We've identified some prospects to keep an eye on for the upper 4 levels of the Jays' farm system. But, many are still in extended spring training to start 2016. While, 4 levels of minor league baseball have started the Jays have 4 more teams who have yet to begin yet. Most will begin sometime in June after the MLB draft from June 9th to June 11th. Vancouver and Bluefield are usually comprised mostly of recent draftees. But, there are a few young guys worth watching when these seasons begin.
C Andres Sotillo (22)- Sotillo was ranked at #37 on our prospect list. Sotillo doesn't have much to love, but there's also nothing that's particularity bad about his game. He plays well behind the plate and combines that with adequate offense. Doesn't have much power or speed but a good eye suggest he could be alright. Sotillo spent last year in Bluefield and is hoping to move up this season.
C Owen Spiwak (20)- Spiwak was drafted in the 10th round of the MLB draft last season and spent the end of the summer playing in the GCL. He slashed .293/.337/.329 in 31 games. He was a good hitter in college and the Jays are hoping to capture that. He was described as having a "sweet swing" by one scout. Not much is known about his defense at this point. But, the Jays have a real need for catching depth so Spiwak is worth watching in June.
2B Deiferson Barreto (20)- Barreto was signed as a 16 year old in 2011. Now he's ranked #26 on our prospect list and hoping to move up. Barreto has hit well, owning a .296/.360/.386 slash line over the last 4 seasons. He doesn't walk much, but he also doesn't strikeout much. He consistently puts the ball in play without much power. He plays about anywhere in the infield but is probably gonna remain at second the higher up he gets. He'll be hoping to land in Vancouver once the season begins.
SS Yelstin Gudino (19)- Gudino is another international signing. Gudino signed back in 2013 and is not #39 on our BBB prospect list. Gudino hasn't played well since being signed but is still young. He's said to play good defense despite 35 errors last season. Gudino is still very raw so it's still relatively unknown what the Jays have in him. He's played the last 2 seasons in Bluefield and I would expect him to go back in 2016.
OF/IF Vladimir Guerrero Jr (17)- Guerrero might be the Jays' biggest international signing ever. Despite being only 17 years old he comes in at #5 on our prospect list. He's a different player than his dad as he isn't nearly the same athlete, but many think he displays more power. He's got a great eye at the plate and should become an exceptional hitter. Defensively, there's a lot of uncertainty about him. He was initially signed as a corner outfielder, but after some talk with the team he's been working out at third, and many believe he'll need to move to first. So, we're still trying to figure that out. He's a big kid (6'1" 200 lbs) and is actually down about 20lbs from when he signed. Given his age, there's a lot of unknowns about his development, so we'll need to keep an eye on him in 2016.
OF Reggie Pruitt (18)- How many guys are drafted in the 24th round, and the following year are considered a top prospect? Say "hello" to Reggie Pruitt. Pruitt is ranked #13 on the MLB.com prospect rankings for the Jays. We're not quite so sold as we have him at #34, but we all agree he's talented. Pruitt should have been drafted in the top of the draft, but many figured he was committed to Vandy to play ball. The Jays took a chance and ended up signing him. Pruitt follows in the mold of other top outfielders in the Jays' system as he's a raw, athletic player with a ton of speed. He's got a lot of work to do on his mechanics and needs to get stronger if he wants to make it in the Bigs. But, all the tools are there for this kid to have a great career.
LHP Travis Bergen (22)- Bergen was drafted in the 7th round by the Jays last season and sits at #30 on our list. Bergen will spend his career as a relief pitcher has the ability to move up quickly. Bergen was originally assigned to Lansing but was then sent back to extended spring training before appearing in a game. Bergen lacks a high ceiling but seems to be a stable player who should eventually find himself in the majors.
RHP Guadalupe Chavez (18)- Chavez was signed in 2014 and is now #20 on our list. Chavez is a converted outfielder who played well in his professional debut as he went 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 61.1 innings last season. Chavez displayed good control and found a way to miss bats. Chavez still needs to prove he can start, but he's certainly headed in that direction.
RHP Yennsy Diaz (19)- Diaz was an international signing in 2014 and is moving up boards. He just missed our rankings but MLB.com has him at #19 in theirs. Diaz has a good fastball and there's debate as to whether he's better suited to the bullpen long term. In 2015 he went 4-4 with an ERA of 2.88. He's got a long way to go and at this point he's mostly just a guy with a lot of potential.
RHP Jose Espada (19)- Espada was the Jays' 5th round choice in 2015. He's #22 for us with a lot of room to improve. Espada is a very polished kid for his age and feels safer than others at his age. He should be a starter moving forward and could move quickly due to his maturity. He features a good fastball and changeup and is still working on his curveball. Espada could be a fun guy to watch in 2016.
RHP Justin Maese (19)- Maese was drafted two rounds ahead of Espada and already sits at #9 in our prospect rankings. Maese features a low 90's fastball with a lot of sink. His slider has the makings of being a good secondary pitch for him. Last season Maese went 5-0 in 35.2 innings with a 1.01 ERA. His ability to consistently generate groundballs leads many to think he will be able to remain in the rotation moving forward.
RHP Juan Meza (18)- Jays signed Meza in 2014. At the time Baseball America had Meza ranked as the number 10 international free agent that year. Meza struggled last season in his proffesional debut, but it's had to look too much into a guys production when he was 17. His fastball sits around 90 MPH but he's got the frame (6'2" 172lbs) to add muscle, which should push his fastball into the low to mid 90's. Meza is still a work in progress, but like many on this list he's got the tools to play at the MLB level.
RHP Hansel Rodriguez (19)- Rodriguez was signed early in 2014 and made his debut later that year. Rodriguez just missed our list but places at #18 on MLB.com. Rodriguez has been shaky during his first two seasons, but still features a plus fastball that sits around 94 and cat get upto 97-98. With the chance to get stronger, Rodriguez could become one of the harder throwers in the game. At 19 years old, the Jays are still trying Rodriguez out in the rotation, but if he needs to move to the bullpen, his fastball still plays well.
LHP Matt Smoral (22)- Smoral's name shouldn't be new to many as the former first rounder has been moving all over prospect lists since being drafted in 2012. While his number don't inspire a lot of confidence he still has a lot of upside. He features a fastball and slider which both grade out to be plus pitches. Smoral's 6'8" frame helps emphasize these pitches. Injuries have been a constant issue for Smoral and have slowed his progress. Smoral will most likely be brought up as a reliever from this point on to feature his 1-2 combination. But, Smoral needs to start producing if he wants to stay on our list.