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Bluebird Banter Top 50 Jays Prospects: 1-5

We've finally made it to the top of our list. 50 prospects. It seems like just a couple of years ago we struggled to find 20 players we could reasonably call prospects. I'll put links to each set part of the list on the left sidebar today.

In the next few days, we'll each put up a few of our favorite 'just missed outs'. It amazes me that we could have a 50 player list and I still have a handful of guys that I think could become major leaguers. It is a pretty deep system.

There are no surprises here, though I'm sure you could argue about the order if you wanted.

5. Justin Nicolino: Justin was a second round pick in 2010 out of high school in Orlando Florida. He's 6'3" and, last year he was listed at 160 lb, but this year he's listed at 175, so he is starting to fill out but you'd imagine there is still room to grow. He just turned 20 in November. Nicolino had a great start to his professional career going 5-1 with a 1.03 ERA for Vancouver, then made 3 starts for Lansing at the end of the season. In total, over 61 innings, he struck out 73 while walking just 13. He only allowed 39 hits, none of them home runs. A lefty, he his fastball can get up to 94 on the radar gun (and likely will get improve as he puts on muscle). He's said to have an 'excellent' changeup (a trait of pitchers in the Jays system) and is working on a curve. There isn't much not to like. Everyone says he has a smooth delivery, repeatable delivery and he is throwing strikes. The Jays have a couple of years to build up his innings before he will be trying to fight his way into the major league rotation.

4. Anthony Gose: Anthony moved up from 6th on our list last year. Whether he should be in front or behind Marisnick was the big question. They are pretty even as prospects. You all know the story, Alex traded Brett Wallace to the Astros for Gose. We went from figuring that Wallace was our first baseman of the future to trying to figure out who this Gose guy was. In 2011, at just 20, he played in New Hampshire, hitting .253/.349/.415, with 16 home runs and 70 stolen bases in 85 tries. Not amazing numbers but pretty respectable for a guy playing against opponents that were older than him. He still struck out too much, 154 times in 509 at bats, but he took a decent number of walks and showed good power. There are no questions about his defence, he's got great speed, gets a good jump on balls hit into the outfield and has a very good arm. Devon White was the best defensive in team history, but Gose might be just as good, and his arm should be a little better. The question is, can he hit at the major league level?He'll be spending most of 2012 in Vegas, so he should put up some good numbers there. I did get to see him in spring training last year and his speed isn't exaggerated. He's as fast as any player I've seen, he hit a triple down the right field line and just tore around the bases. He covered a ton of ground in the outfield. Course, Rivera was in RF when he played so maybe he just looked good in comparison.

3. Jake Marisnick: Our 3rd round pick in 2009, Jake was number 10 on our list last year, then he had a heck of a year. He's following Gose up the system, last year he spent the full season in Lansing, hitting .320/.392/.496 with 14 home runs and 37 stolen bases, with 43 walks and 91 strikeouts in 462 at bats. He's really got all the tools you'd want: power, speed, good eye at the plate and good defence. Maybe not quite the defence that Gose can bring but quite good. If they both make it up to the Jays, Jake would be moving to a corner spot. It wouldn't be a bad thing having two outfielders with great range. If he can keep the on base skills, as he moves up, and have the 20-25 home run power that we're expecting, he'll be a great player.

2. Noah Syndergaard: Noah was a supplemental round pick in 2010, the 38th overall choice out of high school in Texas. He was number 17 on our list last year. He played in Bluefield, Vancouver and Lansing last season, compiling a 5-2 record with a 1.83 ERA in 13 games, 11 of them starts. In 59 innings he struck out 68 and walked 18, allowing just 1 home run. Just 19, Syndergaard is 6'5" 200 pounds. He throws a mid 90's fastball, and has a curve and a changeup that he's still working on. He and Nicolino can battle for a spot at the top of the rotation in 3 years.

1. Travis d'Arnaud: One of the pieces from the Roy Halladay trade, d'Arnaud turned 23 in February. Travis was number 8 on our list last year. He really didn't have a good 2010 season, suffering with a bad back for a lot of it. He made up for it last year in New Hampshire hitting .311/.371/.542 in 114 games with 21 home runs. The life of a catcher is to have up and down years, there are often little nagging injuries. His defence is said to be good. He threw out 27% of base stealers last year. He is supposed to have a good arm but could still do with some improvement on his footwork. Look for him to have put up good numbers at Vegas. I'd think that if there is an injury to JP this season, knock on wood, that he would get a chance to play in Toronto. If not then next year the Jays can have the happy problem of trying to decide which one should be the starting catcher.

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