We're getting into the more well-known prospects now, after MjwW covered 31-35 yesterday and Tom spotlighted 36-40 the day prior. Once again the links for this year and last year are provided below. This crop of players is fairly diversified with a good mix of projectable young players and one pitcher who should be on the verge of a call-up to the Major Leagues.
30. Jake Brentz, LHP, age 20 (DOB: 11/14/1994), last year: unranked
It's maybe a bit surprising that Brentz appears so high on this year's list after not even being ranked in 2014 considering he did very little to prove he deserved such a sizeable jump. After being drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 draft, Brentz was thought to be a possible tough sign but eventually agreed on a $700K bonus. He was highly regarded coming out of high school and actually was ranked higher than Phillip Bickford on some pre-draft lists, which made the failure to sign Bickford slightly easier to swallow (not really).
In 2014 Brentz stayed in the GCL and made six starts and six relief appearances for a total of 39.2 innings. His ERA ended up being 4.08, not helped by a 5.9 BB/9 making it clear the control was a bit of an issue. He wasn't a pitcher for the majority of his baseball career, but when a left-hander can throw a mid-90's fastball then things can change pretty quickly. His second-best pitch is a changeup (not a bad thing for a southpaw) and he also has a below average breaking ball. Brentz is as raw as it gets, but a solid year in short season ball should see him move up the list.
29. Chase De Jong, RHP, age 21 (DOB: 12/29/1993), last year: 12
A former highly thought of prospect, De Jong stalled a bit during 2014 spending the whole year pitching fairly ordinarly in Low-A Lansing. Making 23 appearances (21 starts), De Jong ended the year with a 4.82 ERA and his strikeout rate completely fell off the map (from 28.1% in 2013 to 17.2%). As a newly turned 21-year-old he certainly still has a lot of time to turn it around (at least that's what I tell myself considering our similar age situation) and should make the jump to Dunedin in 2015 looking to miss more bats.
If you want to see a lot of fastballs:
28. John Stilson, RHP, age 24 (DOB: 7/28/1990), last year: 15
It's a shame that Stilson tore his labrum last season in June because he likely would have ended up in Toronto and certainly should have been in the mix to break camp with the team this spring. The surgery done in August was set to put him out for 6-8 months, meaning he should be back to pitching sometime in the next few months. He had another consistent year as a reliever in Buffalo before the injury, pitching to a 3.18 ERA thanks to a hard fastball combined with a solid changeup and slider. Unlike someone more projectable like Jake Brentz, Stilson is as close to a sure thing as there can be when considering a prospect's shot at a major league career.
27. Lane Thomas, 3B/CF, age 19 (DOB: 8/23/1995), last year: doing homework in high school
The first pick in last year's draft that wasn't a pitcher or catcher was Lane Thomas in the fifth round. The third base and center field prospect did also pitch in high school but seems to have put that on the back burner for now. Not a ton was known about the Knoxville native when he was drafted but his coach in high school said:
He has a chance to be a great power hitter, but he also has tremendous speed. He can steal a ton of bases. He set the table for our offense. I couldn't have asked for anything more out of him.
He signed for a fair bit of money forcing him away from his commitment to play baseball at Tennessee:
During his first season of pro ball he was solid in the GCL and made an appearance in Bluefield where he was even more impressive as just an 18-year-old. Look for Thomas to have a chance to possibly spend some time in Vancouver this year if he keeps up his eyebrow-raising performance from 2014.
26. Dan Jansen, C, age 19 (DOB: 4/15/1995), last year: unranked
The 16th round pick in the 2013 draft had very little buzz surrounding him prior to the 2014 season, but a .390 OBP in Bluefield changed that a fair bit. The catcher from Wisconsin hardly showed up in searches unless you misspelled Casey Janssen or were looking for the speed skater of the same name. While there still isn't a ton of information out there about him, a lot of people who have seen him play seem to have come away impressed.
What you love about Jansen is that he is a blue-collar guy. He is a terrific worker, he has good aptitude, a good body and strength and Jansen, from where he was when he first signed to where he is now, he has made the strides and the leaps forward that you hope a player will make...He enjoys working with the pitching staff and he enjoys taking more accountability . For his age he is doing well, he is a blue collar guy who will give everything back there and you know you can trust him and he has the pitchers best interest in mind.
He's certainly another guy to follow throughout the upcoming season as the Blue Jays system (as well as every other system in baseball) is relatively weak on catchers (aside from the obvious star in Max Pentecost).