The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Joey Metropoulos in the ninth round of the 2004 Major League Baseball…
Top 50 Jays Prospects
2. Josh Banks - RHP: Banks is a promising young pitcher who relies on his above-average fastball, a terrific slider and a splitter to get through innings. Banks showed the mental toughness needed to pitch in the major leagues last season: he struggled upon arriving at Double-A New Hampshire after a mid-season promotion, but rallied and finished the season strong. Banks is a promising right-hander who should have been drafted in the first round two years ago if it was not for a blister problem. Some might think ranking him second is very friendly, however, we expect Josh to be a successful major league pitcher starting in 2006.
3. Brandon League - RHP: Many would like to see the Jays use League as a starter, however, his best chance for success will be to pitch out of the bullpen. After drafting him out of Hawaii, the Jays used League as a starter so he could get mound experience and accumulate more innings in order to have him use his entire repertoire and mature faster. We believe League will be an effective bullpen arm, however, we are bothered by the fact that his K/9 IP ratio is not higher. With his blazing fastball and slider, League should be striking out more batters, especially in the minor leagues.
4. Guillermo Quiroz -C : Quiroz is a sound defensive catcher who finally found his stroke in 2003. He was derailed by a broken hand in 2004, which sets his estimated time of arrival back to middle to late 2005. Quiroz does not project to be a high average hitter, but he should possess twenty-home-run ability and a fine presence behind the plate.
5. Dustin McGowan - RHP: If not for Tommy John surgery McGowan would have been ranked number one. The tall right hander has the potential to be a dominant power pitcher. The recovery from Tommy John surgery delays his estimated time of arrival by half a season or so, but if his velocity returns he could very well be the next Jays ace. The organization will be careful with McGowan in 2005, but many of the club's executives feel he will be back in form towards the latter half of the season.
6. Francisco Rosario - RHP: Rosario is somewhat of an enigma. He has battled injuries and inconsistencies throughout his young career. His K/9 IP of 8.4 at New Hampshire last year is indicative of his stuff, yet so is his rather high ERA (4.31). The Jays are high on Rosario, but he needs to find the rhythm in his game. Rosario was coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2004, which could be an explanation for his struggles, however, he is beginning to receive the label of injury prone as he suffers nagging injuries at times. A move to the bullpen could be in his future.
7. Shaun Marcum - RHP: Marcum began the 2004 season with Charleston and posted a K/9 IP ratio of 9.45 and a B/9 IP ratio of 1.82. Playing at an age of 22, many thought Marcum was just too mature for the South Atlantic League, and when he earned the promotion to the Florida State League those people expected his demise. However, Marcum posted a better ERA, and even more impressive were his K/9 IP and B/9 IP ratios. Marcum allowed 0.52 walks per nine innings, while striking out 8.75 batters per nine innings, and solidified his place in the top 10. Marcum features an above-average fastball and slider, and even more impressive would be the fact that he began pitching just several years ago, as he was originally a college shortstop.
8. Russ Adams - SS: J.P. Ricciardi's first ever draft pick, Adams is a player know more for his intangibles than what he actually produces. Adams is believed to be only average defensively and to possess little power. Adams does have nice speed, which could translate into twenty stolen bases at the major league level, and he has a good eye at the plate, sprays hits to all fields and shows a lot of hustle.
9. David Purcey - LHP: Purcey was the Jays' first-round pick in 2004. Purcey features an excellent fastball to go along with his dominating curveball, but must overcome some mechanical issues as he begins to pitch in professional baseball. The sky is the limit for this left-hander, however, with the proper adjustments in his delivery, Purcey could be in the Jays' rotation within two years.
10. Gabe Gross - OF: A former top draft choice of the Jays, Gross has not fully lived up to his potential, however, one thing to notice is Gross has done an excellent job adjusting to each new level he saw the following season. It does not appear Gross will turn into the big time power hitter the Jays originally thought he would become, but with his defensive skills and his plate discipline, Gross figures to battle for a chance at the everyday left field spot in 2006.
11. Gustavo Chacin - RHP: His talent is not as great as some of the other prospects, but his poise and control might be his ticket to the majors. A bit of a late-bloomer, Chacin prevailed in the minors last season and sparkled in his two-start audition in the majors. Chacin is a lefty who tops out in the low 90s but has displayed pinpoint control in the minors. Chacin would have been ranked higher, however, we are not completely sold on him. We would like for him to duplicate his success for a second consecutive season, and also show the ability to dominate hitters more in the minor leagues.
