In the Dark, In the Back of the Van: Top 40 Blue Jays Prospects, Hugo's Just Missed Out List

Hi everyone.  First of all, if you haven't read through the prospect countdown, you should do that now as this post will make a lot more sense.  We started with 40-31, then 30-21, then 20-11, and finally 11-1.  Now, as promised, Tom and I will each present our just missed out lists.  There's actually a lot of overlap, but what's the fun in that?  So we'll present them individually and I'll stay away from a couple that Tom will cover.  Finally, these aren't in any type of order at all - in fact, my favourite of these is discussed last.  

 

  • Mark Sobolewski:  Soba (named after my favourite noodle dish), a 4th round draftee out of the University of Miami in 2008, had a reputation as a rawer collegiate pick, and accordingly, he has had a slow progression through the minors for a college draftee.  As a result, Soba is about to turn 24 and hasn't yet tried his luck at AA.  Soba just had a nice split season between Lansing and Dunedin (.283/.327/.442), though his numbers fell off a bit when he first hit Dunedin and then improved as things went on, struggling in June but having a great July-September.  His third base defense is reportedly progressing nicely, and he's started to hit for some power (10 hrs and 45 extra-base hits in 2010), but he hasn't shown great patience at the plate, walking just 7% of the time at Dunedin.  Soba will likely man the hot corner for New Hampshire this season, but at 24 he's going to need to move fairly quickly.  He's not top 40 material, but worth keeping an eye on.  
  •  John Tolisano:  Tolisano, a switch-hitting 2nd round pick in 2007, has played a variety of defensive positions professionally, and a plurality of games at third base in 2010.  Tolisano has shown decent power (.151 ISO in the FSL isn't bad) and patience (11.6% BB rate in 2010) in his professional career, but has struggled with injuries and hasn't yet found a defensive home.  He hit .252/.337/.404 for Dunedin, which is quite decent for a 21-year old in a pitcher's league, but on the downside, he was repeating the level so you'd have hoped for a little better.  On the other hand, Tolisano spend most of the season on the DL, getting into 61 games, so with a full season you could see him hitting a lot better.  He did cap off his 2010 with a very nice performance in the Arizona Fall League (through just 24 at-bats though).  He needs to find a defensive home, and needs to stay healthy, but there's potential there.
  • Kevin Ahrens:  Jays fans remember Kevin Ahrens as the Jays' 1st-round pick back in 2007, but he hasn't shown much to justify his draft status since then. 2010 was an up and down season as Ahrens, prior to 2010 a switch-hitter, started horribly and then got sent back from Dunedin to Lansing to remake himself as a righthanded hitter only.  Ahrens had some success at Lansing (.742 OPS in 276 PAs) and even made his way back to Dunedin at the very end of the season.  Ahrens, like Tolisano, is just 21, but he hasn't shown much to suggest that he's the Jays' long-term answer at third base.  
  • Trystan Magnuson:  The huge (6'7", 210) Canadian relief prospect was a supplemental pick in 2007 as compensation for Theodore Roosevelt Lilly.  You expect college relief prospects to move quickly but that hasn't been the case for Magnuson, who just had his age 25 season at AA New Hampshire.  It was a very good one though, with Magnuson pitching in 46 games and finishing 17.  Magnuson posted solid K numbers (7.7/9 IP) but his real success story was maintaining that given his miniscule walk (1.2 BB/9) and home run (just 1 in over 73 innings) rates.  Age matters a lot less for relief prospects, and with his control, Magnuson could feature in a big league bullpen very soon.  The reason he didn't crack our top 40 is his position, not his ability.  As pointed out in the comments, Magnuson was sent to Oakland as part of the Rajai Davis trade, so he's no longer in the system. 
  • Daniel Webb:  Webb, a 19th round choice out of Paducah, Kentucky after one season at Northwest Florida State, has good raw stuff but has a ways to go before he makes the majors or can be thought of as a prospect.  Webb has an okay, not great, first season at Auburn and made a couple of starts for Lansing at the end of the year, not bad for a 20 year old (he turned 21 in August).  Like Hutchison, Webb signed for an amount well in excess of what the typical 19th-rounder would get, but Hutchison has a much better idea of how to pitch at the moment.  Also unlike Hutchison, Webb has an electric fastball and if he can develop control and better secondary pitches, he could become a real strikeout machine.  
  • Justin Jackson:  Jackson, a sandwich round pick in 2007 that the Jays received for departing free agent Frank Catalanotto, has really had a rough go of it in his professional career.  The Asheville, North Carolina (great town if you haven't been) native just can't stay healthy, and that can be damaging to a prospect's development in the best of circumstances.  Jackson started off 2010 in Dunedin but suffered an April leg injury and ended up back in Lansing.  He worked his way back to Dunedin at the very end of the season but his numbers (.243/.326/.293 across the two levels) weren't impressive.  Jackson just turned 22 so while he still has time, a good 2011 would go a long way to rehabilitating his prospect status.  He has shown very nice walk rates as a pro (he's always been above 10% and at times well above) and he did cut down on his Ks in 2010, so there's some evidence he's improving.  What he needs is a healthy season or two, and we're all pulling for him to enjoy one here at Bluebird Banter.
  • Justin Nicolino:  Nicolino was a 2nd round high school draftee in 2010.  The lefty out of Orlando, Florida, was overshadowed by some of the higher-profile pitchers the Jays selected in June.  Little Nicky (as his name roughly translates in Italian) throws a low-90s fastball, a change, and a curve.  Nicoloino is skinny (6'3", 160 at draft day) but projectable.  Scouts think his heater may eventually touch the mid 90s when he needs it to, and he' s said to already have an above-average changeup that will help him big time with righties, making him a solid mid-rotation candidate going forward.  He's a guy to watch for sure, and one I could definitely see breaking into the Top 40 next year.  That he wasn't there this year is a testament to the Jays' improved system. 
Well, that's that for now.  You may want to wait for Tom's list to tell us who we missed on the "just missed out list," as he's sure to have at least as many names as I did.  Also, the title comes from the great song by Ladyhawke (with Scott Campbell out of our top prospects list we need to fill our Kiwi quotient)
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