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It seems fair to say that the 2004 Toronto Blue Jays season will be one of those events that most everyone associated with will try to forget as quickly as possible. But thankfully, in this equitable society of ours, every dark cloud has a silver lining: the June amateur draft order goes in reverse order of the previous yearís standings.

Accordingly, like a celebrity dead pool, the chief thrill for some of us at this stage lies in wondering how low in the standings (and therefore, how high in the 2005 draft order) the Blue Jays will finish.

Setting aside the grisly nature of such an inquiry (having watched quite enough grisliness at the ballpark most of the year), I decided to see where the Blue Jays were likely to finish 2004, and what sorts of prizes would await them there. First, I looked at the draft order that would be followed if the season ended today, according to the overall major-league standings (with current winning percentages in parentheses)


1. Arizona (.313)
2. Kansas City (.359)
3. Seattle (.377)
4. Toronto (.411)
5. Montreal (.415)
6. Tampa Bay (.431)
7. Milwaukee (.431)
8. Colorado (.432)
9. NY Mets (.435)
10. Pittsburgh (.452)


On the face of it, Toronto is heading for the fourth overall pick. However, there are 16 games yet to play, and with many teams bunched so closely together, the outcomes of those games will be significant. Hereís a look at the Blue Jaysí final winning percentage based on five different season-ending scenarios.
Record	Percentage
12-4 .444
10-6 .432
8-8 .419
6-10 .407
4-12 .395


As you can see, itís very unlikely that the Jays will finish so poorly (and the Mariners will finish so well) that Toronto will pick any higher than 4th. At the same time, even an optimistic forecast of a 12-4 finish would leave the Jays well short of the winning percentage currently owned by the 10th-worst team in the majors, the Pirates.

Accordingly, Toronto can reasonably expect to pick between the 4th and 9th slots next year. Where precisely in that list theyíll end up is harder to pin down. The Jaysí remaining schedule includes 6 games against the Yankees, 7 games with the Devil Rays, and 3 more matches with the Orioles. If I had to hazard an optimistic guess, Iíd like to anticipate a 10-6 record, or at worst 8-8, over the last 16 games. With so many teams in that neighbourhood, each with its own end-of-season issues, itís impossible to guess any more accurately than that Toronto will pick somewhere between 4th and 9th inclusive.

So what can the Jays expect to find in that magical draft-choice box? Itís way too early for 2005 pre-draft rankings to be released, so weíll have to wait for awhile before we see any real names. But past is often prologue, so Iíve reproduced below all the first-round draft choices in the 4th through 9th slots from 1995 to 2003 (I decided not to include 2004, since most of those players have only a handful of professional games under their belts at this point).

4th Pick

2003 Tim Stauffer P
2002 Adam Loewen P
2001 Gavin Floyd P
2000 Mike Stodolka P
1999 Corey Myers IF
1998 Jeff Austin P
1997 Jason Grilli P
1996 Billy Koch P
1995 Kerry Wood P

5th Pick

2003 Chris Lubanski OF
2002 Clint Everts P
2001 Mark Teixeira 3B
2000 Justin Wayne P
1999 BJ Garbe OF
1998 JD Drew OF
1997 Vernon Wells OF
1996 John Patterson P
1995 Ariel Prieto P

6th Pick

2003 Ryan Harvey OF
2002 Zach Greinke P
2001 Josh Karp P
2000 Rocco Baldelli OF
1999 Josh Girdley P
1998 Ryan Mills P
1997 Geoff Goetz P
1996 Seth Gresinger P
1995 Jamie Jones OF

7th Pick

2003 Nick Markakis OF
2002 Prince Fielder 1B
2001 Chris Smith P
2000 Matt Harrington P
1999 Kyle Snyder P
1998 Austin Kearns OF
1997 Dan Reichert P
1996 Matt White P
1995 Jonathan Johnson P

8th Pick

2003 Paul Maholm P
2002 Scott Moore SS
2001 John Van Benschoten P
2000 Matthew Wheatland P
1999 Bobby Bradley P
1998 Felipe Lopez SS
1997 JJ Davis 1B-P
1996 Chad Green OF
1995 Todd Helton 1B-P

9th Pick

2003 John Danks P
2002 Jeff Francis P
2001 Colt Griffin P
2000 Mark Phillips P
1999 Barry Zito P
1998 Sean Burroughs 3B
1997 Michael Cuddyer SS
1996 Mark Kotsay OF
1995 Geoff Jenkins OF

Drafting, as you can see, is close to a complete crapshoot: players youíve never heard of are selected before players on their way to All-Star Games and even to the Hall of Fame. The Blue Jays really are to be commended that so few of their first-rounders over this period have been utter washouts. But personally, if I had to choose the players from only one of these slots to start a franchise, I might actually go with the 9th overall choices Ė- it's perhaps surprising how many good players fell to that spot.

