A Minor Review of 2017: Toronto Blue Jays

First Taste of The Show: Anthony Alford, OF: Perhaps the most athletic player in the system, Alford also has the type of maturity and professionalism that turns very good players into star. The downside to Alford, though, is that he’s been injury prone throughout his career and has a worrisome history of concussions stemming from his days as a star high school football player. Alford, 23, has a great eye at the plate so he should produce excellent on-base averages to help take advantage of his plus speed. He trimmed his previously-hefty strikeout rate in 2017 but it came at the expense of fewer hard-hit balls. He could sell out and hit 20+ homers but he’s probably better off focusing on getting on base and keeping the power more in the range of 10-12 homers per year.

The 2018 Big Leaguer: T.J. Zeuch, RHP: Zeuch struggled to stay healthy in 2017 and that is a yellow flag heading into the 2018 season. He was good-to-go in the Arizona Fall League, though, and performed very well against some good (and not-so-good) prospects. This 6-7 right-hander isn’t a stud but he should provide lots of innings as a No. 3 starter in The Show. His fastball is very good with velocity sitting mostly in the 92-95 mph range. It has incredible sink due to the downward plane that Zeuch exploits. He’s also athletic for a big man and should field his position well.

The Stud: Vlad Guerrero Jr., 3B: I don’t feel the need to write too much about Vlad Jr., who is widely considered to be among the Top 5 prospects in all of baseball. He has the potential to be a plus hitter with plus power. He doesn’t exactly have an enviable frame but he’s a smart base runner who won’t clog the bases despite modest speed and his third base defence could eventually mirror that of Pablo Sandoval, in his prime. He should turn into an everyday player for the Jays in mid-2019 at the ripe old age of 20.

The Draft Pick: Nate Pearson, RHP: The Jays selection of Pearson could go down as the best selection of an amateur arm this side of Noah Syndergaard. He’s a big, strong-bodied right-hander with a potentially-plus slider. His biggest needs as he enters full-season ball in 2018 will be to polish a third pitch and show that his improved command/control are for real and not the element of a small sample size. He has top-of-the-rotation potential with average or better command/control.

The Riser: Danny Jansen, C: Drafted out of high school, Jansen spent two seasons in rookie ball before hitting full-season ball. He then lost a lot of development time over the next two years due to injuries. Healthy in 2017, he had a well-documented explosion in value and played at three different minor league levels. He has a chance to hit for a good average, he takes a ton of walks (more than he strikes out) and he started driving the ball more consistently in 2017. The big question mark is how good defensively he’ll be — as there are a lot of different views — but he should be good enough to play everyday behind the plate.

The Sleeper: Edward Olivares, OF: Outside of Danny Jansen, no other prospect saw their value increase more than Olivares. He was overshadowed by the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in low-A ball but the young outfielder ranked impressively in statistics in the Midwest League: Doubles: 6th, Triples: 3rd, Homers: 7th, AVG: 12th, SLG: 3rd. Olivares is very athletic and his breakout season is even more impressive if you consider that he missed almost all of 2016 due to injury. He has 20-20 potential and his biggest need is to become more selective at the plate. He has the skill to be a center-fielder in the Majors but also the strong arm for right-field (He led the league in assists at 14). Olivares was recently traded to the Padres.





Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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jbona3
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Member
jbona3

Does Alford make the team out of camp? And how does the Grichuk acquisition impact that?

Keyser Soze
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Keyser Soze

I suspect Alford comes into play if the Jays decide to move Pillar at some point, likely for pitching. Otherwise he starts at AAA and could force his way up if he does well and another OF like Pillar is traded later, injured or does not perform to expectations.