Bluebird Banter Top 50 Jays Prospects: 6-10

Previously on the Bluebird Banter Top 50 Jays Prospects: 46-50, 41-45, 36-40, 31-45, 26-30, 21-25, 16-20 and 11-15.

10. Aaron Sanchez, RHP - Sanchez was the 34th pick of the 2010 MLB draft, a compensation round pick the Jays got for losing Marco Scutaro. Incidentally, the 2nd round pick the Jays also got for Scutaro is even higher on this top 10, but you'll have to wait for the top 5 to see his write-up. Sanchez had a somewhat disappointing 2011 season, which he spent mostly in the Appy league pitching for the Bluefield Blue Jays. Struggling with his control, Sanchez was very inconsistent, alternating between subpar and dominant outings. His ERA for Bluefield was just 5.48, but he was striking out people at a good rate, and in 4 Vancouver starts he had just a 3.67 ERA. Stuff-wise and projection-wise the big righty is highly rated by scouts, but he'll have to harness his command if he is to become a good big league starter. 2012 could certainly see Sanchez break out in a big way. He's likely to pitch in low-A ball for the Lansing Lugnuts, along with another pair of top 10 prospects.

9. A.J. Jimenez, C - I think Jimenez is an underrated player, so I really like the fact he made the top 10. Aged 20, Jimenez was young for high-A ball, but still managed to hit .303/.353/.417 in a tough league for hitters. This may seem like a simple continuation from his performance in Lansing last year (.305/.347/.435), but Jimenez actually cut down on the strikeouts quite a bit. But while the hitting was decent, most of Jimenez' value comes from his glove, which is very highly rated, at a very important defensive position. He threw out 44% of the potential base stealers this year, which, if you can believe it, is actually down from 53% the previous year. He also allowed 6 passed balls in 98 games, which is a third of Perez's 18 in less games (89). Where Carlos Perez has the potential to develop into a good defensive catcher, Jimenez seems to be already there. And no, he's not older than Perez, he's actually a little over a month younger.

8. Deck McGuire, RHP - The 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft, McGuire's selection wasn't universally loved by Jays fans at the time. His debut season as a pro was pretty good though, and there's a good chance we'll see McGuire in the majors before the season is over. McGuire started out pretty decent in Dunedin, but early on I noted that McGuire had quite a high flyball rate, something that should be a bit of a worry unless the pitcher gets a very high number of strikeouts. Fortunately, McGuire's groundball and strikeout-rates improved as the season went on, after the Jays had instructed McGuire to work down in the zone more (source). While McGuire may not have the highest ceiling of the pitching prospects in the Jays system, he's a good bet to be at least decent and he's still improving, too. We'll be sure to monitor McGuire's progress in AA closely, and hopefully he'll be ready to pitch for the Jays pretty soon.

7. Daniel Norris, LHP - As a second round pick, Daniel Norris can be seen as an absolute steal by AA and his team, as the promising left-hander had been routinely picked as a top-15 guy. Norris dropped because he was apparently demanding 3.8 million dollars, but he signed for a little over 2 in the end, which probably made plenty of teams regret not taking a chance on him. Scouts love Norris' potential as a guy who could throw hard from the left side with a great changeup and one or two decent-good breaking balls. However, he still has to prove he can reach that potential, and he'll need to command his pitches as well, as Aaron Sanchez learned this year. It's easy to dream on Norris, and it'll be a long wait until short-season ball starts to get a look at how good he already is.

6. Drew Hutchison, RHP - Like McGuire, Hutchison is already close to the majors and probably doesn't have a lot of projection left. Not that he needs it, because Hutchison already throws low-90s with good command and several good offspeed offerings. Hutchison may be described as a command guy, but there are also reports that his fastball is actually pretty good with plenty of deception. His 27.6 and 27.7 strikeout-percentages in Dunedin and Lansing respectively do point to pretty good stuff, and in a brief (15 innings) trial at AA-level, Hutch struck out an intimidating 37.5% of the batters he faced. It seems as though Hutch could be ready for the big leagues by mid-season or even right now, but the Jays are likely to want to try and see what McGowan and Drabek can do first. With Nestor Molina gone (*sniff*), Hutchison is definitely the most exciting pitcher we could see in a Jays uniform this year. I, for one, can't wait.

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