With the Major League first year player draft a mere three weeks away, the list of prospects has started to settle somewhat, but that doesn't mean we have a clear idea who the Blue Jays will take with their precious two first round picks at 9th and 11th.
High School pitchers Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, and NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon will be long gone when Toronto's turns come. High Schoolers Catcher Alex Jackson and Short Stop Nick Gordon are not locks to be off the board when those picks come up, but it's less than a 50-50 proposition that they will be.
After that, it becomes a bit of a roll of the dice. Collegiate pitchers Aaron Nola and Jeff Hoffman (who will undergo Tommy John surgery), and Short Stop Trea Turner are among several players who have been slotted between about 8 and 12 by most evaluators like Baseball America and Perfect Game.
While we trust and value the evaluations of these sources tremendously, they are more rankings of athletes than they are an attempt to gaze in the their crystal balls and try to divine the needs and preferences of each team. And that's where the trouble lies: many of the players we've seen in those slots to not fit the mode of the players the Blue Jays like to select.
The Alex Anthopolous era has seen the club draft players that fit into one of several broad categories:
1. The premium high school arm that they can dissuade from a college commitment and nurture slowly (Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris);
2. The toolsy but raw athlete (DJ Davis, Dalton Pompey, and the mercurial Anthony Alford);
3. The under-the-radar pick who missed time in their draft year due to injury or other reasons (Mitch Nay, Matt Smoral, Andy Burns, Patrick Murphy).
4. The roll-of-the-dice high risk, high reward type (Marcus Stroman, Rowdy Tellez).
That may be oversimplifying things, but the above categories represent the majority of players they've drafted and signed in the past four drafts, and we doubt that that strategy will change - say what you will about the lack of depth of prospects in the upper levels of the system, this organization will be a top five one in about another year due to the talent currently plying their trades at the lower levels.
We've also seen more than one source suggest that the Jays would take another chance at drafting Tyler Beede, who spurned them in the 2011 draft. We don't see that as a possibility for a couple of reasons: for starters, the negotiations between the two sides turned quite bitter, and there area likely still very bitter feelings between both, and Beede still has yet to conquer the command issues that have dogged him since he was a high school senior. The Jays likely can tolerate that in a high school pick, but not in a supposedly near-finished college product.
The Jays have been linked to Mississippi HS SS Ti'Quan Forbes, who like his fellow Mississippians Davis and Alford is raw but projectable, although most rankings we've seen have him in the mid-50s. Again, scouts and organizations view players perhaps through a different lens than do the media, the former of which look at projectability, and how well that player fits their preferred profile, while the latter looks more at performance and projectability.
As the Ervin Santanna fiasco proved this spring, free agent pitchers prefer to avoid the American League East. The key to long term success is to build through the draft and develop minor league players who can either stock your major league team, or be turned over in trades to fill specific needs.
So, we don't know who the Blue Jays will take with either of the first two picks, but we're getting a better idea each week of who they won't pick.