With the 77th overall pick of the 2022 MLB Draft, the Blue Jays selected high school infielder Tucker Tolman, an LSU commit from South Carolina, as a second round compensation pick for the loss of Marcus Semien. He was a consensus top-50 talent, so getting him down at this spot was not only a surprise, but a potentially a significant value coup.
In a draft characterized by prospects who were the progeny of former MLB players, athletes, or coaches, Toman is yet another player who grew up around the game as the son of longtime Liberty University and current Middle Tennessee head coach Jim Toman. As such, he drew plaudits for being more advanced in terms of translating raw tools to on-field skills than most draftees.
Indeed, Toman was consistently linked to the Jays in the first round mix, and there turned out to be real fire behind all that smoke. It’s very likely this pick comes in significantly over the slot of $846,500. There’s some shades of the situation with Bo Bichette in 2016, who was connected to the Jays in the mix for their first round pick, and ended up going to them with later on even if he likely could have gone higher elsewhere because there was a strong fit between player and organization where that was the priority.
With the reports that first rounder Brandon Barreira will come in well overslot as well, it will be interesting to see how the Jays work their draft pool. While they can 5% over with just financial penalties (giving them ~425K of flexibility), it’s likely Day Two will see a number of slot-saving picks.
Toman’s value lies in the bat, as he’s a switch hitter though considered more advanced from the left side. His significant bat speed gives him some of the higher offensive upside given the combination of advanced present power and remaining projection. As with most high school bats, there’s significant hit tool risk, with some swing-and-miss issues on the showcase circuit last summer. Keith Law notes the ability to handle high-end pro-level velocity, but issues against breaking stuff.
The defensive side is the bigger question mark, with the ultimate landing spot up an in the air. Reports note below average future speed limiting him to either second or third base, with hopes he’d have strong enough for arm for the latter. Barring that would be move to the outfield, where if his bat plays in pro ball there should be more than enough offensive upside to carry him. But he’ll have be given every shot to stay and find a home on dirt.
As noted above, there’s more than a few parallels to Bichette in terms of the bat-first profile, defensive question marks, first round links before going to the Jays with third pick, and family baseball ties making for a more sophisticated understand of the draft process and importance of organizational fit. That’s not to say there’s the same upside here, but it will bear watching to see if Toman hits the ground running in pro ball like Bichette did.