For all previous (and future) entries in the Top 40 prospect series, see the 2017 Top 40 Prospect Index.
6 - Lourdes Gurriel, IF, age 23 (Oct 19, 1993), last year: Not in system
Considered one of the top available international prospects, Gurriel inked a seven-year, $22m contract with the Blue Jays in the off-season. And perhaps more impressively, he entered our Top-10 before the ink was even dry. A career .277/.362/.426 hitter in Cuba the 23-year old prospect hit .344/.407/.560 in his 2015-16 campaign before signing to come over to North America.
He shows some pop in his bat hitting 10 HR in 246 PA's in his final year, and stole 8 bases on top of it. He's said to be capable of playing second, third, short, as well as having been worked out in the outfield, and is said to have a strong arm.
Here's a snippet of MLB Trade Rumours article on his signing:
" He ran a 6.65 in the 60-yard dash and drew positive reviews on his physique and strong arm, though some scouts felt he needed more work against live pitching. Baseball America’s Ben Badler has penned scouting reports on Gurriel in the past (subscription required and recommended), giving praise to his bat speed, quality approach at the plate and strike zone management skills."
Not entirely sure when we will see this young player at the big league level but, if I had to bet, I’d say sooner rather than later. Older than a normal 1st year prospect I suspect he will start in the minors but expect him to be given every opportunity to rise through the ranks and crack the big league roster as quickly as possible.
5 - Rowdy Tellez, 1B, age 21 (March 16, 1995), last year: 6th
There is a lot of hope in Jays Nation about the future of this lefty slugger following his fantastic campaign in Double-A in 2016.
Beyond the power, which is probably his best asset beyond happening to be a lefty bat, though lefty power is rare, and also something the Jays desperately need (see: Morales signing). He hit 18 HR over 124 games in 2015 before upping his output to 23 last season. He has a solid plate approach, as shown with a BB% of 12.3 in 2016 and finished with a .297/.387/.530 slash for the year.
Now, considering he’s limited defensively to 1B, we might not see him this season with Morales, Smoak, Bautista, and Pearce all already on the roster. But, that is not a certainty. A strong start in the minors combined with a slow one from someone like Smoak and we could see him push himself into the big leagues.
4 - Richard Urena, SS, age 20 (Feb 26, 1996), last year: 3rd
The heir apparent to Troy Tulowitzki drops down one spot to #4 (#3 last year) thanks in big part to some Double-A struggles.
In 30 games (132 PA) he hit .266 with just a .282 OBP, and a .395 SLG% with 0 HR, which was disappointing to some of us around BBB considering his .305/.351/.447 in High-A ball (8 HR).
Still, no need to sound the alarms just yet. He also showed a bit of growth in his offensive game. In 2015 he struck out 110 times over 121 games (536 PA) but dropped that total significantly to just 83 K's in 127 games (563 PA), and his K% remained consistent from High-A to Double-A at around 14.5% (14.4 in AA, 14.8 in A+), though he also walked more going from 16 walks the year before to 29.
There is room for growth, of course, but his defensive game is still strong and he continues to develop as he moves up through the ranks of the minor league system. It's too early to tell right now, there is a lot of money tied up at SS, and 2B as well as 3B seem tied up for the foreseeable future, so it is difficult to project when we might see him, but at #4 there is hope around BBB that the Richard Urena era is not too far off into the distance.