Outfielder Gose has bright future at top of lineup
Right-hander Drabek ranks No. 1 among club's Top 10 Prospects
The future success of every Major League team lies largely in its Minor League pipeline. With that in mind, MLB.com is looking at the top 10 prospects from each farm system, with only those who still maintain rookie status entering 2011 being eligible.
Anthony Gose knew one thing was certain as he was getting ready for his first Spring Training with the Toronto Blue Jays: He knew that part of Florida extremely well.
"I'm real familiar with that area, commuting back and forth throughout the season, during Spring Training and the instructional league," Gose said.
"It was an experience," Gose said about being involved in the trade. "It was exciting and different at the same time. I went from playing against this team ... to now all of a sudden sharing a locker room with the guys. I was out there trying to take outs away from these guys and now I'm trying to help them get outs.
"It was definitely a great experience. The Blue Jays' organization made me feel right at home, real comfortable, just inviting me in with open arms. It made the situation real easy for me."
After hitting .263 with 36 steals in 103 games for Clearwater, Gose hit .255 with nine more steals in 27 remaining games for Dunedin before calling it a season. There's no question about Gose's speed -- he stole 76 bases in his first full season with the Phillies -- but he's the first to admit that he needs to learn how to use it more efficiently on the bases. As he starts to do that, along with learning the strike zone more, he should fit right into the Blue Jays' attempts to pick up the pace offensively.
"I just want to play the game," Gose said. "I just want to get on base and have fun. The more times I can get on base and score runs, it means more RBIs [the run producers] get. It kind of helps the team, gets everybody rolling and keeps us going."
Blue Jays' Top 10 Prospects
1. Kyle Drabek, RHP: Last year's Eastern League Pitcher of the Year had a nice September debut in 2010, serving as a stepping stone to a spot in the rotation on Opening Day. His bread and butter has always been one of the best curveballs you'll see to go along with an above-average to plus fastball. He's added an effective cutter against lefties and his changeup has come a long way. Putting the No. 12 overall prospect on MLB.com's Top 50 list (No. 3 right-handed pitcher) on a potential AL Rookie of the Year candidate list wouldn't be a bad move.
2. Brett Lawrie, 3B: The No. 28 overall prospect made a very good impression in his first camp with his new organization, having come over in the Shaun Marcum deal. He not only made a positive impression with his bat, but he also showed some new-found maturity. A tireless worker, Lawrie should make the transition to third and have enough bat for the spot. He should hit for average and some power to go along with some speed as he heads to Triple-A, just a phone call away.
3. J.P. Arencibia, C: The Blue Jays are ready to hand everyday catching duties to their 2007 first-round Draft pick. Arencibia, No. 48 on the Top 50 list (No. 6 among catchers), has legitimate power (.507 career slugging; .626 in 2010) and should be an excellent run producer. He's got some defensive ability behind the plate and is a good leader, but he'll more than likely be an offensive-minded backstop.
4. Travis d'Arnaud, C: The No. 9 backstop on the top 10 catching prospects list, d'Arnaud might be a better all-around catcher than Arencibia when all is said and done. He came over with Drabek in the Roy Halladay deal and missed time in his first season in this organization with a back problem. He's got an outstanding arm behind the plate and is more than agile enough to be a stellar defender. He's got a quick bat and should have decent power, even if he hasn't put up huge numbers just yet. He should get a bump up to Double-A to start 2011.
5. Anthony Gose, OF: The Blue Jays are playing a more up-tempo kind of game and Gose's skills should fit perfectly once he gets to the big leagues. He's still raw in some aspects of the game, but he made a very good impression in big league camp this spring, going 9-for-10 in stolen base attempts. He's a plus runner who is a plus defender in center field. As he learns to be more selective and read pitchers better on the bases, he should turn into an outstanding leadoff man. He'll move up to Double-A to start the year.
WHEN WILL THEY ARRIVE?
7. Deck McGuire, RHP: The No. 11 overall pick in the Draft last June, McGuire was one of the steadiest performers in the college game over the previous two seasons. He's got four pitches, all of which he can throw for strikes. All grade out as average or better, and he was drafted as someone who could move quickly through a system. He might not have the biggest ceiling in the world, but he could start the year in Dunedin, make it to New Hampshire this year and be ready for Toronto soon thereafter.
8. Carlos Perez, C: That's right, another catching prospect in the system. Perez signed out of Venezuela back in 2008 and has performed well at each stop thus far, most recently as a New York-Penn League All-Star at age 19. He's a solid hitter with a very advanced approach at the plate, as evidenced by his .412 on-base percentage. He's athletic and runs well for a catcher and should be a good defender when all is said and done. He'll make his full-season debut in 2011.
9. Aaron Sanchez, RHP: A SoCal high school product, Sanchez fits the mold of a young, projectable right-handed starter. His fastball, now consistently in the low 90s, might have some more to it as he fills out that 6-foot-4 frame. He's got a very good curve and while his changeup is behind the others, he shows a feel for it. Command has been an issue in the past thanks to some delivery problems, something he'll work on as he makes his full-season debut in 2011.
10. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS: The Blue Jays made a splash by signing the Cuban shortstop to a big deal last April. There's no doubt about Hechavarria's ability with the glove. Scouts who saw him during his brief Arizona Fall League stay last fall buzzed about watching him take infield with fellow Cuban defensive wizard Jose Iglesias of the Red Sox. The question is how much he'll hit, though he did bat .273 in Double-A last year and has good speed. That and his glove work should make him a shortstop in the big leagues for a long time.
Under the Radar
Drew Hutchison, RHP: The Blue Jays took the high school right-hander from Florida in the 15th round of the 2009 Draft, then gave him an above-slot bonus to lure him away from going to Stetson University. Hutchison spent most of his debut last summer in the NY-Penn League, but made five starts with Class A Lansing and threw well there, finishing with a 2.49 ERA and .198 batting average against in 68 2/3 innings pitched. He's got a good feel for pitching and will spend nearly all of 2011 at the tender age of 20. He might go back to Lansing to start the year, though there's a chance he could see Dunedin.
Eric Thames, OF: In another year, he might have made the top 10, but with the addition of talent via the Draft and from trades, he gets pushed a little out of the spotlight. Still, the 2008 seventh-round Draft pick hit 27 homers and drove in 104 runs in the Double-A Eastern League a year ago, and profiles as a solid, power-hitting corner outfielder. After getting a lot of time in big league games this spring, he'll head to Triple-A waiting for that first call.
Hitter of the Year -- Lawrie
The only thing that could disrupt this prediction is if Lawrie's bat gets called up to Toronto. Otherwise, he could put up some ridiculous numbers in Triple-A Las Vegas this season.
Pitcher of the Year -- McGuire
An advanced feel for pitching, decent stuff and the chance of calling the pitching-friendly Florida State and Eastern Leagues home all add up to the right-hander leading the system in ERA.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMay oB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.