Preview: Draft Day One

Mike Stobe

At 6 pm Eastern, MLB Network will start its preview show. At 7 pm, the yearly MLB First-Year Player Draft will commence. For Jays fans enthusiastic about the draft, Bluebird Banter's the place to be today.

After a whole lot of speculation, we will finally find out which premium talent the Toronto Blue Jays are going to pick up with their first round pick. With the Blue Jays picking at 10 and 47 today, the Blue Jays will look to make up for the lack of quantity in draft picks - they have not been able to stockpile extra draft picks like in previous years, thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement - with quality, as they've got their highest draft pick since 2005, when they selected Ricky Romero 6th overall. Under Alex Anthopoulos the Jays picked Deck McGuire 10th overall, Tyler Beede 21st (but he did not sign). While most baseball draft picks don’t amount to much, unlike the drafts held by other North American sports, the chances of drafting an impact player in the top 10 are quite decent.

Unfortunately there are nine other teams trying to steal away the best talent from under the Blue Jays noses, so Blue Jays staff members and fans alike will likely be on the edge of their seats as the other teams’ picks are announced, slowly but surely, by commissioner Bud Selig. Using mocks by Baseball America’s Jim Callis, Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel and MLB Draft Insider’s Chris Crawford, here’s a prediction for how the top 10 picks will pan out:

1 - Houston Astros: Mark Appel

It’s reported to be really close between college right-handers Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray. Keith Law likes Appel a bit better because of his better changeup, Callis likes Gray just a bit more because of his higher upside. Both McDaniel and Crawford have Appel going first, and I’ll go with the majority opinion here, but it’s really hard to predict this one. Some rumours had the Astros picking Colin Moran and saving money here, but that seems unlikely at this point. If they do, they could pick injured college left-hander Sean Manaea in the second round.

2 - Chicago Cubs: Jonathan Gray

It seems like the Cubs will select whichever one of Gray or Appel falls to them. Kris Bryant could be an option, but I haven’t heard any experts say they’re convinced the Cubs will go that route.

3 - Colorado Rockies: Kris Bryant

Assuming Gray and Appel are off the board, the Rockies will have an easy choice. They’ll pick the former Blue Jays draft pick - who obviously didn’t sign - who has been absolutely mashing, hitting more homers than many college teams. Though he plays third base in college, Bryant seems likely to end up in right field long term.

4 - Minnesota Twins: Kohl Stewart

The Twins apparently want pitchers, and Stewart’s the best one still on the board, in all likelihood. The high school right-hander has been in this spot for a while now, so he seems like the pick, but both Callis and Crawford think the Twins could consider high school catcher Reese McGuire. If the Twins pass on Stewart, that could really shake up the next few picks.

5 - Cleveland Indians: Colin Moran

Like Stewart, Colin Moran, a college third baseman, has been consistently gone in this spot in mock drafts. However, the most recent mock by Callis states that the Indians might go for high school outfielder Clint Frazier instead. Also in play could be college right-hander Braden Shipley and high school outfielder Austin Meadows.

6 - Miami Marlins: Braden Shipley

This used to be the first pick where no consensus was to be found, but recently experts seem to agree that Shipley is going to be the pick. Austin Meadows is reported to be their second choice, but there’s quite a number of players the Marlins could surprise us with.

7 - Boston Red Sox: Clint Frazier

The Boston Red Sox are very much a "best player available" team, and won’t draft for need. Any player who drops (like Shipley or Stewart) could be the pick here, but if not, they’ll likely choose between the two Georgia outfielders; Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows. Slight edge to Clint Frazier here, but no-one knows for sure.

8 - Kansas City Royals: Trey Ball

Reports are that the Royals want to draft a pitcher, so I have the highest-ranked pitcher left on the board here in high school lefty Trey Ball. The Royals could definitely surprise here though, and as the Blue Jays spot in the draft order creeps closer, this will be a very interesting pick. Another pitcher that could possibly be in play is Phil Bickford, a high school right-hander who has been rising up draft boards very quickly.

9 - Pittsburgh Pirates: Austin Meadows

All mocks have Reese McGuire, the high school catcher with the very good arm, here. I’ll go against the grain a bit and say they’ll go with Austin Meadows if he’s available, as I get the feeling that the gap between him and the other options is too big for positional preferences to take precedence. Of course, McGuire could very well be the pick, as could Clint Frazier or Trey Ball if they drop. Basically, I’m counting on the Pirates snagging the top player on the Blue Jays’ draft board, causing many words hugo’s mom would not approve of to be thrown around in the Blue Jays’ draft room.

10 - Toronto Blue Jays - Reese McGuire

I think the pick here will very much be decided by the previous teams. If Frazier’s there, he’s likely the number one choice. If not Frazier, then hopefully Meadows. If not Meadows, then Ball. If not Ball, then McGuire, who I have predicted here. Also an option could be toolsy high school shortstop J.P. Crawford, but most mocks and speculation have the Jays preferring those other players over Crawford. And it seems very likely that at least one of Frazier, Meadows, Ball and McGuire will be available. Of course, having said that, they will now make me look stupid by selecting Crawford over one of those other players. EDIT: I haven't mentioned Dominic Smith, a high school first baseman yet, as he doesn't fit the Jays' usual strategy. However, he's still a dark horse for this pick, and I've read some really positive stuff about him.

As for the second round, all analysts seem to agree that it's just wide open. There are tons of potential picks the Blue Jays could make, and speculation seems to be pointless, other than that, given what we know from the previous three drafts, AA's team will likely go with a high school player.

Who do you think the Jays should pick? Discuss!

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