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2017 MLB Draft Preview: Blue Jays tendencies

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For previous entries of BBB's 2017 draft preview, see the 2017 Draft Storystream

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Having reviewed the last five Blue Jays drafts (2012-132014-152016), let's step back and take a higher level look at some trends and tendencies that might tell us something about the approach they will take to the draft and the types of players they will target (or are likelier to target). As I've alluded to in previous posts, given the turnover of personnel at the top, with a new and first year scouting director, there's probably not a whole lot to be inferred from the past.

From 2010-15 under Alex Anthopoulos and scouting directors Andrew Tinnish (who remains in the organization as assistant GM) and Brian Parker, the Jays were one of the more aggressive teams in the draft, both in terms of how they allocated money and the specific players drafted.

This post from last year's preview broke down that era in depth, but almost two-thirds of their draft spending was on high school players (riskier than college) and almost two-thirds was spent on pitching (riskier than position players). Very little money or higher draft picks were allocated to college position players, and more broadly the Jays relied on the international market to find middle infield talent.

At a player level, they didn't shy away from tough signs, infamously not signing their first rounders in 2011 or 2013 (Tyler Beede and Phil Bickford) or 2nd rounder Brady Singer in 2015. They also weren't deterred by medical issues, drafting Jeff Hoffman 9th overall in 2015 coming off Tommy John surgery, or in 2013 using 2nd and 3rd picks in 2013 on Clinton Hollon and Patrick Murphy on players with injury issues. I expect that to a large extent, these days are over.

We also have Shapiro's track record in Cleveland, first as GM from 2001-09 and to a lesser extent until 2015 a team President. This too was examined in depth last year, and it was underwhelming to say the least. Their drafts were very college heavy, very similar to the J.P. Riccardi playbook. However, it was a very different, more balanced playbook after he relinquished the GM role, and at this point as president Shapiro will likely not have much involvement in the draft.

New scouting director Steve Sanders comes by way of the Red Sox organization, which has been one of the more productive organizations at drafting and developing talent. He wasn't calling the shots, so there's no point extensively going through their draft history, though beyond aggressively pursing high upside talent they didn't really have a style.

That leaves the 2016 as the best indicator of what to expect in 2017. Below is a table breaking down the 2017 by spending and total signees:

Draftee Type Total Bonus Total Signed >$100,000 >$250,000
HS Pitching $525,000 2 2 1
HS Position $1,850,000 5 5 2
College Pitching $3,230,000 14 6 2
College Position $1,853,100 6 3 3
Junior College $325,000 2 1 1
$7,783,100 29 17 9

Overall, it was a pretty balanced draft, albeit tiled to the college side. The signed draftees split almost 50/50 between pitchers and hitters, which was also the case for players who got higher bonuses. Likewise, total spending was almost perfectly split. The overall split between college and high school players signed is heavily to the college side, but this is skewed by late round signings. Of bonuses over $100,000, 7 of 17 were high school players, and 3 of 9 with bonuses of $250,000 or more.

The biggest break from the past was the heavy emphasis on college hitters up high. as the Jays drafted three of them in the top 5 rounds, more than in the previous five years combined. Secondly, they shied away from high school pitching, which was the lowest bucket of spending (of the four big ones setting aside junior college) after being the biggest previously. And neither of those signees was taken at the top of the draft, the first time since 2009 that's been the case.

We don't want to read too much into that, it's just one year and it could just be the way the board lined up. It's a pretty deep year for high school pitching, so there should be options when the Jays pick in the 20s. But being a pretty deep year, there should also be a number of college bats and arms available, so if the top picks skew to the college side again it's probably indicative of a broader shift.

To conclude, here are a few more specific Blue Jays tendencies/particularities in recent years.

  • Pitchers from the ACC in the first round: Deck McGuire (2010 11th overall); Marcus Stroman (2012 22nd overall); T.J. Zeuch (2016 21st overall)
  • Pitchers from the University of Florida on Day 2: Anthony DeSclafani (2011 6th round), Justin Shafer (2014 8th round), Danny Young (2015 8th round), Kirby Snead (2016 10th round).
  • Position players from the College of Charleston: Gunnar Heidt (2014 13th round), Carl Wise (2015 4th round), Bradley Jones (2016 18th round)

Next up will be one final retrospective on the 2016 draft.