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October
31st
2004
Your Daily Fantasy Rx
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Post-2004 Prospect Review: Toronto
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

Prospects with Double-Digit Upside
Likely 2005 September Call-ups
Potential Reserve Help
Minor League Draft Picks
Organization Rankings
Toronto's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects


Prospects with Double-Digit Upside

Russ Adams, 24, SS-L
22/72 for .306/.359/.528 with 4 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R, 1/1 SB%,
and a 5:5 BB:K for Toronto.
139/483 for .288/.351/.408 with 5 HR, 54 RBI, 58 R, 6/8 SB%,
and a 45:62 BB:K for AAA Syracuse(IL).

Adams lacks notable quantitative upside and may not even post a respectable average, however the release of Chris Woodward virtually guarantees Adams will open next year as Toronto's shortstop. Of course, if he doesn't demonstrate more consistent fielding during spring training following his 37 errors in 142 games this year, Toronto may explore veteran alternatives while allowing Adams to continue developing. He at least owns relatively strong plate discipline and should emerge as a regular $15 contributor, but his limited upside shouldn't earn him significant attention in spring drafts.


Eric Crozier, 26, 1B-L
5/33 for .152/.282/.394 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 6:19 BB:K for Toronto.
114/390 for .292/.380/.528 with 21 HR, 69 RBI, 67 R, 8/11 SB%,
and a 52:94 BB:K between AAA Buffalo(IL) and AAA Syracuse(IL).

Dealing Josh Phelps for a slightly younger, similarly-skilled player continues to confuse me. Yes, Phelps heads towards arbitration and suffers from a quickly rising ground-fly rate, but Crozier only blossomed as an offensive threat upon reaching AAA this year. His limited history of statistical success makes him a very risky player, especially since he may replace Carlos Delgado at first base in 2005. At least Crozier owns solid plate discipline, however his contact problems make him perhaps a bigger BA risk than Phelps. Crozier merits little more than a few bucks as a cornerman even if he breaks camp as a starter.


Gabe Gross, 25, OF-L
27/129 for .209/.311/.310 with 3 HR, 16 RBI, 18 R, 2/4 SB%,
and a 19:31 BB:K for Toronto.
111/377 for .294/.381/.454 with 9 HR, 54 RBI, 52 R, 4/9 SB%,
and a 53:81 BB:K for AAA Syracuse(IL).

Expect Gross to start next year alongside Vernon Wells and Alexis Rios despite current reports of him returning to the minors; even a decent spring training will keep him in no worse a situation than a platoon with Reed Johnson. Since his contact rate only dropped slightly upon reaching the majors, if Gross even bumps his .76 mark back near .80, his BA should rise over .250, dragging his OPS to an acceptable level. A 4.11 #P/PA and 1.27 G-F in over a month of playing time similarly indicate that Gross belongs in the majors, so although he could hurt your average in regular playing time, he should develop into a very useful player for Toronto.


Likely 2005 September Call-ups

Jason Arnold, 25, RH Starter
1-3 on a 15:12 K:BB in 37 IP over 7 GS
with 40 H, 6 HR, and a 3.65 ERA for AAA Syracuse(IL).
0-1 on a 14:5 K:BB in 20 IP over 4 GS
with 17 H, 4 HR, and a 3.15 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).
1-1 on an 11:2 K:BB in 10.1 IP over 3 GS
with 13 H, 1 HR, and a 4.35 ERA for A+ Dunedin(FSL).

Shoulder problems cost Arnold most of the second half, preventing him receiving any big league experience. His unimpressive AAA command similarly makes him a risky player in any league, so while I still expect him to spend a few seasons in a big league rotation, at least a half-dozen Jays' pitchers merit more fantasy consideration than Arnold at this time.


