After Tom posted his "Just Missed Out" list a few days ago, it's my turn to look at some players in the Blue Jays system that still excite me despite not cracking the Top 40 rankings. My list is a little bit of a combination between players who just missed out and recent draftees who didn't start their pro careers the way they would have hoped. These players are listed in no particular order.
Daniel Lietz: Lietz was drafted in the fifth round out of JUCO in Illinois in 2013 and signed under slot for $200,000. The 6'2" southpaw was mediocre with the GCL Blue Jays during the rest of 2013 and was assigned to Bluefield to start the 2014 season. After 13.1 innings there with a 10.1 K/9 he was sent to Vancouver as a 20-year-old and looked to forget where the strike zone was located. His previously stable walk rate jumped to 14.5 BB% in 33.0 innings with the Canadians. His stuff is considered pretty strong with a low-90's fastball coming out of school along with a slider, changeup, splitter, and curveball. The setback in Vancouver should be viewed as just that, with a lot of development time still ahead of the 20-year-old. He could start in Lansing this season, but it seems more likely that he's sent back to Vancouver to try and find success at that level before receiving the promotion to Low-A.
Matt Morgan: Morgan was drafted in the fourth round of the most recent draft as a catcher, but flew slightly under the radar thanks to another catcher (#5 prospect Max Pentecost) being drafted by the Blue Jays ahead of him. He signed for $300,000, which was a little bit below slot value which helped the Jays go over slot for Lane Thomas who was selected in the subsequent round. The newly-turned 19-year-old was selected out of high school in Alabama and scouts raved about his defensive ability before the draft. Unfortunately his first taste of pro ball in the GCL went poorly. Although strong defensive catchers can survive with a mediocre bat, Morgan hit .092/.188/.134 in 133 plate appearances striking out 42.1% of the ti-WAIT A MINUTE. He struck out nearly half the time?! Thankfully the 6'1" recently turned 19 and still has time to adjust to professional baseball, but unless he brings the strikeout rate by about oh...20%, he will struggle to stay in the team's plans much longer. He will likely being spending a little bit more time in Florida before he's given a chance to move up the ranks in Bluefield or Vancouver.
Timothy Locastro: Locastro doesn't receive much buzz as a prospect, but the 22-year-old second baseman has been a sturdy player in the Blue Jays system and could eventually end up as a dependable bench player down the road. In 67 games with Vancouver, Locastro hit .313/.407/.367 with 32 stolen bases on 36 attempts in 2014. The New Yorker is the classic scrappy infielder who works hard and doesn't have much flash in his game. The former shortstop looks to be set at second base going forward and should start popping into the back end of our annual prospect lists if he keeps up the steady play in Lansing and beyond.
Jorge Flores: Flores is another player that went to Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona (pop quiz: name the other two players in the Blue Jays system that went to the same school). The Mexican-native was drafted in the 19th round in 2012 and really didn't turn it on until this past season. Starting the season in Dunedin and then moving up to New Hampshire, Flores hit .298/.350/.350 while playing shortstop and second base, although his future with the Blue Jays seems to be second base. There's two small (no pun intended) problems with Flores though. He stands just 5'5" and weighs in at 160 pounds and he has a pretty consistent habit of striking out way more than he walks. His K-rate hangs in the 10% range, while his BB-rate is usually about half of that. It will be interesting to follow Flores going forward as he seems to have the odds stacked against him, although it hasn't slowed him down yet.
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