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The 2016 Bluebird Banter Top 40 Prospects: 16-20

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Two international signees, an up-and-down lefty, a utility guy ready to make the big league team, and a Canadian pitcher poised to take the next step. Join us for #16-20 on our Top Prospects list.

2016: 21-2526-3031-3536-40 |

2015: 1-56-1011-1516-2021-2526-3031-3536-40Older | Just Missed: Part IPart IIPart III

We break into the Top 20 in this edition of the prospect list as we continue our annual march through the Blue Jays minor league system.

20. Lupe Chavez, RHP, Age 18 (DOB: December 3, 1997), Last Year: Unranked

The Blue Jays signed Chavez out of Mexico in 2014 when he was 16 years old. The young man is now only 18 and still possesses a wiry frame, last being reported at 6'2" and 150 pounds. The team started Chavez down in the DSL for the first part of the 2015 season where the righty pitched 42.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.98. He was then sent stateside as a 17-year-old to pitch in the GCL where he threw an additional 19.0 innings sporting an impressive ERA of 2.37.

Obviously Chavez is many years away, but the upside right now looks to be very good. His changeup and fastball are supposed to be very strong, and he's relatively polished for being such a young guy. His control was pretty solid in 2015 which is rare for a hard-throwing teenage international free agent. He reminds me a bit of Alberto Tirado who was a high-ranking Jays prospect until he was traded away last summer for a few months of Ben Revere.

Chavez is certainly a name to keep an eye on as the years go by. He'll likely reach Bluefield this season and will face his first real test of quality players who are older than him. As long as Lupe avoids a fiasco in 2016, expect him to be much higher on the list come next February.

19. Rodrigo Orozco, CF, Age 20 (DOB: April 2, 1995), Last Year: Unranked

Orozco is a fairly unknown name to even hardcore Jays followers, but the switch-hitting Panamanian is beginning to build himself a pretty solid reputation. Signed out of Panama City, Orozco played in the DSL in both 2013 and 2014 with pretty impressive results. Both years featured an OBP in the high .300's along with some surprising pop for a teenager who measured in at 5'11". But it wasn't until he came to Bluefield this past season where he finally started showing up on everyone's radar.

The skinny outfielder slashed .300/.368/.435 in 254 plate appearances and even managed to hit four out of the park. This earned him MVP honours in Bluefield and a late-season call-up to Vancouver to get a taste of some higher competition. For what it's worth, Orozco went 3-9 with four walks in his time in British Columbia. So, as with Chavez, the international signee will look to continue his fine performances at a higher level. For Rodrigo it will be a more extended stay in Vancouver this year with a potential chance at making it to Lansing before the season is through.

18. Matt Smoral, LHP, Age 21 (DOB: March 18, 1994), Last Year: 11

Last year I wrote that Matt Smoral has had a yo-yo life on the BBB prospects list. Unfortunately the up-and-down trend has continued for another year, despite nearly everyone in front of him leaving the organization. Smoral, a first round pick in 2012, had a dreadful year and is slowly approaching bust status. The 21-year-old faced some injury issues, including getting hit in the face with a line drive, and just could not get going in 2015. The massive lefty split time between Dunedin and Bluefield pitching out of the pen and struggled mightily to locate anything over the plate. In 14.1 total innings, Smoral allowed 20 walks despite also getting 21 strikeouts which is the Ohio native in a nutshell. If Smoral can start locating his fastball he can easily vault up the rankings, but it's looking to be more of an 'if' than a 'when'.

You can see the good and the bad of Smoral in this video from earlier in the year. His awkward mechanics lead to messy control, but when he is able to spin a good slider in there you see shades of why he was drafted so high in 2012:

17. Andy Burns, IF, Age 25 (DOB: August 7, 1990), Last Year: 25

We go from a handful of high-upside, high-risk guys to a player with a lower ceiling and higher floor in Andy Burns. The infielder has been in the Jays system forever, after being drafted out of University of Arizona in 2011. He's been a solid contributor over the years and is finally on the verge of making the show in 2016. The Colorado native spent almost all of last season starting in Buffalo, ending the season with a line of .293/.351/.372. It was surprising he never got the call up to Toronto and you'd be shocked if he was looked over again this year.

The 25-year-old was invited to Spring Training recently and is likely going to be a utility guy that goes back and forth between Buffalo and Toronto this summer. There's an outside chance he cracks the roster right out of spring with the injury to Devon Travis.

Burns doesn't set the world on fire, but he gets on base at a good clip, has some power, and plays solid defence all over the field. The right-handed hitter should be able to carve a nice little career out for himself in the major leagues if he's able to contribute at an okay rate offensively.

16. Tom Robson, RHP, Age 22 (DOB: June 27, 1993), Last Year: 39

Robson, one of the few Canadian prospects in the Jays system, broke onto the scene in 2013 when he jumped up prospect lists thanks to a great season. Unfortunately Tommy John surgery in 2014 sent him tumbling right back down those lists. Last year saw the BC native split time across the GCL, Vancouver, and Lansing, pitching 36.2 innings of mediocre baseball. Those numbers mean very little though, as the righty was on a bit of a pitch count and still making his way back from the surgery.

It's this coming season where Robson will see if he's ready to take the next step as a prospect as he takes on a more advanced level of the minor leagues. Either Lansing or Dunedin will be the starting point for the 6'4" righty who will hope a late-season call-up to New Hampshire is in the cards.

The groundball is key for Robson who lives off inducing weak contact with his solid sinking fastball. Watch for Robson to potentially jump up the list next year if he is able to continue to get guys out with ease as he did pre-surgery.