Vancouver Canadians Griffin Conine

Griffin Conine is rated third among Blue Jays outfield prospects for 2019 by Baseball America.

C's RecapTwo members of the 2018 Vancouver Canadians have earned a spot among the Toronto Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects for 2019 according to Baseball America. In its latest edition of the Prospects Handbook, BA rated C’s outfielder Griffin Conine 15th overall and placed righthander Sean Wymer 27th.

The 21 year-old Conine was taken with Toronto’s second round pick in 2018 out of Duke University. The son of former major leaguer Jeff Conine tied for the team lead with 30 runs batted in and 23 extra-base hits while batting .238/.309/.427. The younger Conine also showed off a strong throwing arm in right field and committed just one error last season.

Vancouver Canadians Sean Wymer

Baseball America rates Sean Wymer as the 10th-best pitching prospect in the Blue Jays system.

Wymer—who will turn 22 March 19—was selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft out of Texas Christian University.  The 6-foot-1 hurler completed his first season in pro ball with a record of 4-3 and a 4.84 earned run average. Wymer struck out 34 batters in 35-1/3 innings to go along with a WHIP of 1.19 as a tandem starter with Joey Murray.

Conine and Wymer are among nine of the top 30 Blue Jays prospects with Vancouver connections.

  • 6. Nate Pearson (2017)
  • 8. Sean Reid-Foley (2014)
  • 9. Cavan Biggio (2016)
  • 17. Patrick Murphy (2016)
  • 24. T.J. Zeuch (2016)
  • 25. Logan Warmoth (2017)
  • 29. Rowdy Tellez (2014)

The rest of the Blue Jays Top 30 prospects can be found in this article on Batter’s Box.

Best Tools

As far as the best tools in the Jays system go, Pearson is considered to have the best fastball and Reid-Foley has the best slider. 2017 Canadians shortstop Kevin Vicuna was rated the best defensive infielder and Jonathan Davis (2014) was named the system’s best defensive outfielder. Chavez Young (2017) made the list as the best outfield arm while his 2017 C’s teammate—center fielder Reggie Pruitt—was selected as the fastest baserunner.

I’m surprised Young was snubbed for Top 30 consideration but I’m sure he’ll be on this list for 2020. Batter’s Box (full disclosure – I was among four of the contributors who compiled the rankings) had him rated as the Blue Jays’ 18th best prospect. Other 2018 members of the C’s who could find themselves on the list for next year include Northwest League Pitcher of the Year Josh Winckowski and Northwest League All-Star outfielder/utilityman Otto Lopez.

Continuing with the best tools listing, one player for Vancouver fans to look out for in 2019 could be outfielder D.J. Neal who was named the best athlete. The one-time wide receiver from the University of South Carolina hit .297 in his first pro season in the Gulf Coast League in 2017 but saw his average drop 60 points with Bluefield last summer. The 22 year-old righthanded hitter from Lithonia, Georgia appears to be headed for a third season of short-season development with Vancouver. He has stolen 23 bases in 26 tries so far in his two-year career.

Baseball America’s Projected 2022 lineup for the Jays has a Vancouver flavour to it with Kevin Pillar (2011) and Biggio manning center field and right field. The projected starting pitchers would be Marcus Stroman (2012), Aaron Sanchez (2011) and Ryan Borucki (2014-2015) joining Pearson in the rotation.

YVR Bound In 2019?

It comes as no surprise that BA named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as the top Blue Jays rookie for the upcoming season. The publication is also predicting the breakout prospect to be third round righthander Adam Kloffenstein and its sleeper prospect is John Aiello, a third baseman from Wake Forest who was teammates with 2017 Canadians righthander Donnie Sellers.

Aiello was a 14th round pick in the 2018 draft and made his professional debut at Bluefield where he slashed .273/.429/.409 with a home run and seven runs batted in during a 12-game trial. It’s possible the 22 year-old switch-hitter could have his breakout with Vancouver this summer.

The 18 year-old Kloffenstein made two one-inning appearances in the Gulf Coast League late last season to keep his innings down. The 6-foot-5 righthander may begin the year in extended spring training before getting a bump up to Bluefield. Chances are slim he would get to Vancouver in 2019 unless the C’s make it to the post-season and they need some reinforcements from their West Virginia counterparts.

Kloffenstein’s high-school teammate and Jays first rounder Jordan Groshans may also not set foot in YVR in 2019, if at all. The 19 year-old righthanded-hitting third baseman split time between the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues. Had the C’s made it to the postseason, he may have earned a call-up. Instead, he may head to full-season ball with the Lansing Lugnuts. That’s the belief of Baseball America in its prospect write-up for the number-five ranked prospect in the Jays nest. However, Lansing broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler seems to think there is a chance Groshans could be in Vancouver.

Goldberg-Strassler is also suggesting Kloffenstein could be in Vancouver at some point along with catcher Gabriel Moreno, a 19 year-old catcher from Venezuela who spent time in the Gulf Coast League and Bluefield where he slugged .459 in the Appalachian League. The Lugnuts play-by-play man figures Vancouver fans will not last year’s Bluefield trio of Brazilian righthander Eric Pardinho, on-base machine outfielder Cal Stevenson or slugging catcher Alejandro Kirk as they are projected to play ball at Cooley Law School Stadium instead. Baseball America concurs with Jesse’s predictions on Pardinho and Stevenson in its Prospect Handbook.

When Toronto general manager Ross Atkins was in Vancouver for the C’s annual Hot Stove Luncheon in January, he did not list any potential names of those who could be playing at Nat Bailey Stadium as the 2019 roster will be draft-dependent.

Whoever winds up in Vancouver for the upcoming season, C’s fans are hoping their team can get back to the top of the mountain and contend for a Northwest League championship in 2019.