In many ways, this was a year of transition for the Blue Jays’ farm system.
That can be a good thing, especially when a sturdy Major League roster allows for development to take place at its natural rate without rushing your players to the big leagues. Now, coming out of 2022, the Blue Jays should be better positioned to add from within.
Gabriel Moreno was the early story of the season, and the former No. 1 prospect should be a key piece of what this club does in ’23. Many of the Blue Jays’ biggest development strides were taken on the pitching side, though, where the organization had made an encouraging shift towards embracing risk and chasing higher-end outcomes.
Looking ahead to ’23, here’s what you need to know about the system.
3 players who forced their way onto the radar in 2022
LHP Ricky Tiedemann (No. 1 prospect)
When I arrived for Spring Training back in February, Tiedemann wasn’t a priority for me to watch in the early days of camp. He was a third-round pick the year prior out of junior college and hadn’t thrown a pro inning yet.
Two days later, I’d heard his name 50 times and practically been dragged across a parking lot to watch him throw a bullpen.
Tiedemann’s ’22 season was brilliant. Period. The left-hander posted a 2.17 ERA with 117 strikeouts over 78 2/3 innings, climbing to Double-A with stuff that was MLB-ready. This is a remarkable and sudden story of development, as the 6-foot-4 Tiedemann bulked up in a hurry and embraced the Blue Jays’ plan for him. This is a potential superstar we’re talking about.
OF Gabriel Martinez (No. 8)
Martinez skyrocketed up our rankings this summer, landing at No. 8 by year’s end. The 20-year-old hit .293 with 14 home runs and an .832 OPS, finishing his season with high-A Vancouver. This organization is starved for outfield talent in the farm system, and with Teoscar Hernández and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. both free agents after the ’23 season, Martinez’s emergence is very timely.
3B/SS Addison Barger (No. 13)
Barger had a fine ’21 season, but hadn’t generated much buzz as a legitimate prospect. That changed this summer, as Barger hit .308 with 26 home runs and a .933 OPS, reaching Triple-A at 22. Barger has earned his way into the discussion as a potential power-hitting utility infielder, perhaps even late in the ’23 season, and it’s a development success story after he was drafted out of high school in ’18.
2 possible breakout players to watch in 2023
OF Dasan Brown (No. 29)
It started to click for Brown offensively in ’22, hitting .283 with a .383 on-base percentage. That OBP is key, because Brown’s speed is downright ridiculous. This makes him a tremendous defender, too, but it’s always been a question of whether the Canadian could hit. If he can continue to reach base in Double-A next summer, he’ll become one of the most interesting names in this system.
SS Manuel Beltre (No. 21)
Signed for $2.35 million in early ’21, Beltre got his feet wet last summer with 54 games, finishing with a taste of Single-A. Still just 18, Beltre has plenty of development ahead of him, but he’s as mature an 18-year-old as you’ll find and has advanced fundamentals. He’s due to make a jump in ’23 and should open with a full-season team.
1 big question for next season
When does Ricky Tiedemann arrive?
Remember Spring Training of years past, when Nate Pearson was appointment viewing? It’s Tiedemann’s time, and the hype train will be real.
Tiedemann will still just be 20 for most of next season, but if he can hit the ground running next spring, there’s nothing stopping him from jumping into the Blue Jays’ rotation by mid-season. We all saw how Alek Manoah accelerated his timeline, and while Manoah has the complete package of an ace, Tiedemann possesses gifts that others in this organization simply don’t.
Who holds the Blue Jays record for most runs scored in a single season?
A.) Shawn Green
B.) Shannon Stewart
C.) Tony Fernandez
D.) Josh Donaldson
“It’s extremely difficult to be the last team out of 30 standing, and you’re going to be disappointed if you’re not every year. Certain things and experiences that players and staff went through this season, postseason included, will help us get better for next year. We’re talking about a young core group that has won together before and is hungry to do more of it.” -- Blue Jays manager John Schneider, who spoke to reporters in Toronto after having his "interim" tag removed on Friday
A.) Shawn Green
Green scored 134 runs in ’99, still comfortably a Blue Jays record. And yes, this trivia question is an excuse to talk about his career.
A first-round pick of the Blue Jays in ’91 out of high school, Green was a star for Toronto over five full seasons, peaking in ’99 when he was named an All-Star and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. That year, he hit .309 with 42 home runs, a league-best 45 doubles and .972 OPS.
That winter, Green was dealt to the Dodgers in a package for Pedro Borbon and Raul Mondesi. Had Green stayed and played through his late 20s with the Blue Jays, we’d still be discussing him as one of the organization’s all-time great players, but he went on to finish his career with eight productive seasons elsewhere.
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