Hopefully writing about these next 5 on Friday the 13th doesn't portend bad things in 2015...
20. Angel Perdomo, LHP, age 20 (DOB: 5/07/94), last year: unranked
Perdomo was one of the pleasant surprises of 2014, seemingly coming out of nowhere. He was signed in late 2011 as a 17-year old IFA from the Dominican, but was well under the radar and his bonus was never reported (so likely well under $100,000). He spent two years in the DSL, and came stateside for 2014 after posting 43 K in 26.2 innings in 2013. He continued to perform in the GCL, racking up 57 strikeouts in 46 innings. The in-person reports were promising too, as Chris King reported in July (various tweets):
Throws 3 pitches FB, CH, SL. FB sits 89-93. Has trouble holding velo deep. SL is 73-77 but lacks shape. CH is ok at 83
[Perdomo c]ommanding his fastball to both sides. Another strong showing for him....he was pounding the zone and attacking with 91-94 FB.
So Perdomo is interesting as a 6'6" lefty with promising stuff, but there's legitimate concerns and a long ways to go. Real upside, but a lot of risk - and below is a cautionary tale about reading too much into rookie ball performance. He's a project and a basically a lottery ticket, but the Jays have done well cleaning up and developing raw pitchers.
19. Rowdy Tellez, 1B/DH, age 19 (DOB: 3/16/95; 20 on opening day), last year: 29
Tellez was drafted in the 30th round of 2013, as he slid down the draft boards as he was thought to have a strong commitment to USC. His $850,000 bonus was around that of a second round pick, more in with what Baseball America called the "best left-handed power bat in this year's draft class". Despite the plus raw power, his 6'5" / 220 body and concerns about his athleticism and conditioning made him a controversial prospect. In particular, there were some questions about his ability to hit at higher levels and catch up to and turn on inside pitches (this was Brett Wallace's undoing).
Since he's limited to the far right side of the defensive spectrum at 1B/DH, he'll have to really hit to make it to and succeed in MLB. So far, so good. In the last two seasons in rookie ball and short season, he's hit for a strong average with strong plate discipline. The power has been good, though probably a little short of expectation, but there's time for that to come and less doubt about his ability there. Lansing and the Midwest League are notoriously hard on power, so it wouldn't be surprising if we saw more doubles power than home runs in 2015.
18. Ryan Borucki, LHP, age 20 (DOB: 3/31/94; 21 on opening day), last year: unranked
Borucki signed for $426,000 near the signing deadline after being selected in 15th round of the 2012 draft out of a high school in Illinois. He slipped down the draft board due to an elbow injury that was feared to require Tommy John surgery; that didn't scare
TJs'R'US the Blue Jays away from spending right up to 5% over their pool to give Borucki a bonus more in line with the 3rd/4th round where he was expected to go.
Borucki made it into a handful of GCL games after signing, just 6 innings but he posted 10 K with no BB against 4 hits (1 HR). However, the elbow worries were realized in early 2013 when he required the surgery and missed all of 2013. He returned to the mound in June 2014 with Bluefield, and picked up right where he left off posting a 30 K against just 6 BB in 33.1 innings (2 HR). That earned him a promotion to Vancouver where he performed similarly (30.2 IP, 18 H, 26 K, 3 BB).
Borucki's fastball sits in the low-90s, ranging from 89-94 on various broadcasts I heard in 2014 (stadium guns). At a listed 6'4" / 175, there may be a little more as he fills out physically. He also features a change-up and curveball (mid-70s). Some reports from his draft year indicate a slider as well. At this point, there's no report of any plus secondaries, but he seems to have a very strong control/command profile. In a lot of ways, Borucki's profile remind me of ex-Jays prospect Justin Nicolino before he broke out in 2012. I was significantly more bullish than my fellow rankers, as I have him just inside my top 10.
17. A.J. Jimenez, C, age 24 (DOB: 5/01/90), last year: 9
Jiminez has seemingly been around Blue Jays prospect lists forever, having been drafted in the 9th round 2008 out of high school in Puerto Rico. An interesting point is that he too slipped down the board his draft year on elbow problems that might require TJ surgery. He climbed the lower levels in order, with a similar production profile: good contact ability, little power, okay plate discipline - a good, but pretty empty, batting average. But his real calling card is strong defensive chops behind the plate highlighted by a very strong arm to control the running game.
By 2012, he made it to the serious proving ground of AA, but his season was derailed by needing the TJ. He came back in the middle of 2013 and was solid, but has continued to miss time with elbow problems. Hopefully, that's behind him at this point. At the higher levels, he hasn't maintained he same batting average, and so he profiles as more of a back-up. Of course, the Jays are pretty set at starting catcher for the foreseeable future.
For 2015, Jimenez seems likely to be buried in the minors behind Martin, Navarro, Thole. But the back-up position could be wide open for 2016, and Jimenez will be out of options after this year so hopefully he's ready or he may not be around 15 months from now.
16. Alberto Tirado, RHP, age 20 (DOB: 12/10/94), last year: 4
Tirado was signed for $300,000 as a 16-year old IFA out of the Dominican Republic in August 2011, though he was not a high-profile signing. The Blue Jays clearly thought very highly though, as they immediately brought him stateside for 2012, where he opened eyes with a 35 K and 12 BB in 37 innings that earned him a cup of coffee in Bluefield before he even turned 18. BP was particularly bullish described him thusly:
Extremely loose arm; delivery is easy and smooth; arm is very quick; fastball already works comfortably in the plus range and has touched even higher; very explosive pitch; good life at the end; slider already flashes plus ... changeup could be third plus offering, with advanced action and deception; good overall feel for pitching; glowing reports based on short-burst viewings.
In 2013, Tirado followed that up in Bluefield with a stellar 1.68 ERA, 44 K in 48 innings. There was a warning flag in his 20 BB and 8 HBP. As BP warned despite moving him up the rankings:
Inconsistent mechanics; arm is whippy and release points vary; command is below average (present)...body is underdeveloped/immature; needs to add strength.
That proved prophetic when he was promoted to Lansing in 2014, he simply couldn't throw strikes consistently, and piled up 39 BB against 40 K in 40 innings before getting sent back to extended spring. The cold weather may have factored into that somewhat. Sent to Vancouver, he continued to struggle and ended up in the pen.
It's worth recalling Tirado just turned 20, there's plenty of time for him to figure his incredible arm. Incredible upside, but very high risk. Between his command probably and physical profile (6'0" / 180), he may be end up a reliever down the road. 2015 should see him back in Lansing, hopefully things go better the second time.