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In honour of the Jays' recent offensive surge, we're happy to announce our latest Batter's Box pinch-hitter: regular BB contributor Pistol, who's done a bang-up job surveying the likeliest top picks in next month's draft and forecasting who'll be available when Toronto's turn comes around. For an excellent summary of who's probably going where, read on:


The Blue Jays pick 13th in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, which begins June 3. Admittedly, I know nothing about these players other than the very little I’ve read online and their statistics. I have no idea how they look in jeans.

The players are listed in order of my own personal preference, heavily influenced by the Jays’ philosophy of plate discipline and favoring college players. I ignore high school (HS) and Junior College (JC) players because one, the Jays are likely to only select college players, and two, HS and JC stats are really hard to find online.

Rankings (in parenthesis) are from Baseball America -- the link will give you a short commentary about each of the players as well. It’s quite possible there are players that the Jays would take at their selection that BA wouldn’t rank in their top 30 players, but these seem like the best bets.

There was also a chat at BA that sheds some light on where some players might go in the draft.


1. Rickie Weeks – Southern, 2B
(#1 overall rank by BA)


It’s hard to complain about a 1.572 OPS with speed. Competition (or lack thereof) is the reason he wouldn’t be selected first overall.

2. Aaron Hill – LSU, SS (#23)


A power-hitting shortstop, with speed and a strong walk rate.

3. Michael Aubrey – Tulane, 1B (#9)


Aubrey appears to have great bat control, as he only struck out 10 times in 214 ABs. Despite an average walk rate of 13%, his BB/K ratio is strong at 2.7:1. Hits for average and power, and shows some speed.

4. Connor Jackson – California, 3B (#28)


Jackson’s ranking from BA is much lower than my ranking. He’s higher on my list because of his incredible walk rate of 31%, resulting in an OBP over .500.

5. Brad Snyder – Ball State, OF (#24)


A nice combination of speed, power and strike-zone judgment.

6. Vince Sinisi – Rice, 1B (#19)


A Scott Boras client, Sinisi is unlikely to be selected by the Jays due to signability issues.

7. Carlos Quentin – Stanford, OF (#27)


Pretty solid across the board, although not to the extent of the players ahead of him.


1. Tim Stauffer – Richmond, RHP (#6 overall rank by BA)


There’s not much to dislike. Strong ratios all around.

2. Brad Sullivan – Houston, RHP (#21)


Sullivan is pretty comparable to Stauffer, except with a higher walk rate.

3. Paul Maholm – Mississippi St, LHP (#18)


The lefty is similar to Sullivan, except with a weaker K rate.

4. Kyle Sleeth - Wake Forest, RHP (#5)


Statistically, a right-handed version of Maholm.

5. Marc Cornell – Ohio University, RHP (#13)


A bit of a wild card in this draft. Cornell is highly regarded, but has had shoulder soreness lately, which might cause him to drop in the draft.

6. Ryan Wagner – Houston, RHP (RP) (#16)


Wagner, at his current rate, will hold the all time college K/9 rate record at 16.8. He’s obviously dominating, but how high do you take a reliever?

Who will the Jays take?

Picking 13th, the Jays should have a pretty good idea of which two or three players will be available when their pick comes up. At this point it looks like the following are “locks” to be selected before the Jays choose:

1. Tampa Bay - Delmon Young, OF (HS) (Dmitri’s brother, BTW)
2. Milwaukee - Adam Loewen, LHP (JC) (assuming the Orioles, who drafted him last year, don’t sign him at the last minute)
3. Detroit - Weeks, 2B
4. San Diego - Stauffer, RHP
5. Kansas City - Ryan Harvey, OF (HS)
6. Chicago (NL) - Sleeth, RHP
7. Baltimore - Jeff Allison, RHP (HS)

Other players likely to go before 13th:

8. Pittsburgh - Aubrey, 1B
9. Texas - Lastings Milledge, OF (HS)
10. Colorado - Chris Lubanski, OF (HS)

Cleveland picks 11th and the NY Mets select 12th. Under the assumptions of the top 10 listed above, the Jays will almost certainly get a crack at 3 of the following players:

· Brad Sullivan – Houston, RHP
· Aaron Hill – LSU, SS
· Connor Jackson – Cal, 3B
· Brad Snyder – Ball State, OF
· Paul Maholm – Mississippi St, LHP

I believe the best-case scenario for the Jays would be if they were able to draft Sullivan. According to Jim Callis in his BA chat:

Sullivan’s stock has fallen a little, mainly because he has been a little inconsistent and he's right-handed and not real tall. I don't see what's not to like and I could see the Jays considering him at No. 13. He has a solid fastball and a plus slider.

After that, I think there’s a drop-off in pitching, and I believe the Jays should look to one of the top remaining hitters -- Hill, Jackson or Snyder -- before considering Maholm.
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_Spicol - Tuesday, May 20 2003 @ 11:01 AM EDT (#102431) #
Good update, Pistol. Thanks.

I might have to disagree with you on Loewen. He is certainly top-5 in terms of talent but unsigned players who go back into the draft often get labelled as difficult and it hurts their value (see: Godwin, Tyrell). I'll be surprised if he goes as high as you say.

JP has mentioned publicly that their target for this draft will again be pitching but I think you're right in that if one of the top college pitchers aren't still around, you have to draft the best available player...even if that means drafting another infielder. There are enough HS pitchers set to go in the first round that some of the collegiate gems will get pushed to the second. No need to overdraft them.

He’s obviously dominating, but how high do you take a reliever?