Josh Banks, 22, RH Starter
6-6 on a 76:28 K:BB in 91.1 IP over 17 GS(18G)
with 89 H, 15 HR, and a 5.03 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).
7-1 on a 60:8 K:BB in 60 IP over 11 GS
with 49 H, 4 HR, and a 1.80 ERA for A+ Dunedin(FSL).

The Jays' second round pick in 2003, banks skipped the Sally League, dominated Florida State League opponents, and then held a respectable skill set for New Hampshire. Expect Banks to challenge for a big league rotation spot during the summer before winning a starting job in camp the following spring. While drafting him now looks like an unnecessary gamble, monitoring his progress rates as a good idea given his impressive command in the lower minors.


Gustavo Chacin, 23, LH Starter
1-1 on a 6:3 K:BB in 14 IP over 2 GS
with 8 H, 0 HR, a 1.06 G-F, and a 2.57 ERA for Toronto.
2-0 on a 14:3 K:BB in 11.2 IP over 2 GS
with 16 H, 0 HR, and a 2.31 ERA for AAA Syracuse(IL).
16-2 on a 109:49 K:BB in 141.2 IP over 25 GS
with 113 H, 15 HR, and a 2.86 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).

Returning to the rotation in his fourth AA season resulted in an unexpectedly excellent performance from Chacin as his 18 wins led the minors. Chacin even pitched well in his two-start debut, leaving him in contention for a rotation spot next spring. While inconsistent control keeps me from recommending him right now, he soon could emerge as a viable fantasy option, so monitoring his progress in 2005 looks like a good idea.


Tyrell Godwin, 25, OF-L
132/521 for .253/.326/.355 with 6 HR, 40 RBI, 85 R, 42/54 SB%,
and a 52:110 BB:K for AA New Hampshire(EL).

A respectable walk rate, strong speed skills, and good defense mean little as long as Godwin can't manage a .350 OBP. While I expect him to develop into a capable backup and he appears likely to receive at least a look in the majors relatively soon despite Toronto's outfield depth, I simply don't see him starting in the majors his decade barring extremely unexpected skill development. Wait until Godwin at least secures a big league bench job and the accompanying chance to accumulate double-digit steals before considering him for your team.


John-Ford Griffin, 24, OF-L
116/467 for .248/.330/.454 with 22 HR, 81 RBI, 66 R, 1/2 SB%,
and a 56:128 BB:K for AA New Hampshire(EL).

Further regression in a third AA season leaves Griffin unlikely to approach the majors in the near future. Yes, he owns good patience and power potential, but growing contact problems keep him below the .800 OPS normally needed for advancement. Shop Griffin this winter if he remains in your minors since I don't know when to expect him to contribute in a big league uniform.


John Hattig, 24, 3B-S
120/406 for .296/.391/.532 with 22 HR, 65 RBI, 77 R, 3/7 SB%,
and a 59:109 BB:K between AA Portland(EL) and AA New Hampshire(EL).

The Jays wisely swapped Terry Adams to Boston for Hattig in July, acquiring a developing offensive threat with solid plate discipline and intriguing upside. While he probably needs at least a season at AAA Syracuse, Hattig should be no worse than a solid cornerman given his recent progress. Although selecting him in the spring is a bad idea, Hattig could begin contributing to fantasy teams as soon he reaches Toronto.


Aaron Hill, 22, SS-R
134/480 for .279/.368/.410 with 11 HR, 80 RBI, 78 R, 3/5 SB%,
and a 63:51 BB:K for AA New Hampshire(EL).

With Russ Adams unsurprisingly beating Hill to the majors by a season, the 13th overall pick in 2003 now needs to outperform Orlando Hudson to win a starting job in Toronto. Of course, Hill still should stay at shortstop at Syracuse in 2005 just in case Adams flops, but after committing 24 errors in 135 games this year, Hill appears destined for second base. Fortunately he owns the overall skills to succeed offensively anywhere almost anywhere in the infield, and excellent plate disciplines ranks Hill among the safer upper-level prospects in the game. Feel free to select him anywhere with the knowledge that he almost certainly will post positive value in 2006.


