The Blue Jays pick fifth overall in tonight's MLB draft. As a result, they'll have access to a calibre of prospect they've rarely seen in past Junes. We've profiled a few of the most likely candidates for that pick over the past couple days, but I wanted to take a minute to briefly note the two guys who are almost universally expected to be out of their reach. Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson and Vanderbilt center fielder/ super utilityman Austin Martin are widely expected to go first and second overall, respectively. Martin could hypothetically fall as far as the Royals at #4 if the Orioles seek an under slot deal with a lower ranked prospect at #2 to move money to later picks and the Marlins are as enamored of Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy as they're reported to be, but it would be a massive shock if one made it to #5. Here are brief profiles of the guys the 2019 Jays were a little too competent to have a chance at:
Spencer Torkelson: most public evaluators consider Torkelson to be the pretty clear #1 prospect in the draft, and it seems certain that he won’t get outside the top 3 picks. Tork would unique among likely first overall picks as a right handed college first baseman. Teams don't care about his lack of defensive value or platoon disadvantage, though, because they're too busy watching him hit tanks. Torkelson went undrafted out of high school, then burst onto the scene as a freshman ASU by mashing 25 home runs, breaking Barry Bonds’ program record of 23 that had stood since 1985. Then he went to the Cape Cod league and kept right on going, slashing .333/.472/.704, leading the league in OPS despite being one of only three 18-year-olds there. He followed that performance up by trimming his strikeout rate and hitting 23 more home runs as a sophomore, and had posted a 1.378 OPS through the first third of the 2020 season, putting him in position to take the career ASU and Pac 12 home run records before the COVID shutdown. He has some swing and miss in his game, but most evaluators expect his hit tool to play as at least above average in pro ball, while his power should be at least plus-plus (70 on the 20-80 scouting scale) and his plate discipline is strong. His upside is capped somewhat by his position and relative lack of athleticism, but he seems very likely to have some Pete Alonso-like all star caliber seasons ahead of him.
Austin Martin: Martin is the near consensus #2 behind Torkelson. He’s widely considered the best pure hitter in the draft, with a beautiful swing and excellent plate discipline. He has only average raw power, but the natural loft in his swing and his ability to barrel the ball may allow it to play better in games than it does in batting practice. He was considered a top 5 round talent out of high school but signability concerns dropped him to the 37th round. He chose Vanderbilt instead. Martin placed himself at the top of 2020 draft boards with an electric sophomore season. Along with 2019 #5 overall pick JJ Bleday, he led the Commodores to a national championship, splitting his time between second and third base and hitting .392/.486/.604 with more walks than strikeouts and 33 extra base hits in just 323 PA. He started off 2020 hitting .377/.507/.660 with 10 walks and three home runs to only two strikeouts before the season was suspended. The only question about Martin is his defensive home. He’s been billed as a natural shortstop, but never played the position in college. Instead, he played a mix of second and third base his first two seasons before throwing issues forced him to move to center field early this year. He has the plus speed to be fine in center field, though, and with his elite athleticism he profiles as above average at second as well. The consensus seems to be that he’ll play a plus defensive position, or more than one, while hitting for and excellent average and OBP with sneaky power. Ben Zobrist had some borderline MVP calibre seasons with a similar profile, playing good defense across several high value positions while getting on base a ton, contributing on the basepaths, and popping about 20 homers a year.