Prior to unveiling their Appalachian and Northwest League lists last week, Baseball America kicked off the Jays-related information with their Gulf Coast League Top 20 last Tuesday, with Blue Jays prospects D.J. Davis and Alberto Tirado making the cut.
Davis was the second-highest outfielder on the list at No. 3, after impressing far more than his stats might indicate. Having turned just 18 years old over the summer, Davis hit .233 (38-for-163) with a .713 OPS in 43 games, including seven doubles, a pair of triples and four home runs, which were actually the most homers on the team. Listed as 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Davis looks a lot skinnier than that at first glance, but he certainly has more pop in his bat than one might think, something I noticed first-hand after seeing him briefly in the GCL and later with Bluefield.
Speaking of Bluefield, Davis made an impact while he was there following a promotion late in the season. In addition to hitting .340 (16-for-47) with a .926 OPS in 12 games, the Mississippi native drew four walks, added six RBI and stole six bases in his short time in the Appalachian League. Davis’ speed is his most well-known attribute, as it was advertised around the time of the draft that he has 80 speed on the scouting scale and that activity on the base paths will be a big part of his game going forward. Including a five game stint with Vancouver following yet another promotion, Davis finished the season 25-for-35 (71%) in stolen base attempts across three minor league levels this season.
From Baseball America: “Davis has a handsy swing that’s short and repeatable, and he whips the barrel through the zone with good bat speed. He has excellent strength through his hands, wrists and forearms, … but he’s not a pure hitter and he’s still learning to incorporate his lower half in his swing and to recognize offspeed pitches.”
The Gulf Coast League is often the first pro action that highly regarded international signings will see, or players that have earned a promotion from the Blue Jays’ complex in the Dominican Republic. 17-year-old right-handed pitcher Alberto Tirado might be getting some well-deserved recognition now–Baseball America ranked him No. 12 on their GCL Top 20 and the Blue Jays recently named him a R. Howard Webster Award winner–but he came into extended spring training as an unknown.
I was blown away with Tirado when I first saw him in GCL action in July, where he scattered three hits and a walk in five shutout innings while striking out seven. Here was one of the youngest players in the league throwing a 94-95 fastball deep into his outing and low in the zone, while showing the early makings of an advanced changeup and a wipeout slider. He received a promotion to Bluefield in August, where I was fortunate enough to see him again in an outing where he allowed one run on two hits with two strikeouts and a walk in five innings. Tirado closed out the year with a 2.62 ERA in 14 combined starts between the GCL and Bluefield, with 39 strikeouts and 17 walks in 48 innings.
From Baseball America: “Though he’s not tall, Toronto looked at his skinny, athletic frame and extremely long arms when it signed him in July 2011 and saw plenty of projection that has started to come true. … He threw a curveball as an amateur that some scouts preferred to his slider, but he has scrapped the curve for now.”
Baseball America continues their League Top 20 series tomorrow, with the next installment concerning the Blue Jays coming on Tuesday when they profile the Midwest League.