So there are two lessons to be drawn from this little exercise. One, donít invest your hopes too heavily in the player the Jays eventually choose with their first pick: heís more likely to be Josh Girdley or Kyle Snyder than he is to be Barry Zito. And two, donít start rooting for the Jays to lose as many as possible of their remaining games in order to improve their draft standing. They almost certainly wonít place any higher than the 4th overall choice, and there are as many gems available in the 9th spot as there are anywhere else.
What's Behind Door Number 4 (or 9)? | 20 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Wildrose - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 02:23 PM EDT (#33870) #
The best thing about drafting fourth is that you can really narrow down your selection and get "your guy". The perhaps negative outcome is that bonus money for the 4th pick may be quite a bit more than what the ninth pick gets typically.(I don't have a BA subscription so I'm not sure what the usual difference actually is?).

Hopefully some of the money saved with Hengten, Adams etc.. will be available so the Jays don't have to make a "financial" choice rather than one based on pure talent.
Pistol - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#33871) #
donít start rooting for the Jays to lose as many as possible of their remaining games in order to improve their draft standing. They almost certainly wonít place any higher than the 4th overall choice, and there are as many gems available in the 9th spot as there are anywhere else.

I agree. Given a choice between catching Tampa and picking 10th or finishing below Tampa and picking 4th I'd choose the former.

Just eyeballing the picks listed it sure looks like position players have had more success than pitchers in these slots.

Given all the pitching the Jays have selected in the high rounds in the past few drafts I expect the Jays to take a position player with their first pick next year. Based on just a hunch, I could even see them taking a HS position player over a pitcher.

Just throwing out a name to remember: Stanford middle infielder Jed Lowrie who hit .399/.505/.734 as a switch-hitting sophomore. If I recall correctly he's the reason Brian Hall was moved from 2B to the OF at Stanford.

Of course it's possible he wouldn't last long in the draft.
Pistol - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 02:33 PM EDT (#33872) #
The perhaps negative outcome is that bonus money for the 4th pick may be quite a bit more than what the ninth pick gets typically

Many of the top few picks haven't signed yet, but the 6th pick this year (Sowers) got $2.5 million and the 10th pick (Diamond) got $2.0 million. That's probably close to the difference between 4 and 9.
_Ducey - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 02:58 PM EDT (#33873) #
I looked into the 5th pick because I never heard of some of these guys. Historically:
2003 Chris Lubanski OF
Hitting .276/.340/.419 in A ball as a 20yr old
2002 Clint Everts P
Top Expos pitching prospect just underwent TJ surgery
2001 Mark Teixeira 3B
2000 Justin Wayne P
ERA of 6.58 in AAA. Bombed twice when brought up to Florida
1999 BJ Garbe OF
Hitting .201/.283/.278 in AA. Has never hit
1998 JD Drew OF
1997 Vernon Wells OF
1996 John Patterson P
Appears to be hurt this year. 3.73 ERA w/ Ariona last year in 30IP
1995 Ariel Prieto P
4.85 ERA in 352 MLB IP

So you have 3/9 chance of having an all star (Wells, Teixeira, Drew), 1 excellent but damaged prospect (Everts), a productive MLB pitcher (Prieto), two guys that the jury is out on (Patterson, Lubanski) and 2 washouts (Garbe, Wayne)
Mike Green - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#33874) #
The position players from 95-98 in these slots tell an interesting tale: Jenkins, Kotsay, Cuddyer, Burroughs, Helton, Chad Green, JJ Davis, Felipe Lopez, Austin Kearns, Jamie Jones, Vernon Wells, JD Drew. Seven solid (or better) major leaguers out of twelve, two who may yet be (Felipe Lopez and Michael Cuddyer), and Chad Green, JJ Davis, and Jamie Jones.

Green, Davis and Jones

Couldn't these guys think of more imaginative names? Maybe that's why they didn't live up to their draft billing. :-)
_braden - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#33875) #
Based on just a hunch, I could even see them taking a HS position player over a pitcher.

IIRC, On Wednesday's with JP, he mentioned that with this pick they'll be taking someone who can help the team quickly.
_MatO - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 03:28 PM EDT (#33876) #
Very interesting. Since 1999 21 of 30 players taken have been pitchers.
Pistol - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 04:43 PM EDT (#33877) #
Based on just a hunch, I could even see them taking a HS position player over a pitcher.

