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2016 MLB Draft: Looking back at the ones that got away

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When the Blue Jays completely overhauled their draft philosophy starting in 2010, there was many consequences, but one of them was that aggressively drafting hard-to-sign high school players with high ceilings increased the potential for seeing previous picks pop up in future drafts at the top of the draft. Most notably, Kris Bryant  (unsigned 2010 18th rounder) was drafted 2nd overall in 2013 and Aaron Nola (unsigned 2010 22nd rounder) went 7th overall in 2014. Beyond that are quality first day picks such as Tyler Beede, Luke Weaver and Andrew Suarez and various other significant draft picks.

Last year's draft, whose college juniors were mostly the unsigned high school picks from the 2012 draft, did not have the same degree of premium former Blue Jay draft picks. Suarez went in the 2nd round as a senior after not signing as a 2nd rounder as a junior in 2014. Canadian Ryan Kellogg (12th round in 2012) went to the Cubs in the 5th round, as did Matt Rose (24th round in 2012) in the 11th round.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some significant unsigned Blue Jays picks from the past who will drafted over the next couple days, mostly from the 2013 draft but also a couple from 2012. The talent is somewhere in between 2013-14 and 2015, lacking the elite players fro the former years but having better depth and quality than the latter.

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Eric Lauer (2013 17th round)

Lauer has been excellent in Kent State's weekend rotation all three years. He profiles as a backend-to-midrotation starter, and is considered one of the safer picks in the draft. His 0.69 ERA in 2016 is the lowest for any Division I pitcher since 1979. He could sneak into the back of the first round or sandwich picks, but is better value in the second round.

Dane Dunning (2013 34th round)

Dunning was profiled here as a 2nd round college option, but his stock is moving up and he could get into the back of the first round

Cole Irvin (2012 29th round)

The lefty pitching Irvin jumped right into the University of Oregon's weekend rotation as a freshman, and posted a stellar season. He doesn't have huge stuff, but had relatively advanced command and a four pitch mix. Unfortunately, he went down with Tommy John surgery right before the 2014 season started, returned for 2015 but had a really up and down season, so came back for 2016. He has yet to recover the consistently he showed his freshman year, with some dominant outings but also a lot of lackluster outings. He should sometime on Friday (rounds 3-6), but theoretically has one year of eligibility remaining.

Sam Tewes (2013 22nd round)

Tewes was another projection guy in 2013, who was strongly committed to Wichita State but that was thrown into question when they fired their long time coach Gene Stephenson right before the draft. They ended up bringing in a new coach, but unusually retained the longtime pitching coach and Tewes ended up there. He had a good freshman year, butmissed most of 2015 with injury and then needed Tommy John surgery this spring. He could return to Wichita State, but won't necessarily be able to pitch much before the 2016 draft anyway, so could sign if a team likes him enough. Baseball America's 159th ranked player.

Brandon Lopez (2012 34th round)

Lopez has been a 4 year starter at the University of Miami. He didn't product much in 2013-14, but hit .303 last year and upped it to .392/.467/.490. There are some makeup issues, as he's been kept out of the lineup a couple times for disciplinary issues. Still, he's an infielder and a strong performer for a great college program in one of the top 2 conferences, so it's surprising that BA ranks him only 432nd and Perfect Game 466th.

Josh Sawyer (2013 32nd round)

After things went a little awry and they had a bunch of slot money left over heading towards the deadline, The Jays made a run at signing Sawyer, a projectable 6'3" pitcher, who nonetheless ended up at the University of Texas. He's been expected to a contributor and potential breakout player the last two years, but he's never got on track and pitched just 6 innings this year (10 K) on a very disappointing Texas team. Baseball America ranks him 380th overall, but he's candidate to return for a senior year and build value, though Texas just forced coach Augie Garrido out, so that situation is in flux.

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Let`s conclude by taking a quick peek even further forward at the unsigned player for 2017:

  • Tanner Houck (2014 12th round): A projection pick two years ago, his velocity has taken huge steps forward and he's now a frontline SEC starter who would go in the first half of the first round if the draft were held now and would be in consideration for 1st overall
  • Jake Latz (2014 11th round): Latz slipped because of his commitment to LSU, and he has missed most of the last two years with injuries. If he gets over that, a good 2016 could easily put him back on the map.
  • Michael Papierski (2014 16th round): Latz's high school catcher and a prospect in his own right, Papierski went to LSU too and was expected to step into a starter role this year. He struggled and ended up in a tme sharing arrangement
  • Drew Lugbauer (2014 21th round): Lugbauer started as a freshman for Michigan last year, and took another step forward this year hitting .294/.389/.483. He fits somewhere on the second day next year likely
  • Keith Weisenberg (2014 38th round): A top-100 prospect who was strongly commited to Stanford, Wesienberg was perhaps the likeliest at the time of the draft to end up at the top of the draft. But he's only pitched 42 innings over 21 games the last two years with an ERA over 7.00 so he has a lot of work to do.