Blue Jays' 2010 organization preview

Blue Jays' 2010 organization preview

The future success of every Major League team lies largely in its Minor League pipeline. With that in mind, each preseason, takes a comprehensive look at the farm systems of all 30 organizations, from top prospects to recent Draft picks.

The Toronto Blue Jays' 10 Prospects to Watch list has undergone an overhaul since a year ago -- almost as much of an overhaul as its front office, farm system and scouting department. And the latter retooling should provide even more new names and new faces on this list a year from now. Currently, however, eight of the names are new, for a variety of reasons.

Four of the departed eight have moved up to the big leagues and expended their rookie status, including three young southpaws, a category which dominated the 2009 list, all of whom factor into the club's rotation this season. The other four prospects have simply slipped down the list and been edged out by new names, including four who arrived via trade over the past several months for long-time ace Roy Halladay and third baseman Scott Rolen. The 2009 First-Year Player Draft also provided two names for the new list, despite the team being unable to sign picks No. 2, 3 and 4.

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Coming Soon

Brian Dopirak, 1B
The 27-year-old first baseman could follow in the path set by Randy Ruiz, as a veteran corner player who has put up such consistently good numbers in the Minors that he may finally get his shot in the bigs. Originally a second-round pick by the Cubs in 2002, he hit over .300 between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Las Vegas in 2009, combining for 27 homers and 102 RBIs. It was his second consecutive and third career 100-RBI campaign, as he awaits his big league debut.

Zachary Stewart, RHP
Acquired from Cincinnati with infielder Edwin Encarnacion and reliever Josh Roenicke (who is no longer a rookie due to service time), Stewart has quietly flown through the ranks in his two pro seasons since being Drafted out of Texas Tech in the third round in 2008. Look for him in the big leagues sooner rather than later, with his role to be determined based on how the back-to-starter experiment goes at Vegas this spring while he continues to develop his changeup.

Brett Wallace, 1B/3B
A first-rounder in 2008 by St. Louis, this is already Wallace's third organization. He was dealt to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal, and then to Toronto in the four-team Halladay/Cliff Lee blockbuster. A third baseman by trade, he is probably bound for first base. His bat is his ticket and it could bring him to Toronto quickly.

Under the Radar

Henderson Alvarez, RHP
With three solid pitches and the best changeup in the Class A Midwest League in 2009, the Venezuelan teen (he turned 20 this April) finished second in the system among full-season starters with a 3.47 ERA at low Class A Lansing, including a 2.66 ERA after the All-Star break in his first full summer of work.

Reidier Gonzalez, RHP
Hardly a power pitcher at 5-foot-9 and 215 pounds, the Cuban-born Gonzalez was a Draft-and-follow pick in 2005 out of junior college and has moved slowly and steadily through the ranks, including a 2.90 ERA in 17 starts at New Hampshire last summer, missing time with a groin strain. Added to the 40-man roster, he could be a go-to guy if needed.

Moises Sierra, OF
Nicknamed "El Capitan" at Lansing in 2008 for his leadership qualities, he was the system's Player of the Year at Advanced A Dunedin last summer, hitting .286 with five homers and 56 RBIs before moving up to New Hampshire, where he hit .292, combining for 25 doubles between the two spots. Just 21, the strong-armed Sierra is finally putting together his impressive tools on the field.

2009 Draft

RHP Chad Jenkins (1), the 20th overall pick out of Kennesaw State, is a power pitcher who, after signing late, will make his pro debut this spring. He was 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA last spring, including a 41-inning shutout streak. He throws a heavy fastball, slider and change, and has command and poise on the mound. ... OF Jake Marisnick (3) was the club's fifth overall pick but the second signed player on their list. A toolsy athlete out of high school in Southern California, he too will make his debut this spring. ... SS Ryan Goins (4) is a fine defensive player with good instincts. ... 2B Ryan Schimpf (5) hit .293 with three homers, 14 RBIs and three steals between the Jays' two short-season clubs in the Gulf Coast League and Auburn after signing out of LSU ... OF K.C. Hobson (6) is a power-hitting high school prospect whose dad, Butch Hobson, is the former Red Sox star and manager. Like fellow top prospects Jenkins and Marisnick, he'll launch his pro career in '10. ... The Jays got great debuts from a pair of big-college catchers taken with back-to-back picks. Brazilian-born Yan Gomes (10), who grew up in Miami and played his college ball at Tennessee (just like current Jays catcher prospect J.P. Arencibia), hit .300 at Auburn with a New York-Penn League-leading 44 RBIs and 23 doubles. Auburn's Player of the Year, Sean Ochinko (11), hit .324 with six homers and 32 RBIs, including a .356 pace in August, to lead the club in batting, on-base percentage (.382) and slugging (.527). ... 1B Lance Durham (14) out of the University of Cincinnati is the son of long-time big leaguer Leon "Bull" Durham, while SS Jonathan Fernandez (34), drafted out of community college in North Carolina, is the son of former Blue Jays great Tony Fernandez.


Hitter of the Year -- Wallace, 1B/3B
Wallace, the 13th player taken overall in 2008, has hit everywhere he's gone, combining for a .305 average, 28 homers and 99 RBIs in two pro seasons so far. With power to all fields, he continues to hone his defense and should rake at Las Vegas as he awaits his call to Toronto.

Pitcher of the Year -- Kyle Drabek, RHP
The key player acquired from the Phillies in the Halladay deal automatically becomes the Jays' top pitching prospect. The first-rounder from 2006, who missed parts of '07 and '08 to Tommy John surgery, is probably about a year away. But now that his maturity has caught up to his ace stuff -- a lively low 90s fastball and hard curve -- the sky is the limit.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.