When you have a lineup as stacked at the Blue Jays lineup has been over the past couple years, free agency will really have the potential to decimate a team. The Blue Jays have already lost Edwin Encarnacion, they have yet to resign Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson will be hitting free agency after this upcoming season. And while Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki both have several years left in their respective deals, both have seen their production start to slip a bit in the past couple seasons.
With so many expiring contracts of superstar bats coming up, the Jays are going to need to start looking within their farm system to help replace some of their stars. Following the departure of Encarnacion, Toronto is going to need to find a new first baseman/designated hitter if they hope to compete next season. And at least for the time-being, it seems likely they will just look from within to replace him rather than spend the bucks on a Mark Trumbo-type free agent. Look for them instead to use someone like Rowdy Tellez to fill the void at first base at some point this season if not immediately out of Spring Training.
This is the latest in our ongoing prospect coverage, going over the top 10 prospects for every team. Click the provided links to read about the systems of the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. Later this week, we will look at the Chicago White Sox revamped farm system.
By the way, if you are interested in more MLB prospects columns, head on over to our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. Throughout the offseason, you will find the rest of our team prospect breakdowns, fantasy baseball prospect rankings, tiered positional rankings, keeper values articles, and more - all in one easy place.
Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for Dynasty Leagues
Top Overall Talent: Richard Urena
Top Prospect to Debut in 2017: Richard Urena
Urena doesn’t have a dazzling array of tools, but he does everything well while playing the position of shortstop (at least for the time being). The 20-year-old shortstop prospect made it as far as Double-A last season and though he scuffled a bit at that level, he has shown promise in the past. At High-A this season, Urena hit .305 with eight home runs and nine steals in 97 games, following up on a solid season at Class-A where he mashed 15 home runs in 91 games (though only five steals and a lower .266 average).
The only question at this point remains which position he will play. Though he has the arm for shortstop, he has made his fair share of defensive blunders and some wonder if he will be forced to move off shortstop eventually. As long as he can stay up the middle and avoid the outfield, Urena should have plenty of value as a middle infield prospect who should be able to provide owners with 15/15 seasons on a regular basis. A move to the outfield, however, would likely decimate much of his dynasty value as his bat does not play nearly as well out there as it does at second or short.
Top Prospect who won’t debut in 2017: Anthony Alford
Biggest Boom or Bust: Anthony Alford
Alford has far and away the most upside of any prospect in the Blue Jays system, but he also carries a substantial amount of risk. Though he has had no trouble flashing his blazing speed and above-average pop, he has struggled to reign in his swing which tends to get long on him, leading to higher totals of strikeouts. He does, however, show a promising understanding of the strike zone which should be helpful for him moving forward.
Biggest Sleeper: Harold Ramirez
Ramirez has never been viewed as a top prospect in the game and has always flown under the radar, however he has always posted solid numbers in whichever level he plays. When looking through his stats, owners will find Ramirez consistently posts sub-20% strikeout rates with 20+ stolen bases and a batting average over .300. And though he hasn’t flashed much power, Ramirez still looks to be a reliable bat dynasty owners should be excited about owning.
Top Prospect Hitters
Best Power Hitter: Rowdy Tellez
This shouldn’t be terribly surprising given that his main position is first base, but Tellez has easily the most power of any hitter in this Jays’ system (though Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might have the most raw power). Last season, Tellez managed to hit 18 home runs across three levels, but this season (spent entirely at Double-A), the 21-year-old first baseman hit 23 home runs in only 124 games. Sure, he does play first base, but owners will take home run production anywhere they can get it and Tellez looks like a solid bet to mash some bombs once in the big leagues.
Most Likely to Hit over .300: Harold Ramirez
As discussed earlier with Ramirez, his combination of excellent patience at the dish and a line-drive oriented approach make him a reliable candidate to hit for an excellent average nearly every season of his career. Ramirez won’t blow anyone away with his other skills, but it can’t be denied his bat is promising and he looks like a near-lock to at least come close to the .300 mark every season.
