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2019 MLB Draft Preview: Organizational Position Depth

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2014 MLB Draft Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Having looked at the pitching side this morning, now we have the position player side in terms of measuring the strengths and weaknesses of the Blue Jays system heading into the draft.

As in past years, this will be done by displaying players on a chart for each grouping according to both major league upside and experience level (a rough proxy for risk). This is not an exact science, so take the positioning with a grain of salt, but it looks something like this:

depth template

Keep in mind that “reasonable upside” is not the same as likely or base case projection, and most players at the lower levels won’t come anywhere close it. Basically, it’s something like the 80th percentile outcome — if the player’s development goes well, this is what he could become. And conversely, it’s not an absolute ceiling either and there is potential for upside surprise.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’m including not only players with rookie eligibility, but also internally developed players contributing or established at the major league level with years of control remaining to give a better sense of the total organizational depth.

Catchers

2019 catcher depth

The catching position has come full circle to where it’s a pretty significant strength as it was six to seven years ago. Danny Jansen is struggling, but is hold his own defensively. If and if doesn’t work out, there’s a wave of talent behind him, though not all will stick at catcher.

Riley Adams had found his stride at the plate, though he’s got a really big frame behind the plate he could knock at the door next year. Alejandro Kirk might be the least likely to stick behind the plate, especially since he just keeps mashing at the plate and he could quickly with the bat. Gabriel Moreno and Hagen Danner are potential regulars, though with a long way to go.

Would all the depth deter the Jays from adding if it was on the board? It shouldn’t, that’s the nature of attrition at the position.

Middle Infielders

2019 MIF depth

What was a few years ago a glaring organizational weakness is now perhaps the greatest area of strength. That starts with having one of the top prospects in baseball in Bo Bichette, but also Cavan Biggio having transformed his offensive game and mashed the upper levels and not looking overmatched at the major league level. We’ll see if Lourdes Gurriel Jr. can stick on the infield and how far his bat will carry him.

Beyond that, last year’s #11 pick Jordan Groshans has done nothing but hit, and in April he looked like a man among boys at the plate in low-A, an impact regular ceiling (long way to go). Kevin Smith has disappointed this year, though Logan Warmoth has shown glimpses in May. There’s additional depth of interesting players in the lower levels, some of whom will emerge into legit prospects and most who won’t.

Some will say that with all this depth, on the infield and positionally more generally, that the Jays shouldn’t be looking to use their top picks here. I say nonsense. If the best player or best value is an infielder and at some point you end up with too many good infielders, it’s an extremely high level problem to have. And you can always trade excess for areas of need in that circumstances.

Corner Infielders

2019 CIF depth

So there’s Vlad, and there’s...everyone else. Rowdy Tellez has a lot to do to cement himself into the future plants. The most interesting player is Cullen Large, a second day pick from two years ago who hit in Lansing before a season ending injury and is now mashing in Dunedin. Other than that, there aren’t really many big bats in the system. Wouldn’t it be nice of the one of the big college bats fell to the Jays, On the other hand, they’ve had good success developing bats at the MLB level.

Outfielders

2019 OF depth

It’s an interesting outfield mix across the system. There’s a number of potential impact regulars in Anthony Alford, Chavez Young, Griffin Conine and bonus baby Orelvis Martinez. All have some risks or are pretty far away.

In terms of MLB players, Teoscar and Billy KcKinney are potential regulars or fringe-regulars, but haven’t established themselves. Jonathan Davis is fine as an extra outfielder, and who knows with Dalton Pompey.

Beyond that are some interesting prospects, but each with flaws from a profile perspective. One would hope one MLB type player emerges from that mix. But this is an area that will be added to this week — the only question is to what degree in terms of resource commitment.