Brandon League, 21, RH Swingman
1-0 on a 2:1 K:BB in 4.2 IP over 3 G
with 3 H, 0 HR, an 11-2 G-F, and a 0.00 ERA for Toronto.
6-4 and 2 Saves on a 90:41 K:BB in 104 IP over 10 GS(41G)
with 92 H, 3 HR, and a 3.38 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).

Control problems resulted in a move to relief for League, giving him a new role in which he could flourish. He dominated hitters even as a starter, allowing few flyballs while consistently posting strong strikeout rates. While investing in League during spring drafts is risky, consider rostering him once he registers a few solid outings. League looks likely to compete with Adam Peterson to close for the Jays over the rest of the decade.


Shawn Marcum, 22, RH Starter
3-2 on a 72:4 K:BB in 69.1 IP over 12 GS
with 74 H, 6 HR, and a 3.12 ERA for A+ Dunedin(FSL).
7-4 on an 83:16 K:BB in 79 IP over 13 GS
with 64 H, 7 HR, and a 3.19 ERA for A Charleston-WV(SAL).

Considering the Jays' success converting David Bush from a college closer to a top starting prospect, Macum's dominance in A-ball this year Toronto repeated that accomplishment here. Although selecting him in spring drafts looks like a bad idea in all but the deepest AL leagues, Marcum merits watching since he could debut in the majors as soon as next fall.


Adam Peterson, 25, RH Reliever
0-0 on a 2:3 K:BB in 2.2 IP over 3 G
with 7 H, 1 HR, a 7-3 G-F, and a 16.88 ERA for Toronto.
2-2 on a 19:16 K:BB in 21 IP over 19 G
with 38 H, 6 HR, and a 12.86 ERA for AAA Syracuse(IL).
2-2 and 15 Saves on a 38:10 K:BB in 28.1 IP over 27 G
with 20 H, 1 HR, and a 2.54 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).

Although he shot to the majors this year, growing control problems and a very light workload make him a poor gamble right now. Peterson possesses the skills needed to close in Toronto, but if Brandon League remains in relief, I expect Peterson to remain a middle reliever for the Jays. He merits little fantasy attention right now.


Guillermo Quiroz, 22, C-R
11/52 for .212/.263/.250 with 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R, 1/1 SB%,
and a 2:8 BB:K for Toronto.
58/255 for .227/.309/.404 with 8 HR, 32 RBI, 32 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 28:54 BB:K for AAA Syracuse(IL).

Quiroz entered the season ranked among the top catching prospects in baseball. Kevin Cash posted fairly terrible numbers in Toronto this year. However, Quiroz's unimpressive season should force him back to the minors for a few more months. A broken bone in his left hand cost him most of May and June, yet he at least managed demonstrated decent power potential, even registering a .94 G-F in regular action with the Jays in September. Unfortunately, his contact problems make him a very risky target in standard leagues, so generally avoid Quiroz in the spring unless you can nab him in a minor league draft or simply want a likely inexpensive catcher with intriguing long-term upside


Francisco Rosario, 24, RH Starter
2-4 on a 45:16 K:BB in 48 IP over 12 GS
with 48 H, 6 HR, and a 4.31 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).
1-1 on a 16:11 K:BB in 17.1 IP over 6 GS
with 16 H, 2 HR, and a 4.67 ERA for A+ Dunedin(FSL).

Two strong months of work in his AA debut indicates nearly full recovery from Tommy John surgery for Rosario. Missing much of the last two years should result in less injury risk over the next several seasons, and his all-around solid skills keep him among the best young pitchers in the system. Expect Rosario to join Toronto's rotation sometime this season, making him a solid late-round investment.


