7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Norris the new No. 1 on Blue Jays' updated Top 20 list
Lefty pitcher takes top spot from Sanchez; Righty only slips to two spot.
By Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Daniel Norris, LHP
Preseason rank: 4
MLB Top 100 rank: 29 (Preseason: NA)
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 45 | Overall: 60
Though the Blue Jays didn't sign 2011 first rounder Tyler Beede, grabbing Norris, another high-ceiling prep pitcher, helped make up for it. His transition to the Minor Leagues was rough at times, but he turned a corner in 2013 and broke out the next season.
Norris has worked through several adjustments to his delivery, which is now much more consistent. With improved command, his already impressive stuff plays even better. He throws his low-90s fastball from a sharp downhill angle, creating a lot of groundballs. He has a good mix of offspeed pitches, all of which are at least average offerings.
Norris has continued to improve this season, earning a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire and a spot on the U.S. team in the Futures Game. More than ever, he's looking like the top-of-the-rotation starter the Blue Jays hoped they were getting when they drafted him.
2. Aaron Sanchez, RHP
Preaseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 40 (Preseason: 23)
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
The Blue Jays selected four high school pitchers -- Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Griffin Murphy and Justin Nicolino -- in the first 80 picks of the 2010 Draft. Three years later, Syndergaard and Nicolino have been traded and Sanchez has ascended to become the Blue Jays' top prospect and one of the best pitchers in the Minor Leagues.
Sanchez throws his fastball in the mid- to upper 90s with good, late movement that generates lots of ground balls. When paired with his sharp, power curveball, he has one of the best fastball-breaking ball combinations in the Minor Leagues. His changeup isn't as advanced as his other two pitches, but has the potential to be another solid offering.
Sanchez missed about a month with shoulder soreness in 2013, but returned to the mound and finished the year with a phenomenal performance in the Arizona Fall League. He profiles as a frontline starter in the Major Leagues. But, like Marcus Stroman, his first ticket to Toronto came as a reliever, and his power arm could help shore up the Blue Jays' bullpen.
3. Dalton Pompey, OF
Preseason rank: 19
MLB Top 100 rank: 95 (Preaseason: NA)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
A broken hand limited Pompey in 2012, but he bounced back well while making his full-season debut in 2013. The Ontario native took an even bigger step forward this season, with a breakout first half that landed him a spot in the Futures Game and a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire.
Pompey has always had an advanced approach at the plate and he's become more adept at working the count and drawing walks, important qualities for a top-of-the-order hitter. He is a plus runner and knows how to use his speed on the base paths. It also helps him cover a lot of ground in center field.
Pompey has been one of the breakout stars of the Minor Leagues this year and has established himself as the Blue Jays top position player prospect. But he's still just 21 and has room for even more refinement in his game.
4. Jeff Hoffman, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
MLB Top 100 rank: 95 (Preaseason: NA)
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 65 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
After a strong showing in the Cape Cod League in 2013, Hoffman was well on his way to being a top-five pick in the 2014 Draft before undergoing Tommy John surgery in May. Despite his injury, he didn't fall far on Draft day, as the Blue Jays grabbed him ninth overall.
Hoffman hasn't fully grown into his lanky 6-foot-4 frame, yet at times he works in the mid 90s and hits 98 mph with his fastball. His big-breaking curveball can be equally devastating and his changeup can be a plus pitch at times. He throws a decent amount of strikes but will need to refine his command to become a frontline starter in the big leagues.
As long as he's healthy, Hoffman gives the Blue Jays farm system another impact arm. He'll have a chance to prove that when he makes his professional debut in 2015.
5. Robert Osuna, RHP
Preseason rank: 3
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Osuna was pitching in the Mexican League as a 16-year-old when the Blue Jays signed him in 2011. He had no trouble adjusting to pitching in the U.S. and was the youngest player in the Midwest League on Opening Day in 2013.
Osuna throws his fastball in the low- to mid-90s with good movement. His slider is his best offspeed pitch, and his changeup shows promise. He is the nephew of former Major League reliever Antonio Osuna, and his bloodlines seem to have helped. He has better command and more pitchability than most teenagers.
Osuna underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2013 and returned to the mound this July, a little less than a year later. Though he missed most of the 2014 season, he won't turn 20 until Spring Training 2015, so he has time on his side and the stuff to get back on track.
6. Max Pentecost, C
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Pentecost was named MVP of the Cape Cod League in 2013 and then led Kennesaw State to Super Regionals in the NCAA Tournament this spring. All that helped make him the first college catcher drafted when the Blue Jays selected him 11th overall.
