Hugo got us started on our Top 40 Prospect countdown, earlier in the week and I've been procrastinating over getting on this part of it done. The amazing thing about doing this 40 player list is there were a number of interesting players that didn't make the list.
30. Michael McDade (number 28 last year): I think I had him a few spots higher (I'm a sucker for guys that can hit the ball a long way). He hit 21 home runs, at Dunedin, in a pitchers league and had a .267/.315/..448 line. McDade does have to learn to take a walk and could strikeout less, if he wants to move up the list. He was our Webster award winner, team MVP in Dunedin. He had a great little run in the Fall league, hitting .375/.450/.557, with 11 walk and 13 strikeouts in 88 at bats. Michael is a big guy at 6'1" and 260 lb (so he is almost Prince Fielder sized). He turns 22 next May.
29. Brian Jeroloman (not listed last year): Brian had been on our list two years ago, but fell off with a poor 2009 season. This year he was really good in his second time around that New Hampshire, hitting .261/.429/.419. He's got a lot of things going for him, he's got a good arm and is good defensively, he's a left handed batter and has a really good eye at the plate. If we weren't up to our armpits in catching prospects, he'd be higher up on the list. I don't think he'd be an All-Star starting catcher, but he'd be at least as good as most of the backup catchers in the game. And, sometimes, backup catchers get to be starters for a couple of seasons at some point in their careers. It is nice to see that he's been added to the 40 man roster. He would be fine as a fill in if there is an injury.
28. Chris Hawkins (new to the system): Hawkins was picked in the third round with our 8th draft pick this year. The Jays grabbed him out of high school in Georgia. He played SS in high school (aren't all none pitching prospects shortstops in high school?), but the Jays played him at 3B and left field in the GCL. He didn't overwhelm in his 46 games there (.255/.324/.350), but you shouldn't read too much into the first few pro games of any player. He's said to have a 'high ceiling' as a hitter, he should hit for a high average and has good gap power that should improve as he fills out. Chris also runs well, he stole 8 bases in his 46 games. Defensively he has a strong arm and could end up at third or center field. I totally missed him on my first pass, fortunately Hugo picked up on him.
27. Marcus Knecht (new to the system): Knecht was also picked in the third round, after Hawkins out of Connors State College. He had a nice start to his pro career, hitting .268/.345/.437 with 5 home runs and 7 steals at Auburn. He is a big guy, 6'3", 210 lb, but still runs pretty well and should turn out to be an average corner outfielder defensively. He has really good power.
26. Brad Mills (10th last year): Brad didn't have a bad year, a 4.97 ERA at Vegas is pretty decent. He struck out 100 in 112.1 innings there. He will be 26 in March. I like him, but at best he'll be a back of the rotation type of starter and with the pitchers we have coming up through the system, it likely won't be with us. He made 3 starts and 4 relief appearances with the Jays, posting an 5.64 ERA, he struck out 18 in 22.1 major league innings.
25. Kellen Sweeney (new to the system): Another that we picked in the third round this year, he was our 6th overall pick out of Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids Iowa. A high school shortstop the Jays played him at third in his few games in the GCL. He had a good 16 games there, hitting .267/.450/.444. He's said to have a good bat with good power. Likely he'll end up at third base and would be good there defensively. The brother of A's outfielder Ryan Sweeney. Kellen had Tommy John Surgery in 2009.
24. Gustavo Pierre (17th last year): An international free agent, he moved up from the GCL to Auburn this year. He didn't hit great, .236/.283/.344 with 3 home runs and 8 steals in 66 games. At least he learned to take a walk this year, jumping from 3 in 2009 to 17 last year. He is still just 18, so he was very young for his level. Gustavo is a big guy, 6'3" so as he fills out he's likely that he'll have to move over to third. He is really a raw talent, we'll just have to hope that he develops the way everyone thinks he should, I had him lower down on the list, so this is a compromise.
23. David Cooper (12th last year): Our first round pick in 2008 out of the University of California, Berkley was looking like a bust, in his second season in New Hampshire, until the middle of the season when he suddenly started hitting. David hit .192 in May and .211 in June then in July he hit .317/.398/.529 and .286/.369/.480 in August. The question is: did he suddenly find the secret to his swing or was it just a hot streak? Us Blue Jay fans don't have to look far to find a player that suddenly found his stroke He will be 24 going into next season so he is really going to have to show something if he wants to stay on the prospect lists. I'd think the Jays would want him in Triple-A next year.
22. Darin Mastroianni (26th last year): Our 16th round pick in 2007 out of University of Southern Indiana. You guys know the year he had, .301/.390/.398 with 46 steals. He hit even better in the Venezuela Winter League, going .372/.463/.469 with 10 stolen bases in 31 games. There really isn't much bad you can say about him, his defense in CF looks good, has a good arm. He is 25 now. The Jays added him to their 40-man roster, but then they also traded for Rajai Davis , who would seem to be a similar type of player (though Rajai isn't as willing to take a walk).. At worst I'd think Darin would make a good 4th outfield type.
21. Brad Emaus (18th last year): He had a terrific year, starting in New Hampshire, hitting .272/.402/.434 there, then he was moved up to Vegas and continued to hit, .298/.395/.495. Between the two he had 13 stolen bases. I think he'd be a good choice for utility infielder along side of John McDonald, but I guess the Jays don't agree because he wasn't put on the 40-man roster. He's a possible Rule 5 pickup for someone. Brad doesn't strike out much and is willing to take a walk.