Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
I was on the outside when you said
You said you needed me
I was looking at myself
I was blind, I could not see

The draft and follow process is often misunderstood, though it can be explained rather simply. When a player is selected in the amateur draft, a team retains the exclusive right to sign him to a contract for 51 weeks. However, those rights lapse once a player attends his first class at a four-year college.

Players who pursue any other avenue - for example attending a two-year college (i.e. a junior college) or playing in an independent professional league, are eligible to be signed until shortly before the following year's draft. (Also, fifth-year college seniors can sign minor-league contracts as soon as their last college class is complete).

This has given rise to the term "draft and follow". Teams will encourage certain players to pursue the junior college option, allowing them to follow that player's progress for a year before making the commitment to signing him. These are "draft-and-follow" players. Last year, the Blue Jays signed one of their draft-and-follow players, Adrian Martin (currently in the bullpen at Lansing) a 19th-round pick who was signed after a terrific season at a Florida juco.

Who are the current draft-and-follow candidates? First, let's talk about the draft-and-follow who has signed - last year's 24th-round pick, Jesse Litsch. This story from Tampa Bay Online has the full story. At any rate, in a nutshell Litsch signed with the Jays two weeks ago, he's a decent-sized righty with good control and dominant at the juco level, winning Florida pitcher of the year honors at South Florida CC in 2004 and first team all-state in 2005. He was also a first-team All-America pick in 2004.

Next, let's talk about a guy who the Jays are making a heavy play for. He's a baby-faced bolt of greased lightning by the name of Brok Butcher, who has been speaking repeatedly with the Jays in recent days and who also has a verbal commitment to attend one of the great college programs in the country, the Titans of Cal State Fullerton. Butcher (a righty) was last year's 46th-round pick, and has catapulted himself forward with a terrific season as the closer at Oxnard College in which he has reportedly been touching the mid-90s with his fastball and the high 80s with his slider. He went 6-0 with 6 saves and an ERA of 0.46.

Let's take a look at the other unsigned players from last year's draft.

16th round - Jose Castro, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
I don't have a record of Castro playing in college anywhere so presumably he can still be signed.

17th round - Michael Cooper, RHP, Santa Ana JC
Cooper, a big guy who throws pretty hard, was selected as a draft-and-follow candidate, but instead of a second juco season he elected to enroll at the University of California.

20th round - Robert Scott, RHP, Stelly's SS (Saanich, BC)
Bobby Scott played this year for Clarendon College, a juco in Texas. He's therefore available to be signed. Scott's listed as an outfielder/pitcher on the Clarendon roster, but I have no more information than that. Clarendon's an OK juco team, nothing special, and Scott didn't make any all-region teams.

31st round - Paul Franko, 3B, Scottsdale CC (Arizona)
The Scottsdale Community College athletics teams are known as the Fighting Artichokes. Seriously. Anyway, Paul Franko is, on the basis of his stats, not a glittering prospect. He hit .327 with 12 doubles, 2 homers, and 2 steals in 50 games for the Fighting Artichokes, the fourth-best hitter on his team who play Division II juco ball. He did manage to make first team All-District in 2004, but I'm not sure he played even that well this past year.

38th round - Ben Humphrey, 1B, Olney Central College (Illinois)
I wish I had better record of what Ben Humphrey did this season. Olney played very well, finishing 42-14 and getting votes in the NJCAA Division I national poll. But I only have records of 26 games for Humphrey, who hit a rather pedestrian .342 in those games with a little power. Humphrey's a big boy and is of course eligible to be signed, since he played at a juco.

39th round - Matt Trink, RHP, Yavapai CC (Arizona)
Matt Trink is the undefeated ace of the Yavapai staff, having gone 7-0 with a 2.49 ERA as of May 2 when stats were last updated. Tough to get a read on his peripherals, but they are a not outstanding 17 walks and 43 strikeouts in 75 innings. He's eligible to be signed.

40th round - Jacob Vasquez, 1B, Santa Ana JC (California)
Jacob Vasquez returned to Santa Ana this season and played quite well, with a 1214 OPS amongst other things. Since he outperformed his 2004 stats, he's likely to repeat as an All-California pick. He's eligible to be signed.

