Major League Baseball's offseason is in full swing, and that means everyone is thinking about the future. In most cities, that means next season; in some, though, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. You're either selling wins or you're selling hope, the old saying goes. We here at CBS Sports like to provide as much hope as we can around this time of the winter by evaluating each team's farm system.
Of course, that doesn't mean every team has an equally good farm system -- some, as you'll find out throughout this process, are lacking in that respect. It does mean, nevertheless, that CBS Sports will be spending the next few weeks examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define "prospects" as retaining their rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is missing that's likely why.
These lists and evaluations are formed following conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development types. There's also firsthand evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Keep in mind that player evaluation is a hard task, and it's fine if you disagree with the rankings. These are opinions, and they have no real bearing on the future. You can check out our winter top 20 list by clicking here.
With that in mind, let's get to it by dissecting the Toronto Blue Jays.
1. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP (2023 seasonal age: 21)
Tiedemann went undrafted out of high school in 2020 and then opted to go the junior college route, making him eligible again in 2021. The Blue Jays popped him in the third round, and he's since emerged as one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the sport. Tiedemann has three average or better pitches (fastball, slider, changeup) that he delivers from a flat release point. He's shown sufficient control, too, issuing a free pass just once every three innings for his pro career. Tiedemann ended last season in Double-A, suggesting he could make his big-league debut this year. The Blue Jays have good reason to be conservative if they so desire: he's thrown just 78 professional innings and he won't celebrate his 21st birthday until next August.
2. Brandon Barriera, LHP (2023 seasonal age: 19)
The Blue Jays selected Barriera with the 23rd pick in last summer's draft, but he's yet to make his professional debut because he cut his senior season short to avoid injury. Fair enough. Barriera's boosters see a projectable left-hander with the makings of a well-rounded arsenal. Some evaluators who spoke to CBS Sports during the draft cycle expressed concern about the shape of Barriera's fastball and whether that would cause it to play below the sum of its parts. Resolution owns no wristwatch, but it'll probably take a few years before anyone can say for certain either way.
3. Orelvis Martinez, 3B (2023 seasonal age: 21)
Martinez has been a fixture on these lists since signing for more than $3.5 million in 2018. He continued his climb to the majors last season, spending the entire campaign in Double-A. There, he batted just .203/.286/.446 there with 30 home runs and more than three times as many strikeouts as walks. That last part is concerning, as evaluators have long flagged his approach as being overly aggressive. Martinez does have good raw strength, but he's also extremely pull-heavy and prone to getting too far underneath the ball, leading to a lot of pop-ups and easy outs. Between the strikeouts and the infield flies, it's no wonder why his batting average was so low. He's also unlikely to remain at shortstop, with the Blue Jays having tasked him with playing more third base. This may read overly negative, yet sometimes that's the nature of these boom-or-bust skill sets. Martinez could still develop into a power-hitting third baseman; he just doesn't have the widest margin of error based on his present game.