10 College Players I Wouldn't Mind Seeing The Jays Draft



Pitcher Marcus Stroman was selected by the Blue Jays in the first round (21st overall) of the 2012 Rule 4 Draft. The Duke alumnus was the first college player taken in the first round by Toronto since 2010.

Rightly or wrongly, Blue Jays fans have come to associate college draft prospects with the much maligned J.P. Ricciardi era. In Ricciardi's eight plus years as General Manager in Toronto, the team selected only 3 high school players in the first 5 rounds of the Rule 4 draft: Travis Snider (2006), Kevin Ahrens & Justin Jackson (2007). The J.P. Ricciardi era became known for it's lack of impact players, and high-floor/low-upside prospects, and critics often pointed to this as the reason for the team's overall lack of success at the big league level.

When Alex Anthopoulous took over the GM mantle for Ricciardi in 2010, he didn't completely abandon the philosophy of drafting college players, but employed a more integrated approach. In fact their first round pick that year was Georgia Tech right-hander Deck McGuire who draft experts at the time considered a "safe pick" that could move quickly up a team's system but with the modest ceiling of a number 3 starter. The Jays drafted 3 other college prospects in the first 5 rounds that year (RHP: Asher Wojciechowski, OF: Marcus Knecht, RHP: Sam Dyson). With the exception of Wojo, whose renaissance in the Houston Astro's organization has been a pleasant surprise, none of those players has given any indication that they're going to amount to very much.

Now it's unfair to say that we have developed a stigma against college players as the result of those past failures, never throw out the baby with the bath water as the say. But it is curious that the Blue Jays have only selected 5 college players in the first 5 rounds of the draft since 2010: pitcher, John Stilson (2011); pitchers, Marcus Stroman, Tucker Donahue, and Brad Delatte (2012); third baseman, Eric Phillips (2012). Donahue, Delatte and Phillips, it should be noted were not really considered prospects at all, signing as fourth, fifth, and sixth round picks respectively for a total of 15,000 (part of a draft strategy to save money for later rounds).

It is important to view or recent draft history without a jaundiced anti-Ricciardi, anti-Moneyball stance. The J.P. Ricciardi run Jays, for all the criticism, managed to draft and develop second baseman Aaron Hill (one of our best players while he was here), right-handed starter Shaun Marcum, lefy reliever Brett Cecil, and lights-out closer Casey Jannsen, all college players.

Meanwhile, the college players taken in 2010, weren't all bad. One of Toronto's better prospects; lefty pitcher Sean Nolin, was taken in the 7th round of that draft, and is expected to make his major league debut for the Blue Jays tonight against the Orioles, only 3 years removed from his draft date. In addition, 2011 third-rounder John Stilson looks like a very promising late inning reliever with power stuff and is already in AAA, while 2012 pick Marcus Stroman is quickly establishing himself as of the top 3 prospects in the organization, and is poised to make an impact on the big league roster at some point this season.

When one really thinks about it, the team's problems during those previous drafts did not come as a result of choosing college players over high school players, but simply because they chose the wrong college players.

    Deck McGuire over Chris Sale (2010)
    Russ Adams over Nick Swisher (2002)
    Ricky Romero over Troy Tulowitzki (2005)
    David Cooper over Isaac Davis (2008)

In contrast, the Jays selected high school players at spots over the last 2 years, where a college prospect may have turned out to be the best player:

    Jacob Anderson over Jackie Bradley (2011)
    Joe Musgrove over Bradley Miller (2011)

Looking back to 2012 I really wanted the Jays to draft Virginia shortstop Stephen Bruno with one of our later picks. He was one of my draft sleepers. The Cubs selected him in the 7th round, while the Jays were creating bonus pool space using our 4th, 5th, and 6th round picks on Tucker Donahue, Brad Delatte, and Eric Phillips. At this point Bruno looks like a promising middle infield prospect for the Cubs with a very good bat and solid defense. He's currently hitting .362/.436/.478 in his first full season with the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League. Surely a good college prospect is worth more than the $168,200 in bonus savings we created by drafting a non-prospect (Eric Phillips) in the 6th round.

I'm not advocating that the Blue Jays should draft one way or another, only that they should employ a more integrated and approach as they did in 2010. Hopefully the Stroman pick is a movement back in that direction. The Jays have plenty of young high upside talent in the lower minors already and it would be nice to balance out the system by adding talent that is further along, into the upper levels of the system (as long as long term upside is not being sacrificed as a result).