Matt Anderson was likely high when the Tigers drafted him 1st overall in '98. Randy Smith may have been too.
_Jabonoso - Tuesday, May 20 2003 @ 11:44 AM EDT (#102432) #
I agree that Lowen won't be taken by Mil, they do not expend much in drafts, but Texas or Mets will. If he goes to 13 I just hope there is enough in the piggy bank...
I believe that a good infielder is our biggest need. We have a surplus of Of's and there is at least a dozen of promising young pitchers, ok, you never have enough pitching but you can develop a certain number at a time, there were healthy bunch of college pitchers in last year draft, plus the high school ones already there plus a nice crop from Dominicana plus some Venezuelans...
Bush was a second round reliever and a very good prospect now converted to starter...
Pistol - Tuesday, May 20 2003 @ 12:41 PM EDT (#102433) #
I've been thinking a little bit about draft philosophy lately, and thought of something that I hadn't seen discussed before (although it probably has).

Would a team be better off focusing on drafting left handed and/or switch hitters?

Since most starters are righthanded, by having more lefthanded hitters you would (generally speaking) have an advantage with a lefty over a righty hitter since they would face right handers more often.

Said another way, if you had to choose between Delgado and a right handed Delgado clone wouldn't you want the left handed version since he'll face righties more often then he'll face lefties?

If that's the case (and I'm not sure that it is) I would think that you would be better off focusing on lefthanded hitters if all other things are similar. Also, I imagine that it'd be easier to find a cheap right handed bench player over a cheap left handed bench player.
Gitz - Tuesday, May 20 2003 @ 01:31 PM EDT (#102434) #
All things being equal -- attitude, defensive ability, plate discipline, etc. -- I'd take the RH clone. Right-handers don't have as much difficulty hitting RH pitchers, because they have faced them all the way from little league through the minors.

Meanwhile, some left-handed hitters never figure out how to hit lefties -- mainly because they simply don't face them enough -- or hit them so poorly they should probably be platooned no matter how well they mash righties (see Chavez, Eric). You very rarely have right-handed star players, or even rank-and-file regulars, struggle against RH pitching the same way some lefties struggle against southpaws.

I can't say whether it's really easier to find a right-handed hitting masher -- I know BP believes this --than it is to find a left-handed hitting masher. Probably it is simply because there are that many more available, but when you're talking the level of Delgado, I'd rather have the right-handed version. Your "average" regular? That I'm not so sure about.

Craig, feel free to deconstruct every word I just said. :)
_R Billie - Tuesday, May 20 2003 @ 06:21 PM EDT (#102435) #
I was hoping a few months ago that the Jays would have a shot at either Stauffer or Sullivan in the first round. Stauffer's mental makeup and actual performance (especially K/9 and K/BB) are off the charts so it doesn't look like he'll be available. Sullivan has the better stuff but not quite the control and pitchability of Stauffer. Still there would be nothing wrong with getting him at 13th overall. If Stauffer was comparable to Oswalt (with less fastball) then Sullivan might be comparable to Wade Miller.

However, last year's draft turned out quite different from what BA projected. Mostly because a lot of talent dropped because of signability issues...perhaps they've taken that into account more this year. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jays surprised by taking a bat in the first round though. Although the ML offence and AA offence appear quite strong, Dunedin and lower is quite bare indeed.
Coach - Tuesday, May 20 2003 @ 08:58 PM EDT (#102436) #
Nice work, Pistol. Now that the story about J.P. dodging a tornado on his way to Memphis has been explained -- he was returning from a scouting trip to Mississippi -- it makes sense; the GM wanted a first-hand look at Paul Maholm. This doesn't mean the lefty is Toronto's guaranteed first-rounder, but it supports your educated guess about who's on the Jays' short list.
Pistol - Thursday, May 22 2003 @ 09:02 AM EDT (#102437) #
Here's a Sullivan update:

Brad Sullivan, rhp, Houston
Recovered from rough outing last week with 7 1/3 shutout innings in first round of Conference USA tourney on Wednesday, though he was removed with a blister
Pistol - Tuesday, May 27 2003 @ 04:35 PM EDT (#102438) #
Here's the stats on Brian Snyder - Phil Rogers also mentioned that JP likes him from the Cape Cod league in an column on the Jays:

1 HR/14 ABs
26% BB/ABs
1.9 BB/K
Pistol - Thursday, May 29 2003 @ 06:12 PM EDT (#102439) #
The early line on the top 10 picks in Tuesday's draft according to Jason Stark:

1. Devil Rays: Delmon Young, OF, Camarillo (Calif.) HS.
2. Brewers: Kyle Sleeth, RHP, Wake Forest.
3. Tigers: Rickie Weeks, 2B, Southern.
4. Padres: Michael Aubrey, OF/1B, Tulane.
5. Royals: Ryan Harvey, OF, Dunedin HS, Palm Harbor, Fla.
6. Cubs: Paul Maholm, LHP, Mississippi State (if Aubrey is gone).
7. Orioles: Nick Markakis, LHP, Young Harris (Ga.) JC.
8. Pirates: Jeff Allison, RHP, Veterans Memorial HS, Peabody, Mass.
9. Rangers: Brad Sullivan, RHP, RHP, Houston.
10. Rockies: Ian Stewart, 3B, La Quinta HS, Garden Grove, Calif. (if Sullivan and Maholm are gone).

It's interesting that he didn't have Stauffer in the top 10, but Maholm and Sullivan are both in the top 10.

If this were the case it looks like the Jays would go with a bat.
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