The Dust Just Settles Right There on the Field: Bluebird Banter Top 30 Prospects Review #11-20

Hi everyone.  Yesterday, Tom took a look at how our top 10 prospects have fared so far this season.  Today, we'll look at the #11-20 group, and soon enough we'll wrap up the top 30 and then have a post about folks new to the organization or who have arguably played their way into the top 30.  The title is from a great Ryan Adams song  "In My Time of Need," back from his Whiskeytown days.  Now that the dust has settled on the field from the first half, let's reassess.  Remember, these are the rankings from the offseason, not updated rankings. 

11. Moises Sierra -  Sierra, arguably the best-looking Jays outfield prospect headed into this season (particularly with Johermyn Chavez leaving in the Brandon Morrow trade), has really had a run of bad luck.  Sierra missed almost the entire first-half with a microfracture in his shin, and now has broken his hamate bone (same bone Lyle Overbay broke in 2007) and is likely out for the year.  Sierra is still just 21 so a lost season isn't the end of the world.  He'll try to pick up where he left off in 2009 next season. 

12.  David Cooper - Many had all but already written David Cooper off after a mediocre first attempt at AA in 2009, and those who have already soured haven't had any reason to change their minds so far this year.  Cooper's hitting has been, at best, tepid - .241/.307/.445 with a 14% line drive rate just won't hack it at first base, particularly given that he is repeating the level.  That said, Cooper has shown quite a bit more power this season than he had in the past - 14 home runs thus far, and 21 doubles and a triple are nice too.  With just a .247 BABIP, Cooper's luck-adjusted numbers actually look very strong - .300/.360/.523, so perhaps a big second half is in the cards.  Certainly his recent showing has been encouraging - Cooper is positively mashing in his last ten games and in the month of July, with a .415/.500/.805 line this month.  At 23, all is not lost if he can put together a nice second half in double A, but time isn't on his side at this point either.  With his power emergence this season, I wouldn't totally write him off. 

13.  K.C. Hobson - This was a guy that Tom really liked as a hitting prospect.  Hobson, son of the major leaguer Butch Hobson, was a 2009 6th round draftee who didn't get a chance to play last season and has only begun his 2010 campaign with the startup of the GCL.  His numbers in 66 at-bats don't tell you much of anything - .288/.299/.394 - but he has a couple of home runs already and has been hitting well in July. 

14.  Brian Dopirak - Dopirak rode a monster 2009, following up on a monster 2008 into the top 20, with some folks chalking his previous struggles up to injury and being willing to forgive him his advanced age and previous struggles at AA.  2010 hasn't been kind to Dopirak so far, though - he's hit .275/.307/.456, which for a 26-year old DH/1B in the PCL is pretty poor.  He's got some power (38 extra-base hits so far) but just isn't selective enough at the plate and he has struggled mightily against left-handed pitching.  Time isn't on his side, and neither is the depth chart with Adam Lind entrenched at DH and Brett Wallace almost ready to take over at first base. 

15.  Robert Ray - Ray, a lanky groundballer who had some qualified success with the Jays in a cup of coffee last season, seems like a classic tweener who could be decent in a regular MLB starting gig but lacks the standout ability to really claim that role.  At the same time, he's too valuable as a backup starter to make him a reliever.  Ray has struggled with injury concerns his whole career and this year has been no exception for the 26 year old - he's made only 8 starts for AAA Las Vegas.  He's not yet found his stride, with a 29/20 K/BB ratio in 48 innings and as many fly ball outs as worm burners.  With the Jays rotation picture becoming more, not less, crowded as time goes on, he's another guy for whom time is working against. 

16.  J.P. Arencibia - Arencibia had a poor 2009 and serious concerns had become entrenched regarding his pitch recognition, strike zone control, and plate discipline.  At the same time, he has developed well as a defensive catcher and still showed a good power tool in an otherwise disappointing season.  Arencibia had kidney and eye surgery at the end of last season and the health issues do seem to have held him back last season based on early returns this year.  Arencibia is looking more and more to me like a finished, if imperfect, product - I think what he is now is what the Jays are going to get - and that could be a good catching option for a couple of seasons to bridge the gap to someone like Travis d'Arnaud or Carlos Perez

Arencibia is hitting .319/.369/.661 so far this year, with 25 home runs and 26 doubles.  His walk rate has also increased as he has repeated the level, and his line drive rate is solid.  If you look at his major-league equivalents, .255/.297/.490, they're pretty similar to a best-case scenario for a John Buck or Rod Barajas type, which are the guys the Jays have been running out at catcher the past few seasons, and that's now.  Arencibia is 24 so it's not a bad time to get him some major league action.  I'm not entirely without reservation, as he is repeating the level and it is the PCL, but I think it's safe to say that Arencibia has played his way into the top 10. 

17.  Gustavo Pierre - Pierre, a 19-year old shorstop prospect from the Dominican, has been playing at Auburn this season after a successful stint in the GCL last year.  So far Pierre hasn't gotten going - .169/.211/.292, but remember that it's very early in Auburn's season (he only has 93 plate appearances) and most of the pitchers in the NY-Penn league are college arms who are more polished than a 19-year old like Pierre.  Anything he can do at the plate this season is gravy. 

18.  Brad Emaus - Emaus didn't have the greatest introduction to AA last season after a great 2008 - he got off to a hot start but stalled amidst injury troubles - but he held his own.  This season, the Jays gave him another long look in the spring and he has again responded with a hot start to the season, one he has maintained throughout the first half.  Emaus' offensive numbers look great  - he hit .272/.402/.434 at New Hampshire and has hit even better - .317/.415/.540 since his callup to Las Vegas.  I think we're seeing a bit of PCL inflation in the power department, but Emaus' plate discipline and hit tools are for real and his power is very capable for a middle infielder.  We're not quite sure Emaus will be a middle infielder long term, though, he has played some at third and in our interview with him Brian Butterfield didn't take a position on his natural long-term position - though he didn't speak in glowing terms of his range, the total zone estimation likes Emaus' defense just fine.  The 24-year old could end up a Ty Wigginton/Scott Spezio type - a bat-first utility-type player who can fill in at multiple positions and whose bat will get him playing time somewhere.  Or he could entrench himself at third, particularly if a place opens up in the organization.  Things are murkier at second because of the team's long-term commitment to Aaron Hill

19.  Eric Thames - Thames, a 7th-round draftee out of Pepperdine, had previously been held back by injury.  This season has been a  healthy one for Thames and he has responded well, hitting .278/.358/.492 at AA New Hampshire with 16 home runs, 4 triples, and 8 steals.  The left-handed hitting Thames has dominated righties but struggled against lefties, so he could end up in a platoon role at the major-league level.  Thames is following up a solid campaign at Dunedin last season and has always had the talent to play the game at the highest levels - his health has been the only question mark and really it's been a credit to his ability that he has managed to continue progressing despite nagging injury concerns.  The 23-year old Thames has been hot lately and could be in for a big second half if he can stay on the field.  His defense isn't anything to write home about but it should be more than adequate for a corner. 

20.  Ryan Goins - Goins is a 2009 draftee out of Dallas Baptist U who played well at Auburn last season.  He has been very successful in the Midwest League this season for A-ball Lansing, hitting .308/.380/.417, playing shortstop and second base.  He may not quite have the defensive tools to be an everyday shortstop in the majors, but his offense has been progressing well, coupling good control of the strike zone with doubles power, though his BABIP isn't really sustainable.  He's not a base stealer so it remains to be seen how he'd fit in at higher levels. 

Catch you next time!

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