Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 MLB Draft Preview #1: No More Punting ?

  For the second time in three years, the Blue Jays opted to drop back and punt their first round draft pick last year, likely feeling that there was no one available with the 10th pick that was worth the expenditure of  about $10 million (or more) in bonus money (and the loss of bonsu money for players taken in subsequent rounds)
.  While it will take a few years to truly determine the wisdom of that move, a quick look at the top 20 players taken in last year's draft seems to bear that out - outside of a couple of players (Mc Guire & J.P. Crawford), there's a noticeable difference in quality between the top half and the bottom at this point.
  Thee Blue Jays decided that much like California prep righthander Phil Bickford this past year, Massachussets HS righty Tyler Beede wasn't worth the high  price tag in 2011.  Of course, both players had college committments, so we'll likely never know how close either of the young hurlers was to signing, but for the Jays, who have shown through the Anthopolous era that they're not afraid to roll the dice on draft day, it seems that they preferred to ultimately pass on the pick in both cases, and collect an additional first rounder the following year. In 2012, it netted them Duke righthander Marcus Stroman at #23, to go along with highly-valued Mississppi HS outfielder D.J. Davis, who was drafted 17th overall.
   This June, the stakes may be even higher - the Jays get the 9th overall pick as a reward (?) for their disappointing 2013 season, as well as the 11th pick as compensation for the inability to sign Bickford.
It's still early, but indications are that this year's draft crop could be the equal of 2011's.  NC State leftie Carlos Rodon is a power arm who may have gone fist overall in the last two drafts, and barring a major catastrophe, is headed to the Astros.  
   The consensus #2 is East Carolina righthander Jeff Hoffman, who won't be available when the Jays' turns come up in the first round.
   Keeping in mind that it is still very early, here are some possibilities for the Jays:

Brady Aiken, California HS LHP
   Baseball America terms Aiken a "projectable lefty with an ideal pitcher's body," which is something the Jays covet.
Nick Gordon, Florida HS SS/RHP
   The son of former major leaguer Tom, and step-brother of Dodger prospect Dee, Gordon has the arm and range to stick at short, where most scouts prefer him.
Aaron Nola, LSU RHP
   Originally drafted by the Jays in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft, Nola is described as undersized finesse pitcher.
Michael Gettys, Georgia HS OF/RHP
   Described as an explosive athlete with plus-plus speed, and a 95 mph fastball to go with it.
Jacob Gatewood, California HS SS
   Put on a BP spectacle at the Futures Game last year.  Called arguably the best power bat in this year's draft.
   This is all highly subject to change, of course.  Multiple times.  Over the coming months, we'll try to focus on the players ranked between 8th and 12th, to try to get an idea of who the Jays might be looking at.    
   Interestingly, Beede has been ranked as high as 6th by some of the lists we've viewed, and as low as 21st.  Beede set a Vanderbilt record for wins last season, but most reports refer to control issues that he has to work out.
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