The penultimate post of this year's BBB top 40 prospect list.
10. Roberto Osuna, RHP, age 20 (DOB: February 7, 1995), last year: 11
Roberto spent most of the year recovering from last season's Tommy John surgery. He pitched in 8 games, at the end of the year, a single inning start with the GCL Jays and then 7 starts with the Dunedin Jays. 23 total innings, 6.26 ERA, 28 hits, 3 home runs, 9 walks allowed, with 32 strikeouts. You can't really judge him on those 23 innings, but the 12.5 strikeouts per 9 innings is pretty nice.
He pitched in the Arizona Fall League, but got in just 12.1 innings in 6 relief appearances. He had a 9.49 ERA, with 22 hits, 4 walks and 15 strikeouts.
If you are going to miss a season of baseball, it might as well be when you are 19. When he was healthy, he could hit low 90's on his fastball and has a good changeup and was working on a curve. It seems that, for pitchers coming back from Tommy John, the touch on the off-speed stuff takes a bit to come back.
The other guys had him up a little higher on the list than I did, but, if all goes well and he can build the strength back up, he should be up higher on the list next year and hopefully move up a spot or two on the Jays affiliate ladder.
It feels like Roberto has been in the system forever, he was an international free agent signing, back in 2011, pocketing a $1.5 signing bonus at age 16. Where else, other than baseball, can a 16 year old sign a contract giving him $1.5 million?
9. Jairo Labourt, LHP, age 20 (DOB: March 7, 1994), last year: 10
Jairo had a rough start to his year at Lansing, making 3 starts and 3 relief appearances, putting up a 6.43 ERA in 14 innings, allowing 15 hits, 20 walks with 11 strikeouts. He had a hard time finding the strike zone.
After being moved down to Vancouver, things went much better. Labourt made 15 starts for the Canadians, putting up a terrific 1.77 ERA (his FIP was a less impressive 3.41). In 71 innings, he allowed just 47 hits, no home runs, with 37 walks and 82 strikeouts.
Labourt, like Osuna, was an International free agent signing in 2011. He can hit 95 with the fastball, throws a slider and a change. He's a big guy, 6'4", 205 lb.
8. Miguel Castro, RHP, age 20 (DOB: December 24, 1994), last year: 30
Miguel made a big jump up our list this year. He started the season at Vancouver and finished in Dunedin. Between the 3 levels, he had a 2.69 ERA in 16 games, 15 starts. In 80.1 innings, he allowed 50 hits, 2 home runs, 30 walks with 78 strikeouts.
Castro is a hard thrower, he can get to 99 with the fastball, has a good changeup and is working on a breaking pitch. He's another international free agent signing out of the Dominican. And another big guy, 6'5", 190 lb.
Alex mentioned him as a possibility to pitch out of our bullpen this year. With the 99 mph fastball, it is easy to see why, (and a late season call up to the pen worked out well for Aaron Sanchez) but I'd like them to the to keep looking at him as a potential starter.
7. Dwight Smith Jr., OF/2B?, age 22 (DOB: October 26, 1992), last year: 17
Another player making a nice jump up our list, Dwight moves up 10 spots with a nice season at Dunedin, after jumping up from to 17th from 27th on the in 2013 (nice symmetry) . He hit .284/.363/.453 with 12 home runs, 8 triples, 28 doubles, 59 walks with 69 strikeouts. He also stole 15 bases.
Smith also played in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .262/.340/.333 in 11 games, with 3 stolen bases.
Dwight worked out at second base, during the fall league, though he played left field in games. Apparently he'll be working at second this spring as well. It will be interesting to see if he can handle the position. His bat would play better there than at a corner outfield spot.
Smith was a supplemental first round draft pick in 2011, number 53 overall (a pretty good return for losing Kevin Gregg to free agency). His dad was a pretty good player, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1989. They are both left-handed hitters, both about the same size, 5'11" about 180. Dwight Senior was a platoon outfield type. If Junior can't make the switch to middle infield, I'd imagine he'd end up having a platoon role with the Jays.
6. Devon Travis, 2B, age 23 (DOB: February 21, 1991 (better get his present now))
Picked up from the Tigers in trade for Anthony Gose, Travis instantly become our second baseman of the future. The question how soon will that future come. Alex has said that he could win the job out of spring training with a good showing. If the choice is between Travis and Izturis, I hope he can take the job.
Devon had a pretty good season playing at Double-A Erie last year, hitting .298/.358/.460, in 100 games, with 10 home runs, 37 walks, 60 strikeouts and 16 steals. He missed some time at the start of the season with an oblique injury and had a slow start, but he came on as the season went on, hitting .318/.387/.512 in the second half of the season, which lines up nicely with his 2013 season, when he hit .350/.401/.561 in A ball.
He isn't a big guy, listed at just 5'9", but then there are enough examples of small middle infielders around. He's pretty good defensively, good range, but not shortstop's arm. I'm looking forward to seeing him play.