Today marks the last day of the 2021 MLB Draft, the last 10 rounds starting at 12:00 ET again live streamed on MLB.com. What used to be in prior years a six-hour, 30 round, and 900 player rapid-fire marathon is (at least for this year), 10 rounds that will probably go by in a couple hours unless they slow it down a little now that there’s much less to go through.
As a reminder, players chosen after the third round can sign for up to $125,000 without it counting against a team’s draft pool, with any excess counting against. The Blue Jays may have some money to make a run at target or two, they almost certainly saved some money with a couple picks yesterday, but the question will be if it was already committed. Otherwise, the Jays tend to take a lot of college pitching early on the third day, though they already got a jump on that yesterday.
Below we’ll track the picks as they come in, and add some notes.
11. Trenton Wallace, LHP, University of Iowa
- Two-way player who played in the outfield as well, Wallace got off to a great start in 2020 with a 1.59 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 1.1 innings before the shutdown. He moved into the weekend rotation in 2021 and picked right up, winning Big 10 pitcher of the year with a 2.48 ERA and 103/37 K/BB in 73 innings. Potential for more development with exclusive focus on pitching, fastball plays up with deception and tough slider. Jays drafted another 22-year-old LHP out of Iowa in the 12th round in 2018 and that’s worked out nicely.
12. Riley Tirotta, 3B, University of Dayton
- Exploded for a .337/.450/.696 line in 2021 as a senior after topping out previously at a .756 OPS in 2019 and struggling in a brief run in the Cape Cod League. Big power (31 extra base hits in 51 games) and arm for third base, ranked the 201st draft prospect by Perfect Game. 23 in August, so it would make sense for him to go straight to low-A and see how video game numbers from a smaller conference hold up.
13. Matt Svanson, RHP, Lehigh
- Posted 2.30 in 70.1 innings as a senior in first full season starting, albeit with middling peripherals (65/24 K/BB) and 3.84 RA/9. Off to a strong start in the Cape Cod League, 9 shutout IP over two games with 10 strikeouts; was also very strong in another collegiate summer league after the 2019 season. Classic power pitcher frame at 6’5”/235.
14. Damiano Palmegiani, 3B, College of Southern Nevada
- Venezuelan-born British Columbian was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 35th round in 2018, but opted to attend Cal State Northridge before transferring after 2019. Posted video game numbers at College of Southern Nevada (junior college where Bryce Harper went for one year) in 2021, .389/.521/.867, and 26 home runs. Hitting solid .304/.403/.482 in 19 games for State College Spikes of the MLB Draft League with a pair of home runs. Committed to Arizona.
No surprise here... @ArizonaBaseball commit @damiano_p24 is still raking, now in the @mlbdraftleague— PBR British Columbia (@PrepBaseballBC) June 19, 2021
In his first AB last night he parked one 379 ft., 101 off the bat at a 40 LA
Finished his night 2-5 with 3 RBI's for the @SCSpikes #RaiseYourStock #MLBDraftLeague pic.twitter.com/WHkO5FJeYy
15. Garrett Spain, OF, Austin Peay
- A three year starter with very consistent performance, hitting .324/.407/.520 in a small conference. Quite young for a college junior, not turning 21 until September; ranked the 317th overall draft prospect by Perfect Game.
16. Micah Bucknam, LHP, Mennonite Educational Institute (BC high school)
- Buckham is a 6’4” lefty from the Fraser Valley committed to the University of Washington with a fastball already in the low-90s and starting to bump higher with the projection for more to come especially as he’s not yet turned 18. That and promising secondaries can him climbing draft boards. If he signs, this could be a real coup in a few years.
17. Cooper Benson, LHP, Arizona State
- Benson was highly touted coming out of high school in 2019, but went undrafted and onto Arizona State where he stepped right into a power conference weekend rotation as a freshman. He made four good starts (3.60 ERA in 20 IP, 25K) before the seasons as shutdown. He exited the second start of 2021 after 15 pitches and required Tommy John surgery, so circumstances have prevailed to limit him to just 27 college innings. It’s not overpowering raw stuff, but like first rounder Gunnar Hoglund, he’s clear got an aptitude for pitching and using a three pitcher mix highlighted by a low-90s fastball and changeup.
On the older end of his high school class, he qualifies as a draft eligible sophomore, which gives him some leverage even with the potential for so it wouldn’t be surprising if it took some pool dollars to land him (hard to think he wouldn’t have been snapped up earlier for just $125,000). But this could end up being a very nice pick in a couple years.
18. Jimmy Burnette, LHP, Saint Leo University (D-II)
- Only 16.1 total innings in three very wild years (19 BB) at Illinois before transferring and posting a 5.76 ERA in 45 innings at the D-II level, 53/20 K/BB. Three summers of significant innings in the Northwoods League with better results albeit still plagued by control. Presumably a development project with some promising/intriguing attributes.
19. Juan Gonzalez, catcher, Miami-Dade College
- A native of Venezuela who graduated from a Miami area high school in 2020 and hit .306/.390/.417 in his freshman season. This is the same school from which Santiago Espinal was drafted as a 10th round underslot sleeper in 2016 by Boston.
20. Luke Holman, RHP, Pennsylvania HS
- A classic high school projection profile with the basic building blocks of a fastball already in the low-90s and the ability to spin a curve, the 6’4” Holman was consequently rising up draft boards. He apparently turned down offers of $700,000 and $800,000 early on day two with a $1,000,000 asking price to forgo his commitment to Alabama. It seems there may be some second thoughts, but it’s hard to see the Jays having enough room to even approach the lower end of those offers unless something does wrong. His father was in the Phillies system for most of the 1990s, actually drafted by the Jays as a junior in 1990 but did not sign. Like father, like son?
Until this last pick, my thinking was it was not only plausible, but even likely that the Jays could sign the entire draft class. That could still happen, but the Holman pick feels more like an insurance policy in case something falls through or a medical issue pops up and they suddenly have a bunch of slot room available (as in 2013 with Rowdy Tellez).
Still, 19 out of 20 is pretty good. And now we wait to see which and how many free agent signings the Jays make of players who went undrafted and can sign for $20,000.
The last paragraph in this post about undrafted free agents was originally going to note: “who are like players signed in rounds 11-20, signing bonuses up to $125,000 have no consequence; anything over that counts against the pool”. Because that’s how it used to be, and it was a completely reasonable system. A one-time modification for 2020 was in order with the draft shortened to five rounds, because otherwise more financially stable could have reaped a bonanza of talent and signed piles of top 10 rounds for $125,000.
With the previous system, I had thought for a while that 40 rounds was way longer than necessary, and that something like 20 made much more sense. If players who go undrafted can sign on the same terms as guys after round 11, there’s just no need. So when it was announced that the draft was going to 20 rounds in 2021, and probably going forward, I thought it was good.
But that’s not the case if undrafted players can only be signed for $20K, which is just under one-sixth of what a drafted player can get without imposing a real opportunity cost on the team. Granted, with the minor league contraction there’s a lot fewer position to fill, so perhaps teams wouldn’t have a need to sign many anyway (teams usually only signed about 30 draftees a year before each).
But for what amount to pennies for MLB but would have a pretty big impact on the player’s standard of living, it’s just so ridiculous and cheap. At least make the cap something like $50,000, or a graduated system where teams can sign a couple guys up to $X, a couple to $Y, and then unlimited at $Z. But MLB will never miss an opportunity to grind out a few dollars where ever they can exercise power to do so. Shame on them.