The countdown towards #1 (whomever possibly could that ever be?) continues as we move deeper into the heart of the system.
32. Brock Lundquist, OF, age 23 (DOB: 1/23/1996), last year: unranked
Lundquist was selected in the 6th round of the 2017 draft out of Long Beach State, where he was a solid performer as a three year starter. Before the draft Baseball America ranked him 391st and said:
Lundquist is physically well-put together and has raw power in his 6-foot, 210-pound frame, but has struggled to get to it consistently in games. He served as Beach’s leadoff hitter rather than hitting in the middle of the order for much of the season, highlighting that inability. Lundquist has a good bat path and good bat speed, but his pitch recognition is below-average and he can get out on his front side. He is an average runner with an average arm and projects as a fringe-average to average defender in left field, with just enough arm to handle right.
That first part is particularly noteworthy as it looks quite prescient given his progression as a professional. In his junior year his strikeout rate increased without any offsetting increase else (such as power), and that caused him to fall in the draft and sign underslot at $175,000. His performance in Vancouver was unremarkable with a .251/.364/.429 line.
2018 was a different story. Assigned to Lansing, he hit the ball much less on the ground, and consequently tapped into power and hit 13 home runs in half a season en route to a .249/.356/.461 line. That earned him a promotion to Dunedin, where the power output wasn’t quite as good (more gap than home runs), but he knocked the cover off the ball. His .337/.401/.483 line that come with a .390 BABIP, and he’s not going to maintain it, but it was earned.
Lundquist doesn’t strike out a ton and takes a decent amount of walks. If he can continue to show decent power as he moves up, he’ll be interesting. As a corner outfielder he doesn’t have the biggest ceiling, but for whatever reason I think of Reed Johnson (a fellow collegiate Californian, though from Beach’s archrival Fullerton). I had him a lot high than Tom, so this is a compromise ranking, but I’m always intrigued when players show improved performance based on fundamental changes in skill. And bonus points for this:
31. Justin Maese, RHP, age 22 (DOB: 10/24/1996), last year: 13th
Maese has tumbled down the rankings this year with the digits in his ranking inverting after missing the entire season to shoulder surgery. He lost most of 2017 to arm problems, so hopefully the surgery helps him put that behind him, but it’s a concern and that’s partially behind the drop. As is the influx of new prospects into the organization. But there’s also the fact that in hindsight he was simply over-ranked last year, and if there’s one ranking I would have wanted back a month after last year, it was Maese.
I’ve been a huge proponent the last couple years. Maese was drafted out of high school in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft from El Paso, Texas — a difficult place to scout that can get overlooked. He threw a good number of innings in the GCL, posting a 1.01 ERA with just 19 strikeouts in 35.2 innings, but showing the extreme ground ball tendencies that came with his signature bowling ball sinker.
2016 was the breakout, as he jumped up to Vancouver and was so good he forced the Jays to move him up after five starts to Lansing. Again, he hasn’t striking out a ton of batters, mostly because they were busy beating the ball into the ground, but he didn’t walk anyone either. He continued the success with a 3.36 ERA in 10 low-A starts, before turning 20, and appeared to be one of the more promising pitchers in the system.
The one question at that point seemed to be whether he’d develop his change-up as a usable third pitch to complement that dominating low-to-mid 90s sinker and good slider. Unfortunately, he never really got on track in 2017, being a lot more hittable and inconsistency than he was previously (albeit curiously with better peripherals). Just when he seemed to be rounding into form, he hit the DL after Memorial Day and only made a handful more starts before being shutdown.
It’s been a trying couple years, but if Maese is back physically there’s still a lot of potential there. It remains to be seen what he’s make of it. If starting doesn’t work out, the fastball/slider combination could make him a high end reliever.
30. Leonardo Jimenez, IF, age 18 for 2019 season (DOB: 5/17/2001), last year: unranked
Jimenez was signed out of Panama when the international signing window opened in July 2017, receiving a $825,000 bonus that was the second highest given out by the Jays that year (after Eric Pardinho). It’s worth pointing out that even by the standard of IFAs, Jimenez was really young at less than two months over 16 years of age. Thus, he debuted in 2018 at not only 17, but a very young 17.
Jimenez bypassed the Dominican Summer League entirely and started his career statewide with the GCL Jays in 2018. In 150 PA, he hit .250/.333/.341 with almost as many walks as strikeouts while splitting time defensively across the middle infield. Complex league stats need a huge grain of salt to begin with, and the stat line is unremarkable except for the fact that that Jimenez mostly held his own at such a young age.
There’s not much else that can be said at this point, we’ll see how he does this summer in what I’d think will be Bluefield. MLB Pipeline sees him as a balanced player:
Jimenez is a sum-of-all parts player who stands out more for his all-around game than any specific tools. He makes consistent contact from the right side of the plate with a swing that’s direct to the ball...Defensively, Jimenez, an average runner, is solid if unspectacular at shortstop, where he’s an instinctual player who makes all the routine plays and is fundamentally sound.
29. Forrest Wall, OF, age 23 (DOB: 11/20/1995), last year: in the Rockies system
Wall came into the Blue Jays system towards the end of July in the Seung-hwan Oh deal that also brought Chad Spanberger who placed further down on this list. He was drafted in 2014 at 35th overall as a comp pick as a second baseman out of high school in Florida and signed for $2,000,000. So Wall was very much a prep chip prep prospect, ranked 42nd overall in that year’s draft class by MLB Pipeline.
His professional career got off to a very quick start, as he hit .318/.416/.490 for Grand Junction. As discussed regarding Spanberger, it’s a very good place and league to hit, but even with that caveat that’s pretty impressive for a draftee. That earned him a full season placement in 2015, and except for a handful of games in Boise he spent the year at low-A Asheville. Here too he was quite good, posting a .280/.355/.438 line in 416 PA.
Asheville too is a good place to hit, but he didn’t hit a huge home/road split, so this performance vaulted him into the backend of top-100 lists and he appeared well on his way heading into 2016. Here he hit a bit of a bump in the road, hitting just .264/.329/.355 at high-A Modesto with very little power. He repeated the level in 2017, this time at Lancaster and mostly playing in the outfield. He got off to a better start, .299/.361/.471 before dislocating his shoulder in May and missing the rest of the season, but Lancaster is an absolute launching pad and he has a big home/road split.
Starting a third season in high-A in 2018, he put up a similar performance for the the first two months to earn a promotion to AA. The Eastern League was the first time he wouldn’t be in a hitter friendly park or league. He struggled to a .206/.289/.359 line as his strikeout rate increased with a miserable BABIP. When traded, he literally switched dugouts and then torched his former teammates. His production was better in New Hampshire, but his strikeout rate ticked even higher and was BABIP fuelled.
Wall is stuck behind a glut of outfield options for the Jays, and (unsurprisingly) wasn’t added to the 40-man. He’s played mostly CF, and has the speed and range to handle it, but a below average arm might mean his future is in left (range is more important). He was considered an advanced hitter coming out of high school, but as we’ve detailed has been more average since the 2015 system. And he hasn’t shown much power yet. If he ends up in a corner, the issue is it’s that “tweener” profile where he hasn’t shown enough offensive production to profile in a corner.
The highest ranked player on the 2020 list will be:
This poll is closed