Just some information on the scheduling before we get going here. The draft is spread out over three days. The first day will comprise of the first two rounds. The second day will span rounds three to ten, and the third day rounds eleven to forty. The Jays will have two selections on day one, eight on the second day, and a selection for each round the third day. The draft starts on Thursday. What I’ll do is post the guys I think the Jays will select each day.
There are some philosophies and principles on drafting I’d like to discuss here as I think they’ll be applicable to how the Jays go about this draft. Ol’ Wolley Segap (Pat Gillick) was of the mind that torn between a position player and pitcher in the draft, always wise to go with the position player as he gives you the chance to win every night, as opposed to once every five nights. Pat Tabler has relayed this piece of information ad-nauseam these past few years come draft time and I’m sure as Sportsnet ramps up its coverage of the draft you’ll hear Tabler mention this as well as liking them “big and strong.” I mention Gillick’s mantra though because it is a particularly apt consideration when selecting early in the first round when there is less of a separation between prospects and you have multiple scouts and front office types viewing the same group of guys and thus more opinions floating around. The way the draft is shaping up too, it might be best for the Jays to nab one of the high school hitters out of Georgia (if they’re lucky) then go prep pitcher with their second and third round draft picks. The prep pitching stock, which the Jays have skimmed the top off of in recent years is down this year—that is there are not too many guys worth a first round pick. The strength of prep pitching this year is in guys who are projectable, but just don’t have the present stuff to warrant a high first round pick.
I should warn many that these next two drafts might be particularly hard on fans. Former Jays’ draft pick Kris Bryant is sure to be selected with an early pick and looks every part of a franchise corner infielder/outfielder. While the Jays were rumoured to have offered Bryant a sizable bonus to sign back in 2010, Bryant turned down the money and went to San Diego. I encourage fans not to watch video of him and I encourage fans not to think about the $1.5 million dollars the Jays gave Dickie Thon’s kid that year—money that could have been used to dissuade Bryant from attending college—lest readers are interested in crying, breaking collectible ice cream batting helmets, or general depression. Next year fans will likely have to live through more “what ifs” as Tyler Beede enters his junior draft year. Beede won’t go number one overall—as Bryant has a chance to this year—Carlos Rodon is simply too good. But, if Beede pitches as he did this year, even with questions regarding his command, he’ll be a very early first round pick. Then again, he considers himself a “rapper,” and in my estimation the Jays are already afflicted with too many players thinking they’re something that they most certainly are not, so perhaps it’s best he lands with another team.
As Gerry mentioned in a previous post on the draft, there should be some game theory at work. Take Keith Law’s latest mock. He has Colin Moran, a third basemen out of North Carolina, going first to the Astros. Law reasons that the next team most likely to select Moran would be the Indians at five. The Astros could float a number slightly higher than the slot allotment at five and see if Moran “bites.” The money saved could be then spent on later picks. If Moran went first it would throw the draft for bit of a loop and would certainly be good theatre for the baseball fan.
The Jays can go a number of ways here with their first pick. They can go a bit off the board in hopes of saving some money. They can simply select one of the higher ranked guys that fall, or they can go after someone with some track record of success or possessing high end tools yet has fallen for one reason or another. Simply put, I just don’t know if there are that many guys out there the Jays would be willing to give $3 million to. There are lots of projectable guys in this draft that you probably are more comfortable giving a million dollar signing bonus to or $800,000 than a multi-million dollar bonus. Guys such as Phil Bickford or Matt Krook would look really good in the supplemental or early second round, but they’ll probably be drafted a lot higher as teams seek to collect value throughout the draft and save with their first round pick.
On that theme, a lot of these guys come with question marks. Bickford, for example, lacks a true secondary pitch. His fastball is impressive, but there’s no secondary plus offering. Krook is a projectable lefty who has hit the mid-90s with the fastball and shown the ability to spin a breaking ball. He drifts though with his wind-up, much like Brett Cecil did when he got lazy as a starter, and he’s shown ability to spin a breaking ball. That’s very different than showing a true plus pitch. Drafting at ten the Jays and even in the second round you’d like to see the guys to have several plus tools.
