With all the hype surrounding future Blue Jays stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Ryan Borucki (just to name a few), which minor league players could represent the next wave of blue chip prospects for the Toronto Blue Jays?
**Note: All scouting grades are from MLB’s Prospect Watch.
Nate Pearson (22) – Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
Pearson is arguably the best pitching prospect in the Blue Jays’ farm system. Armed with a fastball that can hit triple digits and a wipe out slider to complement it, the sky is the limit for Pearson. There are a few question marks about his durability – he has a screw in his right elbow and missed most of 2018 with a non-displaced fracture of his ulna – and control, but if Pearson can show that he can stay healthy, expect a meteoric rise in the very near future.
Eric Pardinho (17) – Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
The Blue Jays signed Pardinho during the 2017/2018 international signing period for $1.4 million after being impressed by his pure stuff and advanced approach on the mound. Just 17 years old, Pardinho made his minor league debut this year and absolutely dominated to the tune of a 2.88 ERA and 64 strikeouts in just 50 innings of work. His fastball has already touched 97 mph and his curveball grades as above average according to MLB.com. The one knock on Pardinho is his smaller size (5’10”), but the Blue Jays are confident that Pardinho’s pure stuff and poise on the mound overcomes those concerns.
Travis Bergen (25) – Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45 (**from 2016)
Bergen is a name that many fans probably haven’t heard of yet. Well, that’s about to change. While relatively old for a prospect, Bergen has the potential to make an immediate impact with the Blue Jays in 2019. This season, Bergen posted a 0.95 ERA with an 11.8 K/9 ratio while pitching mostly in Double-A. He works in the low to mid 90s and has an extreme crossfire delivery that elevates the effectiveness of his slider. With the lack of quality left-handed options in the Blue Jays’ bullpen, Bergen’s quick ascension and dominance is encouraging for a rebuilding team stocking up in assets.
Miguel Hiraldo (18) – Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Another prospect the Blue Jays signed during the 2017/2018 international signing period, Hiraldo was deemed as the best overall hitter in his class. According to MLB.com:
“Hiraldo is a bat-first prospect who has the makings of becoming a special offensive talent. Scouts like Hiraldo’s approach and his swing. He’s a mature player with quick hands, a plan at the plate and he can hit the ball hard to all fields. He’s also been praised for his makeup and how he plays the game.”
Like another Blue Jays’ prospect who is heralded for his bat, Hiraldo lacks a true defensive position. Still, the offensive talent and young age should make him a player that has the potential to break out at any moment.
Ryan Noda (22) – Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Like Miguel Hiraldo, Ryan Noda is a bat first prospect. In Lansing (single-A) this season, Noda hit 20 home runs to go along with a very strong .256/.421/.484 batting line. Noda’s best tool is his batting eye, shown by his strong walk numbers (135:109 K/BB) that result in a good on base percentage.
He has good power to the opposite field and scouts are impressed with his overall strength and bat speed. It remains to be seen if Noda can replicate his success in the upper levels of the minor leagues, but his current stats and scouting reports depict a future middle-of-the-order type of bat – an exciting prospect for Blue Jays fans.