The other Jays picks who are eligible draft-and-follows include:

Jonathan Hesketh LHP (Pensacola CC, FL)
Chad Beck RHP (Panola JC, TX) pitched poorly in 2005 and will likely attend Louisiana-Lafayette
Rod Ratliff RHP (Labette CC, KS)
Ryan Harris SS (San Bernardino Valley CC, CA)
Jordan Lennerton 1B (El Paso CC, TX)

The draft is fast approaching, so decisions will be made on all these players within a few days. If there are any other signings, we'll try to get them for you as they happen.

Draft and Follow | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Max Parkinson - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 08:46 AM EDT (#118071) #

Quick question. When you say that Beck pitched poorly, is that in comparison to his teammates? From everything that I've heard, Panola is a hitter's paradise.
Marc Hulet - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 09:06 AM EDT (#118072) #
Jesse Litsch is a sinker/slider pitcher, who spent a summer as a an intern with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when he was 15. He was drafted out of high school by the Rockies but turned down $60,000 to go to school.
Pistol - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 09:18 AM EDT (#118074) #
I believe tonight at midnight is the deadline for players from last year's draft who remain unsigned to sign contracts with the team that drafted them in 2004. If not they're thrown back into the draft.
Craig B - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 09:30 AM EDT (#118076) #
Yes, Max, that's in comparison to his teammates. He gave up 24 walks and 46 hits in 34.1 innings, both well above team rates, and he was 0-4 with an 8.91 ERA on a team with an ERA of 4.88.

It's interesting that Panola's a hitter's paradise... it's in East Texas, which I usually associate with pine woods and bayous, not dry mountain air and lots of offense.
Max Parkinson - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 10:45 AM EDT (#118083) #

Thanks. As usual, I had little reason to doubt you. As for Panola, from what I've heard, it's got real small alleys, and faces northeast, so the dominant wind in the spring blows straight out. I've got a couple of hitters considering Panola next year, but our coaches who've played in Texas told our pitchers to stay away...
Craig B - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 11:15 AM EDT (#118088) #
One thing for those guys to keep in mind, Max, is that the phrase "middle of nowhere" is an understatement when applied to Panola, which in Carthage. For the rurally-minded kid, it might be a paradise.

That, and also under no circumstances would I recommend that a visible minority, especially from up here in gentle Canada, head to Deep East Texas to do anything, playing baseball or otherwise.
Max Parkinson - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 11:54 AM EDT (#118101) #
No doubt, Craig.

It's more of an issue than some up here may think. You might recall the Reiss twins a few years ago, both drafted by the Braves. They enrolled at U. of Houston, which is in a pretty rough area of Houston, and I don't think that they lasted a full year, in no small part due to the culture shock of middle-class kids from Thornhill trying to live in the hood.
Craig B - Monday, May 30 2005 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#118128) #
Max, funny you should mention the Reiss twins, as they are now playing in the Intercounty league for Hamilton! I saw them on TV a couple of weeks ago and I'm heading up to Bernie Arbour Stadium sometime this coming month to talk to some of the Thunderbirds, I'll have to remember to ask them about playing at Houston.
Pistol - Tuesday, May 31 2005 @ 08:42 AM EDT (#118208) #
They weren't exactly draft and follows, but both Drew and Weaver signed last night and won't be in the draft.
Pistol - Thursday, June 02 2005 @ 11:19 AM EDT (#118427) #,1375,VCS_138_3821663,00.html

Oxnard College pitcher Brok Butcher did not come to terms with the Toronto Blue Jays by Monday's deadline and will go back into Major League Baseball's amateur draft next week, Butcher said Tuesday.

"They didn't end up offering me any more money, so I didn't take it and I'm going back into the draft," said Butcher.

The Blue Jays had previously offered the Western State Conference North Division's Co-Player of the Year a contract that included a signing bonus of about "eighth-round" proportions, according to Butcher.

8th round bonus money is likely in the $80,000-$100,000 range.
Pistol - Friday, June 03 2005 @ 08:48 AM EDT (#118498) #
BA has the entire D&F list. The Jays only signed Litsch.
Draft and Follow | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.