12. Zach Jackson - LHP: Jackson was selected in the supplemental round of the 2004 draft. He pitches well beyond his age and his ability to pitch inside shows fearlessness, and could result in him thriving at higher levels. He has three above-average pitches and shows solid command.
13. Curtis Thigpen - C: Thigpen sparkled in his professional debut batting .301 with seven home runs with the Auburn Doubledays, however, we see a future position switch in the future for Thigpen. The Jays have several catchers that are solid offensively and defensively, and Thigpen's best tool is clearly his bat. It would not make sense for the Jays to keep the athletic Thigpen and his powerful bat behind the plate, when he could thrive at another position.
14. Jamie Vermilyea -RHP: The owner of a perfect game at Double-A has surprised many scouts with his progress. He does not throw hard by any means but uses his slider effectively and is developing a cutter. Like Chacin, his K/IP numbers are not great, and the Jays believe Vermilyea will be best suited for the bullpen. His command and versatility will increase his success at the major league level, even if it means pitching out of the pen.
15. John Hattig Jr. - 3B: Obtained from the Red Sox in the Terry Adams trade, Hattig is a switch-hitting 3B with power and a good eye. If Hattig is to have a future in the majors, we see it at first base rather than third base. The biggest question will be if Hattig can translate his power numbers to justify playing first base on an everyday basis. Regardless, this was a very good trade for the Jays, and at the very least the Jays have a power bat off the bench.
16. Adam Lind - OF: Raw is the operative word with Adam. Lind can flat out mash the ball. Lind is a left-handed hitter with a quick swing and he uses all fields to his advantage. In his brief time in professional baseball, Lind has shown excellent bat control, and proven he can handle the adjustment to the wooden bats well, and maintain his power threat. Look for Lind to have another fabulous 2005 minor league season. He could very well be in the top 10 this time next season.
17. Yuber Rodriguez - OF: Rodriguez did it all during the 2004 season while playing for Pulaski in the Appalachian League. He demonstrated extra-base power as he hit twelve doubles, six triples and eight home runs, and we believe he will maintain his power production in the higher levels. He showed his speed on the base paths stealing nine bases in twelve attempts, and rounded out his tools by playing a fabulous center field. Rodriguez is young, and will be an exciting player for the fans to follow in his journey to the major leagues.
18. Ismael Ramirez -RHP: Ramirez's dominance over his last dozen starts last season shows the heights which this prospect might be able to reach. This right-hander's 2.72 ERA in 165 innings in high-A is very encouraging as was his 1.06 WHIP. At twenty-four years old, Ramirez will need to accelerate his progress in 2005 and dazzle at Double-A if he wants to be considered as a true elite pitcher.
19. John-Ford Griffin -OF: Griffin has not progressed as many expected when Ricciardi obtained him from Oakland. Griffin battled injuries last year, and also started the season in a slump by hitting .230 in May. He is twenty-five years old, so the time for him to produce his now. He does have the power to get a major league look in the near future.
20. Vince Perkins -RHP: This Canadian has good power but some serious control problems, and he needs to cut down his walks if he is to be taken more seriously. His fastball/slider combination could be successful in the majors, but only if he can find the plate. At twenty-three, Perkins is still relatively young, and with his type of arm, he will be given every chance to succeed in the major leagues.
21. Vito Chiaravalloti - 1B: The 15th round pick of the Jays in 2003 has exceeded many expectations. The Jays lack a surplus of promising bats, so the athletic first baseman might find an opportunity sooner rather than later. Chiaravalotti is a big guy, with a long last name, who displays much power and bat speed. His willingness to use the opposite field shows his maturity.
22. Robinson Diaz - C: After playing in Pulaski during the 2003 season, Diaz was promoted to low-A last year and made himself an All-Star. Diaz completes the Jays' troika of talented backstops. Much like Thigpen, he displays a promising bat with good power, but must learn to walk more and needs to refine his defense -- outside of his strong arm. His overall hitting looks extremely solid at this point of his young career.
23. Raul Tablado -3B: Tablado finally turned his promise into production last year in high-A. His .300/.351/.582 line suggests he could have a very promising future if he controls his temper and continues honing his skills. Look for him to climb the prospects lists in the next couple of years.
