With just 10 days until the draft, it's time to transition from looking backwards at the Jays organization, past drafts and tendencies and look forward the options available for the 2016 draft. We'll start today by reviewing some of the recent mock drafts from largely reputable sources, along with some commentary. Keep in mind that the earlier it was published, the less it's usually a mock draft and more of a ranking based on tendencies and maybe a little intel.
Baseball America v1 (March 30)
Pick: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford University
Comment: This was very early, so it was basically just matching up a team with a player that fits logically. Quantrill does that in a lot of ways, starting with being a college pitcher, which is something the Jays have gone for a lot in the first round and that Shapiro went for in Cleveland a lot. He's also a high ceiling pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery, which the Jays have not shied away from. On top of that, there's the Blue Jays connection to father Paul and the fact that he's from Port Hope, Ontario.
Baseball America v2 (May 6)
Pick: Matt Thaiss, catcher, University of Virginia
Comment: Thaiss has come on very strong the last couple years, emerging as a force for Virginia's championship squad as a sophomore last year after playing sparingly his freshman year. He hit .323/.413/.512 with 10 home runs, 33 walks and 26 strikeouts before struggling in 17 games in the Cape Cod league. This year he toke another step forward, hitting .382/.477/.591 so far with 10 home runs, 36 walks and just 14 strikeouts.
The rub is, he's not expected to stick at catcher, which likely means he moves to the far end of the defensive spectrum as a likely 1B/DH. That will put a ton of pressure on his bat, and means he's really have to hit just to be a regular. Moreover, he doesn't really fit the Jays profile, since they've spent so little money on college bats - and when they have, it's been on Cape Cod performers like Max Pentecost and Carl Wise. BA notes that the Jays are said to be looking conservative and college. For a lot of reasons I hope this is not the case (don't restrict yourself, especially since the strategic direction after 2016 is so unclear), but if so, this is likely Shapiro's influence
Baseball America v3 (May 13)
Comment: Let's go a little more in depth on Quantrill. He was a heralded recruit and stepped right in as Stanford's Friday night starter as a freshman and was excellent, posting a 2.68 ERA in 110.2 innings with 34 walks and 98 strikeouts. In the NCAA regional against Indiana, he controversially came back on short rest in the last game to secure Stanford's victory. Then three games into his sophomore year, he left a game hurt, and needed the TJ. Prior to that, he was talked about as a potential 1st overall pick.
There was talk he would come back late this season, but has't which has spurred talk he has a deal in place with a team - perhaps San Diego, which picks at 24 after a top 10 pick where they could save some slot money. For the Jays, this would be a gamble like with Jeff Hoffman, although he's thrown or will throw some bullpens for teams which should give an indication of whether the stuff is back, unlike Hoffman.
Baseball America v4 (May 27)
Pick: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt
Comment: BA reiterates that the Jays want a college player, and fit them with a college bat. Again, this would be away from Blue Jays tendencies. In terms of Reynolds, he's been a high level performance for Vanderbilt since his freshman year when he started for their championship team. He's hit at least .300 every year with an OBP greater than .388, he's polished and tested in the gauntlet of the SEC, and this year his power has taken a step forward with 13 home runs after 9 combined his first two years.
What I don't like: Reynolds is frequently described as "safe", a player who doesn't have a high ceiling of standout tools, but should move quickly and is likely to contribute in the big leagues. The problem being, players whose best quality is being "safe" often seem to end up quite the opposite and bust disproportionately. Frankly, this feels a lot like a J.P. Riccardi pick or 2000s era Shapiro pick. They also mention another college bat in Buddy Reed (OR, U. Florida), which would make more sense since he's more toolsy but his bat is riskier. They also mention Zack Burdi if he's still on the board. He's been a closer for Louisville, can touch 100 as a reliever, but the bet would be on him as a starter. This would be similar to the Jays drafting Brett Cecil in 2007, he was a closer for Maryland, but they saw him as a starter. That was the supplemental round though, not as much of a gamble on a successful conversion and it hurts less if he ends up a reliever.
Keith Law / ESPN 1.0 (May 18)
Pick: Bo Bichette, IF, Florida high school
Comment: This pick fits better with recent history, as Bichette is a toolsy high school player though he is not expected to stick at shortstop. The Jays have tended towards outfielders, not infielders, but that's probably more just how things have ended up in terms of availability than a true tendency. Bichette also fits in terms of having MLB bloodlines (his father is Dante Bichette and his brother was a first round supplemental pick by the Yankees 5 years ago).
Keith Law / ESPN 2.0 (May 28)
Pick: Forrest Whitley, RHP, Texas high school
Comment: This lines up again with Blue Jays tendencies and the strengths of this draft. Whitley is a big (6'7") power pitcher who can touch 95-97 with his fastball, and throws three secondaries in a slider, change and curve (that obviously have a ways to go). His command wasn't as good at the high end velocity last summer compared to when reined it in some.
MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo, May 12)
Pick: Matt Manning, RHP, California high school
Comment: I preface this by saying if this happened I would love, love, love this pick. Outside of the top arms that there was no chance would fall to the Jays, when I started looking into the draft this winter, Manning was one of the pitchers that absolutely stuck out. He's a good basketball player too (son of NBAer Rich Manning), so there's lot of athleticism, and he has a big fastball to build from. My expectation was he probably wouldn't make to the Jays.
And indeed, most mocks have him gone by this point, especially the more recent ones. It's also rumoured he's put out a $4.5-million price tag, which the Blue Jays could only do by punting most of the rest of their draft. So this probably a pipedream for a lot of reasons.
MLB.com (Jim Callis, May 20)
Pick: Joey Wentz, LHP, Kansas high school
Comment: This draft is really deep in high school pitching, and Wentz is another premium arm who has drifted up draft boards. The Blue Jays love their high school arms, so this is a logical fit, but it's worth keeping in mind they have tended towards college arms in the first round - and the high school pitchers they have drafted they haven't landed, and Wentz is apparently considered a tough sign.
MLB.com (Mayo, May 26)
Pick: Taylor Trammell, OF, Georgia HS
Comment: I haven't got around to doing much reading on the high school bats yet, so I don't know too much about him other than he fits right into recent Blue Jays tendencies as a toolsy (risky) high school outfielder. As a bonus, he's from Georgia, which is where Dwight Smith Jr and Reggie Pruitt were picked from as similar profiles, so there's history and familiarity there.