IIRC, On Wednesday's with JP, he mentioned that with this pick they'll be taking someone who can help the team quickly.


It's an early smoke screen!
Thomas - Friday, September 17 2004 @ 07:57 PM EDT (#33878) #
J.J. Davis doesn't have time on his side and he seems to have been injured for most of this year but let's not forget he hit .284/.342/.554 at Nashville last year.
_Vsaint - Saturday, September 18 2004 @ 12:20 AM EDT (#33879) #
Helping the team quickly doesn't mean anything.
Take the 2002 Draft. BJ Upton has already made it to the Show at 20. Adams is 24 & was considered to help quickly.
I know Adams was drafted much lower, but would JP pass on Upton if available?
_Wayne H. - Saturday, September 18 2004 @ 12:47 AM EDT (#33880) #
I wouldn't worry too much about whether or not Justin Upton would be selected by JP and the Jays staff.

Justin Upton won't likely get past Arizona at Number One. If they pass him, he will be definitely not get past Seattle at Number Three.

Rather than debate the Uptons, one who wasn't available, and the other who won't be available; we need to examine those who were and who will be.
_Lee - Saturday, September 18 2004 @ 01:42 AM EDT (#33881) #
Might be looking at Stephen Head in a Jays uniform, you heard it here first. =)
_R Billie - Saturday, September 18 2004 @ 01:49 AM EDT (#33882) #
I guess the Upton point is helping quickly is not exclusive to college players. We've seen a number of draft picks zoom to AA at the tender age of 18 and 19. Scott Kazmir beat Russ Adams to the majors and his performance has been very good.

I think when you're choosing 4th overall, the player that helps quickest is usually the most talented regardless of age.
_Wayne H. - Saturday, September 18 2004 @ 02:24 AM EDT (#33883) #
Many high school players can help quickly. The top ones can arrive very fast and contribute at a very young age.

Russ Adams was middle round, and it's my understanding that Kazmir was one of those top 5 types. He slipped due to bonus demands. They are like comparing apples and bananas.

Many very young hitters have contributed, but I suspect that JP is leaning toward the best college hitter available.
_Eric - Saturday, September 18 2004 @ 03:59 AM EDT (#33884) #
but I suspect that JP is leaning toward the best college hitter available.

Who could very well be another Stanford Cardinal, John Mayberry Jr.
_Paul S - Sunday, September 19 2004 @ 02:20 AM EDT (#33885) #
5 seems to be a hot Boras signability slot. Well there's two of them, at least.

I think the problem with drafting HS guys is if you go for toolsy guys or projects. Guys like Kazmir, Greinke, and Upton, it doesn't matter how old they are, they'll make the bigs in a couple years. Grienke was always seen as a Jr. Greg Maddux. He's a safe pick, no matter what his level, while some guys who throw 98 and are prone to wildness and don't have a decent breaking ball yet (Bobby Jenks?) are a risk the Jays can't take.
_Paul S - Sunday, September 19 2004 @ 02:34 AM EDT (#33886) #
Another thing I just wondered about: How many guys who Boras put up for auction became busts? Jeremy Guthrie looks like one now, but I can't think of any others. Isn't it worth paying the exorbitant signing bonus to get a Sure Thing? This would be more helpful in the middle of the first round given how far Weaver and Drew fell last year, but if it's not utterly obscene, why not meet their expectations to get an exceptional player who is most likely to be a big league star and possibly at a low draft spot to boot?

I will now take a shower seeing as how I suggested that people give into Boras' expectations. Unclean, unclean, unclean.
robertdudek - Tuesday, September 21 2004 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#33887) #
Do you think Drew is really a sure thing? What kind of sure thing? That he will be a competent major leaguer? Or a star?

My take is that Drew is not a can't miss star major leaguer - there's a lot of risk in paying someone like that a boatload of cash.
Mike Green - Tuesday, September 21 2004 @ 08:23 PM EDT (#33888) #
Nobody, but nobody, in the draft is a sure thing. The Mark Priors and Alex Rodriguezes of the world are, when drafted, a very good bet to be major leaguers and a fair bet to be stars.

Stephen Drew is a long way from these guys, in my opinion.
_Paul S - Thursday, September 23 2004 @ 12:17 AM EDT (#33889) #
I didn't say Drew specifically, but it seems that high profile Boras clients have a very good success rate.
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