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Alex Anthopoulos and the First Round: 2010

After trying to draw conclusions from Blue Jays 2010 first pick (11th overall) Deck McGuire‘s most recent start with one eye closed, and quite possibly a few beers deep, I came to a brilliant diagnosis of the Georgia native’s problems and was ready to write a groundbreaking piece laying out the ‘facts’.  As is often the case though, when the buzz faded and hard math was used, the trends didn’t seem so statistically relevant.  Still, combing through his seven starts this year got me thinking about the upcoming mlb draft and how Alex Anthopoulos’ first round picks have fared thus far.

This June will be Anthopoulos’ 5th year in charge of the Blue Jays war room and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it is his biggest draft yet.  Toronto has two picks in the top 11 and the GM will be under a lot of pressure to hit the proverbial home run with both.  Looking at the first four years of picks, Jays fans may not have a lot of confidence in Toronto’s ability to draft (and, just as importantly, sign) impact players in the first round.

Why the lack of confidence?  Track record.  And before we delve into the picks over a four part series, let’s preface it by saying the mlb draft is very different than other sports.  Aside from the occasional outlier, you’re not going to see an impact from your picks for at least a few years.  So it is difficult to gauge the long term contribution of say a 2013 draftee.  All we can do is look at how they are developing.  That being said, there are major league regulars that did come out of the 2010 draft.  None of them play in Toronto however.

They did get a four year Fisher Cat though, this year’s stats below:

2014-04-04 5.1 3 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 7 9 2 1
2014-04-09 4.2 10 4 4 1 4 0 1 0 8 11 5 1
2014-04-14 6.0 4 2 2 0 3 1 1 0 8 10 2 3
2014-04-19 5.0 6 2 2 1 5 0 1 0 6 9 4 2
2014-04-24 7.1 7 3 0 2 8 0 1 0 10 12 1 2
2014-04-29 5.1 9 4 4 3 1 1 1 0 6 16 5 2
2014-05-04 6.0 7 5 5 1 3 0 2 1 14 11 1 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/9/2014.


McGuire was always considered a ‘safe’ pick with a reasonably high floor but limited ceiling.  This scouting report was indicative of most written at the time.  Basically a big, durable, innings-eater that would shore up the back end of a rotation.  There’s no doubting the durability part, as he’s taken the ball every five days throughout his minor league career, but (with the benefit of hindsight) you would quibble with the ‘outstanding command’ projection.  This is the first season that Deck’s BB/9 ratio has dropped below three.  He’s doing an excellent job limiting the walk with just 2.04 per 9 thus far.  Unfortunately for the right-hander, his K/9 ratio has dropped dramatically from his career high 8.18 in 2013 down to 6.13 so far this year.  Which is more in line with his career average.

His FIP is at a career best 3.63 so far, despite a high-ish .326 BABIP against…..not sure what I’m doing here.  Arguing the case of a guy that is in his fourth year of double-A when the original intent was to rate AA’s first round draft record.  You have to say this one was a big time miss.  The Jays have added him to the 40 man roster so maybe they see a future for him, but for a pitcher who gives up a lot of fly balls with average stuff and uneven command, do you really think he’ll be successful in the Rogers Center? No, me neither.

There are those that will argue that with the safe first pick, it allowed the Jays to get aggressive and go after the projectable high-schoolers with their supplemental picks, netting them Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, and Asher Wojciechowski.  For me, that argument doesn’t make a ton of sense.  2010 was pre bonus capping for the draft and the Jays were willing to spend.  That removes any need to go safe with the first pick to hopefully save money to pay over-slot later.  And even if you didn’t want to go the high-school route with your first pick, then you missed Chris Sale, who was a college junior and taken two picks later.

Back to the three high-schoolers Toronto did take.  Two are now pitching in other organizations and the third is in New Hampshire with McGuire.  True, we all dream on Aaron Sanchez.  He projects as a front of the rotation power righty with wipeout secondary offerings.  He is still struggling to command his fastball though and until he can, he’s a project.

The other two were pieces in trades which, ironically, netted the Jays durable (-ish in J.A. Happ‘s case), back of the rotation starters.  Something they were hoping for out of McGuire.

Next week (hopefully) we’ll take a look at the 2011 draft.

And for those that were interested, my diagnosis of Deck’s troubles?  His blowup innings, which I pegged at 3+ runs in an inning were all early in his starts.  In a way it’s true, both times he allowed three or more runs, it was in the first inning (tonight he allowed four in the third).  I was hoping to pin down ex-Vancouver Canadian pitching coach Jim Czajkowski to see if there is something that goes wrong with his preparation in those starts.

Knowing Big Jim though, I won’t hold my breath.

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