24. Rob Cosby -3B: Cosby came into 2004 ready for a breakout season, however, it was a lost year for him as he was hurt five games into the season and did not play again. He has shown over the course of his minor league career that he has some skill, as his OBP has risen steadily over the past few seasons. He projects as a good hitter, and has shown lots of grit in his minor league career so far. Consequently, we see him rising through and having a tremendous 2005 season as he proves to everyone his true desire to reach the major leagues.
25. Jason Arnold -RHP: Arnold's swift progression through the minors was stunted a little upon his arrival at AAA. Arnold does not have an out pitch, as his fastball only reaches 89-90 mph, and his control is suspect. The right-hander has some refining to do, but has shown dominance when he is on. What Arnold needs to learn is that you can't make it to the major leagues just on stuff, as you must work hard constantly to reach the highest level of baseball. Arnold has begun to realize that, and his success in the majors could depend on how badly he wants to work at getting there.
26. Eric Crozier -1B: Crozier's all-out style of defense is exciting but his feast or famine hitting leaves a lot to be desired. Hitting homers or striking out is no way to secure an everyday major-league job, but his glove might prove useful off the bench.
27. Jordan De Jong -RHP: Another young pitcher who keeps hurting himself with the free passes, De Jong has the ability to strike batters out consistently, and by not allowing too many hits he is able to minimize any damage, which is evident by his low ERA. De Jong will be twenty-six next season, and we are a little worried that he has yet to master his control issues. The last thing the Jays need is a reliever to come into the game and the first batter he faces to reach base via the walk, and unlike the minor leagues, walking a player in the majors will hurt you. If De Jong can master his control, he could be an effective major league arm, however, if he fails to do so, he will remain an organizational player.
28. Ryan Klosterman -SS: Klosterman could use his speed to advance through the minors as the Jays do not have too many pure speed guys in the organization. Klosterman projects to be a solid defensive shortstop, and a nice threat on the offensive end of things. He is doing everything up to par right now, and belongs in the middle of this ranking.
29. David Romero -LHP: Romero is a young lefty in the Jays system. His numbers for Charleston were solid across the board. His 108 strikeouts in 103 innings is the stat the jumps out at you the most, and by combining that with his seventy-seven hits and 2.53 ERA, Romero is showing results on the mound. Many of his critics will focus on his small stature as a reason why he will not succeed. Standing at 5'10 and nearly 150 pounds, Romero projects to be more of a reliever than a starter. If Romero can maintain his numbers at the Florida State League he could be looked at with more respect, however, for now he must be a max-effort guy at every level he plays.
30. Bubbie Buzachero -RHP: Aside from the great name, Buzachero became a lights-out relief pitcher for the Jays high-A team last season. His K/9 IP is almost 9.00, and he projects to have a solid chance for a future in a major league bullpen.
31. Tracy Thorpe -RHP: Injuries have set Thorpe back some, but not as much as walks have. Besides his command, Thorpe's numbers are solid across the board. If Thorpe can stay healthy and tone down the walks considerably, he could have a very promising future.
32. D.J. Hanson -RHP: Injuries have been the biggest enemy to Hanson's career so far. He missed all of 2001 and also found himself on the sidelines for 2004. Hanson might have already had an audition in the majors if not for the injuries. His fastball is major-league ready and his two secondary pitches are solid as well. If Hanson can remain healthy, look for him to turn some heads in 2005.
33. Miguel Negron -OF: Negron has been a disappointment since being drafted, but the talent is still there if he can put it all together. His numbers, frankly, are not very good, as his .269/.341/.411 line suggests. He has ability much along the same lines as Alexis Rios, but has not been able to display it with any consistency at any level so far.
34. Ron Davenport -OF: Davenport put up solid numbers last season at high-A as a twenty-year-old. He is a typical outfielder who does not walk or strikeout much, and his power should develop more as he advances. The upcoming season will be a big one for Davenport as we will find out if his 2004 numbers were based on the fact that he repeated Dunedin for the third straight season or whether he really has turned into a solid player. He could either be in the top 20 next year at this time or below the top 40.
35. Brian Hall -2B: A .879 OPS should get you mentioned in a top prospects list. Hall is an above-average defensive second baseman whose bat at a middle infield position is looking quite sound. In his first year in the minors last year he struck out forty-nine times in 210 at bats, and is something he must improve upon, but he is looking like he might have a bright future ahead.
