Moving to move up the Toronto Blue Jays system, this last group of grade 35 prospects is a mix of international and domestic players with the ability to command at least $500,000 to sign.
32. Alan Roden, OF, age 23 (DOB: 12/22/1999), grade: 35, 2022: college junior
Roden was selected in the 3rd round of this past year’s MLB Draft, signing for essentially $500,000 (about 20% underslot). Having traded in the (Creighton) Bluejay uniform for a (Dunedin) Blue Jays uniform, over the next couple years he’ll look to further swap that in for the Toronto version.
Roden’s two full college seasons were characterized by high batting averages (.383), strong plate discipline (including an absurd 29/8 BB/K ratio in 2022) and modest power output. Creighton is a solid mid-major program, but key is how those first two components of the offensive profile translate to pro ball. In Will Robertson, the Jays took another Creighton outfielder three years ago in a similar spot (4th round) who hasn’t worked out, though he was more of a power profile.
In a pre-draft run in the wood bat Cape Cod League, the plate discipline held up, but the batting average cratered to .212 with meagre power. In 115 with low-A Dunedin after signing, Roden’s production was very similar at .233/.374/.311. That’s hardly definitive, but he’s going to need to show he can hit in 2023.
The track record of college outfielders drafted in a similar range gives a baseline expectation of the possible outcomes. Roughly two thirds of those drafted from 1987 to 2010 did not make the majors, and a further ~20 made it but without any impact. Then it really flattens out, with a handful of role players, the odd regular, but the odd impact player like Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner make it through. Interestingly, both those guys were small school players with OBP-driven profiles, so that’s essentially the tail the Jays are trying to hit with Roden.
31. Chad Dallas, RHP, age 22/23 (DOB: 6/26/2000), grade: 35, 2022: 13th
Dallas was selected in the 4th round of the 2021 draft, signing for a slightly overslot $497,500 out of the University of Tennessee (by way of a Texas junior junior college). The Friday night starter for the Volunteers, he piled up an impressive 143/26 K/BB ratio in 124.1 innings for them, albeit with a propensity for the big fly (21 HR yielded).
Due to the 2021 college workload, Vancouver was his first assignment in 2022. Sometime dominant and sometimes barely around the zone, “Cheese” made 21 uneven starts amounting to a 4.60 ERA in 88 innings. He did strikeout almost a batter an inning, but issued 55 free passes and the susceptibility for the long ball continued to be an issue in allowing 13.
Going into 2021 there were already the reliever questions/profile traits between size (listed at 5’11” and 206 pounds), command questions stemming from delivery, aggressive approach to challenge hitters, and statistical performance. Further to that is the pitch mix, as Dallas works with a straight fastball in the low-90s but touching higher, pairing it with a hard biting mid-80s that he can locates really well to the glove side. Whereas the curve and change-up lag significantly behind.
The Jays may give him him another shot at starting in 2023, but the projection and ranking are based on the potential in short relief. Focus on the slider as a putaway weapon, see if the velocity ticks up the higher end of the range in short burst and the basic building blocks for a useful reliever are there with an outside chance of landing towards the impact side if the stuff comes together with enough command.
30. Luis Meza, catcher, age 18 (DOB: 9/23/2004), grade: 35, 2022: 24th
Meza was the headliner of the 2021 international class, signing for $2.05-million out of Venezuela, amounting to ~45% of the team’s total spending pool. The last two times the Jays have concentrated investments in one player rather than spreading the pool around it’s worked out well, landing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2015 and Orelvis Martinez in 2018.
Scouting reports, such as they are, noted Meza’s defensive skills behind the plate, but projecting that in amateurs is highly fraught, with high school catching a notoriously risky demographic and it would be even moreso with younger teenagers. Meza appeared particularly risky in what is a foundationally a crapshot lottery.
Unlike the other two big bets, Meza did not enjoy an explosive pro debut, instead scuffling to a .229/.267/.292 line in part-time play (101 PA) in the DSL. Undoubtedly, there was lots of emphasis on the defensive side, and outsized responsibilities and workload are part of what tend to slow the development of young catchers.
Meza just turned 18 after the season, so it’s hardly definitive but at some point, we’ll have to see offensive production. Given the high likelihood of not making to the majors (or even high minors), most of the value comes from the narrow tail of the possibility for regular/impact outcomes. The 2022 debut doesn’t mean that ceiling is impaired, but it has caused a shift of outcomes away. A repeat in 2023 would further that and likely drop him out of the top 40.
29. Robert Robertis, OF, age 20 (DOB: 11/29/2002), grade: 35, 2022: unranked
Robertis was signed for $750,000 in the 2019 international class out of Venezuela, though his pro debut was on hold until 2021 when he posted a pretty pedestrian line in the DSL.
Coming stateside for 2022, he had an interesting season. He hit .290/.353/.403 on the complex, but was overmatched for the week he was moved up to Dunedin in August. Nonetheless, when New Hampshire needed reinforcements for the last week, Robertis got the call and impressed with three extra bases in five games. Of course it’s a microscopic sample and one home run in particular was a cheapie—but even just flashing that ability against much more advanced pitching is intriguing.
The 5’11” lefty swinging outfielder has some swing and miss that will bear watching as he moves up the system, but if he continues to tap into the emerging power then he could be a big mover up the system. For now he’s a high risk wild card with upside who would be on the outside in a deeper system, but bears mentioning in a thinner system.
The highest 2023 home run total will be
This poll is closed
Chad Dallas (allowed)