If you haven’t already, check out the introductory post/index for some background and details on eligibility for Blue Jays prospects to be considered on the Bluebird Banter Top 40 Prospects list. As we proceed, the index page will updated with the full list and links to all posts in this series. And now, without further ado, the first installment of the BBB Top 40, counting down to the top of the Toronto Blue Jays farm system.
2022: Full List and Index | 37-40
40. Vinny Capra, IF, age 25 (DOB: 7/7/1996), grade: 30+, 2020: unranked
Capra was drafted in the 20th round of the 2018 draft out of Richmond University, a mid-major where he hit .300 with strong plate discipline but little power as a two-year starter after transferring from junior college in his native Florida. A $1,000 senior sign, his performance didn’t stand out in his first couple seasons.
Indeed, the most notable thing was the unusually aggressive placements Capra received. He was moved to low-A Lansing for the last month of his draft year, something usually only reserved for standout performers or prospects from major conference programs. That was just the prelude, as he was assigned directly to Double-A New Hampshire to start 2019. And not just as an extra guy, he got a good deal of playing time around the infield.
While that was curious for the fact I couldn’t recall any similar recent precedent in the organization, the underwhelming offensive performance (.229/.295/.309) tagged him as just another guy. And then he comes back in 2021 and explodes for a .316/.390/.531 line. There’s some glaring yellow flags of unsustainability between an elevated 27% strikeout rate and .428 BABIP, but the increased power is harder to wave away.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to know what to make of that. But as a steady if unspectacular defender who can play around the infield, he doesn’t have to hit much to have some sort of major league future even if it’s very modest impact. Moving him so aggressively suggests the Jays saw something all along or really liked the make-up, and the combination of that and the possibility of a late-career breakout puts him at the end of the list. In any event, having made the cutoff was one week, his first appearance will be his last
39. Addison Barger, IF, age 22 (DOB: 11/12/1999), grade: 30+/35, 2020: just missed
Another 2018 draft pick, Barger was selected in the 6th round out of the same high school in Florida the Jays nabbed Derek Bell in 1987. Committed to the powerhouse Florida Gators, he was ranked in the 100-200 range of the draft class by several publications, so he was an intriguing upside play at a reasonable price when he signed at slot for $271,100.
He had an uneven debut in the GCL that summer, showing a little pop and decent approach at the plate but not really hitting. I was interested to see what he’d moving the next year moving off the complex, but he received somewhat sporadic playing time for the first month at Bluefield. Just when he seemed to be finding his stride in early July, he mysteriously was placed on the restricted list and didn’t surface the rest of the season. From the outside, it was hard to make heads or tails of what was going on.
In 2021 he resurfaced at full season low-A, though once again was jockeying for regular playing on the infield. In the end, he was one of Dunedin’s bigger boppers, posting 18 home runs among 41 extra base hits for a .243 ISO before a late season promotion to Vancouver backfilling other promotions. The underlying Statcast data was promising, as Barger showing an ability to elevate the ball with decent impact that few others on the roster did. He hit very large platoon splits, struggling against lefties.
There is a big red flag in a 33% strikeout rate, and that will bear closely watching. It makes for a very risky profile, as there’s a significant chance he won’t hit enough at higher levels. But as an infielder with defensive tools to stay there and pop, there’d be regular upside if everything clicked and paths to lesser major league role as a platoon or reserve role. That’s enough to rank at the back of this list, though developments in 2022 will likely move him up or off.
38. Cameron Eden, CF, age 24 (DOB: 3/31/1998), grade: 30+/35, 2020: unranked
Another 6th round pick a year later in 2019, Eden was selected out of Cal-Berkeley, where he had an uneven three year run. A solid starter in a major conference as a freshman, he slumped badly his second year before rebounding with a big junior year. He’s the younger brother of Chandler Eden, a significant pitching prospect out of high school who was an unsigned 17th round draftee of the Blue Jays out of junior college in 2015.
Eden had an unremarkable debut in Vancouver, playing mostly centrefield but hitting just .220/.292/.284 and not making much of an impression on me, Eden returned there in 2021 now at the high-A level to better results over the first two months before an injury in late-June sidelined him for the rest of the season.
The offensive line doesn’t jump off the page at .274/.382/.402, but the speed absolutely does. He stole 30 bases while only being caught twice, leading the league by a mile when he was hurt and only being surpassed by one other player near the end of the season. That translates to covering ground in the outfield, and he showed decent plate discipline.
Barring unforeseen further development, it’s quite unlikely Eden hits enough to profile as a regular. But the speed and the way it played give him a shot at a major league role, especially with expanded benches under the 26-man roster with limits on pitchers.
37. Fitz Stadler, RHP, age 25 (DOB: 4/2/1997), grade 35, 2020: unranked
Bookending this segment with another 2018 draftee, Stadler was selected in the 18th round out of Arizona State, where he didn’t pitch a lot in three years (less than 55 innings total). It came down to an inability to throw strikes consistency, a skill that often eludes or comes later to very tall pitchers. So entering pro ball, the 6’9” Stadler was the definition of a development project.
He got off to a dominating debut in Bluefield and was also very good for Vancouver, both out of the bullpen. Moving up to full season ball in 2019, the Jays gave him a shot in the rotation as a piggyback starter with Lansing. It was an inconsistent season, as the strikethrowing didn’t fall right apart as in college, and while occasionally he denominated, he got hit more than he should for an overwhelming fastball.
It would have been interesting to see what direction they went in 2020, but with the lost season the impetus was to move quickly and he was back in the bullpen as a short reliever with New Hampshire. Stadler’s four seamer sat in the mid/high-90s, and he pairs it with a slider that will flash tight, sharp break but is often inconsistent.
The stuff is easily major league calibre, and when it clicks Stadler looked dominant in overpowering hitters. The flip side was that too often he’s completely lose the plate, and a bunch of outings spiraled on him when that happened. If he can find some consistency, it’s easy to see him in a big league bullpen, as soon as this year. But as is, he’s could fall short entirely or perhaps no more than a brief cup of coffee.
The most substantial MLB career will belong to
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