Yankees vs. Blue Jays: First Base Prospects

Greg Bird has the highest ceiling in either org

Continuing our comparisons between the Yankees and Blue Jays' farm systems, we take a look at the crop of first base prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two AL East farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: Usually corner infield positions, and more specifically first basemen, are easier to find but the fact is that among those currently playing first base in the minor leagues right now neither organization is really flush with talent, especially after Toronto graduated David Cooper to the big leagues and lost switch-hitting Mike McDade to waivers. Of course that could change as older prospects potentially shift to the position down the road.

Case in point a year ago the now top overall first baseman in either organization from both a ceiling and safeness standpoint was not even playing the position in 2011, and that is New York's Greg Bird. The former catcher drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of high school moved to first base mid-season last year after battling some back issues and he immediately became the top guy to watch.

He hit an even .400 with six extra-base hits in eleven games for the Staten Island Yankees after missing a good portion of the year with the back pain and then tore it up even more during Instructional League. The left-handed batter has one of the sweetest swings around, great plate discipline, patience, and plus power potential. He even looks solid defensively despite his lack of experience there.

Prior to Bird's position switch the highest ceiling first baseman in either organization was Toronto's Art Charles, a towering 6-foot-6 left-handed slugger who possesses Carlos Delgado-like upside. However, he has yet to crack the .245 mark in his batting average nor has he even made it into the long-season leagues three years into his career. The 22-year old has immense upside but tapping that potential now seems more like a longshot at this point, especially given the fact that he has yet to strike out less times than games played either.

Toronto has nearly an identical first baseman type in Kevin Patterson, a 30th round pick out of Auburn University in 2011. A 6-foot-4 left-handed slugger, he clubbed 19 home runs in his first taste of the long-season leagues in 2012 with low-A Lansing, but with 124 strikeouts in 109 games and just a .245 average, he too has some big question marks about whether or not he will hit consistently enough to make better use of his above average power, and he's already 24 years old.

While Charles and Patterson provide the best power potential among the Jays' first basemen, the best hitter in their group is K.C. Hobson. The 22-year old hit a very respectable .276 with low-A Lansing last season and his 42 doubles and ten home runs show the potential to have at least average big league home run power someday, but the fact is 2012 was his third year at the low-A level so he'll need to move quicker soon to get into legitimate prospect discussions.

While the Jays don't really have any higher minor league level first base prospects with legitimate big league chances, the Yankees might not either but they do at least have some intriguing long-season league options. Kyle Roller hit a career-high 18 home runs in the pitching friendly Florida State League last season and shows solid big league plate discipline. Not exactly a top prospect though, he does offer some real 'sleeper' potential.

Double-A tested Luke Murton clubbed a career-high 25 home runs for the Trenton Thunder in 2012 and could possibly carve himself a big league niche as some right-handed power off of the bench, but he has more of the look a Kevin Patterson type as more of an organizational type. The same could be said of left-handed hitting Saxon Butler, the Yankees' 33rd round pick in 2011. He hit 13 home runs in his first 61 professional games last season but the overall hitting ability and defense remain question marks going forward.

Roller isn't the only 'sleeper' candidate for the Yankees. Matt Snyder, New York's tenth round pick in 2011, comes from a baseball family [all of his brothers play pro ball as did his father] and he has some of the best plate discipline among the first baseman in either organization. He stands 6-foot-5, has added nearly 30 pounds since his selection, and the only real question mark is how far along the power will come.

The same could be said for New York's Reymond Nunez. The 6-foot-4 Dominican native has some of the best raw power around, right up there with Toronto's Art Charles, but the power production has not shown up in games yet. And like Charles, the now 22-year old needs to start tapping that immense potential very soon before falling more into the suspect category than prospect one.

Toronto's Balbino Fuenmayor has always had real long-term potential but like Nunez it seems a bit far-fetched to expect him to tap it, and New York's Bubba Jones and Renzo Martini, two rookie-ball players, are worth tracking but are not really in the legit discussions yet.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: Toronto's Art Charles and Kevin Patterson have some impressive power at the lower minor league levels, but New York offsets that with the likes of Greg Bird, Saxon Butler, and Matthew Snyder at the same levels, and that's not even including the long-season league guys like Luke Murton and Kyle Roller. Advantage: Yankees

Hitting For Average: This comparison is about as lop-sided as it gets. Outside of K.C. Hobson none of the Toronto first base prospects project to be high average hitters and the Yankees can roll out the likes of Bird and Snyder, two legit .300 hitters. Advantage: Yankees

Defense: While both organizations have some slugging types at first base, neither organization has a whole bunch of actual defenders at the position. Bird and Hobson are clearly the top two and even they have shortcomings to improve. Advantage: Even.

Overall Potential: The presence of Bird alone with his sky-high ceiling and safeness in projection tips the scales heavily in New York's favor. Hobson doesn't really have the no-doubt kind of power potential but while he offers some legit upside, it's not much better than the likes of Snyder and Roller. If Charles can become a better hitter this comparison would be more of a contest. Advantage: Yankees

Highest Ceilings: Greg Bird (Yankees), Art Charles (Blue Jays), Reymond Nunez (Yankees), Matt Snyder (Yankees), K.C. Hobson (Blue Jays)

Best Power: Art Charles (Blue Jays), Greg Bird (Yankees), Reymond Nunez (Yankees), Kyle Roller (Yankees), Saxon Butler (Yankees)

Best Average: Greg Bird (Yankees), Matt Snyder (Yankees), K.C. Hobson (Blue Jays), Kyle Roller (Yankees), Reymond Nunez (Yankees)

Best Defense: Greg Bird (Yankees), K.C. Hobson (Blue Jays), Kyle Roller (Yankees), Matt Snyder (Yankees), Reymond Nunez (Yankees)

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