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Alex Anthopoulos and the First Round: 2012

With less than 10 days until the start of the 2014 major league draft, Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays scouting staff will be fully focused (despite some recent minor league transactions) on cross checking their draft board and whittling the list of who they make take with the 9th and 11th picks down to a manageable level.  With that in mind, we have been taking a look at the Toronto GM’s track record of first round picks during his short, but eventful, tenure.  Thus far he is 0 for 2, not a great start at the dish, but one that can definitely be rectified with a strong finish.  Check out the write ups for 2010 and 2011.

Before focusing on this draft, the potentially talent rich 2012 edition, let’s take a look at this week’s mock draft.  Last week we looked at Keith Law who had the Jays taking Touki Toussant and Jeff Hoffman.  This week we’ll focus on Baseball America who, in the 3rd iteration of their draft, have North Carolina State Wolfpack shortstop Trea Turner going at nine and Toussant at 11.  As per this article from Jays Journal, John Manuel, BA’s draft guru, has had Turner going to the Jays at nine in all three of his mock versions.  He’s changed his mind at 11 though, originally going with the upper level talent that is Jeff Hoffman, who has fallen after undergoing Tommy John surgery.  So some similarities with Law then.

In the Tyler Beede watch, Manuel has him going 12th, to Milwaukee.

As I mentioned above, 2012 could turn out to be a very nice draft for the Jays.  Compensation round picks Mitch Nay and Matthew Smoral are both highly regarded while 2nd rounder Chase DeJong, despite some recent velocity issues, has moved fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, however, this is only an exercise in what the Jays did with their first round picks.

In 2012 Toronto took toolsy outfielder D.J. Davis 17th overall while the compensation pick for not signing the aforementioned Tyler Beede brought them Marcus Stroman with the 22nd overall pick.

Now, you see my dilemma.  The ultimate goal is to award AA a win or loss.  And, in a lot of ways, he had both in this round.  Stroman, a right-hander out of Duke University has made his mlb debut already and should be a factor with the Jays this season.  Davis has not played particularly well in his three pro seasons.  I’ll get to more of his specific problems later but in a nutshell, he is very young and very raw.  Something that seems to be a theme with Mississippi born draftees.

I reached out to the Blue Jays director of minor league operations Charlie Wilson to ask why, whenever I read an article on Mississippi products, the word ‘raw’ is inevitably in the story.  Unfortunately, Charlie was unable to get back to me.  So, I asked my source down in extended instead.  He said that D.J. never played any other ball aside from High School.  And he’s from Wiggins, a town of 4,390, so probably not playing against many other future pro players.  Without summer travelling team, prospect showcase, etc experience, Davis just did not get exposed to upper level talent like players from some of the bigger baseball states do on a regular basis.

Makes you wonder what the area scout said (and for the pedants out there, yes, I think  more than just him/her would have seen Davis) to convince the draft team that Davis was a first round talent.  Tools.  But what good are tools if you can’t use them?

I’ve been speaking to a couple of guys (and I’m going to protect the innocent here somewhat) who see Lansing on a regular basis, not scouts, but knowledgeable enough that I trust their opinions.  This is what they say about Davis, in bullet points:

First the good:

– he can hit the ball a mile, plays an easy center field, and has crazy speed.

Now the bad:

– he can only hit the fastball and it has to be down in the zone, high fastballs and anything off-speed he really struggles with.  Which is easily quantifiable by fact he has never struck out less than 25% of the time during his pro career (aside from a 2012 12 game stint in Bluefield)

– His ‘crazy’ speed is only noticeable on defence.  As this season’s 33% (5 for 15!!!) success rate at stealing bases suggests, I’ve been told that Davis gets no read on a pitcher, crap jumps, has no third gear and zero explosiveness on the basepaths.

– I’ve also been told that it wouldn’t be a surprise if Davis is demoted to Vancouver when the short seasons open up.  While I’d very surprised by that, the mere mention of it is disappointing, given fact this is D.J.’s third year in pro ball.  He’s obviously a project, but one that is surely behind any development curve the Jays had set out for him.

There is no doubt that the lightbulb could switch on at some point, like it did for Dalton Pompey towards the latter half of last season, but until it does, D.J. definitely goes into the loss column.

So, the question is:

Does Marcus Stroman make up for D.J.?  We could rehash all the varying scouting reports but time is not on my side.  So let’s do the Coles Notes version.  Most, if not all, pundits see Stroman anywhere from a middle of the rotation mlb starter (despite the lack of height) to a high leverage reliever.

Maybe I’m feeling benevolent after the Jays recent hot streak but I’m going to more heavily weight a player who has already made his major league debut over the disappointment of Davis’ play thus far.  I think there is no doubt Stroman contributes in Toronto while some still have high hopes for D.J. despite his struggles thus far.

AA gets a win, making him one for three so far.

AA's first win so far (image courtesy of mlbprospectportal.com)

AA’s first win so far (image courtesy of mlbprospectportal.com)

One Response

  1. […] draft stuff, as Your Van C’s looks at the 2012 first round, which produced Marcus Stroman and… um… actually, I […]

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