While technically speaking the majority of the 2023 MLB Draft remains outstanding with half the rounds and for the Blue Jays 10 of 19 picks, after rounds 3-10 yesterday almost the entirety of the bonus pool has been spent.
What really stands out is how balanced the draft is so far demographically. After nine picks, the Jays have selected two high school position players, one high school pitcher, three college position players, and three college pitchers. They even managed to robustly fill out the Canadian content angle.
In lieu of individual write-ups, below are some quick thoughts on the picks the Jays made yesterday.
3rd Round (89th overall): Juaron Watts-Brown, RHP, Oklahoma State
Watts-Brown has trod an interesting path, ending up at Long Beach State after a football injury dashed his Texas Tech commitment and then transferring to Oklahoma State in 2023. The common thread is striking out a lot of batters with otherwise inconsistent to middling results. The breaking stuff definitely looks legit in video online, at least at its best.
It strikes me as a bit of a curious pick, in that moreso than most college pitchers Watts-Brown seems like a bit of a developmental project, at least if they see him as a starter. I’d submit that at the very least that hasn’t been an organization strength in recent years (and probably more a weakness).
The consensus rankings have him as more as a late second rounder, so it seems like objectively good value, especially since he should come at slot. But a lot of things point in the direction of future reliever, and as the second pick in a deep draft, it just feels slightly underwhelming.
4th round (121th): Landen Maroudis, RHP, Calvary Christian HS (Florida)
By contrast, this seemed like a really intriguing pick, with the Jays once again staying close to their base in Florida and going back to the same school from which they drafted Irv Carter two years ago. There’s a further parallel in that both were pitchers on deep pitching staffs on which they were not the headlining prospect.
5th round (157th): Connor O’Halloran, LHP, Michigan
A pitchability lefty, despite the big league bloodlines and ties to the organization with his father also drafted by the Jays, this seemed like a pretty underwhelming pick. But given other picks, it would make most sense as a pick to bank some slot dollars, though it’s worth noting that most outlets have him a bona fide top-200 prospect.
6th round (184th): Jace Bohrofen, OF, Arkansas
This was the other pick that really stuck out as interesting after he had a breakout season in the SEC at Arkansas this past year (.318/.436/.612). Again, multiple outlets had him rated as more of a late second rounder, so it’s curious that he slid so far. Especially given that college hitters usually rise up draft boards late. Even if he got lost in the shuffle in a deep class, this is likely going to be over the $304,700 slot, and the question is how much. If it’s relatively modest, this could be the steal of the second day.
In the 7th and 8th rounds, the Jays added two more college hitters in SS Nick Goodwin from Kansas State and OF Braden Barry from (the Jays seem to like their alliterative names). Goodwin is another consensus top-200 prospect despite profiling as a whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts infielder without standout tools. That seems reasonable assuming he comes in around slot, and any savings would be a bonus. Barry seems more like an underslot pick to save money needed elsewhere.
Which conveniently bring us to another very intriguing pick in 9th rounder Sam Shaw, a high schooler from BC who attended a prominent baseball academy in Florida. It sounds like his bat has really come on, and while he’ll probably come in well above the $175,900 slot, assuming they’ve managed to accommodate what his number and he signs, this seems like a really nice upside gamble.
In sum, while there’s perhaps some nits to pick, assuming they sign all these picks, it seems like the Jays got a pretty strong haul yesterday.