one of the available corner outfield spots. If he doesn’t make Toronto, he will likely go to Double-A New Hampshire or Triple-A Buffalo to continue his development. Alford is deemed one of the most ready prospects in the Jays system.
2: Richard Urena, SS
Urena is the Jays’ shortstop of the future and will replace Troy Tulowitzki when his contract is up. Urena signed in 2012 in the international free agent signing period and has shot himself all the way to one of the Jays best prospects. Urena made it to Double-A last season after starting in High-A and combined hit .295 with eight home runs, 59 RBIs, and a .335 OBP. Urena is a switch-hitter who has an average bat but is a great fielder, which will lead him to the majors.
Urena is expected to be back in Double-A New Hampshire next season and may play the full season in Double-A or be a September call-up to the Blue Jays as he is very close to breaking on the scene in Toronto.
1: Sean Reid-Foley, RHP
Reid-Foley is the Blue Jays’ best prospect and was close to not even being a Blue Jay. The Jays took Reid-Foley in the second round (pick 49); he was pegged as first-round talent, but most thought Reid-Foley wasn’t going to sign and go to Florida State. Reid-Foley’s fastball is way above his age and dominates the competition — it can reach 98 but is normally around 93. Reid-Foley also has a changeup, curveball, and slider to go with his fastball, which is a very impressive arsenal. Reid-Foley last season in Lansing and Dunedin combined to be 10-5 with a 2.81 ERA while starting 21 games and throwing 115.1 innings. He projects as a number-two or -three starter in the MLB.
Reid-Foley is destined to start the year in Dunedin and prove last year wasn’t a fluke, and if he has a good start to the year could see a promotion to Double-A. He is likely two or three years away like most prospects in the Jays system.