Tools and geography are things to consider here as we look at some prospects. The Jays have valued high end tools in past drafts to varying levels of success. Geography also plays an important role here. The Jays like their Californian high school arms. The Jays have boosted their amateur scouting staff in California and have hit the region up for prep arms early in each of the past AA-reign drafts. Look for that to continue. The Jays also like guys with some track record. Christian Lopes, for example, had a poor spring last year, which had many down on him. The Jays nevertheless pulled the trigger. If the Jays go the college route, look for them to select a guy who has legitimate plus tools—whether they’re refined or not. Tools is the name of the game here, with the Jays being firm believers that to compete in the AL East you need that pitcher who can strike out Evan Longoria with a nasty slider, or the athletic position player who can beat you a number of ways.
These guys are in no particular order
Ryne Stanek RHP Arkansas
Going into spring-ball Stanek, along with Mark Appel and Sean Manaea (especially after his dominant showing in the Cape), were very much the conversation for number one in the draft. While Appel has performed this spring and put together one of the more impressive college resumes in recent memory, Stanek and Manaea have fallen out of the conversation for various reasons. Manaea has been hurt this spring and just recently been shut down with shoulder and hip issues. The shoulder issues are apparently bunk according to agent Scotty B, but the hip issue are legit as word is it’s a torn labrum. Stanek’s “fall” is somewhat different. Last year Stanek was good. He featured a consistent mid-90s fastball and a very good slider. He had one of those deliveries though that made you think he was a little too up tempo and wild to sustain over 200 plus innings or a career as a starter and might better be suited to pitch out of a bullpen. Stanek seemingly took those concerns to heart and this spring he came back and pitched much more under control, however, his velocity has dropped to 91-93mph, touching 95. See, Stanek took much of the guessing game that scouts engage in and ultimately helps a lot of guys in Stanek’s situation out—that Stanek would figure things out and maintain his stuff/velocity. Stanek’s stock has dropped as a result and he’s a guy some see going in the teens as opposed to the top 5. I say he’s still a talent. He’s tall, long of limb, and still has some projectability in terms of his body. He’s got a quick, whippy type arm action that generates a pretty good fastball out of a ¾ arm slot. He has shown the ability to reach back for something more and he’s got two other big leagues pitches in the slider and changeup. He’s been on the radar for a while, which teams will want to see in a college guy going this high.
Austin Wilson OF Stanford
Many here will remember Wilson from the 2010 draft. He was the big, RF prospect with big tools, that some including me wanted the Jays to select at 11. The Jays passed and the Cardinals selected him later in the draft. He went to Stanford and has had a somewhat quiet college career. Part of that is due to Stanford’s encouragement to go the other way and hit line drives. Wilson possesses immense raw power and such a hitting philosophy does little to display his very impressive physicality at the plate. Wilson remains an unbelievable athlete. Looking at him, you might say he’s going to have to move to first base, but he moves so well and has a plus arm in RF. He still has many of the raw tools you look for in a hitter. The swing isn’t long and is very quick. He knows how to work with his hands, which some power hitters struggle and because of this there’s hope he’ll hit for some average. He was hampered by injuries this season. He has game changing ability with the bat, but will likely need more time than the average college hitter.
JP Crawford SS HS California
The Jays will have been on Crawford for a while. The SoCal high schoolers usually get high exposure and the Jays scout the region heavily. Crawford is a tall, lanky SS who hits from an upright open stance. He shows good actions in the field and ability to be a gap-to-gap hitter.
Clint Frazier OF HS Red Head Georgia
Frazier has unbelievable bat speed. Watching someone else hit after him can make
you feel like you’re watching someone in slow motion. He had a big spring, but there are swing and
miss concerns. He can run as well and
can throw the baseball. His bat speed is
some of the best in the draft.
Chris Okey C HS Florida
Although a bit small, he shows excellent ability behind the plate and a good understanding how to hit.
Clinton Hollon RHP Kentucky
Easy velocity, but a strong commitment to Kentucky. On the small side, but some of the best raw velocity in the draft.
Andrew Thurman RHP UC Irvine
Solid pitchers body with a good four pitch mix.
Cord Sandberg OF HS Florida
A raw athlete who looks the part of corner outfielder/middle of the order hitter. Will need time to develop.