The 2013 draft is not considered particularly deep, especially in terms of college positional talent, but there is solid depth on the pitching side, with 5 college pitchers potentially going among the first 10 picks.

The following is a list of college prospects that I wouldn't mind seeing the Blue Jays draft for various reasons.

1) Ryne Stanek, RHP, 6'4 190, Arkansas, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 1st Round
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    Ryne Stanek (03-31-2012) Arkansas at LSU (Baton Rouge, La.) (via DiamondScapeBaseball)

    Stanek has given scouts plenty to talk about this spring. Those who like him the most point to his consistent mid-90s fastball that tops at 97 mph with heavy sink and his mid-80s slider as two future plus to plus/plus big league pitches and see him as a potential top 10 pick. His detractors point to his lack of pitchability and dominance considering his raw stuff in comparison to other top college hurlers such as Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: His stuff is electric, he was once in the running to be the top pick, and despite his "rough year" his numbers are still outstanding in the best conference in the NCAA. The questions that dog him are very similar to the ones that dogged Mets ace Matt Harvey prior to his draft year (mechanics, command, consistency), and he could have a similar breakout in pro ball. Could be in the Jays rotation as early as next spring training with the upside of a number 1 or 2 starter if everything breaks right.

    2) Braden Shipley, RHP, 6'3 190, Nevada, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 1st Round
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    MLB Draft Prospect: Braden Shipley (via ESPN)

    He can touch the requisite high velocities for a first round prospect, though he generally settles into the low-90s with an under control delivery and starter's approach to navigating opposing lineups, saving his quality secondaries until the second and third trips through the order. He mixes his fastball with a quality mid-80s changeup and a good high-70s curveball that shows a lot of potential. His stuff isn't quite as electric as the power arms that are projected for the top five picks, but Shipley's stuff is strong in its own right and his ability to utilize it will likely make him a first round pick. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Extremely athletic, fresh arm with low mileage, high-floor/high-upside. Chance for 3 plus pitches. Fastball and changeup already grade out as plus-plus. Curve is solid average and can only get better with pro instruction. Huge development curve ahead. Scouts say he has top 2 starter upside. Like with Stanek, he could be in a team's rotation by next spring training, but High A ball is more likely, as he's relatively inexperienced on the mound.

    3) Hunter Renfroe, OF, 6'3 216, R/R, Mississippi State, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 1st Round
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    Gone - Hunter Renfroe HR Montage (via Alan Dobbins)

    There may not be a player in the 2013 draft class who has a better overall tool-set than this Mississippi State right fielder. Though he is viewed as a legitimate big-league prospect at any number of positions, Renfroe seemed to find a comfort zone this spring for the Bulldogs as a right fielder, and his easy transition to that position speaks to his superior athleticism and versatility. There isn't a tool in his bag that doesn't rate as above average but it's his prodigious power at the plate, both for distance and frequency, that truly sets him apart. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: The Jays love tools and he has all 5 of them, at least 3 of which (power, arm, speed) grade out at above average to plus. High ceiling player but with also some risk. Hit tool might not play, but he could transition to pitching if the bat doesn't work out. Can throw mid to upper 90s from the mound. Upside as a player: power-hitting right fielder with canon arm and above average speed in the field and on base. Impact level talent.

    4) Chris Anderson, RHP, 6'4 225, Jacsonville, Jr.

  • Draft Range: 1st-Supplemental Round
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    MLB Draft Prospect: Chris Anderson (via ESPN)

    Anderson was a virtual unknown coming out of a Minnesota high school in 2010 and hardly raised his profile during his first two years at Jacksonville. He began to attract scouts' attention last summer in the Cape Cod League and vaulted into first round status early this spring when his fastball was topping out at 96 mph to go with a present plus slider. Anderson's past few starts have been a bit rough, taking a bit of the shine as a possible top half of the first round candidate off. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Was on par with Shipley earlier in the spring as a surprise top 10 pick candidate, but a late season fade caused his stock to drop somewhat. Was overworked by the Jacksonville coaching staff, and wore down which caused stuff to tail off just a little. If stuff bounces back to where it was earlier in the spring he has number 2 or 3 starter upside with two plus pitches and above average command. Could start in the Florida State League with a potential ETA of 2014.

