Continuing our look into the the J.P Ricciardi led Blue Jays organization and the MLB First Year Player Draft we arrive at 2006 and 2007. If you haven't read the first part of this series please go here and have a look.
The 2006 Draft came during a year where the Jays actually appeared as though they might compete. They finished 87-75 but were 10 games back of the Division. You'll remember it was also the season where the Jays resigned Vernon Wells to what was then thought to be a sweetheart of a contract at seven-years, $126 million.
This was to be it. The beginning of the Jays turnaround... Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus, and B.J Ryan joined Alex Rios and Roy Halladay as All-Stars and all was to be good in Jays Nation. Adam Lind was showing flashes of being a good hitter in the MLB. Erik Hinske, however, was in his last year as a Blue Jay before headed off to Boston.
The Blue Jays held the 14th overall pick and used it to select High School Outfielder Travis Snider, a prototypical corner OF prospect with a good bat and a healthy appetite. The Lunchbox Hero became a fan favourite for the Blue Jays as his potential seemed endless. This was to be our LF of the future.
Unfortunately, after five tumultuous seasons being yo-yo'ed up and down from the MiLB to the Bigs and being the whipping boy, Travis Snider would be traded for Brad Lincoln after having hit .248/.308/.380 launching 31 homers in 242 games. A 2.1 cumulative WAR in a Blue Jays uniform.
Brian Jeroloman came to the Jays by way of their 6th round pick. If memory serves he did get a brief call-up and served as their bullpen catcher and became a bit of a fan favourite when J.P Arencibia continued tobl struggle. He never actually appeared in a game. He has okay-ish numbers for his 10 year MiLB career hitting .234/.361/ but with just a .326 SLG in large part due to the fact that he has 32 Homeruns in 2207 at-bats...
Jonathan Diaz. the 5'8 shortstop was drafted in the 12th round. We've seen him make brief appearances in the MLB hitting .140/.245/.163 as a Blue Jay in 27 games (43 AB's). In his 32 career games (5 with Boston) he has a -0.4 WAR.
The only other notable name in the 2005, beyond a Seth Overbey (not related to Lyle Overbay... obviously...) was Brad Mills, the Jays 22nd Round pick. But, he chose not to sign with the team (this time) and so we move on.
In short, as far as I can see, the Blue Jays gained a whole 1.8 WAR combined (2.1 Snider, -0.3 for Diaz as a Jay) from the 2006 Draft.
2007 was a difficult time in Jays Nation, a disappointing follow-up to the previous hope filled season.
There was some good. Dustin McGowan and Shuan Marcum showed exceptional promise, as well as continued results from a young Aaron Hill, and Frank Thomas was a 30 Homer, 277/.377/.480 player as a 39 year old Free Agent signing. However, the team finished 83-79 which was only good for 3rd in the division.
B.J Ryan underwent Tommy John Surgery, Vernon Wells had an awful season with just 16 HR's, hitting .245/.304/.402, Adam Lind was poor as the starting Left Fielder (forgot about that, did you?) and in all 12 Jays spent time on the DL and the team finished 3rd.
The 2007 draft saw the Jays take seven players in the first two rounds (three compensation picks for losing Justin Speier, Frank Catalanotto, and Ted Lilly, respectively)... Oh boy... Brace yourselves, people.
Let's start with the good, for a change. Shall we?
Brett Cecil was drafted in the compensatory round by the Jays in 2006. Attempting to make him a starting pitcher for his first four big league seasons he combined for a 28-26 record with a 4.79 ERA and 4.74 FIP before being moved to the pen where he established himself first as an All-Star and now as the teams closer. He has appeared in 144 games over the last three seasons earning a 2.79 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 11 K/9 and eight saves. 2.8 WAR over four seasons as a starter, 2.7 WAR in 2+ as a reliever.
Marc Rzepczynski played parts of three seasons as a Jay after being drafted in the 5th round. He appeared in 68 games, had an ERA of 4.00 and added 2.0 WAR before being dealt for Colby Rasmus.
See? Not all bad. And you thought this was going to be an all negative article.
In the other picks of the first five rounds the Jays also drafted Kevin Ahrens, J.P Arencibia, Justin Jackson, Trystan Magnuson, and Brad Mills... again.
Ahrens, Jackson, and JPA were drafted ahead of Josh Donaldson, by the way. Not relevant but I thought it was interesting.
J.P Arencibia spent four seasons with the Blue Jays as their "catcher of the future", allowing them to trade Travis d'Arnaud... He his .212/.258/.308 as a Jay with 64 Homers in 380 games, striking out 400 times in 1299 AB's. He had 3.0 WAR... So, I mean, value.
Kevin Ahrens has just this season made it to Double-A. He is 26 years old and in the Braves organization. For his career he has a .242/.319/.360 triple slash, all in the minors. He was taken ahead of Peter Kozma and Todd Frazier.
Magnuson would end up as part of the trade for Rajai Davis. Beyond a 9 game stint in 2011 he spent his Pro career in the minors. Justin Jackson jumped from SS to 2B to LF and eventually became a pitcher, and seemed to do so with a very positive attitude (from what I remember seeing on Twitter at the time) and is presently part of the Braves organization. He never cracked the big league roster but I'm a fan. Seems like a good kid.
Hey, Brad Mills is back! The Jays would draft the lefty for a second time, this time in the 4th round. He'd sign this time and end up appearing in 16 games for the Jays pitching 52.2 Innings putting up an 8.15 ERA and a 6.60 FIP... -1.6 WAR... He would eventually have a decent, albeit unremarkable couple starts in LAA and Oakland putting up a 0.2 WAR in 4 starts for them.
When the numbers are tallied it appears the Jays managed to acquire 10.5 WAR from Cecil, JPA, and Rzep, but ultimately had to live with JPA as their primary catcher for three seasons so value that as you will. With Darin Mastrionni's -0.2 WAR calculated (he had 3 PA's in a Jays uni, was drafted in the 16th round) it would seem the Jays accumulated 8.7 WAR through the five players they drafted who played for the big squad.
8.7 WAR in 696 games (combined) for the 2007 draft class.
Running Total: 20.5 WAR in value over 1094 combined games from all players over these three draft classes.
Next up, Monday morning I will complete the series with the 2008 draft.