d'Arnaud named Blue Jays' top prospect
Gose, Marisnick, Syndergaard part of MLB.com's expanded list
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have four players on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud (25), outfielder Anthony Gose (57), outfielder Jake Marisnick (58) and right-hander Noah Syndergaard (95) all found themselves amongst the game's rising talents.
Oakland, San Diego and Tampa Bay led the way with six players each, while Toronto's Brett Lawrie and Henderson Alvarez were eliminated from consideration because of the service time generated by their August callups.
This year's edition of MLB.com's Top Prospects list has expanded from 50 to 100 players. The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2012.
Following an MVP season in the Eastern League, d'Arnaud is the Blue Jays' top-ranked prospect. The right-handed-hitting d'Arnaud posted a .311 average with 21 home runs and 78 RBIs in 114 games while providing well-above average defensive skills behind the plate for Double-A New Hampshire.
The 22-year-old has shown no lingering effects from a torn left thumb ligament he suffered while playing for Team USA, and he should be on track to begin the 2012 season at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Gose and Marisnick follow d'Arnaud in the overall MLB.com rankings, and they can also be found on the Top 10 list for outfield prospects. Both center fielders are considered five-tool talents, with Gose having the advantage in speed and Marisnick possessing more raw power.
The 21-year-old Gose hit .253 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs in 137 games for Double-A New Hampshire last year. He stole 70 bases, and speed should prove to be his biggest weapon as a professional ballplayer.
Gose's abilities at the plate also have come a long way since he joined the Blue Jays' organization in exchange for Brett Wallace in July 2010. Gose no longer is considered purely a slap hitter and has started to drive the ball with more authority, but there is still more work to be done.
"Maturing as a hitter, continuing to progress and becoming more consistent as a hitter, that's what I'm looking for," Gose said. "Pitch selection, getting the right pitch to hit and putting a consistent swing on the ball when you get that pitch and just hitting the ball on the barrel [are other areas of development].
"I feel like every day that I go out there, I'm out there with a purpose, and I'm definitely improving. It might not always show up, but there's definitely progress and what I've done out there."
Marisnick made some mechanical adjustments with his offensive approach last year with Class A Lansing. The 20-year-old limited his movement in the batter's box and started to use his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame to generate more power. The end result was a breakout season for the runner-up Lugnuts in the Midwest League. Marisnick hit .320 with 14 home runs and 77 RBIs in 118 games while adding 37 stolen bases and a .392 on-base percentage.
"One of the biggest things was just staying simple -- not moving a whole lot and not trying to collapse or anything with my midsection," Marisnick said of his approach at the plate. "It really worked -- staying upright, staying through the ball, and the biggest thing was just trying to stay simple with my swing and reacting."
Syndergaard cracked MLB.com's rankings for the first time in his brief career. The 19-year-old was selected with the 38th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and he made his professional debut later that year.
The Texas native went 5-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 13 games between the Gulf Coast League and Class A. He is expected to begin the 2012 season with Class A Dunedin, where he threw nine innings last season.