The 2014 Bluebird Banter Top 40 Prospects: 1-5

Finally made it to the top of the list, this was a longer process that it should have been. If you've missed some, 6-10 is here11-15 is here16-20 is here21-15 is here, 26-30 is here31-35 here and 36-40 here. In a few days we'll have a list of players that didn't make the list but are interesting, even if they aren't prospects.

5. Franklin Barreto: Franklin was a high priced (getting $1.45 million in 2012) international free agent signing out of Venezuela. He was number 11 on our list last year, but gets a jump up the list for a very good start to his professional career.

He hit .299/.368/.529 in 44 games with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, with 6 triples, 4 home runs, 13 walks, 42 strikeouts and 10 stolen bases. He didn't do as well after being moved up to Bluefield, hitting just .204/.259/.333 in 14 games, but it is a pretty small sample size and he was just 17. On defense, he made more than his share of errors (28 between the two levels), but he is said to have good range and a strong arm, though he might end up moving off shortstop, maybe ending up at second base or center field.

I really like him, good bat, with power, good speed, and plays the middle positions (we could use a middle infielder that could hit and field). He just turned 18 at the end of February, so he's a long ways off yet. MiLB.com voted him our organizational All-Star at short and he won the Jays Webster award for best player on our GCL team.


4.Alberto Tirado: Another international free agent signing, this time out of the Dominican, back in 2011. Alberto had his second season of pro ball in 2013, pitching for Bluefield. He pitched in 12 games, making 8 starts, putting up a 1.68 ERA, 41 hits allowed, 1 home run, 20 walks with 44 strikeouts in 48.1 innings. A few more walks than you would like but then he's just turned 19 in December.

Baseball Prospectus has him as the #76 prospect in baseball, the third Jay on their list, but then John Sickels has him 8th on his Blue Jays prospects list.

It is hard not to like a guy that can hit 96 (Sickel says 96-98) on the radar gun at age 18, he also throws a very good slider and is working on a changeup


3. Daniel Norris: Daniel made 22 starts at Lansing, and 1 start at Dunedin, in 2013. He had a 3.97 ERA, with 85 hits, 46 walks, 100 strikeouts in 90.2 innings. He had 2-7 record, so Zaun would tell you he pitched well enough to lose. He improved as the season went on, in his last 5 starts he had a 0.75 ERA.

Norris was our 2nd round draft pick in the 2011 draft. A 20 year old,  6'2" lefty, throws a fastball that gets to 94, a slider, a changeup and curve. He should start this year in Dunedin.

Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus wanted him in their top 101 prospects list. http://www.bluebirdbanter.com/2014/1/31/5365120/jason-parks-wanted-lhp-daniel-norris-in-the-baseball-prospectus-top. Keith Law had him #4 on his Jays prospect list. Baseball American has him #6. John Sickel has him 4th on his list.  And he was number 7 on list last year.

And he has good reflexes:

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2. Aaron Sanchez: Sanchez was number one on our list last year and it was pretty much a toss up if he was going to be number one this year. We saw him in a spring training game and he showed his good and bad sides: getting 3 strikeouts, but walking 2 batters.

Last year in Dunedin, he had a 3.34 ERA, in 22 games, 20 starts. In 86.1 innings, he allowed 63 hits, 40 walks with 75 strikeouts. We'd like to see the 11% walk rate come down and it likely will, he's just 21.

He was a first round pick in 2010, 34 overall. He throws mid and sometimes high 90's with the fastball. Has a great curve (we saw it in his spring appearance) and a changeup. He is a big guy, 6'4". If he can work out his command troubles, we'll likely see him in Toronto either the end of this year or sometime next. He'll likely start out in New Hampshire this year.

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1.Marcus Stroman: We've seen him this spring. He's a little closer to the majors than Sanchez. He had a terrific 2013, after missing the first 50 days with a suspension for a banned substance, putting up a 3.30 ERA in 20 starts at New Hampshire. 99 hits, 27 walks, 13 home runs, 129 strikeouts in 111.2 innings. Too many home runs, but other than that, pretty great numbers.

The complaint about him is his height, or lack thereof. He generously listed at 5'9" and some don't think he can hold up to the innings that he'd have to pitch as a starter. I don' t know, we've seen enough tall pitchers get hurt, I don't know that he's that much more of a risk.

He throws a mid-90's fastball, a slider, change, curve and cut fastball. He should start the year in Buffalo but if there are any injuries, he should be among the first called up. In a couple of years he could be one of our top starters.

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