2022 Toronto Blue Jays Top 5 Prospectsby John Lepore January 31, 2022 0 comments
The Toronto Blue Jays have seen some of their young prospects make it to the majors over the last few years and have some success. They also traded two of their best, Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to the Minnesota Twins for Jose Berrios last year. A new group of youngsters moves up here as the Blue Jays have done well especially through International signings.
Make sure to check out all of our other Top Prospect Articles.
Gabriel Moreno, Catcher
Moreno signed as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in 2016. He has developed into an excellent catcher and pounded the ball at every stop in the minors. He posted a slash of .373/.441/.651 with eight home runs in 32 games at Double-A New Hampshire last year. Moreno has excellent bat-to-ball skills and makes solid contact. His power has come around as he filled out his stocky 5-foot-11 frame.
Defensively, the 21-year-old has a strong arm and gets the ball out quickly. His receiving skills have improved and the Blue Jays feel his defense could be an asset. Toronto catchers have rarely been good going back to when they came into the league in 1977 as Ernie Whitt sits as the gold standard in their history. Moreno has the ability to be a franchise backstop but may need one more year to hone his skills on a daily basis in Triple-A.
Orelvis Martinez, Shortstop/Third Base
Martinez is just 20 years old and was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. He played 98 games at Single-A and Advanced-A last year and slashed a respectable .261/.345/.549 but that isn’t the whole story. He blasted 28 home runs and had 26 doubles also. That’s what the Blue Jays love about this kid…his power. He can add even more strength to his 6-foot-1 frame in another year and be an exit velocity hero.
Defensively, he has struggled a bit at shortstop and may be destined for third base. Martinez has good awareness and a solid arm to be able to handle the hot corner. His range limits him a bit at shortstop but he has quick movements although he isn’t a base-stealer. If he can be at least an adequate fielder, his bat will get him to the majors and keep him there. The power is elite and he has already shown it in games against older competition. Toronto will likely let him marinate for a year or two in the upper levels but Martinez could be a middle-of-the-order hitter.
Jordan Groshans, Shortstop/Third Base
Groshans was a first-round pick out of High School back in 2018 and played all of last season at Double-A New Hampshire. In 75 games, the infielder slashed .291/.367/.450 with seven homers. He is a big kid at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds so his in-game power should come more. What is impressive is that Groshans struck out at just 19.3 percent. His pitch recognition is plus and he barrels the ball well to all fields.
Groshans is another player who probably profiles better at third base. He has solid hands and has worked on his footwork, but the Texas native doesn’t have the range to play shortstop in the majors. He, just like Martinez, may find himself at third or in a corner outfield spot. The bat will certainly play. Groshans is hit over power right now, but he could be a 20-25 HR guy in the future.
Otto Lopez, Super-Utility
Lopez had one plate appearance last year with the Blue Jays, but in his minor league season between Double-A and Triple-A, the Dominican slashed .315/.379/.437 and swiped 22 bags. He bounced around playing second base, shortstop, left field. and center field. It seems he may be better suited for the outfield but Toronto wants to get him work everywhere understandably. He is an all-around player who does everything well.
While it used to be a knock on a player if he was a “utility guy”, that doesn’t hold true anymore. Lopez has a clearer path to playing time given his ability to man multiple positions. He also won’t hurt the Jays with a drop-off in production. With the lineup they have, he will not be tasked with carrying the offense and can just do his thing. The kid can play anywhere on the diamond and will be a very valuable piece on Toronto’s roster.
Adam Kloffenstein, Right-Handed Pitcher
Kloffenstein had a decent showing at Advanced-A Vancouver last year. The 6.22 ERA doesn’t look great, but 107 strikeouts in 101.1 innings is promising. However, the big righty allowed 61 walks. The stuff is there for the former third-round pick out of Magnolia High School in Texas. Kloffenstein has a solid three-pitch mix now with a fastball that sits around 94 and a slider that grades as plus. His curveball is an offspeed pitch of choice right now and he is working on a changeup to neutralize lefties.
At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he has the size to be a workhorse. Refining his control will be a key to Kloffenstein making it to the majors. If he can develop the changeup and limit the baserunners, he will be up with the Blue Jays in a couple of years.
What Does the Future Hold?
As you may have noticed, Gunnar Hoglund wasn’t mentioned. He likely has the best stuff of anyone in the organization, but the first-round pick from last year is out after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in May. How he bounces back in 2023 will be something to watch out for. Kevin Smith‘s promotion to the majors didn’t work out great, but he has talent and showed well in Triple-A before the call-up with 21 HRs, 18 SBs, and a .931 OPS. Expect to see him this year in Toronto, possibly starting at third base.
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