Blue Jays Top Prospects: Snakes and Ladders


Now that the minor league season is (almost) over, I’m taking a look back at my top 30 Blue Jays prospect list and seeing who’s progressed, stagnated or regressed.

In Snakes and Ladders (if you’ve somehow never played), landing on a ladder bumps you ahead a row (or more), landing on a snake bumps you down a row (or more) and sometimes you just move ahead a few tiles based on the number you roll. This is the inspiration for my brand new, hi-tech, prospect evaluation system.

A prospect with a “ladder” rating took a step forward this year. A “snake” means they took a step back. “A few tiles forward/back” for something in between

The list is in order of my preseason top 30. Let’s play prospect Snakes and Ladders!

  1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — Ladder (huge). He was already number one before the season, now perhaps number one in all of baseball. 18 years old and .323/.426/.486 @ A/A+
  2. Anthony Alford — Ladder (big). MLB debut and .310 .406 .429 @ AA. Short stints in Dunedin and Buffalo too. Could challenge for MLB role next year.
  3. Sean Reid-Foley — Snake (small). 5.08 ERA/4.87 FIP @ AA. The numbers look crooked but being a 21 year old in AA ball is no picnic. Lots to learn from.
  4. Rowdy Tellez — Snake. AAA ball was going to be a bigger challenge but a .300 drop in OPS from 2016 to 2017 was unexpected. Slashed .222 .296 .331 @ AAA. Just 22.
  5. Richard Urena * — Ladder. He did make his MLB debut but slashed just .247 .286 .359 at AA. Impressive so far in MLB audition. Still 21.
  6. Jon Harris — Snake (small). Similar story to Reid-Foley. 5.41 ERA 4.54 FIP @ AA. Only had 8 starts Dunedin in 2016 before promotion to AA this year.
  7. T.J Zeuch — Ladder. 3.38 ERA 3.53 FIP @ A+. Rising to a new challenge at Dunedin, and dealing with injuries, the 22 year old righty improved on his 2016 stats.
  8. Conner Greene — Snake. The hard throwing 22 year righty put up a 5.30 ERA/4.47 FIP in AA, a step back from his 4.19 ERA in 12 starts at the same level the year before.
  9. Reese McGuire — Ladder. In spite of injuries, posted a .295/.376/.483 slashline in 45 games @ GCL/A+/AA. Did not make an error.
  10. Bo Bichette — Ladder (gargantuan). No Blue Jays prospect saw their stock increase more than Bo—perhaps no prospect in the league. Hit .365 .426 .570 @ A/A+. 19 years of age.
  11. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — Snake (big). There was speculation at the time of the signing that Gurriel might be major league ready. Turns out he wasn’t AA ready. Slashing just .229 .268 .339 @ A+/AA, we’ll give Lourdes some grace given the transition to North American baseball.
  12. Justin Maese — Snake (small). 4.84ERA 3.48FIP @ A. The ERA is ugly but the FIP suggests some ill luck. Even still, the 20 year old pitched better at Lansing the year before. 
  13. Harold Ramirez — Snake (big). Remaining at AA in 2017, Ramirez slashed .266 .320 .358, roughly .100 OPS worse than 2016. Still young for AA at 22.
  14. Angel Perdomo — Back a few tiles. Moving up to Dunedin, Perdomo saw his nearly all his stats worsen from an impressive 2016 campaign. 3.70 ERA/4.59FIP. The lefty dealt with injuries as well.
  15. J.B Woodman — Snake. Sophomore slump? .240 .320 .378 @ A after an impressive ’16 pro debut at A-/A. 22 years old.
  16. Max Pentecost — Snake (small). He only caught 20 games this season and spent the rest DHing or at first. Hit .276 .332 .434. @ A+, solid numbers but a fairly steep drop off from the year before. 
  17. Ryan Borucki — Ladder (Big). Borucki saw his stock increase the most out of the Blue Jays’ pitching prospects. 2.93 ERA/2.59 FIP @ A+/AA/AAA. 
  18. Joshua Palacios — Unmoved. Slashed .280 .360 .361 @ A. Didn’t show anything beyond what he accomplished in 2016. 
  19. Francisco Rios — Snake (small). 4.29 ERA/4.67 FIP @AA. Hit a bit of a wall in AA similar to Harris and Reid-Foley
  20. Zach Jackson — Ladder. Moved up a level and was promoted again mid-season. 2.03 ERA/2.28 FIP @ A+ (3.15 ERA @ A). Solid progression for the 22 year old right handed reliever.
  21. Patrick Murphy — Ladder. 2.94 ERA/4.08 FIP @ A (also pitched for A+ and GCL). The 22 year old righty was pretty much the only bright spot in Lansing’s rotation.
  22. Jose Espada — A few spaces ahead.  5.14 ERA/4.30 FIP @ A-. The ERA doesn’t tell the whole story. He saw his 2016 5.4 K/9 increase to 9.4 K/9 in 2017. 
  23. Yennsy Diaz — Ladder. 4.79 ERA/4.72FIP @ A. The 20 year old right handed starter skipped right from Bluefield in 2016 to Lansing in 2017, lowered ERA and improved peripherals. 
  24. Dwight Smith Jr. — Ladder. Hit .273 .350 .392 @ AAA. Made his MLB debut and acquitted himself well in a short stint. 
  25. Danny Jansen — Ladder (massive) .323 .400 .484 @A+/AA/AAA. Increased his 2016 OPS by .300 points in 2017. The 22 year old could make the jump to the majors soon.
  26. Reggie Pruitt — Ladder (small). .229 .297 .297 @ A-. Speedster (28 SB) but an anemic bat. Slightly better numbers at the dish this year.
  27. Roemon Fields — Ladder. Slashed .283 .344 .345 @AA/AAA. Had similar issues as Pruitt but after promotion to AAA, Fields experienced a breakthrough at the plate. Blazing speed: 49 SB. The 26 year old could serve as MLB OF depth next season.
  28. Jonathan Davis — Ahead a bit. Hit .251 .363 .382 @ AA. The 25 year old maintained a great on base percentage but lost some power and baserunning efficiency moving up a level this year.
  29. Cavan Biggio — Ladder. Slashed .235 .344 .366 @ A+. Rose to a new offensive challenge and improved defensively. 
  30. Jordan Romano — Ladder. 3.39 ERA/2.98 FIP @ A+ in 138 IP. 

