The Amateur Draft: how it works, and a bit of Jays draft history

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Every year fans and experts alike make predictions on which player will be selected by which team in the yearly MLB Amateur Draft, also known as the Rule 4 Draft. Every year, most of those guesses are wrong, which makes following the draft that much more exciting. Like in other years, the place to be on the day of the MLB Draft 2011 is right here on Bluebird Banter. In addition to previewing the draft, we will have an Open Draft Discussion thread where all of us excited Jays fans can discuss who we want to fall to the number 21 pick, and who we do not want. We'll laugh at some other team's selections, thinking that we know better than their scouting departments, and we'll be frustrated when another team snatches our favorite player away before the Jays could select him. Last year hugo and Tom were talking about how much they didn't like Transformers 2, so perhaps Transformers 3 will be featured in today's draft thread as well?

So how does this work then, you ask? Well, first of all, only players from Canada, the U.S. and U.S. territories (like Puerto Rico) are eligible. Players from other baseball areas like Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Cuba are signed as international free agents. So while the draft is not the only way to get young talent, it is a very important one. The Draft will begin at 7:00 PM Eastern Time, following a pre-game show on MLB Network. Only the first round, consisting of 60 picks, will be finished today. Rounds 2-30 will be done on Tuesday starting at 11:00 AM Eastern, followed by rounds 31-50 on Wednesday, also starting at 11:00 AM. Toronto will pick first when the 21st overall pick comes around, and again at 35, 46, 53, 57, 74 and 78 in the first two rounds. After that, the Jays will have one pick per round. You can find the complete draft order here.

The reason the Jays have so many picks is because Major League Baseball compensates teams who lose players to free agency, depending on the quality of the player as estimated by Elias Sports Bureau. The loss of Scott Downs, a type A (highest class of players) free agent, has been compensated for with the number 35 and number 74 picks. John Buck and Kevin Gregg, who had both joined the team on one-year contracts, account for two of the 46/53/57 picks. Miguel Olivo was shrewdly acquired by Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos in a trade, and because he rejected the Jays' arbitration offer the Jays received another compensation draft pick.

If the Jays select a player with one of their draft picks, they have until August the 15th to get him to sign a contract. If the player doesn't sign by then, the Jays will receive a compensation pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. However, that draft pick in 2012 would then be "unprotected", meaning they would not receive a 2013 draft pick in compensation if they failed to sign the player they selected with their compensation pick. This year, none of the Jays' picks are unprotected, so they can take all kinds of risks in the first three rounds. Picks made after the first three rounds are always unprotected. There's also a thing called "slot", which means the MLB has set a recommended amount as maximum signing bonus for draft picks (the lower the pick, the lower the recommended signing bonus). However, the Jays are very likely to completely ignore that recommendation and spend big. They are rumoured to have prepared to spend $20 million on the draft, up from around $11 million last year.

Some recent Jays draft history below the jump.

2010 Blue Jays Draft

Like this year, the Jays had a lot of extra picks in the first few rounds of the 2010 Draft. The Jays' first pick, Deck McGuire, received very mixed reviews as most Bluebird Banterers in the Draft Thread wanted Chris Sale, who would go to the White Sox. Later in the first three rounds the Jays would also select Aaron Sanchez (HS P), Noah Syndergaard (HS P), Asher Wojciechowski (College P), Griffin Murphy (HS P), Kellen Sweeney (HS 3B), Justin Nicolino (HS P), Chris Hawkins (HS 3B), Marcus Knecht (JC LF). It's far too early to tell how these picks will pan out, but Marcus Knecht has been tearing it up in Lansing so far and looks like a good 3rd round pick.

2009 Blue Jays Draft

The reason for many of the extra picks in 2010 was the failure of the Jays to sign many of their 2009 selections. 1st rounder Chad Jenkins has not moved as quickly as many would have hoped, but the potential of 3rd rounder Jake Marisnick, a center fielder, could save this draft. Drew Hutchison, a 15th rounder from high school, has done very well so far and Ryan Goins (4th), K.C. Hobson (6th), Egan Smith (7th), Bryson Namba (12th) and Daniel Webb (18th) can't be written off yet.

2008 Blue Jays Draft

This is not a draft that Jays fans would like to see repeated. In the first three rounds David Cooper, Kenny Wilson and Andrew Liebel were picked, and only Cooper has a small chance to become a big league regular. Eric Thames (7th), A.J. Jimenez (9th) and Michael Crouse (16th) could save this draft for the Jays. Tyler Pastornicky, the Jays' fifth pick, was part of the trade that brought Yunel Escobar to Toronto.

2007 Blue Jays Draft

This was another draft with a lot of picks for the Jays. Their first pick, Kevin Ahrens, doesn't seem like he'll ever be a big leaguer, and neither does John Tolisano (2nd round). Eric Eiland, also a second rounder, has already been released after not hitting at all. J.P. Arencibia and Brett Cecil, both 1st rounders and both selected out of college, seem like good picks at the moment, and their last fellow first rounder Justin Jackson is finally figuring out how that "hitting" thing works over in Dunedin. Marc Rzepczynski (5th) is already a solid contributor, but Brad Mills (4th), Brad Emaus (11th) and Darin Mastroianni (16th) have followed the path of being projected as big leaguer by us fans, only to never get a (real) chance to prove themselves at the highest level.

2006 Blue Jays Draft

This draft yielded Travis Snider, and .... well, basically just that. Brian Jeroloman (6th round) is still in the system, but this is a draft we probably want to forget. Of course, there's still hope our beloved Moonraker turns into a very good hitter.

2005 Blue Jays Draft

Much like the 2006 version, the 2005 MLB Draft delivered us just one player of value: first-rounder Ricky Romero. In the 41st round the Jays selected Brett Wallace, but didn't get him to sign.

2004 Blue Jays Draft

The first four picks of this draft - Zach Jackson, David Purcey, Curtis Thigpen and Danny Hill - didn't work out, but 3rd rounder Adam Lind certainly has. Casey Janssen was drafted in the 4th, and Jesse Litsch has been much better than the average 24th rounder, I imagine.

Other draft picks

Aaron Hill (2003 1st round), Shaun Marcum (2003 3rd round) and Dustin McGowan (2000 1st round) are some of the few other draft picks by the Jays that have succeeded. With the Jays selecting a lot of college players, they didn't get much value out of their later round selections.

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