Bluebird Banter Top 50 Blue Jays Prospects: 21-25

As you can see, it's my turn again. Tom has done 46-50 and 31-35, while hugo did 41-45 and most recently 26-30. In my previous appearance I was given 36-40, and now I'm back with 21-25.

25. Moises Sierra, RF - We've been waiting for years for a Moises Sierra breakout season, and after missing almost all of 2010 through injury, it seemed to be happening for him in 2011. Over the first two months he struck out very little, hit for power and had a very good line-drive rate. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep it up, and he ended the season with a .277/.342/.436 line. This wasn't actually an improvement over his 2009 performance in Dunedin, when he hit .286/.359/.393. Since then, he's improved in the power department but he also struck out more and lowered his BABIP. Interestingly, since his LD% did go up, StatCorner's adjusted wOBA thinks Sierra should have had a .377 wOBA instead of a .354 figure. And it does look odd that Sierra hit 18 homers but just 19 doubles, despite such a high line-drive rate. It's quite possible Las Vegas turns Sierra into a monster, like it did with Thames and Lawrie, but even if it does, is there a spot for Sierra on the big league team? Sierra's outfield arm is very, very good, but I do wonder if his range is good enough, considering he's become quite a big guy.

24. Kevin Comer, RHP - Comer's quite the opposite of Sierra, in that we've got no pro data to work with and in that Comer is expected to be quite far away from the majors. Like Mark Biggs, who I did my best to profile in my previous piece, Comer was a highly rated potential draftee at the beginning of the 2011 season. Also like Biggs, Comer didn't pitch much at all in 2011, and when he did pitch he wasn't as good as in previous years. So Comer's value dropped, and it was believed he would probably go to Vanderbilt to play in college ball. Comer did sign, of course, and now the Jays have got another pitcher with a lot of potential in their ranks. Comer already throws low-90s, while scouts think he can add more velocity, and he also has a good curveball that he used to rack up the strikeouts in high school. The level of competition in New Jersey isn't highly rated though, and Comer will have to get used to pitching a lot more innings in pro ball. We'll have to wait for rookie-ball to start before we can get an idea of just how raw Comer really is.

23. Sean Nolin, LHP - Nolin's very much an under the radar prospect who quietly had a solid season in Lansing. He posted a 3.49 ERA in 108 1/3 innings pitched, but his defense didn't help him out that well: his FIP was lower at 3.16. At 21, he was a bit old for the level, although it was his first full season as a pro, I'd like to see him jump to AA in the middle of the 2012 season. Nolin's got a good changeup, which is probably the main reason for his high strikeout% at 25.3. His fastball seems to be high-80s, sometimes low-90s, which isn't that bad for a lefty, but the strength of his fastball is an important question mark, to me at least. His groundball rate was just 41%, so we'll have to watch the number of HRs Nolin gives up once he faces better hitters. Even with those reservations, we can not applaud AA and his scouting enough for his 2010 draft picks, when even the 6th and 7th rounders are striking out more than a quarter of the batters they face. Even if they don't get to start, they could become good bullpen arms.

22. Michael Crouse, RF - Partnering the impressive Jake Marisnick and Marcus Knecht in the Lansing outfield, Crouse, too, was very good. After a mediocre 2009 season in rookie-ball, Crouse repeated that level in 2010 and dominated it, with lots of power, but also a worryingly high strikeout-rate at almost 30%. He did get a sniff of A-ball that year, but in 2011 he had the full season to show what he could do at a higher level. Crouse didn't disappoint, with a .261/.352/.475 line (.386 wOBA), showing plenty of power, patience and speed (38/8 SB/CS). The one question mark is a big one: can he make enough contact? He did reduce the Ks to 26.8% from 30%, but that's still very high. Interestingly, a high percentage (much higher than either Marisnick or Knecht) of his strikeouts were looking, though I don't think we can conclude anything from that other than that Crouse has a patient approach even with two strikes. Defensively, Crouse has a great arm, but he also has plenty of speed to track down balls, and his defense shouldn't be a problem. The only question then, is whether he can make enough contact to use his very good power and speed.

21. Chris Hawkins, LF - Yet another outfielder, Hawkins is actually a converted shortstop/third baseman. Like Crouse, he's got speed (14/4 SB/CS in short-season) as one of his strengths, so his range should be fine, while his arm isn't seen as a liability either. Offensively, he hit .318/.375/.492 for Bluefield in the Appalachian League as a 19-year old. While neither his patience nor his power were as a good as Crouse's, Hawkins' strikeout-rate was much better at just 17.1%. This is the main reason he ranks higher than Crouse (for now), because the ability to make contact is such an important one, and extreme power and speed can often not compensate for inability to make contact at higher levels. I expect Hawkins to make the leap to Lansing next season, which would be the appropriate level for his age, just like it was for Crouse and Marisnick last season. Hopefully, he can keep hitting like he did in Bluefield.

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