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Success in the draft is a key component of the “plan” for the low budget Blue Jays; “poor” teams cannot afford to sign top free agents and must develop them themselves. JP Ricciardi is a former scout; was Director of Player Development in Oakland; and lists player evaluation as one of his strengths. JP, and his team, must utilize their player evaluation skills to draft and develop major league talent to strengthen the Blue Jays from the inside. The Jays would like to emulate Oakland’s success in the draft; when JP was working for Oakland they drafted Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Eric Chavez.
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Some dirt on the 2004 draft class...

As Scott pointed out on one of yesterday's threads, Baseball America is reporting that the Tigers have decided to end their pursuit of #2 overall pick Justin Verlander.
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Not too many positives come out of a season where you end up with 90+ losses. However, one of these positives is a high draft pick in the following year's draft.
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Okay, now we know about the months of preparation that went into this draft, the countless hours of scouting and meeting and analysis. So it's time to find out some more about exactly who the Blue Jays acquired in the 2004 draft. No waiting -- let's get to it!
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In a large conference room at Skydome on June 7, 2004, a number of men are gathered. Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi is there, along with Director of Player Personnel Tony LaCava, Assistant GM Keith Law, and Scouting Coordinators Andrew Tinnish and Alex Anthopoulous, as well as a number of Blue Jay area scouts. It’s Draft Day in major-league baseball.
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Here's a clean thread to discuss the flurry of picks that are almost upon us. I feel like I'm in a great restaurant after I've ordered, just waiting for the food to come.
The Blue Jays first round selection is David Purcey, LHP, Oklahoma University
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The following are composite statistical rankings of draft-eligible college pitchers. Only 2004 Division 1 stats were considered and only pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched were included. The composite ranking is based of 4 relatively evenly weighted categories: 1) Runs Saved Above Average, 2) FIP Run Average, 3) Component Performance Rating, 4) Component Performance Points Above Average.

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What's the point of previewing a draft if you don't have a mock draft to go with it?
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The final pre-draft NCAA adjusted hitting and pitching statistics for 2004 (which will be current to May 30) will be released today, tomorrow, or Thursday, depending on how many delays I encounter. Today, however, I thought that I would take up an idea of Aaron Gleeman's and look at some of this year's surprise performers. They are the guys who came out of nowhere to put up big numbers in 2004 - the "Nowhere Men". All of these guys finished in my Top 100 hitters or Top 100 pitchers, which I posted on Friday.

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With the 2004 draft coming up shortly on June 7th, it’s a good time to look back on the first two drafts of JP Ricciardi.
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A month has passed since the first look at college pitchers eligible for the draft. Now we have an additional month of statistics, plus the added bonus of Craig Burley's adjusted stats for 2004, in addition to 2003.
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The draft eligible college hitters are generally regarded as a weak class this year. As opposed to the strength of the college pitchers, as few as a handful of hitters will be selected in round 1 on June 7th. However, there are plenty of gems to be found if you’re willing to mine for them.
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Spencer Fordin of MLB.com has posted an excellent review of the Blue Jays' draft this week. They used 64 percent of their picks on pitchers, and 86 percent on players with at least some college experience -- only seven high-schoolers were tabbed. Toronto selected just two Canadians; they had chosen Aric Van Gaalen, a 6'6" lefty from Edmonton, 16th in 2002, and after a year of junior college, took him again this year, but in the 37th round. Paul Marlow, a 6'7" righty from B.C., is another draft-and-follow candidate as a 46th-rounder.

Also from the Official Site, Fordin talked with J.P. Ricciardi about first-rounder Aaron Hill. Asked about drafting a SS in the first round for two straight years, the GM certainly didn't consider it a problem:

"For all you guys that saw Russ Adams in the spring, the feedback that I got was you liked him. I think you'll really, really like this guy," Ricciardi said to the media. "We'll keep playing both of them at shortstop. If some day they have to play together, one of them flips over. It gives us two real good athletic guys that are going to be offensive players and fit into our philosophy."
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MLB.com Draft Central provides comprehensive coverage of today Entry Draft.

The MLB.com Draft Show will feature live video of the first few rounds as well as on-the-scene reports, and is available free of charge. An audio version of the entire draft is available from MLB.com Radio (for subscibers).

John Sickels has a new article up discussing many of the likely first round picks. You're not likely to find as much good info in one place on potential draftees anywhere else online. Curiously, Brad Sullivan is not among those listed.

I'll invite readers to post their predictions for the Jays' first round pick.