Earlier this season, Minor League Ball's John Sickels took a look at the Jays' farm system and set forth a list of the Jays' top 20 prospects. Now, with just a few weeks left in the minor-league season, Sickels brings us an update on how each has progressed, giving us the good and bad news. He's still quite high on Travis Snider and Brett Cecil. Some other high/low points:
- David Cooper, 1B, Grade B: Hitting .255/.333/.372 for Double-A New Hampshire. Very disappointing, no power, mediocre batting average and OBP, looks like I overrated him. BB/K ratio is decent, so he still has a chance to improve but needs to make progress quickly in '10.
- J.P. Arencibia, C, Grade B-: Hitting .224/.272/.409 for Triple-A Las Vegas. Poor strike zone judgment is holding production back. Good with the glove but has needs big adjustments with the bat.
- Ricky Romero, LHP, Grade C+: 10-5, 3.66 with 90/44 K/BB in 116 major league innings. One of the best rookie pitchers in baseball, somewhat surprising after a mediocre minor league career. The talent was always there, but he lacked consistency before.
- Mark Rzepczynski, LHP, Grade C+: 2.86 ERA with 104/40 K/BB in 88 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, 4.38 ERA with 37/19 K/BB in 37 innings in the majors. Looks good so far.
Generally, things aren't looking great on the hitting side, though I do think Cooper seems to be improving and you have to give him credit for starting his first full professional season at AA, a tough test for any minor-league hitter. In addition, there are some hitters Sickels' didn't rank that have shown substantial improvement this season - Moises Sierra, Johermyn Chavez, Adam Loewen, and a couple of others. On the pitching side, the system itself looks a bit thin but only because Romero, Cecil, Ray, Mills, and Rzepczynski all made their major-league debuts this year. In particular the trio of Romeo, Cecil, and Rzepczynski look like an excellent threesome on the left-handed pitching side - but Rzepczynski has a lot more still to prove and Romero and Cecil have to avoid the dread injury bug as they start to shoulder big league workloads. Also, the system will get an infusion of pitching if the Jays can sign their 2009 draftees - Jenkins, Paxton, Eliopolous - which is much needed.
The truth is, the Jays system is really interesting in that it never gets very highly ranked by people who rank prospects systems, but it has been extremely consistent in developing major-league players for the Jays. It's not flashy, but it has been an effective source of cheap, quality major-league players. Halladay, Romero, Cecil, Rzepczynski, Hill, Lind, League, Wells (a week ago we could have added Rios to the list) - all are Jays draftees, and of course don't forget Marcum, Janssen, Litsch, and McGowan. Many other current Jays have spent significant development time in the Jays' minor-league system.
Of course, once the minor-league season rounds up, Bluebird Banter will take a look at the system's season in review and review and update our own top 30 prospects list. Lots of changes, I think we'll find.