With the draft fast approaching, i thought now was as good a time as any to run down a preview of the 2011 MLB Draft from the Toronto Blue Jays perspective. For this post ill just be hilighting what i believe might be the direction in which the Jays may lean, and some names for people who are interested in the draft to pay attention to.
The Jays under Alex Anthopoulos have had a remarkable turn around with regards to the state of their farm system and the quality of prospects at each level. Alex, since becoming the General Manager, has focused on advanced scouting and has benefited from this large scouting brass he has put in place.
In last years draft we saw Alex take control of his first draft as the GM of the Jays, having said this we will have to draw conclusions from this small sample size in order to try to figure out a draft philosophy for the Jays under AA. In the 2010 draft he was aggressive taking the best player or talent available early in the draft, with the focus being on high-upside star-potential players. His philosophy seems to be aim high with the majority of the picks because sooner or later eventually one will develop into a star. Sanchez, Syndergaard, and Thon represent this philosophy of drafting potential; McGuire was a player who fell to the 11th spot, and Wojciechowski also fell to pick number 41 illustrating that Alex was ready to scoop up players who fell.
Another trend that was seen in the 2010 draft was the importance of a premium position. The Jays focused on players that played or will project to play “up the middle”, this meaning catcher, starting pitchers, shortstops, and center fielders. While some may say they drafted two third basemen in Sweeney and Hawkins both have tremendous potential with the bat and they had some experience playing short in high school.
Having highlighted some important facts from the 2010 draft now its time to turn our attention to the 2011 draft that will be held on June 6-8. The Jays have the benefit of selecting 5 times the first day, with 1 first round pick(21), and 4 picks in the compensation round(35, 46, 53, 57), they also possess the Angels second round pick and their own.
I believe the Jays will be very aggressive in the draft and look for players with the most upside, while these types of players usually demand a larger bonus, I don’t think money is an issue seeing how the Jays spent the second most in the 2010 draft. Having said that now I will list 4 bats and 4 arms I can see the Jays targeting with their early picks.
Josh Bell- A power switch-hitting high school outfielder. He currently plays CF he is 6-3 and so most believe he will have to move to a corner spot, there have been reports saying he will grade out just average defensively but the bat is his calling card.
Javier Baez- As of late Baez has been rising up draft boards as he is seen as signable with only a Junior College commitment. He is a flashy shortstop with great bat speed but he seems to lack the rage needed for short at the next level meaning a move to third is most likely. His bat will play at third and he has a solid arm.
Blake Swihart- A high school catcher who has a lot of promise with the stick. Swihart did not catch the majority of his high school season but scouts believe he has the right tools to be a solid catcher in the next level. With the way the Jays develop catchers I’d like to see what they could do with him.
Austin Hedges- Another prep catcher. He is plus defensively all around with arm strength and an overall feel for the position. Scouts worry about the bat and see it as just average, but with his defence he shouldn’t have to hit as much to make it to the show. Could slip due to bonus demands and a commitment to UCLA; a sleeper for a second round pick in my opinion.
Daniel Norris- The best prep lefty in the class. There are a lot of power arms in this class, and prep pitching is regarded as a strength of this particular class, but Norris is a special talent sitting in the low 90s with a solid feel for a change-up and should not be overlooked at 21.
Dillon Howard- A prep power righty advised by Scot Boras, meaning he will demand a high bonus. He could be a target for the Jays in the comp. round. He has a high ceiling with scouts seeing a mid 90s fastball as he fills out, very projectable
Robert Stephenson- Moving up as of late, he would be a solid pick in the comp round at 35 if he’s around. He is a big prep right with a fastball that touches 97, very projectable and a high ceiling.
Michael Kelly- Another prep righty, very athletic and projectable. Like Stephenson I would aim for him in the comp round maybe at 46 or 53. He throws in the low 90s now with more to come as he fills out, has a decent looking sharp curve.
There are others I like such as Josh Tobias, a prep second baseman, he has great bat speed and plus speed, I would love him in the second round. Or Henry Owens a 6’6 prep lefty with great pitchablity. I will admit I have a bias towards highschoolers as they have the most potential and I love to dream on prospects. But there are guys in college like George Springer, OF, if he fell to 21 would deserve strong consideration same with a Jed Bradley, LHP.
Feel free to leave comments about who you would like the Jays to draft and who you think the pick at 21 could be. This is a great opportunity for the Jays to infuse talent as it is regarded as one of the deepest draft in years, I’m happy we have Alex running the show and I’m sure we will not be disappointed.