I reviewed the 2012-14 drafts yesterday, so next up are the 2015-16 drafts, which are interesting for the transition they represent between regimes. For each draft year, I’ll list the total spending, as well as information and notes on three groups: signed draftees picked in the top 100; draftees who received signing bonuses over $250,000; and other notables (players with MLB potential).
Total spend: approximately $4.36-million
The Blue Jays gave up their first round pick to sign Russell Martin, but got a supplemental pick for Melky Cabrera that was used to take Jon Harris, who slipped down the board on draft day. He was seen as a good value pick, but I always feared some parallels with Deck McGuire. In 34 starts in AA, he now sports a 5.76 ERA.
Justin Maese had a really strong start in pro ball and moved quickly, but has stalled over the last year and half amidst shoulder problems that seem to befall sinker/slider pitchers. At this point, there’s still potential but a lot of question marks.
The mid-single-digit-round picks the Jays made and gave significant bonuses to haven’t panned out. On the third day, the Jays made some picks who could provide MLB value in the bullpen, the headliner being Jackson McClelland. If he ends up a high-leveage reliever with a high-90s fastball and putaway breaking ball, it’s conceivable he ends up being the best player in the class.
Bottom line: 2015 was the last draft under Alex Anthopoulos, and at this point looks like it will easily do down as his worst. Adding insult to the injury of missing on their top pick and several bigger bonuses, unsigned second rounder Brady Singer appears likely to go in the Top 10 picks after the Jays didn’t like his physical and nixed their deal.
Total spend: approximately $7.8-million (plus ~$75,000 in pool overage penalties)
The obvious headliner here is Bo Bichette, who is struggling a little for the first time in pro ball, but is still a young 20 years old in AA and projects as an above average regular.
Higher up (literally) T.J. Zeuch has moved along nicely, in line with what is expected of a late first round collegian. He figures as backend type, with a ground ball profile but a tendency to catch too much of the plate and get squared up. J.B. Woodman had the six weeks of his life at the perfect time, flying up the board and making himself at least half a million. It hasn’t carried over alas.
Cavan Biggio is a potential wild card. Before 2018, he looked like a potential utility guy with an ability to work pitchers and a good eye. Now he’s launching fly balls, and raising his ceiling to an offensively oriented infielder if the approach is legit at higher levels (it is the era of juiced balls).
There’s a number of potential relief contributors, headlined by Zach Jackson. The stuff will play at the MLB level, but right now the command/control needs a lot of work as experienced hitters aren’t totally overwhelmed like lower level hitters.
Finally, Chavez Young looks like a steal at this point, as a toolsy player with feel to hit and all it cost the Jays was $100,000 in slot room. I’m reticent seeing this profile as the top of draft, where there’s significant opportunity cost, but it’s a great gamble later on.
Bottom line: It’s much to early to say anything conclusively about this draft class, but if Bo Bichette ends up fulfilling the rankings he got this winter, he alone will ensure it’s successful. Beyond that are a few potential regulars and a handful of potential big league contributors. So far, so good - which is about as much s one can ask.