Last week, I wrote part 1 of the Toronto Blue Jays top 30 Prospect list. On it there were some exceptional talents with a lot of potential to become solid big-league contributors. Every week, as we get closer to the top of the list, these names will become both, more noticeable, and also more valuable. Some may even be on the brink of cracking a major league roster, or possibly becoming a trade chip to land a substantial piece in the future.
25. Ryan Noda
Drafted in the 15th round this year out of Cincinnati. Ryan Noda has done nothing but show off his bat in his professional debut. Displaying some of the best overall hit tools in the Blue Jays system, slashing .364/.507/.575/1.082. That is not a typo, Noda put up a .507 OBP in Bluefield this season, along with 28 extra-base hits over around 275 PA’s. In the month of July alone, he put up a .444/.580/.689/1.269 line, just purely outrageous.
Obviously, the 21-year-old slugging 1B needed a more advanced challenge than Rookie ball could offer. Look for Noda, to get a crack at full season ball in Lansing in 2018. At that point, we will get a much better understanding which player is the real Noda. The lefty OPS machine that destroyed Rookie ball, or a power swinger with a tendency for swing and miss issues. I’m banking on the former, personally, but only time will tell.
24. Samad Taylor
Taylor, who by some was viewed as a throw in piece from the Cleveland Indians in the Joe Smith trade, I believe, is far from that. At 19, Taylor has already shown signs of being a high-level prospect. With his ability to swing the bat, show above-average athleticism, flash extra base power, prior to being fully developed physically (5’10, 160 lbs), and play a solid 2B. Taylor brings forward a lot of elements that teams love in young talent.
He has also performed at a high-level when challenged in short-season A-Ball, hitting a combined .298/.330/.452/.782. A very solid showing in a very competitive league. Look for Taylor, with the tools he possesses, to climb rapidly up the prospect charts next year, and become a staple in the Blue Jays top 15 by mid-season.
23. Edward Olivares
At the beginning of the 2017 season, it would be almost impossible to have seen Edward Olivares climb this far this fast. With only 311 AB’s across 3 seasons as a pro, and only 55 happening last year for Bluefield, many were surprised when he began the year, newly 21 years old, with the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts. But he did, and with the protection of a dynamic line-up around him, Olivares flourished. He hit .277/.330/.500/.830 in Lansing before he was promoted in the final month to Dunedin.
Olivares is in a lean, wiry strong 6’2 OF whose0 build is reminiscent of newly acquired Teoscar Hernandez. Despite his thin frame, Olivares was able to hit 17 HR’s and notched 52 extra-base hits in 426 AB’s in Lansing. He showed well-above average speed (9 triples and 20 SB). He is also a very capable defender at all 3 spots, but in my opinion, profiles as a RF in the future. He is yet another example of the Blue Jays willingness to challenge a young unproven talent and see what they have in the tank. Olivares is a prospect to watch out for in the couple year. He may move quickly with his potential as a 20-20 OF.
22. Thomas Pannone
Prior to the Blue Jays acquisition of Pannone, he was viewed as the hidden gem of the Indians system. With a smaller than ideal frame for a starting pitcher (6’0 190lbs), and without a booming fastball reaching the mid 90’s, the 23-year-old Lefty is easy to overlook. Pannone instead gets by on pitching. He works all 4 quadrants of the zone, mixes speeds beautifully and has 3 MLB average offerings, with his deceptive delivery giving Pannone the ability to set him apart slightly.
Despite his lack of upper line “stuff”, Pannone is more than capable of missing bats. He struck out 149 over 144.2 innings and allowed an opponents batting average of .just 207. Pannone may not be the traditional “modern era” pitching prospect, almost being viewed as a throwback to a previous generation, but he certainly has the ability to positively affect a MLB starting rotation within the next few years.
21. Justin Maese
At 6’3 and nearly 200 lbs, the 20 year old Maese, has the frame and project-ability scouts and front offices love to see. He has a fastball that can already reach the mid-90’s and has shown a natural ability to sink the baseball. That, coupled with his plus athleticism on the mound, makes Maese everything you hope for in a High School drafted pitcher. The problem with Maese is straight-forward; he lacks secondary pitches to go with his excellent fastball.
Due to his frame and age, Maese will be given every opportunity to succeed and develop as a starting pitcher. Many feel, as I do however, that he would be better served to hone his craft as a reliever. He has shown a new variation of a slider this season with high 80’s velocity and nasty tilt. It has flashed plus potential, although, at this point, it’s still very inconsistent. If Maese were to focus on a bullpen role, I believe he would be on a fast track to the high minors and could be pitching in the big leagues within a few seasons. As a starter, however, the journey may be long, as he needs a lot of refinement yet.
Look for Maese to get an opportunity in Dunedin in the 2018 season. If he improves his secondary offerings, he has the chance to stick with that role. If not, the idea of having, what looks like a super-charged Huston Street in the bullpen, may be to tempting after-all.
Check-in again next week, when I will run-down prospects 20-16, in my end of season Toronto Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects list.
About Marc Nolan:
Marc Nolan is a Blogger, Public Speaker, and Entrepreneur originally from Campbell River, BC. Marc currently resides in Port Hope, ON with his Wife and two sons. He has always been involved in sports. A former College Baseball player, current coach and founder of the Northumberland Baseball Academy, Marc has invested his entire life to the game he loves. He has now been able to transition that passion into public speaking and journalism.
Despite the fact he has no formal training in the field, Marc has found ways to get exposure in the industry through hard work and dedication to what he loves. Currently, he operates a personal Blog (www.WestysWorld.com), writes for the LastWordOnBaseball. Hopefully, in the near future, will be starting his own personal Minor League Baseball Podcast. He is very active on Social Media. You can reach Marc with any questions, on Twitter, @MarcWestyNolan