Sunday, May 12, 2013

Serving Up the Mock Draft

   With the major league draft less than a month away, we'll start paying closer attention to the slew of mock drafts and player rankings that are hitting the 'net about now.
   The Blue Jays have the 10th overall selection.  Unlike the last few years, they have no "sandwich" picks, so they only have 3 picks in the top 100.  Will this cause them to alter their strategy ?  Last year, of course, was the draft of living dangerously, picking high-risk, high-reward players.  With fewer picks, will they play things more conservatively ?  Will they target a particular position, or will they draft the best available athlete ? Do they go for a close-to-ready college senior, or a higher-ceilinged high school player, who will take 4-5 years to develop ?
   Righthander  Jonathan Gray of Oklahoma seems to have taken over top spot in most rankings, although that may be by default because of signability concerns over #2, rhp Mark Appel of Stanford, who spurned the Pirates $3.8 million signing bonus at the 8th overall pick last year. Appel will likely fall to the deep-pocketed Cubs with the 2nd pick.
  After those two picks, it gets interesting.  Georgian outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows are ranked by most lists somewhere in the top 5-7 players, meaning the toolsy prospects will be off the board when the Jays' turn to draft comes up.  Several players have been linked to the Jays.  Baseball America suggested Reese McGuire, a left-handed hitting Washington high school catcher, about a month ago, but McGuire seems to have climbed the list.  Several reports had the Jays watching Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe.  In BA's first mock draft this week, they had Toronto picking Indiana HS product Trey Ball, a 6'6" leftie who is a two-way player, but whom scouts seem to feel has a better future on the mound.
   If the Jays are feeling like rolling the dice again, Texas HS righthander Kohl Stewart may fit the bill.  Stewart has committed to Texas A&M, in the hopes of playing Quarterback.  The top-ranked prep rhp may or not be available when the Jays pick, because teams ahead of them may not be willing and/or able to come up with enough of a signing bonus to dissuade Stewart from pursuing his football dreams.
His 95 mph fastball demonstrates the kind of power arm the Jays might not be able to pass up, if he's still on the board when pick #10 comes.
 Scouts aren't as excited about this year's crop of top prospects as they were last year's.  Sevearl of the top ranked college pitchers have taken a step or two backwards this spring. We'll follow the shifting of prospects as the draft draws nearer.
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