Pentecost, a rare catcher who could have average or better tools across the board, has a chance to hit for solid average and power. He has a quick right-handed bat, and while his hitting skills were more evident than his pop as an amateur, he did hit six homers on the Cape with wood bats.
His receiving skills still need work, though Pentecost should be able to remain behind the plate. He has the requisite arm strength for a catcher, though he can improve his accuracy. He runs better than most backstops and has average speed overall.
7. Mitch Nay, 3B
Preaseason rank: 6
Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
A broken foot delayed Nay's professional debut until 2013, but it proved to be worth the wait. He led the Appalachian League in RBIs and was then promoted to short-season Vancouver, where he was named the MVP of the Northwest League playoffs.
Nay has big raw power and can be a physical presence in the middle of the lineup. He's not just a masher, however. His quick hands help him make consistent, hard contact and he has an advanced approach at the plate.
Nay has a strong arm and despite his fringy range, has a chance to stay at third base. No matter where he plays defensively, his bat will be the main attraction.
8. Franklin Barreto, SS
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
Barreto was ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the 2012 international free agent class by MLB.com after a storied amateur career in Venezuela. He made his professional debut the next year in the Gulf Coast League, which he led in slugging percentage as a 17-year old.
Barreto's compact swing and quick hands allow him to barrel up balls well. He isn't physically imposing, but is solidly built and has some raw power. He is very athletic and has above-average speed.
Barreto isn't as advanced defensively and scouts think he will need to move off of shortstop. But he's just a teenager and the Blue Jays will give him every opportunity to prove he can stick there.
9. D.J. Davis, OF
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 80 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 50
Davis was one of the youngest players in the 2012 Draft class and perhaps its best athlete. He was certainly its fastest member and some scouts even believe his speed is comparable to fellow Mississippi native Billy Hamilton.
Davis' speed is truly elite, but he is more than a track star. If he can refine his aggressive approach at the plate, he has the tools to be a solid all-around hitter. He even has the raw strength to eventually hit for some power. Thanks to his speed, he covers a lot of ground in center field and should be an above-average defender in time.
While Davis remains raw and needs to refine nearly every aspect of his game, he is one of the system's most exciting players.
10. Sean Reid-Foley, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Reid-Foley starred at the first major event of last summer's high school showcase circuit, striking out all six batters he faced at the Perfect Game National in June. He continued that level of performance through his senior season and the Blue Jays made him their second round pick.
Reid-Foley combines polish and stuff. He throws somewhat across his body, which allows him to run his fastball inside against left-handers. He usually works at 91-93 mph and tops out at 95.
Reid-Foley does a good job of throwing four pitches for strikes. His low-80s slider is his best secondary offering, and he also will mix in a curveball and a sinking changeup. His athleticism helps him to repeat his delivery with consistency.
11. Sean Nolin, LHP
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 45 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
A myriad of trades in recent years has seen the Blue Jays deal away many of their upper level pitching prospects, but not Nolin. He has made steady progress through the Minor Leagues since the Blue Jays drafted him out of San Jacinto College in 2010.
Nolin's stuff isn't overpowering, but plays up thanks to his pitchability and control. He throws his fastball around 90 mph and uses his height to create a sharp downhill angle. He commands all of his pitches well, consistently filling up the strike zone.
Nolin was nagged by a groin injury in the first half, forcing him to spend some time on the disabled list. Though his ceiling doesn't match that of the Blue Jays top pitching prospects, he showed before his injury that he is nearly ready for the big leagues.
12. Dawel Lugo, SS
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Lugo was regarded as one of the best hitters in the international signing class of 2011 and the Blue Jays have pushed him aggressively so far. He's responded well and led short-season Bluefield in home runs as an 18-year old in 2013.
Lugo is a natural hitter with a knack for putting the bat on the ball. His exceptional feel for the barrel makes him a good bad-ball hitter and difficult to strike out. He creates good bat speed and has a surprising amount of raw power in his small frame.
Defensively, Lugo has good hands and is a capable shortstop. He's a below-average runner, however, leading some scouts to think he is destined to move to third base. His bat looks like it'll be good enough to profile no matter what position he plays.
13. Matt Dean, 1B
Preseason rank: None
Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
The Blue Jays selected Dean in the 13th round in 2011 and went well above slot to sign him away from his Texas commitment. Physical and projectable as an amateur, he led the Appalachian League in hitting in 2013 and has carried that success over to the 2014 season.
Part of Dean's breakout came as a result of a mechanical change he made in his swing and improving his approach at the plate. Those changes allowed him to hit more line drives and better tap into his substantial raw power.
