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Draft preview: organizational pitching depth

Part 1 of BBB's 2016 draft coverage starts by breaking down the pitching depth and upside in the organization currently

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

As I outlined Monday in kicking off the 2016 draft coverage, the first thing to do is take stock of the system as it is now, starting on the pitching side. I'm going to perform the same exercise as last year, that is, for each grouping, display the prospects on a chart according to both major league upside and experience level (an approximate proxy for risk). This is not an exact science, so take all the position with a grain of salt, but it looks something like this:


In comparison to last year's exercise, I've included a few more of the lower ceiling prospects for completeness. They are either close enough to the big leagues they could get a shot at some point, or have something interesting going for them.

Keep in mind that "reasonable upside" is not the same as likely or base case projection, and that most players at the lower levels won't come anywhere close to that. It's basically saying, if the player's development goes well, this is what he could become. And conversely, it's not an absolute ceiling either and there is potential for upside surprise. For example, Marcus Stroman has the raw tools to be a legit ace.

For the purposes if this exercise, I'm including not only players with rookie eligibility, but also players 25 or under already contributing or established at the major league level to give a better sense of the total organizational depth. As a general rule of thumb, I've kept players included last year for comparative purposes even if they wouldn't otherwise be in the top tier of prospects.

Right Handed Pitching


The system, especially in comparison to years past, is a little lacking in premium RHP talent, but there is a strong foundation of young pitching at the major league level which is partly the reason for that (as well as trading the likes of Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro to name a few in the last year). I still consider Roberto Osuna as a long ter starter, and based on the ability shown, has probably the best combination of upside and risk. Sean Reid-Foley and Conner Greene are the leading prospects, but there's no prospect that profiles to me as possibly a significantly above average starter. Reid-Foley has upside and raw stuff, but hasn't harnessed his command. One name to keep an eye is Francisco Rios, who had a stellar first month in full-season ball and was promoted to Dunedin.

The 2015 draft saw a significant inflow of talent here, with the Blue Jays spending four of their first five picks on right handed pitchers, though only three signed. Justin Maese and Jose Espada have the potential to take big steps forward this summer, in additional to some of international signees in recent years like Juan Meza and Lupe Chavez. If Clinton Hollon can make it back and stay on the straight and narrow (he recently received a second 50 game suspension) he has some of the highest upside in the system.

This was a major organization strength at this time last year, and despite significant talent exiting the system the Jays remain in decent shape here especially when considering the young MLB talent. That will not of course stop the Jays from drafting RHP, and they've shown a tendency to target pitching early, but it would be somewhat surprising

Left Handed Pitching


No part of the system has suffered as much damage as left-handed pitching. Of the 12 pitchers on the chart last year, six were traded in July: Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Jairo Labourt, Rob Rasmussen (now retired), Nick Wells, and Jake Brentz. Evan Smith has struggled such that I've not even included him. Ryan Borucki and Matt Smoral have dealt with injury and ineffectiveness, and their stock is way down too.

On the plus side, Shane Dawson had a great year at low-A and is now holding his own in AA, Chad Girodo has got to the majors and looks solid as a lefty specialist, and Angel Perdomo has moved up to full season ball but has yet to find consistency. A few potential quality relievers have emerged, but that's only a very small offset. The Jays spent almost no resources in 2015 adding to this area. Simply put, over the last year this area has gone from an organizational strength to an organizational weakness.


Next up, we'll go through the position player side of the system.