Best Burner on the Bases: Anthony Alford
As previously discussed with Alford, the center-fielder can flat out run. He has proven himself year in and year out to be a stolen base machine with the potential to swipe 30+ bags given a full schedule of games. With 26 steals in 115 games last season between Rookie league and High-A, Alford has shown that potential in actual production rather than just raw speed and owners should be confident he can provide them with similar stolen base numbers in the big leagues.
Top Prospect Pitchers
Strikeout Machine: Sean Reid-Foley
Best Command: Sean Reid-Foley
Reid-Foley struggled a bit in 2015 (his first full season of professional ball), but he made some serious improvements in his 2016 campaign. After spinning a successful 58 innings at Class-A with a 2.95 ERA and 3.08 FIP, Reid-Foley was promoted to High-A where he put together his best numbers to date. He struck out 32.3% of the batters he faced (highest K% at any level) and walked only 7.3% of batters (lowest BB% at any level) while limiting opposing hitters to a measly .172 average. And for those thinking those numbers are a fluke, scouts can reassure you that his stuff is no joke. He has a mid-upper-90s fastball to go along with two above-average offerings (slider and changeup) that should help him rack up plenty of swings-and-misses at the big league level. His command still needs some improvement, but there is no doubt he is by far the best pitching prospect in this system.
Top 10 Dynasty Prospects for the Toronto Blue Jays
1. Richard Urena (SS, AA)
Mostly upside for right now, Urena is a poor defender with a bat that could stand out in the big leagues for a little bit of production in every category. He will need to prove he has the hands to stay at short.
2. Rowdy Tellez (1B, AA)
Tellez’s value mostly stems from the fact he will be able to provide owners with home runs as early as April of this year. He will need to hit for more power though if he is ever going to be a star first baseman.
3. Anthony Alford (OF, A+)
If Alford can tone his swing down a notch, he has the potential to be a perennial All-Star thanks to a wide range of tools. But he definitely has some work still to be done before we are calling him the next great Blue Jays’ outfielder.
4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, ROK)
Oozing with potential, Guerrero may not be the bat his father was, but he could still be a middle-of-the-order power hitter if he reaches his full potential. He still has a long way to go before he reaches the big leagues.
5. Harold Ramirez (OF, AA)
The only thing Ramirez does not do at an above-average rate is hit for power, but dynasty owners can take comfort knowing that his stellar plate discipline will help him stake out some role in the big leagues.
6. Sean Reid-Foley (SP, A+)
By far the best pitching prospect in the Jays’ system, Reid-Foley has the potential to be a very solid number three starter in the big leagues with plenty of strikeouts to help out his value.
7. Reese Mcguire (C, AA)
Mcguire’s glove will ensure he reaches the big leagues, but he will need to start hitting a bit more. At his best, he will become a Blue Jay version of Tucker Barnhart: Gold Glove defense and a respectable average (for a catcher) with next to nothing in the power category.
8. Max Pentecost (C, A+)
One of the many boom or bust prospects in this system, Pentecost has the potential to hit .290+ at the position of catcher. However, shoulder injuries could push him out from beyond the plate which would torch any value he might have.
9. Bo Bichette (SS, ROK)
Bichette has all the tools needed to be a power-hitting middle-infielder, but he will need to make some drastic improvements in his defensive game if he is going to stay up the middle.
10. Conner Greene (SP, AA)
Control is the biggest issue right now in what is an otherwise intriguing pitching prospect. Greene has the stuff to join Reid-Foley in the Jays’ rotation if he can only start to throw more strikes.
The Blue Jays farm system is not one to write home about, despite some promising names. Most of the top prospects like Alford and Guerrero are not only years away from the big leagues, but both need to start producing statistical results before it can be concluded their raw talents will turn into actual numbers for owners. And while Urena, Tellez and Ramirez look like solid bets to reach the big leagues in starting roles, it is tough to tell at this point how much they will actually be able to contribute to dynasty owners.
As a whole, the Toronto farm has enough prospects to keep dynasty owners interested, but lacks the depth found in many other organizations. This is a better crop of players than the Baltimore Orioles’ system, but it falls behind the Rays’ in the AL East in terms of overall talent and promise (not to mention the Yankees or Red Sox). Owners can find a couple names in here who can help out in dynasty leagues, but they will not be overly excited by most of the names in here.