36. Felix Romero -RHP: Romero had an outstanding 2004 season while splitting time between Charleston and Dunedin. If he was a little younger, he would most definitely be higher on the list, however, the right-hander has done everything expected of him thus far. He could be moved up rapidly in 2005, and it will not be a major surprise if he finishes the season at Syracuse.
37. Brian Reed -RHP: Reed, like Romero, split time between Charleston and Dunedin, but gave up his share of hits during his stint in the Florida State League, and based on his age we would like to see him be a little more dominant. He should begin 2005 with New Hampshire.
38. Danny Hill -RHP: The Jays' third round pick in 2004, Hill has quite a bit of talent, and flourished last year in a relief role. His microscopic ERA and WHIP showed that he can handle that level and that he can develop into a quality reliever with closer potential.
39. Justin Maureau- LHP: Maureau was a pleasant surprise after he dominated the low-A league after being drafted in the third round of the 2002 draft. He had a disappointing 2003, and after starting 2004 on the disabled list he was sent to Dunedin in mid-season and struggled once again before finishing the season with Auburn. As a result of being a left-hander, and featuring an above-average breaking ball, we still feel Maureau has some potential in his arm, despite being twenty-four years old.
40. Carlo Cota -2B: One of few natural second basemen in the Jays system, Cota has improved substantially over the years. Cota is beginning to develop some power, and with his solid strike zone judgment could be a steal, drafted as he was in the thirty-third round.
41. Danny Core -RHP: The Jays have an abundance of pitching prospects, and Core usually does not get mentioned in the same breath as McGowan, Ramirez and Rosario. His numbers do warrant some attention though. The competitive Core has become a workhorse in the minors, and his 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 IP might get him more attention if he can keep it up.
42. Chi-Hung Cheng -LHP: Cheng has a successful 2004 season with Auburn, and some might wonder why the young reliever is not ranked higher. The reason for this is that Cheng was not very successful in locating the ball over the plate, and command is a major issue that we look for in pitchers.
43. Michael MacDonald -RHP: MacDonald could turn out to be the steal of the draft, having turned in a fabulous season after being selected in the 15th round of the 2004 draft. The right-hander made an appearance as high as Charleston and figures to be in the Dunedin rotation come 2005.
44. Christian Snavely -OF: The twenty-two year old outfielder has lots of tools in him, however, his major weakness is the inability to make contact on a regular basis. Snavely had an extraordinarily high strikeout ratio in 2004, and it could get worse as he faces more mature and polished pitchers at the higher levels. Nevertheless, he gets the benefit of the doubt for now.
45. Jason Alfaro -SS: Alfaro was signed to a minor league contract by the Blue Jays with an invitation to spring training on November 11, 2004. Alfaro is a protective hitter at the plate, as he will not draw many walks, but also will not strike out at a high ratio. When he is at the plate, you should expect contact to be made, which is why we view him as a solid role player for the Blue Jays.
46. Kurt Isenberg -LHP: Isenberg is one of the few lefties in the Jays system. He does not have the dominant stuff of Purcey or Jackson, but he does possess some quality pitches and good command. His delivery is smooth and he has a competitive flair to him when he is on the mound.
47. Justin James -RHP: This right-hander could be the pitching version of Russ Adams. James is a competitor and an intelligent pitcher, which compensates for his lack of power. His curveball is looking like it might become his most dominant pitch.
48. Cameron Reimers -RHP: Reimer will soon be at the age where he will no longer be considered a prospect. Reimers is a pure control pitcher who still needs to develop more control. At this stage of the game it just might not happen. Has shown an ability to log heavy inning totals, though.
49. Ryan Roberts -2B: Another second baseman to crack the top 50 is Ryan Roberts, only Roberts is a converted third baseman. In high-A last year Roberts looked overmatched, but his .350 OBP might prove better days are ahead as he learns to control the strike zone even more. He has power and an ability to exploit the outfield gaps.
50. Joey Metropoulos- 1B/OF: Metropoulos is another player of the draft class of 2004 to make this list. Metropoulos is a young first baseman that has the potential to flourish into a legitimate power corner infielder in the major leagues. Metropoulos will likely begin the 2005 season at Single-A with the Lansing Lugnuts, and will need to battle to prove he deserves playing time and an everyday job. There is too much power to ignore Metropoulos and he must be given the opportunity to play on an every day basis.
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