Jays' 2011 Draft Haul: Norris, Comer, but no Beede

Of course the headline could also have said "Jays fail to sign Beede". Or, alternatively "Beede fails to accept big sum of money, goes to Vanderbilt". But even though Tyler Beede not accepting a 2.3-2.5 million dollar offer from the Jays is big news, it's not all that crucial to evaluating the success of the 2011 draft so far. Daniel Norris accepted his 2-2.5 million (not sure what reports I should believe), and he was rated more highly before the draft than Beede was. And we do get a compensation pick in next year's draft. Despite that draft class supposedly having less depth, at pick #23 there should definitely be some good talents to choose from, regardless of the draft's depth.

Here's a quote from AA, interviewed by Gregor Chisholm:

We put values on these players, if we can come to terms and meet those values, great, if not, the beauty of the way the structure is set up we get the picks back the following year.

AA's happy to try again next year, and he should be. He got Noah Syndergaard for just $600k in 2010. Justin Nicolino signed for almost the exact same amount. Mitchell Taylor signed for a little over $300k. Should the Jays spend $3.5 million on Beede if they could also sign 5+ possible Nicolinos for the same amount of money? I think you've got to go with quantity over quality in this case. No draft pick is a sure thing, and high school pitchers are possibly the most uncertain of all.

It does somewhat surprise me that the Jays apparently didn't break their own record from the 2010 draft, although they probably came close. By not signing Beede, Chin, Garza, Suarez, Norwood, Wiper, Glenn, Weaver, Seddon and the Nolas they had a pretty low signing ratio for the first 25 rounds of the draft. Time to quote AA again:

I don’t think we went into it with the expectation that they all sign. Not only that, but I think the model that we use going forward is what we’ve done here and we’re going to continue to do that. When you’re going to be aggressive like this, I expect each year to have several players unsigned. But on the whole I think we’re going to come out ahead especially with having the multiple picks and so on.

The aggressive strategy did get them the unexpected signatures of Matt Dean, Christian Lopes and Mark Biggs. And you could probably add Brady Dragmire and perhaps Derrick Loveless too.

So here's an idea: why not compare AA's first draft (2010) with his second (this year's)?

College pitching

It's Deck McGuire/Asher Wojciechowski/Sam Dyson versus John Stilson/Anthony DeSclafani. Stilson and Dyson are comparable in that their stuff is highly rated but they have injury concerns. Stilson's probably better, but DeSclafani does not have Wojo's pre-draft reputation, with both tagged as possible relievers even before they'd gone pro. Deck McGuire's presence, of course, makes this a clear win for the 2010 draft. The 2011 draft did not have a top-15 pick of course, so that's kinda cheating by the 2010 draft there.

Left-handed HS pitching

The 2010 draft had Murphy/Nicolino/Taylor/Adams. The 2011 draft has just Daniel Norris. Norris might be the most highly rated, but the depth of the 2010 haul beats 2011 in this category. Probably by a small margin if we try to forget that Justin Nicolino is pitching like a #1 prospect right now.

Right-handed HS pitching

The 2010 draft had Sanchez/Syndergaard/Jaye/Kelly. The 2011 draft has more impressive depth: Musgrove/Comer/Gabryszwski/Robson/Biggs/Dragmire. This category goes to the 2011 draft quite convincingly.

HS hitters

The 2010 draft wasn't too impressive in terms of bats, although it did feature the big bonus to Dickie Thon. Sweeney/Hawkins/Mims/Opitz/Pompey/Conner complete the haul from 2010. The 2011 draft features some more highly rated talent in Anderson/Smith/Lopes/Dean/Atkinson, but it has less depth. Despite injury problems for Thon, Sweeney and Mims, the 2010 class has done decently, featuring surprise performances from Pompey and Conner and the promising Hawkins. But if we forget those for a moment, the 2011 class probably looks slightly better.

Others

Lower round college picks are seldom exciting, but Andy Burns (missed a year) and Taylor Cole (missed even more) might have some upside. Jorge Vega-Rosado and Eric Arce from the 2011 draft are off to a good start, but so are Sean Nolin and especially Marcus Knecht from the 2010 draft. This minor category probably goes to the 2010 draft, as Nolin and Knecht were picked higher up in the draft.

Overall

It's really hard to compare drafts, especially when they both focus on high upside talent from high school. In a way, the 2011 draft was almost the exact same draft 2010 was, except this time AA had earned the extra supplemental picks through smart signings instead of Ricciardi's failed negotiations. The 2011 draft class was more highly rated, so it may turn out to provide a lot of talented prospects to enjoy in the coming years. It's now up to the coaching teams in the Jays organization to turn raw talent into skills. If AA has drafts like this every year, it's hard to complain.

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