The Prospect Watch section of MLB.com released their midseason Top 20 lists last night, with the rankings including recently drafted players from this June's entry draft. The Blue Jays have a new name at the top of the list as Daniel Norris jumped over Aaron Sanchez to grab the #1 spot in the organization. The people at Prospect Watch consider Norris a top-of-the-rotation starter with his newfound command and four pitches that are at least average, although his fastball is considered a '60' grade pitch.
Aaron Sanchez comes in at number two and has done nothing so far this season to warrant not being in the top two of every single version of these lists that are released. The Blue Jays third 'sexy' prospect rightfully comes in at #3 as switch-hitting outfielder Dalton Pompey continues his meteoric rise up the charts this season. Everything about Pompey sounds positive and it seems that the Canadian could very well be up with the big league squad sometime next season:
Pompey has always had an advanced approach at the plate and he's become more adept at working the count and drawing walks, important qualities for a top-of-the-order hitter. He is a plus runner and knows how to use his speed on the base paths. It also helps him cover a lot of ground in center field.
The first of the 2014 Blue Jays draftees comes in at #4 as righty Jeff Hoffman makes an appearance despite still being a long way from starting professional ball thanks to his Tommy John surgery. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that a pitcher who was selected only two months ago and is almost a year away from throwing again slots right into #4 in the organization's top prospects.
Hoffman hasn't fully grown into his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, yet at times he works in the mid 90s and hits 98 mph with his fastball. His big-breaking curveball can be equally devastating and his changeup can be a plus pitch at times. He throws a decent amount of strikes but will need to refine his command to become a frontline starter in the big leagues.
Seemingly forgotten former top prospect in Mexican Roberto Osuna gets the #5 spot as he begins his return from Tommy John surgery. The young righty is still just 19-years-old so his massive drop off preseason lists this year may have been a little bit of an overreaction.
The second of the Blue Jays first round picks in this year's draft comes in at #6 with Max Pentecost, who was drafted 11th overall. The former Kennesaw State man has already been promoted to Vancouver and has had no problem at all adjusting to the level of competition in the Northwest League. Pentecost is also rated the #9 catcher in all of baseball, which is definitely a nice thing to see.
Slots #7-#9 are filled with well-known prospects in Mitch Nay, Franklin Barreto, and D.J. Davis
who haven't done much of note this season either positive or negative. (As many people have noted, it's a little unfair and lazy to say that Barreto has done nothing positive this year. In Vancouver the 18-year-old has an OBP of .401 and a wRC+ of 144 which is pretty impressive for a teenager in the Northwest League.) The Blue Jays second round pick this season in Sean Reid-Foley finishes out the top 10, which isn't all that surprising considering he went into the draft ranked as one of the best high school pitchers available.
Spots #11-#15 are littered with prospects who used to appear much higher on these lists. Sean Nolin is still plugging away in Buffalo and will eventually get a chance to show his stuff once again in Toronto, likely with a better result than the first time around. Dawel Lugo is one of the other potential shortstops to crack the list, along with Franklin Barreto and Richard Urena, although there's a fair chance that both Lugo and Barreto end up having to switch positions as they advance through the minor leagues. Matt Dean's bat comes in at #13 and his move to first base has not hurt his stock too much thanks to his massive power potential.
Catcher of the future A.J. Jimenez has dropped down the list a bit thanks to his bat stagnating, but his defense is still above average and it seems likely that the Puerto Rican will be a September call-up this season. Following Jimenez is a prospect who hasn't blown up as much as many thought he would in righty Alberto Tirado, who slots in at #15. Right behind him is another young pitcher on the Vancouver Canadians who is having some problems this year in Jairo Labourt.
One of the few major league-ready players on the list is John Stilson, who slots in at #17 thanks to how close he is to his ceiling. Pitching out of the bullpen in Buffalo, the righty should get the call to Toronto sometime this year when the bullpen needs some more help than just Esmil Rogers.
Two lottery tickets at this point in #18 Chase De Jong and #20 Matt Smoral sandwich young 18-year-old shortstop in Richard Urena who slots in at #19. The two tall 20-year-old pitchers have struggled this season, but are still filled with upside and could take a jump up the list next season if they are able to put it all together in the lower levels of the minor leagues. Meanwhile, Urena has impressed in Bluefield with the bat and has the best chance of the young shortstops in the organization to stay at the position.
The website also released a Top 100 list for the league as a whole, with Twins outfielder Byron Buxton leading the pack. Somewhat surprisingly, four Blue Jays players made the list including Daniel Norris (29th), Aaron Sanchez (40th), Dalton Pompey (95th), and Jeff Hoffman (97th). The highest 2014 draftee on the list was NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon who slotted in at #23.