2021 Toronto Blue Jays Top 5 Prospects

2021 Toronto Blue Jays Top 5 Prospects

by February 23, 2021 2 comments

Since the time Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins arrived in Toronto to lead the Blue Jays’ front office, the team’s farm system has thrived. Ranking among the league’s best for the last few years, Toronto has effectively dipped into the international market and has acquired top-end prospects through trade — not to mention, the drafting has remained consistent. 

What makes the Blue Jays’ prospect pool so fascinating, however, is the team’s ability to possess major-league-ready players, but at the same time, maintaining positional depth further into the system. 

As the 2021 season approaches, two of the top five Blue Jays prospects will be positioned to make big-league contributions right away. Players who still qualify as rookies in the majors will be eligible for the “top five” list (130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the previous season).

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.

1. Nate Pearson, Right-Handed Pitcher

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

Fastball: 80

Slider: 60

Curveball: 50

Changeup: 55

Control: 55

Overall: 60

Nate Pearson has ranked near the top of the Blue Jays’ prospects list for the last few years. The right-handed hurler made his major-league debut in 2020, going on to throw 18 innings and posting a 6.00 ERA. Question marks related to where the native of Odessa, FL is best served on the team’s pitching staff in the immediate future have remained prominent — to act as the flame-throwing reliever, or to be a full-time starter. Pearson is best known for his velocity. Despite not performing at the big-league level as advertised in 2020, the 24-year-old dazzled in the minors in 2019, fast-tracking himself through each minor-league level on route to a total of 101.2 innings pitched. 

Toronto’s starting rotation in 2021 is not expected to be the team’s greatest strength. And despite a young lineup, the rotation is actually quite the opposite — veteran heavy. Pearson will get his chance at one point to be a regular in the rotation but keep in mind, the era of experimentation with young players in Toronto is over. This team is committed to winning right now. If Pearson struggles early on, his role is expected to change (Think Aaron Sanchez in the Blue Jays’ bullpen in 2015).

ETA: 2021

 

2. Austin Martin, Shortstop

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

Hit: 65

Power: 50

Run: 55

Arm: 50

Field: 50

Overall: 55

With the fifth-overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft, the Blue Jays selected Austin Martin out of Vanderbilt. Followers of the most recent draft may remember the level of surprise that came with Martin falling into Toronto’s lap at the No. 5 spot. The native of DeLand, FL played multiple positions in college, including seeing extended time in the outfield. Martin’s main strength is at the plate, continuing the theme of other young budding stars in the Blue Jays’ organization. 

2021 is a crucial year for Martin to establish two things — what position he will be developed at, and how fast he can move up the ranks in the system. While playing at six different positions at Vanderbilt, the 21-year old’s average to below-average play in the field raised a number of questions about where he fits on the diamond. 

There is no mincing words. Bo Bichette is the shortstop of this team moving forward. And beyond that, both Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. appear to be locks in the infield for years to come. That puts Martin in a unique situation. The new-age mindset of flexibility in baseball likely means Martin could see an extended look in the outfield in the minors, with the hope that he can play multiple positions once he is big-league ready. 

ETA: Late 2022

 

3. Alejandro Kirk, Catcher

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

Hit: 60

Power: 45

Run: 30

Arm: 55

Field: 45

Overall: 50

For many, the call-up of Alejandro Kirk during the shortened 2020 campaign was a surprise. The catcher had not played above A+ ball prior to his major-league debut with the Blue Jays this past summer. Despite that, the native of Tijuana, Mexico proved at the very least during his big-league stint that he can hit. In 25 plate appearances with the Toronto in 2020, Kirk collected nine hits, and batted for an average of .375. Small sample size? Yes. However, Kirk showcased the tools he possessed at the minor-league level will translate to the majors at the plate. 

The uncertainties surrounding his defense are the main obstacles in penciling him into the team’s opening-day lineup. His lackluster speed, combined with an average fielding rating make the youngster look like a designated hitter moving forward. Reports out of spring training early on have indicated that Kirk has lost ‘a lot’ of weight this offseason. Having Kirk playing as an everyday catcher would be a huge plus for Toronto, as his bat would be considered a premium at the position compared to other backstops across league.

As of right now, Kirk should find himself on the major-league roster when the 2021 season opens up. But starting catcher Danny Jansen is still the one behind the plate in Toronto and for Kirk, acting as the backup, along with platooning as the designated hitter with Rowdy Tellez is what’s most likely in the immediate future. 

ETA: 2021

4. Alek Manoah, Right-Handed Pitcher

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

Fastball: 65

Slider: 55

Changeup: 50

Control: 50

Overall: 50

The Blue Jays selected Manoah with the 11th pick in the 2019 draft, and similar to the Martin selection in 2020, the team was thrilled that the right-handed hurler fell to them. Coming in at 6’5 and 260 Ibs., Manoah spent his college stint at West Virginia, where he posted a 2.81 ERA and 1.170 WHIP in three seasons. 

What stands out most about Manoah’s arsenal is his ability to use his slider as a strong strikeout pitch. However, he needs to develop a solid fourth pitch throughout his time as a minor-leaguer moving forward. The native of Homestead, FL has introduced a curveball to his repertoire but will need to officially implement it into his pitch selection in the early goings of his progression. 

With Pearson expected to graduate from prospect to full-time MLBer in 2021, Manoah is bound to be the Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect in a few months time. Due to the cancellation of minor league baseball in 2020, the 23-year old was unable to get a full season of play in last year, but will surely reap the benefits of full-time seasoning in 2021. 

ETA: 2022

 

5. Jordan Groshans, Shortstop/Third Base

Scouting grades (20-80 scale)

Hit: 55

Power: 55

Run: 50

Arm: 60

Field: 50

Overall: 55

Jordan Groshans was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round of the 2018 draft, and since his arrival to pro ball, has thrived with the bat. Adding to the long list of plus-infielders in the team’s system, the 21-year-old batted for an average of .337, with an OPS of .909 with Lansing (A) in 2019. With a strong arm made for the left side of the infield, Groshans athleticism makes him an intriguing piece to Toronto’s position-player system. 

The infielder’s 6’3 frame is partially why scouts believe his power is bound to quickly progress — his ability to consistently turn on high-velocity pitches only helps. Groshans is currently ranked as the 46th best prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. 

Entering the 2018 draft as a high-schooler out of Magnolia, TX, Groshans has impressed in the early goings of his development at two different levels, quickly propelling himself up the ranks in the team’s system. Where the 21-year-old will start the 2021 campaign is the ultimate question in the short-term, along with how fast he can fast-track his spot in the organization. In an already crowded infield both at the major-league level and in the farm system, the Blue Jays have a problem on their hands that can only be considered as a good one — deciding where all the young, budding infielders will fit in moving forward. 

ETA: 2022

 

Prospects Outside of the Top 5

Simeon Woods Richardson, traded to Toronto in exchange for Marcus Stroman in 2019, is currently ranked as the 87th best prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. As of right now, he projects to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. The right-handed pitcher, now 20 years of age, is known for his above-average control, but is missing a strong breaking ball to add to his repertoire. 

Other notable prospects: 

Orlevis Martinez (Shortstop, 19)

Gabriel Moreno (Catcher, 21)

CJ Van Eyk (Right-Handed Pitcher, 22)

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