    5) Hunter Dozier, SS/3B, 6'4 220, R/R, Stephen F. Austin, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-5th Round
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    Stinger Highlight of the Night 6-14 (via StingerNation)

    Dozier was a multi-sport high school athlete in high school, playing quarterback in football while pitching and playing shortstop at Denton High School. Dozier gets very high marks from scouts for his overall athleticism and many teams plan on sending him out as a shortstop despite his size. His relative lack of side-to-side range will likely move him over to third base eventually, but he has all the tools in his plus arm strength and athleticism to be a solid defender at that position. Dozier also has by far the best bat and offensive potential of any collegiate hitter in his state. He has shown both the ability to make adjustments at the plate to go with plus bat speed and power potential. ~ Perfect Game</

    Why the Jays should draft him: Athletic middle infielder who could possibly play second base in a pinch. Intriguing bat. Similar type of player to Andy Burns who is tearing up A ball for Toronto, except Dozier has more in-game power and slightly better foot-speed. Interesting sleeper prospect from rounds 3 and on.

    6) Stuart Turner, C, 6'2 220, R/R, Ole Miss, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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  • Stuart Turner (04-16-2013) Ole Miss vs. Southern Miss (via BPProspectTeam)

    In a draft largely devoid of front-line college catchers, Turner's emergence as a quality talent is a welcome development. Not only has he lived up to expectations as a solid defender with advanced blocking, receiving and throwing skills, along with the impressive athleticism in his powerful frame, but his surprising prowess with the bat this spring has enabled him to turn a corner and vault up draft boards. Despite normally hitting in the Nos. 6 or 7 holes a year ago for LSU-Eunice, the NJCAA Division II national champion, Turner was installed in the cleanup role for Ole Miss. If teams believe his improvement at the plate is genuine, he could easily surface as a second- or third-rounder in June. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him:Turner is the anti-Arencibia if you will. If not for the presence of LSU's Ty Ross he would likely be the top defensive catcher in the entire NCAA. The bat is nothing to sneeze at either, as he's also considered the second best hitting catcher in the NCAA behind Cal's Andrew Knapp. He's at least a backup catcher with very good defensive value, especially in that arm, and his bat just might be advanced enough that he could start next year with Dunedin with a 2-3 year ETA.

    7) Jared King, OF, 6'1 200, S/R, Kansas State, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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    Jared King - Kansas State (via Jeff Zimmerman)

    At his best and healthiest, King is one of the better all-around offensive players in college baseball. He's a switch-hitter with extra base power from both sides of the plate. King also has a polished approach at the plate (49 walks vs. 45 strikeouts the past two years) and the speed to steal double figure bases as a professional. King's older brother, former KSU shortstop Jason King, was a fourth-round draft pick (137th overall) of the Tigers in 2011, a mark that King could easily surpass. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Excellent all-around hitter with a great batting eye. Will get on base a ton, which is a skill the Jays could use a lot more in the organization. Athletic enough to play a number of positions without being a liability. Should be able to hit in the top 2 spots in a major league lineup. Has been compared to Nick Swisher, with less power but more speed.

    8) Myles Smith, RHP, 6'2 178, Lee University, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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    Smith, Myles (via aathletes)

    As a junior at Tennessee’s Lee University, an NAIA power, he has improved the velocity on his fastball from a standard 90-93 mph in 2012, to a more eye-popping 93-97. His changeup has continues to be a dominant off-speed pitch, while the Lee coaching staff committed him to throwing his slider more frequently to give him a breaking ball and enhance his chances of remaining a starter at the pro level, and Smith has also made significant strides with that pitch, giving him a solid three-pitch mix. In addition to his superior velocity, Smith stands out among this year’s crop of college arms because of his superior athleticism. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: This is an upside pick for me. I think this kid can be really good under pro-instruction (he's pretty good now). I love pitchers with advanced changeups and he has a very good one. Very athletic with three pitch mix, but the changeup is the equalizer. I can see him being at least a mid-rotation to back-end starter with upside. Another strikeout pitcher who could help stock our future bullpen if the rotation doesn't work out. I really like his upside. I think he's a sleeper in this draft, with a chance to be much better than where he's taken.

    9) Ryon Healy, 1B/3B, 6'5 227, R/R, Oregon, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 4th-6th Round
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    Ryon Healy (Oregon) (via capeprospectvids)

    One of the top power bats in this year's draft class, Healy is rivaled only by Oregon State sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto for best power in the state. While he's seen time at third base, his natural position is first base. That profile puts a lot of pressure on the bat, but his impressive offensive tools and power surge this spring will give organizations enough confidence in the bat to make him a top three round pick, possibly working his way into the second round. His approach at the plate is controlled aggression, he takes violent hacks at hittable pitches and also recognizing when to take or fight off pitcher's pitches. He's always put on impressive power displays during batting practice, and as he's advanced as a pure hitter it has begun to translate into games on a regular basis. ~Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: The Jays are an organization full of raw athletes that project, but they don't have a lot of players who can flat out hit right now. Healy does just that, and he brings the added element of power. He has every bit as much upside with the bat as most of the high school players available at the mid point of the draft, except that he's further along in development. The only player the Jays have in the organization similar to Healy is Mitch Nay and he's at least 4-5 years away from helping the big club.

