In our final installment of the series we look at the 2008 and 2009 MLB First Year Player Drafts and how J.P Ricciardi navigated his last two drafts as the General Manager of the Blue Jays.
To remind you, the 2008 draft saw Timothy Beckham go first overall to the Tampa Bay Rays ahead of Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), Eric Hosmer (Royals), and Buster Posey (Giants).
The Jays had a solid season going 86-76 but still finished fourth (man, I hate this division sometimes). You'll remember this as the season David Eckstein was our shortstop, Shannon Stewart and Matt Stairs platooned in Left Field for a while, and Cito Gaston became out manager again after John Gibbons was fired the first time.
The Jays would spend their first round pick, 17th overall, on a First Baseman said to have power to all-fields by post-draft scouting reports. His name was David Cooper.
That power never did develop as Cooper his just 56 homeruns in 598 Minor League games and just six Big League homers as a Blue Jay in 211 At Bats. He would hit .300/.324/.464 in 45 games with the Jays in 2012 but would not make the team the following season and would finish with 0.1 WAR for his time with the Blue Jays.
The Jays drafted A.J Jimenez and Tyler Pastronicky, but neither have made it to the bigs. Danny Farquhar, drafted in the 10th round, would pitch just 2 Innings as a Blue Jay, allow 4 runs (3 earned) and a -0.3 WAR...
Eric Thames was taken in the 7th Round. One of my favourite players, personally, he played parts of two seasons in Toronto hitting .257/.306/.429 while flashing plenty of smiles that would make a certain broadcaster very unhappy these days. Unfortunately, all his smiles and his 21 HR's in 141 games (510 AB's) was good only for -0.5 WAR...
From what I see, the 2008 Draft has a cumulative -0.7 WAR for the Blue Jays. But, you can't put a value on great sideburns and a beautiful smile.
2009 was the final season for J.P Ricciardi. In fact, he didn't actually finish the entire season as he was fired with just two games remaining. The Jays finished 75-87 despite two silver sluggers (Aaron Hill and Adam Lind). Team owner Ted Rogers passed away in the off-season, Alex Rios was placed on Waivers and claimed by the White Sox, and this was our last season with Roy Halladay on the roster...
The draft, best known for being Stephen Strasburg's draft year, was probably J.P Ricciardi's strongest draft... Which, admittedly, makes me wonder how much he had a hand in it and how much of it was Alex Anthopolous' doing. But, that's rampant speculation.
The draft saw the Jays spend their first round pick, 20th overall, on Chad Jenkins. The 6'4 righty out of Kennesaw State University (Go Owls!) has played parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays pitching 99 innings while earning a 3.27 ERA, a 4.19 FIP, and 0.7 WAR. Admittedly, he should probably be in the Bigs, IMO.
They drafted James Paxton but he didn't sign. Lame. They drafted Jake Marisnick, traded him. Lame.
In the 4th round the Jays took defensive wizard Ryan Goins, in the 9th Aaron Loup, the following round they took Yan Gomes, and in the 15th round they selected Drew Hutchison. Ryan Tepera was taken in the 19th round and Brad Glenn in the 23rd.
Ryan Goins, despite his .218/.243/.306 slash line has a 2.1 WAR in 145 games as a big league player over the last three seasons. That's a 3.1 dWAR and a negative value oWAR, for those wondering... Which you probably shouldn't have been... Because Ryan Goins...
Drew Hutchison is responsible for a 1.6 WAR added to the team as he has pitched 55 games, has a 21-17 record with a 4.60 ERA and 3.92 FIP. He'll get better and add more WAR to the draft class, I am sure.
Aaron Loup has pitched in 191 games, 189 innings for the Jays. He has earned a 3.00 ERA, a 3.35 FIP, and adds 1.4 WAR to the 2009 Draft classes total.
Yan Gomes played just one season in Toronto. From what I remember of that season he was a free swinging, okay-ish young catcher... He his .204/.264/.367 slash with 4 HR's, 32 SO's in 98 AB's, and a -0.2 WAR... And then promptly became a 3.9 and 4.2 WAR player in each of his next two seasons with Cleveland after being traded for Esmil Rogers. But, thanks to that trade, J.P.R is robbed of 8.1 WAR to his total and gets just the -0.2 WAR from Yan's lone season in Toronto.
That's unfortunate. But, I wanted it to be noted at very least that he did take Yan Gomes and Gomes did turn out pretty good. He deserves that much credit.
Ryan Tepera on the other hand subtracts -0.1 WAR based on his 7.1 IP this season where he has given up 4 runs, all earned, and 2 HR's. And Brad Glenn comes wth a -0.4 WAR from his 16 Plate Appearances last season hitting .067 with a .125 OBP... So... Ouch.
The 2009 Draft WAR comes to 5.1 WAR spanning 446 games played.
So, here we have reached the end of my five year (admittedly, I'd thought J.P.R was fired before 2009, not at the end, so I extended in for the 2009 season abruptly) and what have we found?
2005 : 9.9 WAR
2006 : 1.8 WAR
2007 : 8.7 WAR
2008 : -0.7 WAR
2009 : 5.1 WAR
FINAL TOTAL: 24.8 WAR in 1540 combined games between players drafted, signed, and kept through the 2005 and 2009 drafts.
So, with the MLB First Year Player draft tonight (by the time you see this article) I do hope you take some time out of your evening to see what Alex Anthopolous does and perhaps learn a little about the players he brings in. Get excited. It is an exciting time for fans of the Jays. These three days in June have gone from afterthought to something worthy of anticipation.
Alex Anthopolous has made sure of that much.
The Jays have a bright future that has names like Aaron Sanchez (2010), Dalton Pompey (2010),
Derek Daniel Norris (2011), Kevin Pillar (2011), Marcus Stroman (2012), and Jeff Hoffman (2014) on the front lines with many high ceiling prospects developing whose names we could one day add to this list. And those names have been found in the draft.
Who will be the next one added to the list?
I will caution restraint though. He may draft a future star but there is little guarantee he'll keep them. So, don't go and get your heart broken falling too much in love with the young prospects added over these next three days in June.