Belatedly (just before the first official game of 2015), it is now my turn to present my list of Blue Jays prospects who didn't make the main list but worthy of keeping an eye on, at least to me. In general, this list is biased towards higher floor rather than impact/big league regulars (with one exception).
Jimmy Cordero, RHP, age 23 (DOB: 10/19/1991)
Cordero was signed by the Jays as an international free agent in early 2012 out of the Dominican Republic for an unknown, but likely very small bonus. He was already 20 at that point, and most of the time signees that old are just to fill out the DSL roster for a year or two. So it was somewhat surprising that following a statistically unremarkable 2012 in the DSL, he was brought stateside to the GCL for 2013. It was even more surprising then, when 2014 found him jumped all the way to Lansing. To that point in his career, in 44 innings he had posted a solid 49 strikeouts, but with serious control problems with 33 walks and hit batsmen.
The reason for the jump became obvious in the summer, after he missed most of the first half to injury. He's got a fastball in the mid/high 90s out of the pen, and he touched 100 on multiple occasions (out of the pen). He's still really raw, with the control problems and as far as I know, lacking any real secondaries. A long work to do, but that type of velocity is a legitimate carrying tool to the big leagues. I had Cordero ranked 29th on my list, which is really aggressive all things considered. There's a lot of things that can be taught, but you can't teach the ability to throw that hard. And the Jays had done pretty well recently tinkering with pitchers and cleaning up their deliveries.
Justin Shafer, RHP, age 22 (DOB: 9/18/1992)
Shafer is quite new to the system, having been drafted in the 8th round of last year's draft out of the University of Florida and a signed for $125,000 (slot $159,600). In college, he was primarily a position player, though each year making more pitching appearances. As a result, he's a lot less experienced than most college arms, but also his arm is a lot fresher too. After signing he went to Vancouver and got off to a nice start, before suffering an arm injury that apparently wasn't major as he only missed a month. His ERA wasn't pretty at 5.16, but his peripherals were solid as he struck out 23 while only walking 7 in 22.2 innings.
The scouting reports on Shafer indicated a fastball in the low 90s, which is where he sat with Vancouver. His next best pitch is a slider, which has plus potential. He should be assigned to Lansing to start 2014, and though his future is likely as a reliever, I wouldn't be surprised if he got the opportunity to start at least initially (especially with the piggybacking that happens early the year). In a sense, this is similar to another Gator pitcher the Jays drafted recently, Anthony DeSclafani (2011 6th round, drafted 199th overall compared to 234th for Shafer). He was primarily a reliever, but was given the opportunity to start in 2011 and thrived.
Roemon Fields, CF, age 24 (DOB: 11/28/1990)
Fields was signed towards the end of the 2013 season, an undrafted free agent who was working for the US Postal Service after graduating from a tiny NAIA school in Kansas. He has a fascinating backstory, which can be read in detail here. He spent his first year of pro ball in Vancouver, hitting .269/.338/.350 with 27 walks against 61 strikeouts. All told, not bad considering the level of play was much higher than anywhere else he had played.
But what really stood out was that he stole 48 bases in 72 games, caught stealing just 9 times. For most of the season, whenever he got on base everyone knew he was going to take off and he was still successful 80% of the time. So he's got serious speed, with also bolsters his defensive value in the outfield. Already 24, he's a longshot and if he's going to make it he's going to have to move quickly like Kevin Pillar, another guy who came from nowhere. But he's an easy guy to root for, and his skillset could lend itself to being a bench player who can be a defensive replacement or pinch runner.
Gunnar Heidt, 2B, age 22 (DOB: 9/22/1992)
Heidt is another new addition, drafted in the 13th round last year out of College of Charleston, signed for $100,000. A three year starter, he posted solid offensive numbers in college and was Baseball America's 230th ranked player in the draft. He didn't sign until near the deadline, and only got to Vancouver for the last month of the season.He posted a solid .262/.333/.429 line, showing some decent pop with 11 extra base hits in less than 100 PA.
Hopefully, Heidt starts 2015 in Lansing, and can move reasonably quickly through the system and give the Jays some depth at a position where in recent years they've had some...issues. At this point, it's more of a hunch than anything. if nothing else, he's got a plus plus name.
Conner Greene, RHP, age 19 (DOB: 4/4/1995)
Greene is the only high school player on this list, selected in the 7th round of the 2013 draft and signed for $100,000. At 6'3" / 165, he was (and is) a classic projection pick with a fastball sitting in the low-90s with feel for secondaries that required further development. By signing early, he was able to pitch 30.2 innings in the GCL in his draft year, which were a little bumpy, as he walked 15 against 20 strikeouts. That earned him a return to the GCL in 2014, which was a disappointment, but he dominated with 30 strikeouts against just 6 walks in 31.2 innings. That earned him a promotion to Bluefield. There, his peripherals went backed up, 12 BB and 21 K in 27.2 innings.
The immediate question for 2015 is where he'll be initially assigned. My guess he'll be held back in extended spring, and re-assigned to short season, perhaps Vancouver. More important of course will be continued development as he fills out. He's the type of player who could hang around the low minors for a while, and then move fairly quickly through the upper minors.
2015: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | Older | Just Missed: Part I, Part II, Part III
2014: 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40