Jamie Vermilyea, 22, RH Swingman
3-2 and 5 Saves on a 39:12 K:BB in 57.1 IP over 6 GS(20G)
with 43 H, 2 HR, and a 2.51 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).
5-1 on a 37:13 K:BB in 55.1 IP over 6 GS(18G)
with 54 H, 4 HR, and a 3.09 ERA for A+ Dunedin(FSL).

Consistent command and effectiveness will allow Vermilyea to challenge for a big league roster spot next year, but limited dominance gives him unimpressive upside. Vermilyea probably will peak as a middle reliever, so don't roster him until he secures a stable role in the majors and registers several strong outings.


Potential Reserve Help

Anton French, 29, OF-L
77/259 for .297/.359/.494 with 11 HR, 35 RBI, 56 R, 7/9 SB%,
and a 26:60 BB:K between AAA Durham(IL) and AAA Syracuse(IL).
35/124 for .282/.362/.476 with 3 HR, 19 RBI, 29 R, 16/17 SB%,
and a 16:23 BB:K for AA New Hampshire(EL).

With strong speed skills and decent patience, French could be an asset as a fifth outfielder. He similarly should accumulate useful roto value as a SB threat if given the necessary opportunity. Consider rostering him if he ever reaches the majors in a role where he could contribute to your team.


Talley Haines, 27, RH Reliever
4-2 and 3 Saves on a 53:15 K:BB in 79 IP over 44 G
with 80 H, 12 HR, and a 3.87 ERA for AAA Syracuse(IL).

While Toronto dealt for the right to keep Haines in the minors despite his Rule 5 status, they foolishly never promoted him during the season despite a third consecutive season of effective work in the International League. Hopefully Haines will find a better situation as a minor league free agent since his skills suggest he could continue performing well in the majors.


Josue Matos, 26, RH Starter
6-6 on a 103:46 K:BB in 130.1 IP over 21 GS(27G)
with 138 H, 25 HR, and a 5.18 ERA for AAA Syracuse(IL).

Matos virtually repeated his 2002 numbers at AAA Tacoma(PCL), again allowing an abundance of homers to sabotage an otherwise respectable season. With a trip back to AA in 2005 reasonably likely, don't expect Matos to reach the majors in the foreseeable future.


Simon Pond, 27, OF-L
8/49 for .163/.250/.265 with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 5:12 BB:K for Toronto.
84/302 for .278/.325/.434 with 7 HR, 35 RBI, 36 R, 1/1 SB%,
and a 19:72 BB:K for AAA Syracuse(IL).

Dealing Jayson Werth allowed Pond to break camp as a big leaguer, but he failed to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity despite a decent 4.02 #P/PA and 1.38 G-F. His regression upon returning to the minors further dims his future prospects, and unless he soon rediscovers both his formerly respectable plate discipline and more power, he may not return to the majors any time soon.


Cameron Reimers, 26, RH Starter
2-7 on a 28:20 K:BB in 66 IP over 12 GS
with 82 H, 8 HR, and a 5.05 ERA for AAA Syracuse(IL).
7-4 on a 42:20 K:BB in 94 IP over 15 GS
with 87 H, 11 HR, and a 2.78 ERA for AA New Hampshire(EL).

With his strikeout rate again plummeting upon reaching Syracuse, Reimers shouldn't reach the majors as a starter. Hopefully a move to the bullpen will improve his dominance, and until he completes that likely transition, Reimers won't belong on anyone's fantasy roster.


Dominic Rich, 25, 2B-L
142/513 for .277/.351/.394 with 8 HR, 71 RBI, 79 R, 3/5 SB%,
and a 53:72 BB:K for AA New Hampshire(EL).

The ascendance of Russ Adams and now Aaron Hill past Rich leaves the 2000 second round pick unlikely to emerge as more than a decent backup. Spending three years in the Eastern League similarly limits his upside, considering he no longer owns much speed and hasn't developed noticeable power. Rich won't be a fantasy option until he begins succeeding in the majors.


