The annual MiLB (and hopefully, eventually MLB) roster filler exercise that is the MLB draft finished up on Saturday with rounds 11 through 40. When he was in Vancouver for the Canadians hotstove luncheon, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos referred to day three as ‘Vancouver Canadians’ day, where they look to get some college players to fill out Vancouver’s roster.
This year was slightly different though with one of the Jays first rounders being a perfect fit for the C’s, something I was able to discuss with the always eloquent Matt Baker as we gorged on our weekly buffet of the Blue Jays and their minor league affiliates.
Given the Jays recent history of drafting raw high schoolers in the first round, I didn’t expect any discussion relating who the Jays took with the 9th and 11th picks and the Vancouver Canadians. But things took a turn for the interesting when Toronto selected Kennesaw State junior Max Pentecost.
The MVP of last summer’s Cape Cod League, Pentecost is seen as a very athletic and the best ‘pure’ catcher in the draft. One scouting report I read said he has excellent mobility behind the plate, moving well laterally. His blocking and receiving skills are improving while his arm is ‘above-average.’
I’ve watched some video of his swing and it looks quite simple and well balanced. He has a short toe tap timing mechanism with a quick stroke and strong hands. He’s been timed at 4’2″ up the line which is excellent for a catcher.
If the Jays can get Max signed (and I see no reason why they wouldn’t) I would say there is a very good shot of him beginning his pro career in Vancouver. If that turns out to be the case it’s another high end prospect being added to what could be quite a different looking roster to start the season:
— Charlie Caskey (@CharlieCaskey) June 4, 2014
Which was followed by:
If Vancouver has Tellez, Franklin Barreto, Pentecost, Miguel Castro, and say one other high-end prospect (maybe Anthony Alford) early in the season, you’re looking at five top 20 Blue Jays prospects. The Canadians have seen many quality prospects pass through but never so early in the season. We generally get them later in the year, or, as was the case for Mitch Nay, Chase DeJong, and Jairo Labourt last year. Only for playoffs.
Very interesting. Prospects don’t always mean results, as shown by the struggles the loaded Lansing Lugnuts are going through this year, but they should provide a ton of excitement early in the season.
There’ll still be plenty of college age players to surround some of the younger guys. Including some more 2014 draftees. Such as 9th rounder Ryan Metzler, Gunnar Heidt, taken in the 11th round, and possibly 6’4″ 215 outfielder Zack Zehner who was nabbed in the 7th round.
16 of the 41 players the Jays took over the three days were college seniors so would expect a few more of those names to pop up on the C’s roster at some point. Overall the Jays took 14 high-school players with the rest being from various colleges, including the aforementioned 16 seniors. They tabbed 22 pitchers, 16 of which were right-handed, and, as per the Jays recent history, most of them are BIG, with 16 standing at least 6’2″ tall. Of those 16, none are particular skinny. All of them tipping the scales at 195 pounds or heavier.
After the Ricky Romero versus Troy Tulowitzki debacle that was the 2005 draft, the Jays have stuck to their philosophy of drafting the best players available no matter the position. This year they did that while also being able to fill a glaring positional need, taking five catchers. Pentacost is obviously the biggest name, but 4th rounder Matt Morgan has been getting quite a bit of positive ink as well. A high-schooler out of Alabama, Morgan projects, like Pentacost, as a very athletic two-way player, with an above average arm and gap to gap power which could translate to home run pop as he matures.
At 18, he’s a ways away from the C’s, but fans of the system got good news today when the Jays apparently signed him away from his Alabama college commitment.
TOR has signed 4th rd pick C Matt Morgan- athletic backstop w/ arm strength- and 8th round RHP Justin Shafer- 2-way player, FB up to mid 90s
— Clint Longenecker (@Clint_BA) June 8, 2014
While we’re here, a quick note on Shafer. As Longenecker mentions in above tweet, the University of Florida junior both pitched (36.2 innings, including 2 starts) while starting 29 games as a position player for the Gators. Usually I would expect a 21 year old college draftee to be sent to Vancouver, but as he’ll be transitioning to the mound full-time, and is probably rather raw, I’m guessing the Jays will keep him Dunedin with the GCL team.
A final Canadians roster note the official MiLB site for Vancouver has been adding and subtracting players from the roster section for the last week or so. The constant shuffling makes me a bit leery, and it could be a way for the Jays to open spots in Lansing without sending these guys back to extended, but if the C’s end up with Labourt, Tirado, and Ratcliffe (if only for some Canadian content) then I’m getting even more excited.
The players should find out their assignments today, hopefully we’ll get a few more insights as the inevitable twitter announcements come out.
(too update as per above. Yesterday, ex-C and current Lugnut Shane Dawson confirmed that former Lethbridge C.C. teammate and fellow Canuck Andrew Case was heading to Vancouver. The twitterverse is also claiming that 15th round pick, and pretty much guaranteed C, Ryan McBroom has signed and will be on the flight to Vancouver. College of Charleston’s head coach Monte Lee is also stating that Jays 13th round pick Gunnar Heidt should sign soon and join Vancouver shortly thereafter.)
I know I’m going to find out the roster on Wednesday, but this is just too much fun.