    10) Dace Kime, RHP, 6'5 219, Lousville, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 4th-6th Round
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    Dace Kime (Louisville) (via capeprospectvids)

    Firmly re-established himself as a top prospect for this year's draft by adding a cutter/slider to his repertoire. He began pitching much more effectively overall with that pitch, and eventually was inserted into Louisville's weekend rotation as the Sunday starter. Kime arrived at Louisville with a hard, overhand curve as his primary breaking pitch. But its shape was so big that he struggled for two years to harness the pitch, and his newfound slider quickly became a difference maker for him, especially with his ability to command it. He quickly settled into a starting role with a second dominant pitch to complement his lively, consistent 92-95 mph fastball, and he also mixed in an occasional curve and change. With his improved stuff and more-dependable command to go with his big, durable frame, Kime now has all the ingredients to move onto pro ball as a starter. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Big hard throwing righty who can strike guys out. He has the kind of physical tools to take the next step forward, and really improve with pro-instruction and conditioning. 3 pitches that grade as average to above average. He could be a 3rd starter or come out of a bullpen throwing heat and striking out guys, both of which would be highly valuable relative to his likely draft slot.

    10 More to Know

    Corey Knebel, RHP, 6'4 205, Texas, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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    Corey Knebel (Texas) (via CollegeBaseballBlog)

    Best reliever in college baseball. His fastball has generally stayed in the 94-98 mph range all spring, with a powerful low-80s curveball that is a plus secondary pitch. While there has been past speculation that Knebel could develop as a starter if given a chance, despite his somewhat high effort delivery, the reason that most scouts don't go in that direction is because Knebel simply has a closer's mindset, with no fear of any situation and a hunger to get the ball every day possible. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Alex Anthopoulous values hard throwing pitchers with strikeout ability. He has also come to realize the value of a good bullpen and pitching depth in recent years. Knebel's stuff is every bit as good as last year's pick Marcus Stroman, except that he projects to the bullpen all the way. Would be a quick return on investment and could be the fastest player to make the major leagues from this draft. I wouldn't take him in the first 3 rounds, but if he fell even in the 4th he would be a steal.

    Jimmie Sherfy, RHP, 6'0 175, Oregon, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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    In spite of having big stuff and a strong performance this spring, Sherfy's profile pushes him down the list a couple of spots. Not only is projected as a reliever long term, but his draft stock also suffers a bit from the stigma of being an undersized righty. That said, he features two legitimate plus pitches, in a mid-90s fastball that's reportedly been as high as 97 this spring, and a power slider. If he were able to maintain that type of stuff over a full start and develop a third pitch we might be talking about him as a first rounder, but he's one of the better relief pitching prospects in this draft and he's been lights out coming out of the Ducks bullpen this spring. The combination of talent and performance makes him difficult to overlook. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: I think he has the stuff to be a starter with 2 plus pitches and a workable 3rd pitch, but his greatest value like Knebel's will be in a major league bullpen. As a reliever he wouldn't take very much to sign and I think he would be a steal anywhere after the 4th round. Baltimore built a playoff team off the back of a strong bullpen. Anthopoulous knows the value of pitching depth and he values pitchers with strikeout ability. This is a more effective way to acquire them than constantly picking up and discarding pitchers off the waiver wire.

    Tyler Skulina, RHP, 6'6 235, Kent State, Sophomore.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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    Tyler Skulina (via E Tyler Bullock)

    The strong, durable right-hander has had a handful of outings where he has showcased all the ingredients scouts look for in a first-rounder and future big-league starter;with three solid-average to plus pitches, all delivered with a pronounced downhill tilt from a tough three-quarter angle. His fastball has been a steady 95-96 mph throughout with tailing movement into right-handed hitters, and he has complemented it with two quality breaking balls, including a hard, biting low-80s slider. Skulina has a better, more-balanced delivery than in high school, but is still prone to games when his velocity dips to 90-91 mph, he'll struggle with his control and command, and hitters have little difficulty seeing his pitches and squaring him up. His inconsistency, along with the lack of an established changeup, will probably keep him out of the first round, but he should be a factor in the second. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Passes the eye test. Anywhere after the 3rd round and he's a steal. Similar type to Kime in that he has power stuff and very good strikeout ability. If they can smoothen out his mechanics and make them more consistent he could be a monster out of a team's bullpen (a la John Stilson) or a pretty good 3 or 4 starter. We only need to look at this year's edition of the Jays to see how important pitching depth in the upper minors is. If all he does is keep us from rushing the Sanchezes and Osunas of the world, there's value in that, but I also think he could be much more.

