We've made it to the bottom half of top ten of our annual prospects list. This years top ten is quite a bit different than last year, since four of last year's top ten graduated to the Blue Jays and four other were traded.
This group has three first round draft picks, one 3rd round pick and one 30th round pick. Three right-handed pitchers, a catcher and a slugger.
10. Clinton Hollon, age 21 (DOB: 12/24/94). RHP, last year: 23
Hollon moves up 13 spots mostly on the strength of him still being in the organization. Our second round pick of the 2013 draft has had an interesting couple of years. In May of 2014 he had Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2014 season. Then, in August of 2015 he gets a 50 game suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine
In between, there were some good moments. He started 2015 the season in Vancouver, went 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 9 starts. In 45 innings he allowed 37 hits, 15 walks with 40 strikeouts. They moved him up to Lansing, where he made 3 starts (4.05 ERA, 13.1 innings, 11 hits, 7 walks and 5 strikeouts), before the suspension. Not bad for the first year back from TJ.
He still hit 95 on the radar gun, this year, after the Tommy John, so that's good news. He's John Sickels tells us he has an "impressive breaking ball" (a slider) and is working on the changeup.
The suspension carries over into April, but, barring any other little hiccups, he should get close to a full season of action this year, which would be nice, since he only has 76 total professional inning, in the 3 years since he was drafted.
9. Justin Maese, age 19 (DOB October 24, 1996), RHP, last year: waiting for the draft
Justin was our 3 round pick in the 2015 draft. He's a big guy, 6'3", listed at 190 but likely to put on muscle from there.
He was great in his first look at professional batters, putting up a 5-0 record and a 1.01 ERA in 8 games, 4 starts in the Gulf Coast League. In 35.2 innings, he allowed 32 hits, 6 walks with 19 strikeouts. I do like guys that come into professional ball throwing strikes.
He throws low 90s now, with room to improve on that as he adds muscle. Actually, in the video below, they say he was hitting 96 mph with his fastball and 86 mph with his slider last spring.
He's a long ways off, but he's getting off to a good start.
8. Max Pentecost, C, age 22 (DOB: 3/10/1993), last year: #5
In a system that either graduated or traded away most of their top prospects, Max still managed to drop 3 spots on the list.
Max had surgery on his shoulder, back in February of 2015, and missed the season rehabbing the injury. Since being picked, in the 2014 draft, he's only played 25 games in the organization.
He had shoulder surgery again, this off-season, back in December, but they say he will be ready for spring training. He might end up getting playing time at first base and DH, to make sure he get plenty of at bats. Hopefully he'll get a lot of time behind the plate too.
I'm still hopeful, but if shoulder problems force them to move out of the catcher position, he'll fall right off the list. His bat is said to be pretty good for a catcher, but I don't think it would grade out well as a first baseman. When he does get to bat, he shows a pretty good eye and has line drive power. He won't hit a lot of home runs, but should hit for a good average.
With only 25 games played, since his first round pick in 2014, this is a big year for Max. I hope we get to see what he can do when he's healthy.
7. Jon Harris, age 22 (DOB: October 16, 1993), RHP, last year: University
Jon (his family was too poor to be able to afford an h) was our first round pick (number 29 overall) in last year's draft. This was the Jays second attempt at drafting him. He was our 33rd round pick in 2012, but decided to go to university instead.
After signing, he pitched a bit for the Vancouver Canadians. It did go all that well, 12 games, 11 starts, 0-5, 6.75 ERA, 36 innings, 48 hits, 21 walks and 32 strikeouts. I'm going to give him a mulligan on that, since it was his first time pitching to professional batters. Control was the one red flag on him going into the draft. Hopefully the Jays can work with him to get him in the strike zone more.
Before the draft, Minor league ball said:
Jon Harris is one of the hardest players near the top of the draft for me to peg. I haven't seen him much and what I have, nothing stands out. Reports are that all four of his pitches can be plus. His fastball can hit 95 and sit low 90's. He has a curve and a slider as well as a change. What I have seen looks more average than plus and the command isn't great. It's clear he is one of the best arms in this draft but I don't know if he will be better than a back end starter. If he improves his command and his stuff regulates to closer to plus than average, he could be a #2 starter and that is what a team that takes him high is hoping for/confident in.
I'd expect him to be in Vancouver for most of 2016.
6. Rowdy Tellez, 1B/DH, age 20 (DOB: 3/16/95; 21 on opening day), last year: #19
Tellez made a big jump, in part because most of the other players on last year's list were traded or graduated, but mostly because he had a very good 2015 season.
He started the year in Lansing, hitting .296/.351/.444 with 7 home runs in 68 games, as a Lugnut (which sounds like an old timey insult, 'You lugnut"). He got moved up to Dunedin (just a couple of days before I was in Lansing to watch some baseball) and he hit .275/.338/.473 with 7 home runs in 35 games there.
The Jays send him to the Arizona Fall League, and he continued to hit, putting up a .291/.340/.493 with 7 more home runs there (7 seems to be his number), in just 20 games.
That makes for 21 home runs in 535 at bats. Not bad at all, considering he was young for the levels he was playing. Add in 30 doubles and 47 walks combined at the three stops and you have the making a good hitter. His eye at the plate seems to impress everyone almost as much as the power.
He's a big guy, listed at 6'4" and 245. He's going to have to keep his weight in check. He's limited to first base/DH, so he'll have to keep hitting to keep moving up the ladder. But, left-handed power hitters are worth their weight in gold (if Chris Davis' contract is an indicator).
Here is a home run from last year.