Jorge Sequea, 24, 2B-R
89/335 for .266/.345/.367 with 4 HR, 31 RBI, 53 R, 10/16 SB%,
and a 35:63 BB:K for AAA Syracuse(IL).

With decent patience and speed skills, Sequea only needs an opportunity as an injury replacement to emerge as a viable reserve infielder. Regardless of where he lands as a minor league free agent, he at least should emerge as roster filler within the next couple of years.


Glenn Williams, 27, 3B-S
114/432 for .264/.324/.495 with 23 HR, 79 RBI, 65 R, 2/6 SB%,
and a 34:79 BB:K for AAA Syracuse(IL).

While Williams rebounded from an awful 2003, contact problems and unimpressive plate discipline could keep him out of the majors for many years. Even if eventually emerges a big league bench option, Williams likely won't contribute positively to fantasy teams unless he unexpectedly manages to hold a BA much above his .242 career average in the minors.


Minor League Draft Picks

None.


Aside from players listed above, no other Toronto prospect deserves consideration in 2005 fantasy drafts. Mike Nakamura and Kevin Frederick each lost his rookie status by exceeding the service time minimum.


Organization Rankings

Russ Adams and Aaron Hill should give Toronto two solid middle infielders for the rest of the decade, although Orlando Hudson still probably possesses as much upside as the rookies. Gabe Gross looks like a good fit for the Jays and sim leagues even if his weak average should limit his roto value. Crozier and Chacin should develop into capable everyday players, and several of the starting pitchers discussed above should pitch effectively in the majors. However, I see little depth in position players here and few quality prospects of any kind in the lower minors. Yes, the Jays already possess a decent core of young talent in the majors, but I only trust Adams, Gross, Hill, and Rosario to earn and hold significant role in the near future.

Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2004, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of minor league draft picks from the lower levels of each system:

1. Minnesota Twins(Bartlett, Kubel, Tiffee, Crain, S.Baker)
2. Oakland Athletics(D.Johnson, Swisher, Blanton, Street)
3. Seattle Mariners(Je.Reed, Choo, J.Strong, Fe.Hernandez)
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays(Gathright, Kazmir, Delmon Young)
5. Anaheim Angels(McPherson, Kotchman, Callaspo, E.Aybar)
6. Cleveland Indians(F.Cabrera, Denney, F.Gutierrez, Aubrey)
7. Texas Rangers(Kinsler, Ad.Gonzalez, C.Young)
8. New York Yankees(Halsey, D.Navarro, E.Duncan)
9. Baltimore Orioles(Majewski, W.Young, Maine)
10. Toronto Blue Jays(R.Adams, F.Rosario)
11. Chicago White Sox(W.Valdez, B.McCarthy)
12. Kansas City Royals(Teahen, Den.Bautista, Maier)
13. Boston Red Sox(H.Ramirez, B.Moss)
14. Detroit Tigers(Granderson, Giarratano)


Today's Fantasy Rx: With Alexis Rios established in the majors and almost all remaining Toronto position prospects suffering through unimpressive seasons, I see little reason to target any Blue Jays in spring minor league drafts. Russ Adams looks like little more than a fallback MIF option that shouldn't hurt your BA while none of the pitchers appears ready to secure a rotation spot before next summer. Barring an unlikely trade for more prospects, targeting Toronto youngsters for significant 2005 contributions seems an unnecessary risk.


Toronto's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects for 2005
1. Russ Adams, SS
2. Gabe Gross, OF
3. Eric Crozier, 1B
4. Aaron Hill, SS
5. Guillermo Quiroz, C
6. Gustavo Chacin, SP
7. Francisco Rosario, SP
8. John Hattig, 1B
9. Brandon League, RP
10. Tyrell Godwin, OF
11. Josh Banks, SP
12. Shawn Marcum, SP
13. Jason Arnold, OF
14. John-Ford Griffin, OF
15. Dominic Rich, 2B


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