In less than a month, the yearly first year player draft will be held. Thanks to some smart pickups by our general manager Alex Anthopoulos and as compensation for longtime bullpen here Scott Downs, the Jays will be getting 7 players from the first two rounds. They have the following picks before the end of the second round: number 21, 35, 46, 53, 57, 74 and 78. To compare: last year the Jays picked at 11, 34, 38, 41, 61, 69, 80, but their #38 and #69 picks were unprotected, which reduced the available options for those picks.
This year's draft is said to be loaded with talent, which would make it a great year to have 7 picks in the top 80 (again). Let's quote Baseball America here:
Talked to a scouting director today that said this is the deepest draft he can remember - better than any of the past decade, at least. It's just insanely deep. You're going to see guys drafted in the third round that could be fringe first rounders in other years. You're going to see teams getting guys throwing 95+ in the mid single-digit rounds. It's ridiculous!
Does that get you excited yet? What a year to fill up on prospects!
Now, in such a deep draft there's a huge number of guys who could be selected with one of those 7 picks. So I'm going to seperate them over a number of posts, and I won't pretend that I'll cover every possibility as there will always be late popup prospects who sneak in. Last year's Noah Syndergaard was such a guy.
In the first part, we'll preview some guys who most likely won't be available at #21, but some guys could slip if there are a lot of surprise picks. I'm using several different sources for the scouting reports.
Anthony Rendon - College 3B, no longer the consensus top pick because of injuries, but he's the complete package. Premium defender and hitter, he should hit for power and average and he has good discipline as well.
Gerrit Cole - College RHP, there's a slight chance he gets picked at #1, should go at #2 otherwise. Has a great fastball that can hit 99 mph with a great changeup, a potentially above average but inconsistent slider and a less used curveball.
Jed Bradley - College LHP, has a 91-94 mph fastball, a hard tight slider and an inconsistent but promising changeup. He has effortless mechanics, maintains his velocity later in games, keeps the ball down and throws strikes with all three of his pitches.
Trevor Bauer - College RHP, has a 92-96 mph fastball, a good slider, good change and good curve, throws all of them for strikes. Has great makeup and physical conditioning, but some are concerned by the high pitch counts he has at UCLA. Complex pitching mechanics.
Sonny Gray - College RHP, 92-97 mph fastball, sinker, cutter and a good hard slider, but changeup needs work. Undersized at 5'11, he has a max effort delivery which will worry some with regards to durability. Command could be a problem, but Gray pitches down in the zone well.
Danny Hultzen - College LHP, low-90s fastball, but was up to the mid-90s earlier in the year. Has a good changeup and an advanced "feel for pitching". Excellent statistical numbers back the claim that he could reach the majors as the first player from this draft
Bubba Starling - HS OF, three sport premium athlete who can also pitch. Very fast runner, great arm strength and power potential. Needs to clean up his swing and improve his approach. Will take a lot of money to sign away from football, but very high upside.
Dylan Bundy - HS RHP, 92-95 mph fastball with good movement, 12-6 curve is his best offspeed pitch. Throws five pitches for strikes, good athlete who can hit as well. High floor for a high school pitcher. Relatively short and mature build, but doesn't need the projection. Good repeatable delivery.
Daniel Norris - HS LHP, 91-94 mph fastball, good changeup, also has decent slider. Projectable and has solid mechanics. Already advanced, he might have been passed by Bundy as the top prep arm even though Norris has improved his consistency.
Francisco Lindor - HS SS, a legitimate switch-hitter who is very athletic and is expected to translate this into good defense. However, not everyone likes his defensive work, with one report saying it's too flashy. His hitting has potential with decent power and good contact ability, but he might not be highly projectable.
Matt Barnes - College RHP, throws in the mid-90s, possibly the second best fastball after Gerrit Cole. His curveball is good, but inconsistent, his changeup also gets positive reviews but the slider is not yet a good pitch for him. He has a good body and has good stats, but he does struggle with his release at times.
Taylor Guerrieri - HS RHP, already throws 93-96 mph and has a good curveball. Scouts think the changeup has potential, and Guerrieri has a good, easy delivery and a projectable build which helps him maintain his velocity deep into games. The only blemish might be a little bit inconsistent command.
More prospects, including some who might actually fall to the Jays at #21, in the next episode of this draft preview.