Major League Baseball's owners may have locked out the players, triggering the league's first work stoppage since 1994-95 and bringing the offseason to a halt, but that doesn't mean we're letting it derail our typical offseason plans. Indeed, CBS Sports is in the process of highlighting the top three prospects for all 30 teams, as well as naming the top 50 prospects in the minors, regardless of team affiliation.
That journey finds us today focusing on the Toronto Blue Jays' farm system.
Do note that these lists are formed after conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development folks from around the league. There is personal bias baked in, as one would expect from subjective exercises, so some disagreement is to be expected.
1. Gabriel Moreno, C, No. 9 on MLB top 20
Moreno won't turn 22 years old until February, and he's caught fewer than 200 professional games so far because of the pandemic and a fractured thumb. Even so, his upside and progress on both sides of the ball make him a highly promising backstop prospect. Moreno hit .367/.434/.626 eight home runs in 37 games across three levels last season; he then appeared in 22 games in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .329/.410/.494 with a walk for every strikeout. In addition to adding strength at the plate, Moreno has improved his receiving capabilities behind it. The eventual implementation of the automated ball-strike system might render some of his work moot, but it speaks well of his eagerness to get better -- and his chances for stardom.
2. Orelvis Martinez, SS
Martinez more than held his own across two levels in 2021, hitting .261/.343/.549 with 28 home runs and 28 additional extra-base hits despite being several years younger than his average competition in both Low- and High-A. That's an encouraging sign for someone who won't be able to legally drink until next November. Martinez's swing features the kind of explosiveness that bodes well for his power projections, though he'll need to tighten his approach in order to fulfill his upside as a middle-of-the-order slugger. Defensively, he seems more likely to slide over to the hot corner than he is to remain at shortstop because of his substandard range.
3. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP
Hoglund would've gone higher than 19th last July had he not required Tommy John surgery prior to the draft. When hearty and hale, Hoglund has proven he's an intriguing mid-rotation prospect who exhibits plus control over a spin-heavy arsenal. He's unlikely to make his professional debut until next summer, but there's upside to unlock here and he could well prove to be a quick-moving steal.