Because of several free agent compensation picks, and the recently introduced competitive balance round, the Blue Jays' second round pick is the 49th overall pick in the draft. In the glorious years of the compensation pick (2009-2012), the 49th overall pick would have been somewhere in the supplemental first round. In 2012, the Blue Jays snapped up Matt Smoral with the 50th pick, a pitcher who could have gone in the first round proper if not for a foot injury which kept him off the mound for a while. I expect the Blue Jays will be looking for another first round talent in this year's second round. There's a lot of possibilities, so here are some names to watch:
Jakson Reetz, C, HS in Nebraska
Where is he ranked? 40th by MLB Pipeline, 46th by Perfect Game, 62nd by Baseball America, 65th by Scout.com
Why is he interesting? Well, for one, he won MVP honors at the Perfect Game All-American game, going 2-for-4 with a double against some of the best high school pitchers in the country. He's expected to be able to stick at catcher, but he's not exactly defense first, as his bat is mighty impressive. I wonder how much he gets knocked down because he's from Nebraska. The highest Nebraskan draftee in 2013 was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 22nd round, but he did not sign. Could the Jays go Nebraskan again?
Jacob Bukauskas, RHP, HS in Virginia
Where is he ranked? 28th by Scout.com, 33rd by Baseball America, 36th by Perfect Game, 38th by MLB Pipeline
Why is he interesting? Bukauskas was rising up draft boards all spring, and could have become sort of a 2014 version of Phil Bickford, had he not declared that he was going to the University of North Carolina no matter what. If he's bluffing (and I have no idea if he is), he could be a first-round talent available in the second round. But the rumors are that Bukauskas is sincere about not wanting to sign, so he likely goes undrafted.
Scott Blewett, RHP, HS in New York
Where is he ranked? 42th by Perfect Game, 51st by Scout.com, 51st by Baseball America, 55th by MLB Pipeline
Why is he interesting? Blewett's a prototypical projectable (6'6 tall) high school pitcher who has "Blue Jays kind of guy" written all over him. He was even picked by the Blue Jays in Minor League Ball's community mock draft. The reason he's dropping down draft boards is not his talent, but concern over injuries coupled with limited exposure due to playing in the cold weather of the northeastern United States. If you've heard this before, you're right, because it's similar to the story of Kevin Comer before he got drafted by the Blue Jays.
Cody Reed, LHP, HS in Alabama
Where is he ranked? 52nd by Baseball America, 61st by MLB Pipeline, 78th by Scout.com, 81st by Perfect Game
Why is he interesting? Reed's from a small town in Alabama, so his exposure has been somewhat limited. He also get knocked down boards for his weight. A lefty who's been up to 95 mph on the fastball, he would be my pick for "probably most underrated player in the draft". Here's a tweet about him:
Cody Reed finishes 4 inning outing w/93, 94 & then best curve of the day at 75: K looking. Interesting arm scouts haven't figured out yet.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) April 12, 2014
There's not a lot of info on Reed out there, but I'm sure some teams are very interested. Are the Blue Jays one of them? Reed is a Vanderbilt commit, so teams shouldn't expect to save money on the guy.
Gareth Morgan, RF, HS in Ontario
Where is he ranked? 65th by Baseball America, 73rd by Scout.com, 84th by MLB Pipeline, 91st by Perfect Game
Why is he interesting? Because he's Canadian. Like it or not, the Blue Jays draft more Canadians than any other team, so chances are they're interesting in Morgan, who could be gone by the time the Blue Jays have their 3rd round pick. I do think Canadians sometimes fly under the radar of scouts a bit, similar to other prospects from colder areas. That said, the powerful Morgan seems to be well known in the scouting world.
Garrett Fulenchek, RHP, HS in Texas
Where is he ranked? 52nd by Perfect Game 54th, by Baseball America, 57th by MLB Pipeline, 106th by Scout.com
Why is he interesting? Because he comes from a very small town in Texas (notice a theme yet?) and didn't pitch in the regular showcases, Fulenchek has been overlooked a bit. Fulenchek can now hit 94 mph, sitting in the low 90s and he's still projectable. His slider gets good reviews. Read more here and here.
Jordan Luplow, OF, Fresno State University
Where is he ranked? 71st by Scout.com, 94th by MLB Pipeline, 95th by Perfect Game, 105th by Baseball America
Why is he interesting? I wanted to get at least one college position player on here, and Luplow seemed like the most interesting player in that category. Luplow has had a big breakout season this year, hitting .377/.475/.609 with 36 walks and just 22 strikeouts. Luplow has shown even better bat-to-ball skills than the highly rated Max Pentecost, but does not have the same important defensive position, as Luplow seems likely to end up in right field. Luplow was also one of the best hitters at the Cape Cod league last year, though again Max Pentecost has him beat in that category. Luplow seems like a guy the Cardinals draft and then turn into the next Matt Carpenter.
Zech Lemond, RHP, Rice University
Where is he ranked? 45th by Scout.com, 57th by MLB Pipeline, 61st by Perfect Game, 78th by Baseball America
Why is he interesting? Zech Lemond was impressive as an emergency starter for Rice, but didn't hold up long at the 'pitcher abuse factory', getting sidelined with elbow inflammation after just five starts (which is ironic because an elbow injury to Rice's normal friday starter was what moved Lemond into the rotation in the first place). He has returned to throwing recently, but was back in his old role as closer. Perhaps he could have gone first round if not for the injury, as the buzz was good:
As mentioned on the podcast, Rice RHP Zech Lemond has taken to starting role, hitting 98 late in games & faces Jeff Hoffman tomorrow night.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) April 3, 2014
Other sources have him more in the 92-96 mph range, which is still impressive. Lemond's secondaries don't seem to be as advanced, as he probably didn't need to rely on them much as closer.
Jake Stinnett, RHP, University of Maryland
Where is he ranked? 44th by Perfect Game, 67th by Baseball America, 72nd by MLB Pipeline, 81st by Scout.com
Why is he interesting? Jake Stinnett is the top college senior available this draft. While not as good as last year's top senior (Mark Appel), Stinnett should not be underestimated just because he took off a year later. Starting to focus on pitching only as a junior, Stinnett has turned into a good pitcher very quickly, with 123 Ks and 26 walks in 104 innings. And he's not a command only pitcher, either:
Maryland RHP Jake Stinnett ran FB up to 97 in 7th inning. FB life. 10 Ks, 1 BB. Surrendered 2 HR against Wake Forest. Allowed 4 runs— Clint Longenecker (@Clint_BA) April 4, 2014
Like Lemond, Stinnett's offspeed pitches lag behind his fastball, but he's only recently started developing them, so there's some excuse for that. I don't think the Blue Jays are in on Stinnett, but I didn't want this to be another list of just high school guys.
Mitch Keller, RHP, HS in Iowa
Where is he ranked? 67th by Scout.com, 69th by MLB Pipeline, 76th by Baseball America, 90th by Perfect Game
Why is he interesting? Originally, I was not going to include Keller, despite thinking "this guy just feels like a Blue Jays draft pick". Then I read the Keith Law thinks the Jays are in on him, and now I've got to include him of course. Keller is projectable, but already pitches in the 89-94 mph range with a good, easy delivery and an impressive curveball. He's somewhat of a late riser, but I could totally see him going in the second round to the Jays. Keller hails from Iowa, not traditionally a prospect hotbed, but a state the Blue Jays have drafted Kellen Sweeney (one of the highest Iowa draftees in recent history) and Derrick Loveless (currently impressing at low-A Lansing) from.
While we wait for the Draft to start, feel free to discuss everything draft, including the latest rumors of Tyler Kolek sliding!