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Beyond the Top 40: My pref list

Top 40 Prospects

Having covered several prospects who showed up on multiple of the individual lists that went into the main list and thus were more consensus selections but beyond the Top 40 itself, next up is profiling some more prospects who didn’t place in a different way. This is my “pref list”, 11 prospects I’ve graded out more highly (was supposed to be 10 and then I realized I forgot one that needed to be there).

The list is roughly ordered in terms of preference, the first few would have been in the mix towards the backend of my top 40 list (35+ type grades), a number of others would fit in the 41-50 range (35 type grade), and a few beyond that who I’d consider interesting for less apparent reasons and that I’m relatively higher on and think could take steps forward (30+ type grade).

Even having gone through the Top 40, more than a dozen newcomers of the system, the consensus just missed and now my pref list, there’s still prospects worth mentioning. Thus, one final post to come with other notables.

2020: Full List and Index | 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-12 | 13-16 | 17-20 | 21-24 | 25-28 | 29-32 | 33-36 | 37-40
Beyond the Top 40: Just Missed | Pref list | Top 5 Older | Newcomers

2019: Full List and Index | 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-12 | 13-16 | 17-20 | 21-24 | 25-28 | 29-32 | 33-36 | 37-40 | Just missed/pref: Matt | Tom | Top 5 Older

Cullen Large, 3B, age 24 (DOB: 1/22/1996)

I had Large around 30th on my own preliminary list, though I would have adjusted down a bit on further inspection had it been relevant. He’s had an usual career progression, a 5th round draft in 2017 from a small school who had an unremarkable debut in Vancouver. He stormed out of the gate in 2018 with Lansing, .316/.411/.568 but then was injured at the beginning of May which essentially ended his season.

Large then got off to another strong start in 2019 at Dunedin, hitting close to .300/.400/.500 through late May, albeit it with a higher K% and less power. He was tailing off in early June when he rolled his wrist diving for a ground ball, putting him on the IL. It looked horrible, and I was surprised he was back as soon as he was. He wasn’t the same hitter afterwards, either in New Hampshire or the AFL, and maybe that’s being exposed by better competition, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t 100%.

Jhon Solarte, CF, age 19 (DOB: 12/19/2000)

This is really just a play on some promising statistical markers, since he’s only been as high as the GCL. The natural progression would be a short season assignment, but the Jays sent him to Lansing for the Crosstown Showdown which is often a decent indicator, so maybe they’re bullish enough to send him right to full season in 2020. Solarte’s showed almost no power, but the plate metrics are good (~12% walk rate, 20% strikeout rate) and he seems to make good contact. The rate of attempted stolen bases would suggest good speed as well.

Michael Dominguez, RHP, age 19 (DOB: 8/17/2000)

The Blue Jays have had some success drafting pitchers in this range (15th round), such as fellow Floridian Josh Winckowski in 2016. Dominguez had a pretty nice pro debut in the GCL, posting a.1.13 ERA in 24 innings and allowing 13 hits, striking out 30% of the batters he faced albeit while walking 10%. He’s on the smaller side at 5’10” and the delivery he was using in high school sort of screams reliever, but I like his ability to spin his breaking ball, and if velocity is more in the low-90s, there’s some interesting building blocks.

Ty Tice, RHP, age 23/24 (DOB: 7/4/1996)

The closest to the majors on this list, it’s realistic that Tice could make his way to Toronto in 2020 with half a season under his belt in AAA. He’s moved quickly though the minors, dispatching batters with a (straight four seam) fastball into the mid-90s and a good slider that misses bats. That fits the profile of a middle reliever in today’s game, he strikes out plenty of batters though his walk rate ticked up in Buffalo and he’ll have to manage that.

Zach Logue, LHP, age 24 in 2020 (DOB: 4/24/1996)

I want to believe in Logue, but even as a lefty it’s a tough profile as his fastball tops out around 90-92, but generally sitting high-80s. But can really pitch, mixing four pitches effectively and keeping batters off balance when he’s on. When he’s not, he’s susceptible to the long ball. Perhaps he could be something like a left-handed Sam Gaviglio, who has been a useful major leaguer. Logue also works really, really quickly which makes for an enjoyable pace to watch.

Cobi Johnson, RHP, age 24 (DOB: 11/6/1995)

When I saw a couple of Johnson’s outings for Vancouver after he was drafted in 2018, I was really impressed with how good his stuff looked out of the bullpen — a three pitch of low-90s fastball, sharp slider and good change-up. Intriguing enough an arsenal to cause to me wonder if starting was an option, and the Jays indeed tried it. While he had some good outings, overall it was inconsistent and he was prone to control lapses with his fastball. It was worth trying, but the play now is probably to put him in the pen and try and move him quickly, and I like him as an effective reliever.

Rafael Lantigua, IF, age 22 in 2020 (DOB: 4/28/1998)

The overall numbers don’t jump off the page (.254/.302/.373 in 335 PA at Lansing), but Lantigua improved significantly over the course of the season. When first assigned in May, he looked completely overmatched at the plate, a lot of weak contact. His results improved sequentially, posting an OPS over .800 in July before tailing back off in August, but more importantly he was much better at spray good contact around. Defensively, he looked very smooth and I think should stick on the middle infield so he won’t have to hit much.

Cre Finfrock, RHP, age 23/24 (DOB: 6/26/1996)

Serving as Lansing’s closer, Finfrock profiled as a future quality reliever, with a fastball into the mid-90s and a power slider that flashes plus and piles up swings-and-misses when it’s on. There’s some consistency issues, and injury risk, but it’s not much of a stretch to imagine him in a big league pen.

Nick Podkul, IF, age 23 in 2020 (DOB: 4/11/1997)

A successor to Cavan Biggio on Notre Dame’s infield, Podkul results in pro ball since being drafted in the 7th round two years ago don’t really stand out. But he’s got a good idea at the plate, with a very high walk rate, low strikeout rate and very little swing and miss. It’s a contact oriented approach, and while he got off to a slow start in Lansing but came then came into his own and was consistency squaring balls up and spraying them to all fields. He played more sporadically in Dunedin and never really got rolling and found his stride. It’s a bit of a tough profile as third base because he’s not going to hit for power, but there’s some intriguing elements offensively.

Graham Spraker, RHP, age 25 in 2020 (DOB: 3/19/1995)

A 31st round pick, Spraker has had some strong results albeit with middling peripherals. The Jays used him as a swingman in 2019 in Dunedin and the velocity is light (high 80s to touching low-90s), but he can spin a really tight, sharp slider. I’d like to see him moved to a short relief role, maybe the velocity ticks up, and he could be profile as a reliever.

Troy Watson, RHP, age 22/23 (DOB: 6/11/1997)

Watson was used as a starter in Lansing, and put together some very dominant outings in posting a strong 3.14 ERA in 91.2 innings. That said, he only struck out 46 (12%) while walking 37 (10%), which is normally a huge red flag. What piques my interest is the ability to hold 92-94 velocity deep into games, and touch higher (95+). He’s got a curve and slider, if one can be sharpened into more of a putaway pitch, it’s a really interesting profile.