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2019 MLB Draft Preview: Organizational Pitching Depth

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2014 MLB Draft Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

More so than other sports, MLB teams usually draft the best player on their board regardless of positional need due to the longer timelines in development, but it’s still useful to take a look at how the Blue Jays system shapes up in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

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:


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.

Left-handed Pitchers

2019 LHP depth

This is probably the thinnest area of the system, especially considering Ryan Borucki isn’t technically a prospect. You’ve got him as a major young league pitcher, Tim Mayza in the bullpen and Thomas Pannone as a swingman right now.

Zach Logue has moved quickly through the system and could be a backend starter, and likewise Nick Allgeyer has done the same since last year’s draft. Other than that, there’s some LOOGY reliever types in the high minors who could figure at the MLB level.

The big gap is what’s almost a complete lack of lower level lefties, the upside arms who become interesting prospects. The Jays will surely draft a few lefty pitchers, we’ll see if they use any early picks. But it certainly shouldn’t the case of forcing a lefty pitcher pick to fill out the depth chart.

Right-handed Starters

2019 RHP RP depth

It might be surprising to most observers that the system is actually in pretty decent shape here. It’s not stupid deep like earlier this decade when the Jays went high school pitching heavy and had a ton of early picks. But you’ve got some high upside arms (Pearson, Pardinho, Kloffenstein), upper level pitchers who could profile as very useful major league starters (Zeuch, Murphy).

There’s some upper level backend types, and pitchers who likely end up with a future role in the bullpen as with Romano this year (Paulino, Perez, Diaz). Beyond that, there’s a lot of volume where you hope to find a few useful pitchers in the enar future. That includes

Right-handed Relievers

2019 RHP RP

It is a maxim that most relievers are failed starters, the major question being when. There’s a pretty even mix between those that came into pro ball as starters (Jordan Romano, Justin Shafer, Sam Gaviglio) and those that came in as pure relievers (Jackson McClelland, Zach Jackson, Ty Tice).

Overall, there’s an interesting mix. Relievers are not generally a first day priority, a few show up on the second day on merit with potentially senior signs to save slot room. In recent years, the Jays have taken a lot of relief or relief-profiling pitchers early on the the third day between rounds 11-30. They also found some interesting ones later last year.