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Drafting Future Vancouver Canadians

The rule 4 MLB draft kicks off Thursday with rounds one and two on the dock. Three through ten will take place Friday and finally, on Saturday, we see the remaining thirty rounds. The changes made to the structure of the draft, how the slot system works, and penalties incurred for going over a team’s allotted bonus pool made it far easier for teams to sign their picks early and get them a taste of pro ball straight away.

The 2012 draft saw the Toronto Blue Jays organization successfully sign thirty of their fourty picks, of which, eleven of those players were assigned to the Vancouver Canadians. A not too insignificant portion of their opening day roster. This number was enhanced by the Jays strategy of picking nothing but college seniors in rounds four through ten. This was an effort to save slot money which was allocated towards tougher signees in the upper rounds. As per the below tweet though, the Jays don’t hold the same number of compensatory picks this year as they have in years past:

Last year, they picked 17,22,50,58,60, and 81. They needed extra money. This year, not so much. For that reason, I don’t believe they’ll incorporate the same ‘college senior’ strategy, which, in turn, will mean less C’s picked over the next few days.

AA in a good mood (must have been prior to the season) image courtesy of vancouversun.ca

AA in a good mood (must have been prior to the season) image courtesy of vancouversun.ca

At the other end of the spectrum, Toronto’s first pick in 2012 was Mississippi high-schooler D.J. Davis. After putting up ho hum numbers in the Gulf Coast League, Davis was promoted to Bluefield. Over fifty-three plate appearances in the Appalachian League, D.J. put up a very impressive .926 OPS, earning himself a late call-up to Vancouver. Where he was over-matched.

If you look at the various mock drafts, there isn’t really a consensus on who Toronto is looking to take this year (unsurprising, given the variables involved), however, all the boards I have looked at (of which there are a few examples below) have them taking a high school player.

Website                       Name                            Position             HS/College?

si.com                          Braden Shipley           RHP                   Nevada (HS)
bleacherreport           Austin Meadows         OF                     Grayson HS
mlbdraftinsider         Clint Frazier                OF                      Loganville HS
mlb.com                      Austin Meadows        OF                       Grayson HS
minorleagueball        Trey Ball                      LHP                    Indiana HS

I suppose whomever is picked could cover three levels like Davis did, making an appearance at the Nat sometime in August. That scenario needs a couple of things to play out. One, the player performs well at the lower levels. And two, the Canadians are once again in the Northwest League playoff hunt. Perfect storm.

I do think this draft is going to produce some C’s, but am very interested to see what strategy the Jays have come up with this year. I’m not going to live blog it, but will give my thoughts each day as to which of the picks may be heading north. Let’s hope the Jays hit a few out of the park this year.

(as an addendum to the original article posted on the VancouverSun.com yesterday,  I am able update the Jays first five rounds of picks.  As per their recent history, the organization is trending towards young, projectable power pitchers.  First rounder Phillip Bickford is only 17, but is a 6’4″ 200 pounder who can apparently touch 97 on the radar gun.  He’ll be a tough sign though, having a strong college commitment.  In the second and third rounds, the Jays took two power arms in Clinton Hollon and Patrick Murphy.  Both are coming off injuries though.  Both could have been drafted higher, so may test the Jays resolve by honouring their college commitments in hopes of moving up when draft eligible again.  Or, like Matt Smoral, the Jays may offer them over-slot deals to get them to turn pro right away.  Either way, Vancouver Canadians fans will not be seeing any of these pitchers any time soon.)

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