Moving into the heart of the Toronto Blue Jays farm system, this next section of the Top 40 features a mix of pitchers and position players, newcomers and holdovers, and who likely start at four different levels in 2023.
12. Cade Doughty, IF, age 22 in 2023 (DOB: 3/26/2001), grade: 40, 2022: 17th: college junior
Doughty was selected 78th overall after the second round in this past year’s draft from Louisiana State, signing for $831,100 (essentially right at slot). His college career at LSU consisted principally of two full seasons in 2021-22, turning in very similar production at the plate. He hit near .300 with decent on-base ability/plate discipline (9% BB, 15% K) and good pop (60 extra base hits in 465 AB, .254 ISO).
Even more encouragingly, it translated nicely in his pro debut with Dunedin. Doughty hit .272/.370/.495 in 119 PA after signing, an offensive catalyst in the late season playoff push to the championship series. The one yellow flag was a bump in strikeout rate to 24%, perhaps an a result the Jays having him narrow his stance to unlock more power (11 extra base hits). Albeit limited, this pro production moves him ahead of Josh Kasevich for us despite being drafted after.
Defensively, there’s the question of finding a home. Doughty split his pro debut between second and third base, where he mostly played at LSU. The hot corner seems likelier given his best defensive tool is throwing, but could end up either in a corner outfield (which would pressure the bat) or an offensively-geared utility role. To this point, the profile is more sum of the parts than any standout tools, but we’re betting on the power in 2023, likely at high-A Vancouver.
One point to emphasize is that while college hitters are considered “safer” by virtue of having succeeded at the plate against a baseball of competitive pitching, ~25 years of data (1987-early 2010s) of players drafted in a similar range should temper expectations. About 40% never play an MLB game with another 35% a cup of coffee or being purely replacement level. Then the distribution flattens out, with role players, fringe regulars, regulars and a handful of truly impact players (Dustin Pedroia, Kyle Seager).
11. Sem Robberse, RHP, age 21 (DOB: 10/12/2001), grade: 40, 2022: 10th
Robberse was signed at the tail end of the 2018-19 international period for $125,000 out of the Netherlands, with IFA slot dollars acquired in trades that spring. That additional capacity has now delivered two of the top dozen prospects in the farm system. He had a brief but successful debut in the GCL that summer, showing good pitchability against a huge jump in competition as an intriguing sleeper in a then-very deep system.
Over the last two years, Robberse has moved across three levels of the system to reach New Hampshire at the tail end of 2022. He hasn’t dominated at any level, generally keeping his ERA in the 3.00s while approaching a strikeout an inning and generally limiting free passes. At his best, Robberse is efficient and generates weak contact early in the count rather than blowing away hitters as is typically the case for top pitchers.
That speaks to advanced pitchability that is even more remarkable given his background. The lack of experience has manifested in a tendency for messy innings to spiral into crooked numbers via batted ball damage, so intra-game consistency is a point of emphasis to iron out. Most importantly, he’s build a solid foundation of innings going from 88.2 last year to 111.1 in 2022, and positions him to bridge towards a full starter workload with 140-150 in 2023.
The pitch mix for Robberse starts with a high spin, four seam fastball in the low-90s, though he was touching the mid-90s in short outings this spring. He’ll also mix in a slightly slower variant with more movement around 90 MPH, basically a cutter. His slider gets good downward break though it’s not a wipeout pitch by any means, and sometimes gets more depth for more of a curveball look. The change-up gets good arm side run away from bats and flashes plus, and might be the best secondary of all especially as he develops the feel for it.
Listed the last couple years at 6’1” and 160 pounds, Robberse was quite slight and apparently had trouble keeping weight on. Encouragingly, in a couple outings this spring he looked noticeably sturdier and more filled out, now listed at 185. It’s not huge raw stuff, the whole plays above the sum of the parts. if it all comes together, Robberse’s upside is an innings eating mid-rotation starter.
10. Tucker Toman, SS, age 19 (DOB: 11/12/2003), grade: 40, 2022: high school
With the first of two compensation picks, the Jays selected Toman 77th overall in this past summer’s draft. Signing him away from LSU required a $2,000,000 bonus commensurate with a late first round supplemental pick (about 39th overall), more in line with his pre-draft rankings. He briefly debuted to a .290/.391/.368 line in 11 complex games.
The offensive potential drives the profile of the 6’1”, 190 pound switch-hitting infielder. As a Especially from the left side, Toman was lauded for a sweet swing and power output; whether that translates is the (two) million dollar question. Defensively, opinions range from “might stick at SS” to “likely destined for the corner outfield”. Squint and there’s at least superficial parallels to Bo Bichette’s profile six years ago.
Given the lack of pro data to analyze, it’s instructive to look at other high school hitters drafted in a similar range (to the bonus’s slot; 30th to 50th overall) for a rough baseline of the outcomes. The risk becomes obvious, as even among these bluechippers, about 60% don’t even make the majors. Another ~20% will make it without any value, most of them having just a cup of coffee.
It’s the far right tail that almost entirely drives the value, with about 10% of draftees becoming impact regulars, from above average to true stars. Scott Rolen, David Wright, Travis Fryman are some of those types to come out of this range. If Toman is to end up in that top 10% or even the next 10% with material value, 2023 should provide some positive indications. But that potential is driving the value in this ranking for now until there’s a better read.
9. Dahian Santos, RHP, age 20 (DOB: 2/26/2003), grade: 40+, 2022: 19th
Santos was signed for $150,000 out of Venezuela, part of a large international class of more than 40 signees in which the Jays spread their money around. Despite not ranking in the top ten bonuses, three years later he’s blossomed to the head of the list.
Skipping over the DSL with 2020 cancelled, Santos drew attention at the stateside complex in 2021 by posting 53 strikeouts against 12 walks in 35.1 innings (4.58 ERA) before a brief cameo up to low-A. working 3-5 inning outings with Dunedin in 2022, he took another step forward with a 3.44 ERA in 73.1 innings, piling up 120 strikeouts (39%!) against 35 walks (and 10 HBP). Again, a late season promotion spelled trouble, though the strikeouts were still there.
Santos accomplishes this with what is essentially a two pitch mix at this point. From a lower arm slot, his fastball almost slings in with run, generally 93-94 early before tailing off later in the outings. The bread-and-butter is his high-spin slider, at its best frisbee-like with sweeping horizontal break about 10 MPH off his fastball. Some will come in with more two-plane break and slightly slower, though it’s not clear if it’s meant as a slightly different look or just not executed.
He’ll mix in a change-up here and there, but it’s presently well-below average and often backs up rather than finishing. He’s young enough to hold out hope he finds the feel for a serviceable cambio, but otherwise it’s one of a few factors pointing towards a relief future. At 5’11” and a listed 160 pounds, Santos is on the small side. His command and even basic strikethrowing can be tenuous.
If that came to pass, Santos
The highest ranked in 2024 will be
This poll is closed
could be quite the hellacious slider-monster in today’s game where that mix is embraced unlike in the past. In the mean time, there’s promising building blocks as he physically matures and figures to open the season with back Vancouver.