(I’m aware there are other stats than slash lines and ERA/FIP. I looked at many others but used these here to keep things simple and consistent)

Unranked/Acquired during season:

Teoscar Hernandez * —  Unmoved. Hit .265 .351 .490 @ AAA, similar what he accomplished at the level the previous year. MLB stint has been unremarkable.

Thomas Pannone — Ladder. 2.36 ERA @AA/A+. The 23 year old left handed starter could be in Buffalo’s rotation next year.

Carlos Ramirez * — Ladder (huge). 0.00 ERA @ AA/AAA/MLB (debut). The 26 year old converted outfielder seems on track to crack the Blue Jays’ bullpen next year.

Chris Rowley * — Ladder (Big). 2.24 ERA @AAA/AA. MLB debut. The 26 year old military man looks like a viable rotation depth option for the Blue Jays in 2018

Tim Mayza * — Ladder. 3.25 ERA @AAA/AA. Rough going so far in MLB Debut for the 25 year old lefty.

Raffy Lopez *— not a prospect but wow, really figured something out at age 29. 19 professional home runs this season after hitting one last year and nearly a .400 point OPS increase.

*= Currently on Blue Jays’ roster

Final tally:

22 moved ahead (18 on preseason list)

11 moved back (all on preseason list)

2 unmoved (1 on preseason list)




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