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Happy Draft Day!

Let’s be honest, I’m probably not going to get this post finished today (update, I’m only a day late!), making the immediacy of the title somewhat redundant but hey, at least I’m trying right!  For Blue Jays fans, this year’s edition of the annual MLB draft doesn’t contain the edge of your seat excitement that last year’s had.  For the Jays have gone from two high first round picks in 2014 to none tonight, a by-product of signing Russell Martin for five glorious years.

Toronto’s first pick this year won’t be until the supplementary round, 29th overall — allowing Jays fans to catch a quick nap after the start of proceedings — a pick obtained when the Melk-man (who, according to Fangraphs, has been worth -1.0 win thus far — not to be nasty) signed with Chicago.

That doesn’t mean Jays fans shouldn’t follow the draft with interest.  Firstly, for those of us who cover the Vancouver Canadians, we know that a good chunk of this year’s roster will be tabbed from various colleges across the country over the next couple of days.

And for those that take an interest in the Jays organization as a whole, you’ll know Alex Anthopoulos and his staff always have a trick or two up their sleeves.

Personally, while I don’t think that supplemental round pick should be punted, I’ll be focusing on Toronto’s second round pick, 56th overall as, historically, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has extracted a lot of value from that pick

Below is a table of AA’s second rounders with the YourVanCs column being my off-season prospect position.

Year Pick Overall YourVanCs
2010 Griffin Murphy 61 NA
Kellen Sweeney 69 NA
Justin Nicolino 80 NA
2011 Daniel Norris 74 2
Jeremy Gabryszwski 78 NA
2012 Chase DeJong 81 NA
2013 Clinton Hollon 47 16
2014 Sean Reid-Foley 49 10

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I’ve got no idea why the Jays had three second rounders in 2010, but given fact that none are playing for the Blue Jays organization this season I’m too lazy to find out.  Griffin Murphy is still listed as active but has been on the disabled list coming out of camp.  None would now really be considered prospects anyway.

Kellen Sweeney was a ‘can’t miss bat’ coming out of high school but after five very ordinary seasons in they Jays system, they cut bait with the Iowa native this past year.

I have to admit, I had Justin Nicolino as the first of the Lansing Big ‘3’ making it to the show.  An opinion that didn’t change as the left-hander was part of the Miami Marlins blockbuster.  Of course, I look like a bit of a tool now as both Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard are MLB starters while Justin is only getting his first taste of AAA.  Here’s a wild thought, maybe stuff should be regarded higher than pitchability.

Still, and maybe this is the recency effect talking, aside from that 2010 (and even that point could be argued given Nicolino was part of a major deal) the Jays have had some luck in the second.

If just looking at the above table as a snapshot, the biggest thing you can take away is fact the Jays err on the side of pitching at this spot.  No great surprise.  Anthopolous’ draft record is littered with pitchers and when he does go position, it tends to be up the middle, see Max Pentecost in 2014 and D.J. Davis in ’12.

Let’s dig a bit deeper though, starting with my #2 Blue Jays prospect, but #1 on a ton of boards, Daniel Norris.  Seen as the top prep lefty in that particular draft, Norris slid to the Jays as a strong commitment to Clemson scared off others.  Funny how a bunch of money, in this case two million bucks, will weaken the college resolve.  The Jays wouldn’t have been able to get so flexible with the cash if 1st rounder Tyler Beede hadn’t signed though.

In 2012 they went the projectable route as Chase DeJong was 6’4″ and like 180 pounds soaking wet coming out of high school.  DeJong had added a few ticks to his fastball prior to the draft which possibly tempted the Jays to take a flier on him despite many scouts, who didn’t like his ‘one-piece’ arm action, predicting a third/fourth round ceiling.  His fastball hasn’t progressed as the organization probably would have hoped though and Chase is now repeating in Lansing.  While I wouldn’t say his career is dead, he’s going to have to learn how to command both his fastball down in the zone while throwing his breaking balls for strikes if we’re to hear about him above the Florida State League.

Clinton Hollon fell to the Jays in 2013 as a partial tear in his UCL rightly scared teams off despite his first round stuff.  Although Hollon was a Kentucky commit, it wasn’t all that serious as the Jays got him for 40% of slot which allowed them to overpay in later rounds.  Of course, a year of his development has been spent in rehab after the aforementioned UCL issue had to be dealt with but still, the Jays got a top prep arm on the cheap and we in Vancouver will get to see why so many teams had Clinton rated so highly in the first place.

Another first round talent that dropped to the Jays in the second, Sean Reid-Foley’s fall is attributed to a couple of different factors, depending on who you read.  Whether it was the commitment to Florida State or the worries over a high-effort delivery, a prospect that was heliuming his way to many first round boards fell to the Jays in the second.  Where Toronto got him inked for slot value, which was considered a pretty big coup at the time.

Given the Jays have been pretty aggressive with SRF, testing him as a 19 year old in the Midwest League — to somewhat mixed results — shows you just how happy they are with the pick.  Still, alludes to the recency effect I noted above.  Reid-Foley is my next highest prospect after Norris as we’re still mainly working off of scouting reports, rather than results.

In effect, he hasn’t had a chance to break our hearts yet.

So, my point, after far too many words.  And, as it turns out, too late.  I had hoped to use the last five years worth of second round picks to build a way to categorize what the Jays may do this year.

Would they take a flier on a highly rated prep arm who was scaring off some teams due to signability concerns (i.e. Norris and to a lesser extend SRF)?  Admittedly a tougher task this year given the reported weakness of the draft and fact Jays hold 7th lowest bonus pool, making over-pays that much tougher.  Or go the injury route, i.e. Hollon, looking to save some of that money while still gaining value?  Or would it be projectability?  Taking someone like DeJong whose physical frame and increasing fastball have evaluators dreaming about what could come?

I had hoped to end the post saying something like, ‘no matter what route they go with, you know Anthopoulos and co. will make this pick and interesting one.’

But, as I’m late, as usual, we already know that the Jays took RHP Brady Singer with the pick.  Reading what I can on Singer and looking at his 6’5″ 180 pound frame I’m definitely labelling this pick under the Chase DeJong umbrella.

His fastball took a step up this season, sitting in the low 90s, touching mid-90s on occasion, up from the high 80s.  As mlb.com says:

Whenever a projectable high school pitcher shows a jump in stuff, he’s bound to move up draft boards.  When he went from throwing his fastball in the 88-92 range to sitting closer to 92-94, and touching 96, his stock definitely jumped.

Remind you of someone?  While the excellent Kiley McDaniel over at Fangraphs touches on the potentially worrisome mechanics:

Singer is polarizing, in that some clubs don’t like his low slot and high back elbow, while others see a cleaner delivery, better command and a more projectable frame than Singer’s former travel ball teammate, Tyler Danish.

So there you have it, a projectable prep righty whose fastball ticked up pre-draft but whose are action worried some scouts to the point where many predicted he’d go right about where he went.

I don’t think Singer’s University of Florida commit will be too much of a hurdle and we should look forward to seeing Brady hit the complex within the next couple of months.

After that, who knows. This whole draft thing is such a crapshoot.

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