The outfield for the Toronto Blue Jays is bound to have a different look after the 2017 season. With the injury to Steve Pearce and cutting ties with Melvin Upton Jr. this franchise has opened the door for a plethora of talent to make the MLB jump. The success a player finds in the minor leagues does not always transfer to the majors, but it does give an indication on how ready they are. With injuries also comes opportunities, and this season has already given Blue Jays fans a glimpse into the future with Anthony Alford and Dwight Smith making their MLB debuts.
Toronto Blue Jays Outfield Prospect Depth
When Toronto released Upton it came as a slight surprise to many. The former second overall pick of the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2002 has put together a respectable career with 164 home runs, 586 RBI, and 300 stolen bases. He still has yet to find a club for the 2017 season, but at only 29 years old, he still has playing time in him.
One player that looked to be an option for left field this season was Steve Pearce, who signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal in the off-season. The 34-year-old has played in 596 big league games, but only 232 of those have been as an outfielder. He is currently on the 10-day DL with a calf strain, which has extended the playing time of utility outfielder Ezequiel Carrera.
The Not So Distant Future
Dwight Smith was drafted 53rd overall by Toronto in 2011 and has progressed in excellent fashion amongst their minor league ranks. In Double-A last season he batted .265 with fifteen home runs and 74 RBI over 126 games. He was promoted to Triple-A to begin the 2017 season and his dominant performance earned him a call up. He is batting .322 this season for the Buffalo Bisons and has already tallied 23 RBI.
Anthony Alford is only 22 years old, but the Blue Jays rewarded his excellent play in Double-A this season with a call up. Drafted 112th in 2012 he was batting .325 with three long balls, 11 RBI, and nine stolen bases before getting called up. Few players make the MLB jump without at least a brief stop in Tiple-A, but Alford did just that. He has unfortunately landed on the DL with a wrist injury, keeping him out of action for a month, but he certainly has a bright future on the horizon in Toronto. He is their 3rd ranked prospect and 63rd in MLB’s Top 100.
The key outfield prospect that Blue Jays fans are ready to see is Canada’s own Dalton Pompey. For the past couple seasons it seemed that he was destined to make the opening day roster, but would end up starting the season in Triple-A before an expected September call up. In 135 major league at bats he has belted eight home runs with ten RBI, to go along with eight stolen bases.
He was drafted 486th back in 2010 and has played in 508 minor league games with nearly 2000 at bats. Pompey is far from what Jays fans have come to expect from their outfielders. He will not hit 30/100, his weapon comes in what his speed brings to the team. He has 154 stolen bases over his minor league career, and will add a speed element that is rare to the team. Concussion issues have him on the 60-day DL and the 2017 season may be lost for him, but 2018 will bring more answers than questions in regards to his future tenure with Toronto.
The Distant Future
J.B. Woodman and Joshua Palacios were drafted 57th and 132nd respectively by the Blue Jays last year. Both are playing in Sinlg-A ball this season and will look to work through the ranks on pace with their 2019 ETA. Woodman is batting .242 with three home runs and 18 RBI in 39 games, but struggles striking out with 70 in 157 at bats. Palacios has driven in thirteen, but his .218 average is abysmal.
Pruitt is another intriguing prospect for this franchise. Drafted 722nd in 2015 the likelihood of him cracking an MLB roster are slim, but then again the Blue Jays current center fielder was drafted 979th, so it’s not outlandish to think someday he’d dawn a Blue Jays uniform. The term ‘raw talent’ is a great way to assess Pruitt. The kid can simply fly, if he can get on base and develop into a multidimensional player, he could easily steal 50 bases a year.
Kevin Pillar will be controlling center field for many more seasons in Toronto. He is currently making $555,000 this season and does not become a UFA until 2021. He has brought his ability with the bat to a new level in 2017, batting nearly .300 with seven home runs and eight stolen bases.
With Jose Bautista on a one-year deal and now in his thirties, and Pearce being far from an everyday outfielder, the time is now to see what the future can do at the corner outfield spots.