Last year, as well as a Top 30 Prospect list, we had a list of Just Missed Out players. Guys we considered for the list but didn't quite make the list. Putting together the list is not an easy thing, comparing 18 year olds in Rookie ball to 26 year olds in Triple-A really doesn't work all that well, but it is a fun exercise. I think we got a lot right last year and a few wrong.
A couple of years ago we had an 11 player prospect list, but each year we've added good looking young players to the system. Maybe this year we will need a 40 player list to get everyone on that deserves it.
Our Just Miss Out players from last year, as listed in this post by Hugo:
Kevin Ahrens, 3B - Ahrens was our first round pick in 2007. He really hasn't done much since to warm our hearts. Last year he started at Dunedin and hit poorly in 28 games (.187/.241/.290) and was moved down to Lansing. The Jays swapped him and Mark Sobolewski around. As well as sending him down the level, they also told Kevin to give up on switch-hitting and focus on swinging from the right side. The demotion must have seemed like a bad thing to Kevin, but he had been pushed pretty aggressively through the levels up until that point, bringing him down one put him in with players that were mostly his age. He didn't set the league on fire in Lansing, .265/.319/.423 with 8 home runs in 66 games. Not great but a small step up. The Jays moved him back to Dunedin at the end of the season. He was just 21 this year, so it is too early to write him off, but he almost has to show something this year to even remotely be considered a prospect. We aren't deep in third base prospects. I'm pulling for the guy.
Reider Gonzalez, RHP - Now going by the name Rey. With the year he had, he should really go back to Reider. Started the year in Vegas and was awful, even by PCL standards, with a 9.18 ERA in 16 starts. Even with that ERA he was 6-6. I guess the only good part was that he continued to be an extreme ground ball pitcher getting 1.5 ground ball outs per fly out. He was moved back to New Hampshire and didn't fare much better there going 2-4, with a 6.93 ERA in 9 starts. Turns 25 next month.
Sean Ochinko, C, 3B, 1B - An 11th pick in 2009, he's outplayed his slot. Hit .311/.360/.459 with 8 HR in 109 games at Lansing, so not quite as much power or average as he showed in Auburn the year before. He does need to show power, he's got no speed and his defence isn't thought to be great at any of the positions he plays. He is an interesting problem for a prospect list. I can't see him being a full time player at any position in the majors but he could be an interesting utility guy that catch and play the corner infield spots and his bat could be good enough to be a pinch-hitter. How many teams carry a player like that on their 25-man roster? He really needs to show improvement in the power numbers and he needs to show more patience at the plate. Sean had a great second half of the season, hitting .342/.375/.485. You'd have to think he's earned himself a spot on our list. 22 years old.
Yan Gomes, C - Is there any other team as deep in catcher prospects as we are? Yan started the yeah in Lansing and moved up early to Dunedin. Hit .270/.312/.489 with 9 home runs in 68 games there. He could learn how to take a walk. Threw out 32% of base stealers so looks to have a decent arm. Unfortunately for Yan we are up to our armpits in catcher prospects, so he'll likely be in our near miss group again. Turned 23 in the middle of the season.
Egan Smith, LHP - 7th round pick in 2009 that got off to a good start his first few pro games last year. He was really good again this year, winning his first two starts at Auburn, without allowing an earned run, then continuing to pitch well at Lansing, going 7-4 with a 4.54 ERA there. Egan gave up a few more hits than you'd like to see (11.1 per 9) but didn't walk many and had a good SO/BB rate (2.95). Just 21 last year. We have a lot of good pitching prospects so it might be hard to include him in our list, but he'll be worth watching in the future.
Chuck Huggins, LHP - Picked by the Jays in the 23rd round of the 2008 draft. He had a pretty good season again this year, going 11-4 with a 3.47 ERA in Dunedin before being moved up to New Hampshire for his last couple of starts of the season. His number need to be taken with a grain of salt as he was 24, a little old for Lansing. He didn't strike out enough batters, 6.4/9. A fly ball pitcher getting .55 ground outs per fly out. I like him well enough but I think his upside is a lefty out of the pen and we have a lot of LHPs, like that, in front of him.
Bobby Bell, RHP - Another late round 2008 draft pick. Spent most of his season at New Hampshire and didn't do well there, 3-2, 6.24 in 10 starts. Gave up too many hits, too many homers. Missed some time with injuries. Didn't play himself onto our prospect list.
Mark Sobolewski, 3B - Started the year at Lansing and hit well there, 313/.343/.488 with 4 HR in 44 games. Switched spots with Kevin Ahrens and played 70 games at Dunedin, not faring quite well there .262/.317/.411. He turns 24 in December. He really needs to start showing some power soon to be a real corner infield prospect. At his age he better be at New Hampshire next year. I can't see him making our list this year.
Luis Perez, LHP - Started the year in New Hampshire and was ok, 5-6 with a 4.54 but walked an ugly 4.5 batters per 9 and only struck out 6/9. Moved up to Vegas and was equally unimpressive there going 5-5 with a 6.13 ERA, walking 4.9 and striking out 5.8 per 9 innings. Turns 26 in January. Won't be on our prospect list.
So we've looked back at the 30 guys that were on our prospect list last year and the 9 near misses. With the number of good young players Alex has added to the system in the last year, we have quite the job ahead to come up with our new prospect list.
The title is from a John Hiatt song, Go Down Swinging off his newest CD Open Road. It seemed to fit.