    Conrad Gregor, OF/1B, 6'3 215, L/R, Vanderbilt, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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    Conrad Gregor, 1b, Orleans Firebirds (Vanderbilt) (via pwardell06)

    Gregor has one of the most disciplined swings in the college ranks, and when his raw power started to evolve in a meaningful way last summer in the Cape Cod League, he all but stamped his chances of emerging as a first- or second-round talent this year. But with just two homers in early May, his power hasn't developed as expected, and he may not be taken early enough to justify his leaving school a year early. The 2009 PG All-American still flashes impressive bat speed and considerable raw power in batting practice. Not only does he have one of the purest, on-plane left-handed strokes in the college game, but he also has a very polished approach to hitting with uncanny strike-zone discipline. He rarely chases anything out of the zone, notably 3-2 pitches just off the black, and easily led the Cape last summer with 38 walks. Scouts say that he may need to become less patient in his approach to unlock his power potential. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Solid athleticism. Can play left field, and potentially a plus defender at first base. Another advanced college hitter to augment the Jays system which is full of raw athletes. Would arguably be the best pure hitter in the Jays system. To me he's Adam Lind with a better eye and more plate discipline. I think the power will come for him as it did for Lind, who was also said to lack power coming out of college. I think he has the bat to carry him, and he's a better athlete than Lind (who once upon a time was our best hitting prospect). I can see Gregor hitting something like .270/.360/.440 with 10-20 home runs, on a consistent year to year basis. If he's there in the 4th round and willing to sign for slightly over slot that's great value.

    Rob Zastryzny, LHP, 6'3 193, Missouri, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 3rd-6th Round
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    Rob Z Pitching.wmv (via robzas1)

    Zastryzny has seen his draft stock steadily rise through the course of the spring and could hear his name heard as early as the second round. He stepped into the Missouri rotation early in his freshman year and has built his upper-80s fastball into a pitch that now tops out at 94 mph with excellent sinking and running life at times. Zastryzny’s best secondary pitch is a low-80s changeup that has very good arm speed and matches his fastball in life and in his ability to spot the ball low in the zone. His third pitch is a curveball that is a workable offering in setting up hitters, but it is not currently a swing-and-miss pitch. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Pseudo-Canadian lefty with good stuff. Could be a 4 or 5 starter with upside and good value anywhere after the 3rd round.

    Jeff Thompson, RHP, 6'6 248, Louisville, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 5th-8th Round
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    Jeff Thompson - RHP - University of Louisville (5-18-2012 at Pitt) (via Jeff Reese)

    Big strapping frame and raw athleticism. His appeal out of high school extended beyond baseball as he received college scholarship offers as both a defensive end in football and power forward in basketball. Typically his fastball sits at 91-92, and even dips into the high-80s, at times. Thompson, though, has a smooth, easy delivery and is rarely inclined to overthrow. He also has the advantage of getting significant downward angle on his fastball with his long frame and extra-long arms, and the pitch will jump on hitters, giving it the appearance of being faster than it is. He'll also throw his hard curve with enough velocity on it that it can often be mistaken for a slider. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Another big hard-throwing right handed pitcher for Anthopoulous. His pure stuff is not on par with Kime or Skulina's right now, but there is some projection left and I like his smooth delivery. Another potential bullpen or back end starter we could take a flyer on in a later round.

    Tony Kemp, 2B/OF, 5'6 160, L/R, Vanderbilt, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 6-10th Round
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  • Tony Kemp - OF - Vanderbilt Commodores (via farmsystem)

    Has a contagious, high-energy approach to the game, along with obvious strengths on both offense and defense. He is a prototypical leadoff hitter with his assortment of offensive skills, including his ability to run, slap balls to all fields, bunt and take pitches, along with a general knack for reaching base. Doesn't project to hit for much power at the next level. Kemp also excels in select aspects defensively, most obviously at running balls down in center field with his superior speed, range and athleticism. But he spent most of this season learning how to play second base, and his professional future most likely will be at that position to maximize his value. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Could be the answer to the Blue Jays second base vacancy within a year or two. Plays with the high energy level that Anthopoulous loves, and has game-breaking speed. Bat has improved big time since his Sophomore year, and he plays for a good program. Makes contact and gets on base. The Jays don't really have a second base prospect above low-A, so there's some value in spending a late round pick on a guy like Kemp, who could be up here in two years if everything breaks right.