A shortstop in high school, Dean initially moved to third base and has now settled at first base, partially in deference to Mitch Nay. Dean can be an above-average defender at his new position, though it puts more pressure on his bat.
14. A.J. Jimenez, C
Preseason rank: 11
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 40 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Jimenez missed much of the 2012 and 2013 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has played well since returning to action - appearing in back-to-back Futures Games - and his longterm outlook hasn't be negatively affected by the injury.
Jimenez is a defensive-oriented catcher. His strong arm has helped him to throw out more than 40 percent of would-be basestealers in his career. He is athletic behind the plate and blocks balls well.
Though Jimenez's bat isn't as well regarded, he has a solid offensive skillset. He is an aggressive hitter, but doesn't give away at bats. He drives balls to the gaps with his line-drive swing and strength. His defense is enough to get him to the big leagues as a backup and if he proves he can hit a bit, he could become something more.
15. Alberto Tirado, RHP
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
One of the many international free agents the Blue Jays signed in 2011, Tirado has pitched well since making his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2012. He excites scouts both with his projectability and present three-pitch arsenal.
Tirado's fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s and reaches 98 mph. He has improved both his changeup and slider and both could be true weapons with a little more refinement. He doesn't have great command yet, but that should improve as he gets more comfortable with his delivery.
Tirado will be 19 for all of 2014 and, while he isn't overly physical, should be able to add enough strength to his wiry frame to eliminate any lingering fears about his durability.
16. Jairo Labourt, LHP
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Big Dominican left-handers don't come around very often, but the Blue Jays have found a good one in Labourt. He has made significant strides since signing with the Blue Jays as a 17-year old in 2011.
Labourt pitches primarily off his fastball, which typically sits in the low-90s. Its natural sinking action is accentuated by the steep downhill angle he throws from and produces plenty of groundballs as a result. He has a good feel for his changeup, but his breaking ball is still a work in progress.
Labourt's loose, easy delivery and physical build give him the look of a durable starter. Though he is a long way from the big leagues, his tools are cause for excitement.
17. John Stilson, RHP
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Stilson tore his laburm as a junior at Texas A&M, but was able to rehab the injury without requiring surgery. The Blue Jays moved him to the bullpen in 2013 and he pitched effectively in his new role.
Stilson throws his fastball in the mid-90s, touching as high as 98 mph, with good tailing action that produces plenty of groundballs. He has a short, cutting slider and a power changeup. There's a lot of effort to his delivery, hindering his command and making him a better fit as a reliever.
Stilson's stuff is good enough to pitch in the back end of the bullpen. After spending most of his first year as a reliever in Triple-A Buffalo, he is nearly ready for the Major Leagues.
18. Chase De Jong, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
DeJong is a product of Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., the alma mater of former stars Bob Lemon and Bobby Grich. He began to make his own mark with an impressive showing in the Appalachian League in his first full professional season.
DeJong throws his fastball in the low-90s with some projection left in his frame. His curveball is his best secondary pitch and his changeup shows the potential to develop into a third quality offering. He has refined his delivery as a professional, eliminating some crossfire, and his control has improved as a result.
DeJong has advanced pitchability for his age, a trait which should serve him well as he advances.
19. Richard Urena, SS
Preseason rank: None
Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
At the start of the 2012 international signing period, the Blue Jays signed a Venezuelan shortstop named Franklin Barreto, ranked No. 2 in the class by MLB.com. A day later, they inked Urena, a Dominican shortstop who was ranked No. 9.
Urena isn't quite as advanced as Barreto and has stayed a step behind him in the Minor Leagues. But, in the long run, he's the better bet to stay at shortstop thanks to his soft hands and good footwork. He has good range and a strong enough arm to make all the throws required of a shortstop with ease.
While he stands out for his defense, Urena has a chance to hit as well. He's more patient at the plate than most young hitters and has a natural feel for hitting. His swing is geared toward hitting line drives and he has below-average power.
20. Matthew Smoral, LHP
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
Smoral was considered to be one of the top high school pitchers in the 2012 Draft class, but a broken foot ended his spring early. He slid in the Draft as a result and injuries again hampered him in his first full professional season.
Despite the slow start to his career, Smoral still offers lots of upside. He throws his fastball in the low to mid 90s and mixes it with an above-average slider. His changeup lags behind his other pitches but shows potential.
Like many young, tall pitchers, Smoral struggles with his command. As he gets more experience, his athleticism should help him learn to repeat his delivery more consistently. He still has a long way to go, but as he gets more innings under his belt, he should begin to realize some of his potential.