With their first pick of the 2017 MLB draft, the Blue Jays selected shortstop Logan Warmoth from the University of North Carolina. The Blue Jays were heavily connected to college position players and Warmoth in particular, so this comes as little surprise.
Over the last two years, Warmoth has been one of the elite performers in the ACC, batting .337/.402/.481 in 2016 and .336/.404/.554 this year. He showed off increased power this year, with 10 home runs and 34 extra base hits, but also some increased swing-and-miss with 47 strikeouts in 307 PA.
Warmoth is a somewhat divisive prospect. At first glance, he's your typical "safe" college prospect, and earlier in the spring he was described as having average type tools across the board, but without any standout carrying tools. More recently, the evaluations of his hitting ability have been more positive. He's not considered a lock to stay at shortstop, but moving to second base would not be a huge hit to his value, assuming the bat comes through.
In the not-so-distant past, the Blue Jays have twice drafted college shortstops in the first round. In 2002, it was Russ Adams also from UNC, and that's the instinctive if lazy comp. He of course ultimately didn't provide any MLB value. In 2003, it was Aaron Hill from LSU, who ended up moving to second, but become a solid regular for a long time with 20 career WAR. The question to be answered over the next couple years is whether Warmoth is more Adams or Hill, particularly the Hill from 2005-07 who sprayed line drives around field before changing his approach for more power.
With Vanderbilt's Jeren Kendall still in he board and indeed being selected by the Dodgers with the very next pick, it sets up an interesting "what if" for Jays fans to follow over the next couple years. In some respects, the two are opposite profiles, as Kendall has multiple standout/carrying tools but with perhaps a fatal flaw in his high strikeout rate and lack of hit tool. Five years ago, the Dodgers also picked one spot behind the Jays, and both selected high school position players. L.A. came out out, shall we say slightly ahead with Corey Seager against D.J. Davis; hopefully five years from now we're not saying the same about the 2017 first round.
Some quick reaction:
Warmoth had one of my favorite swings in the draft class, and I like his chances to stay at shortstop in the... https://t.co/CSs0M9Mr4W— keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 13, 2017
Warmoth is an excellent pick for the Blue Jays. Should move quickly through the system.— Christopher Crawford (@Crawford_MILB) June 13, 2017
#BlueJays take Logan Warmoth. He's going to get to the bigs quickly, easy shortstop actions and big time bat speed. Really like this pick— Frankie Piliere (@FPiliereD1) June 13, 2017
Baseball America ran a good profile on Warmoth in May, detailing his rise from overlooked high school prospect to dominating the college ranks.