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Day 2 picks: college juniors

Two lefty hitters and two relievers, one already a Bluejay

2022 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Needing to build some slot savings in their draft pool, the Blue Jays took a balanced approach to the second day of the 2022 MLB Draft, alternating between college juniors (where it’s harder to save money) with their odd numbered picks, and college seniors to really save money with their even numbered picks. The juniors are broken down below.

With the 98th overall pick, the Jays selected outfielder Alan Roden in the 3rd round from Creighton University. It’s the second time in recent years the Blue Jays have taken a Creighton Bluejay outfielder early on the second day after drafting Will Robertson in 2019’s 4th round (117th overall).

Whereas Robertson’s profile was built around power, Roden is the opposite. As a starter the last two years, he hit .383/.484/.640 while walking more than he struck out both years, and with an absurd 29/8 BB/K ratio in 2022 (a 3.6% strikeout rate). While the slugging percentage looks very high in isolation, it’s a function of doubles power stacking on the very high batting average. FanGraphs calls it a (potential) 70-grade hit tool, though views him as purely a first baseman defensively.

The big question will be how that production translates to the pro level coming out of a mid-major conference (it hasn’t for Robertson). Roden did hit last summer with wood bats in the lower-tier New England Collegiate League, but hasn’t been as successful in a short run this summer on the Cape (.212/.374/.288 in 83 PA). There’s some profile similarities to Spencer Horwitz, drafted out of Radford in 2019 in terms of bat-first profiles driven by plate discipline and hit tool with moderate power.

Ranked 175th by MLB Pipeline and 117th on FanGraphs board, Roden was a bit of an overdraft at 98, though even setting aside financial considerations that would not be an unusual divergence. The Jays should be able to bank some savings relative to the $623,300 slot, but Roden wouldn’t have lasted much longer and is probably in line for at least $400,000 if not closer to $500,000 (mid-4th round money). He was technically only a sophomore in 2022, having redshirted in 2019 and the across-the-board eligibility waiver for 2020. Theoretically, that gives him a little more leverage, but the flip side is he’s already 22 with nothing to gain from college ball.

With the 158th overall pick, the Jays selected LHP Mason Fluharty in the 5th round from Liberty University. After only pitching 22.2 innings in 2021, he took a big step forward in 2022 working in a multi-inning role out of the bullpen, piling up 83 strikeouts against 10 walks in 50.2 innings.

He did that with a plus cutter and slider that he locates, and is considered a pure reliever (though one would have said the same of Hayden Juenger a year ago, and he’s been starting, albeit shorter outings more akin to multi-inning relief). BA ranked him 172nd on their board and are the high ones on him, and the Jays will likely be able to save a little versus the $346,800 slot, but he’d likely have gone within a couple rounds at full slot.

In the 7th round, the Jays selected first baseman Peyton Williams from the University of Iowa. The 6’5” lefty slugger mashed .317/.455/.593 over his college career, striking out roughly as much as he walked. Perhaps most impressive however was his run in the wood bats Northwoods League in the summer of 2020, posting a .304/.389/.687 line with 13 home runs in just 131 PA.

This is the third time in recent years the Jays have taken a player of Iowa after LHP Nick Allgeyer (12th round, 2018) and Trent Wallace (11th round, 2021), who in turn followed on the heels of Matt Dermody in 2013. Although Williams is not a pitcher, interestingly all of them are lefties.

In the 9th round, the Jays selected RHP Devereaux Harrison in the 9th round from Long Beach State (whose name feels like should be coming out of a Louisiana school as opposed to California). The 6’0” reliever had his results go backwards in 2022 (6.68 ERA in 33.2 innings) after posting a sub-2.00 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 48 innings across 2020-21. Ranked highly by Baseball America at 175, reports indicate a low-90s fastball with a slider/splitter combo that need more consistency.

In terms of the bonus slots and pool implications, the total slot for these four picks is $1,338,800. As discussed above, there should be some savings on the Roden pick, though unlikely more than $250,000. Likewise, Fluharty was likely taken a couple rounds ahead of where he would have gone at full slot, so they might bank $100,000 or maybe even $150,000, so it’s hard to see more than that. Williams and Harrison are both quality juniors drafted in line with rankings, so likely to be at (or very near) slot and not generate savings. All told, the bonuses likely end up in the $1,000,000 range with the Jays banking the rest.