Monday, June 3, 2013

MLB Player Draft: Who Will the Jays Take?

  The Major League first year player draft is mere days away.  Mock drafts around the 'web have been conducted and posted.  So, who will the Jays take with their first round pick, 10th overall ?
   Sorry, we should come up with a more definitive answer than that, but we feel that there are a couple of factors that make a prediction all but impossible.  If the Jays were picking, say, in the top 5, a selection would be fairly easy, but there may or may not be players on the board at pick number 10 that we would consider.
   Last year, the Jays pursued a strategy of drafting potentially high-ceiling players, who were not without a high amount of risk.  With 6 of the first 81 picks, that strategy was more reasonable - if a Matthew Smoral decided to not sign, a Mitch Nay behind him probably would, or at least the club would have more of a bonus to offer Nay. Two years ago, they had more money to dissuade Daniel Norris from his college plans after top pick Tyler Beede turned the Jays' final offer down in favour of attending Vanderbilt. This year, the Jays have no compensation "sandwich" round picks, and the "back up" plan may not be such a good idea.
   Just the same, even though this year's draft probably should be dedicated to rebuilding some of the depth the organization traded away in last off season's deals, the Jays are not a club to shy away from a player who has been deemed a tough sign, or whose skills are abundant but still raw.
   So - who does it makes sense for them to take ?  That might be an easier answer.
To us, Washington HS catcher Reese McGuire fills both the need for a premium talent, and would help plug a  gaping hole in the organization.  Even though the club likes to take its time with high school players, McGuire could rise in the system very quickly, maybe making it to the majors at some point in the 2016 season.
  Trey Ball is another high-end player and power arm the club covets.  While his rise in the system might not be as rapid as McGuire's, he would add to the stable of arms the club is assembling in the lower levels of the farm system.
   Another high schooler who a number of mock drafts have had going to the Jays is Georgia outfielder Austin Meadows.  His defensive skills may necessitate a shift from center to left as he matures, but he has advanced batting skills.
   California prep shortstop J.P. Crawford has been labelled the best prep shortstop in the draft, and has been linked to the Jays in the past week or so. His cousin is Dodger's leftfielder Carl Crawford.  Nice blood lines.
   Arkansas right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek has also been slotted for the Jays by some mock drafts.
Earlier this spring, he was in top 5 territory, but inconsistency, which Keith Law links to the school's insistence on Stanek using his slider, has led to mediocre results.  Law projects Stanek as a #2 starter once he reaches the pros, and sticks with his curve.
   A few mock drafts have had the Jays selecting Meadows' fellow Georgian high school outfielder Clint Frazier.  This is mildly surprising, as Frazier has been in or around the top 5 for most of the spring.  He has a similar toolset to Meadows, with more projected power.
   So, it depends on what approach the Jays take, at least with their top pick.  It also depends, of course, on who is still on the board.  With their middle round picks, it's easy to suggest that they will follow last year's strategy of drafting low-ceiling college grads with little or no leverage, using the savings to go after more tough signs (ie., high-rated high schoolers with strong college commitments) in the later rounds.
   Any of the above players would be a good fit for the organization - if they're still on the board.
   Clutchlings' preferred player, Texas high school pitcher Kohl Stewart fits the club's bill on two counts - a power arm, with a college (Texas A & M) commitment.  Some clubs may be scared off by the fact that Stewart dreams of playing quarterback - good luck unseating Johnny Football.  At the same time, Stewart is very likely to have been chosen before the 10th pick.
   Whoever they pick, even though this has not been rated the deepest draft the handicappers have ever seen, at #10 they should nab a premium player.  It will be the work in the second and third days of the draft that will be important in restocking the system.
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