    Daniel Palka, 1B/OF, 6'2 225, L/L, Georgia Tech, Junior.

  • Draft Range: 6th-10th Round
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    Daniel Palka (Georgia Tech @ Boston College 03-23-12) (via alskor)

    The left handed hitting Palka's power has never been questioned, but scouts seem to be more focused on something else he does frequently, which was swing and miss. The issue cropped up again last summer, as Palka hit .272-11-35 in the Cape Cod League, and he added two more home runs in the playoffs, but also struck out 46 times. Has improved his plate discipline in 2013 already drawing a career high 22 walks to only 36 strikeouts. The other question that follows Palka is what his future position will be. He has plus raw arm strength off the mound as a former 90 mph southpaw who took a few turns on the mound as a sophomore. But he's also a below average runner who lacks ideal mobility for the outfield. He played first base frequently in 2012 and that will be the fall back option. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: Palka is a high risk/high reward prospect with game changing power. He would arguably have the most power in the Jays minor league system if drafted. There's a chance he may not make enough contact to use that power at higher minor league levels, but the same thing could be said for younger power prospects like Joey Gallo or Rowdy Tellez. If you can get him late enough in the draft and convince him to sign you have a lottery ticket with a potential big pay out at little-to-no cost.

    Elvin Soto, C, 6'0 200, S/R, Pittsburgh, Sophomore.

  • Draft Range: 6th-10th Round
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  • Elvin Soto - C - University of Pittsburgh (2013-03-09 vs. Youngstown State) (via Jeff Reese)

    Catchers who can hit and throw are and always will be a sought after commodity, and Soto has both of those attributes. A switch hitter with power, Soto posts pop times from behind the dish consistently under 1.9 seconds. His strong frame suits the position well, and he has developed into a leader behind the plate for the Panthers. And, as valuable as those defensive skills are, his development as a hitter is what could land him in the top 5-6 rounds. Soto has added strength this spring and shows lift from both sides of the plate, as well as impressive bat speed. He handles the fastball well and consistently has professional caliber at-bats. ~ Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: The Jays could use an advanced catching prospect in the system, with the potential to hit and play defense. After A.J. Jimenez who remains a question mark because of injury this year, the next catcher in the organization is Nessy Santiago (also injured). I can't imagine a world in which J.P. Arencibia has free reign as our starting catcher for the next 4-5 years. Sure Soto is far from a sure thing as any prospect, but at least he's advanced enough, and has enough potential for Jays fans to dream of a day in which our starting catcher both takes a walk and doesn't give up a passed ball in the same game. It's not a lofty goal, but I think Soto or Turner could give us that: HOPE.

    Andy Hillis, RHP, 6'7 220, Lee University, RS-Junior.

  • Draft Range: 12th-20th Round
  • (2013) 28g 3-0 0.53era 9sv 33.2ip 13h 17bb 62so

    Andy Hillis (RHP) Hits 94mph, July 3 2012 (via STLMetroLeague)

    By fully regaining his arm strength and quickness, Hillis has overpowered hitters this spring with a lively fastball on a pronounced downhill plane that sits comfortably at 96-97 mph, and has topped out at 99. His slider has been a solid second pitch, but possibly the greatest difference in Hillis’ dominant season has been more consistent command, stemming from cleaner mechanics. Now a fourth-year junior after spending his freshman season at Tennessee, red-shirting in 2011 and putting his career back on track the last two years at Lee, Hillis is eager and ready to move on to the pro ranks after passing on opportunities twice in the past. ~Perfect Game

    Why the Jays should draft him: The final in a long line of big hard-throwing right handers on this list (did you notice a pattern). Hillis is also a strikeout artist as seen by his videogame like k-rates. He's pretty much a reliever all the way, and at his age, he should be a quick sign. With his combination of power stuff and command, he could be a dominator in our bullpen someday, and we won't have to trade John Gibbons this winter to acquire him (right Esmil Rogers?). That alone should be worth a pick in the teens I would think.

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