Monday, June 24, 2013

Tim Penprase Interview Transcript

Ewan and Chris talked with Phil Bickfor's high school coach for the podcast this week, and Ewan was ever so kind to make transcript it for us to read. You can listen to the show here.

Ewan – And welcome back to the bluejays plus podcast.  Joining us now is the coach of Oak Christian High School in California, Tim Penprase.  How’s it going Tim?

Tim – Doing well guys, thanks for having me.

Ewan – While most bluejays fans wont be familiar or interested in California high school baseball, Tim is the coach of first round pick Phil Bickford, so very interesting to Blue Jays fans.  Why don’t you start off by letting us know background information, how is Phil as a kid?

Tim – You know, he’s a great kid.  He comes from a great family.  He’s got a good background.  He’s one of the favourite guys in clubhouse, great teammate, but when he walks out on the field he’s a bulldog.  He’s a team first guy, loves playing baseball, loves going to the beach, hanging with his friends, and he’s just a happy go lucky good kid.

Ewan – What we want to hear.  Quality Character.

Chris – First thing I noticed about him, in the short video I watched was that he seemed a bit rushed.  I had no idea what inning it was, cause these are 3 minute videos.  So I was just wondering if there were any issues with his stamina.

Tim – No, never any issues with his stamina.  He was usually actually stronger in the late innings.  In those videos he probably looked a little rushed, cause there are times he didn’t really get to his balance point.  He likes to work quick, be quick to the plate, and sometimes he would rush his balance point, and he would get away with it sometimes.  That’s probably what you were seeing.  Never any problems with stamina, he always threw a lot of pitches in his outings.  I know in the championship game for us for us this year, he was throwing 96 in the 7th inning.  Never any problems there.

Ewan – You mention the championship game.  How was your season with him this year?

Tim – Unbelievable.  Absolutely unbelieveable.  Every start he had hegot stronger, and the championship game was definitely his best outing of the year.  Like I said he’s a bulldog.  He loves those high pressure games, loves being in high pressure situations.  In that championship game, he was sitting 96, and struck out 18 of the 21 outs.  I think he threw 11 balls in the entire game, so he was pretty impressive this year.

Ewan – That’s so unfair.  Guys like this against high school kids.  When you say championship game, what level are you guys at in California?

Tim – We are CIF Southern section division 4.

Ewan – One of the major criticisms of him by the scouting community was that his breaking ball lacked some sharpness, and said that needed development.  What has been the progress on that throughout his career?

Tim – It gets better.  He drops his arm a lot on that breaking pitch.  When he keeps his arm up, he’s got a lot more movement, a lot better break on it.  I think that’s one thing they’re going to find some consistency with.  When he finds that I think it’ll be a lot better.  He has a changeup, but he never really throws it.  When you’re sitting that fast, especially in high school doesn’t make a lot of sense to slow the ball down to a lot of hitters.  If you’re slowing it down, you stick with the slider and let it move a bit.  I think if he makes some adjustments, he finds that consistency and keeps that arm up on the offspeed I think it’ll be better.  He locates it well now, so I think it’ll improve. 

Chris – We were also just wondering if he’s suffered some adversity on or off the field, and how did he handle himself?

Tim – Sure, he’s suffered adversity both places.  Off the field, on the field.  He’s been with us for four years on varsity, so he’s definitely had some failures earlier in his career with us.  And he deals with it well.  He fails and he learns from it, and is determined not to make that mistake again.  And I think that’s why he’s developed so well in his high school career.  He has really good perspective for his age, so any adversity he’ll learn from it, and power through it, and he’ll be better off for it. 

Ewan – I’m just curious about the development curve of someone this talented.  What is his fastball touching and sitting?

Tim – He’ll sit, depending on the day, 93 and 95.  He’s touched 97.

Ewan – When did that occur?  I’m curious was that the case when he was a junior, or is this a recent thing?

Tim – You know, he was sitting probably 91 at the end of last year, and he was throwing all the time.  He really took some time, and took like 3 months off to let his arm rest, and focused on strengthening his core, and strengthening his legs because he hadn’t really focused on doing that kind of work.  So he took some time strengthened those areas, and let his arm rest for a couple months.  When he came back he started throwing harder, kept doing his long toss routine, and kept strengthening everything.  The velocity kept increasing.

Ewan – He is a long tosser?  We’ve seen a lot of that with the Trevor Bauers and the like coming up.

Tim – Yeah he is.  He loves his long toss routine, and it seems to have helped him.

Ewan – In a similar vein, Phil rose very quickly from being perceived as being a fringe first rounder a couple months before the draft to being the #10 overall pick he eventually was.  What changed late in the season that would’ve impacted a scout’s opinion like that?

Tim – I cant speak directly for it, but I think the velocity definitely had a big part to do with it.  When you’re throwing that hard, from that arm slot, and when you’re locating that well with it.  I think he only had 11 walks on the year as opposed to 140 something strikeouts.  When you’re throwing that hard, and locating that well, I think that’s what brought him up.

Chris – Given his draft position, we assume that Phil’s the most talented player you’ve ever coached, but have you ever had anyone else you’ve coached make it to the show?

Tim – Nobody in the show, but I have Trevor Gretzky.  Probably recognize the name.  He got drafted by the Cubs a two years ago.  And we’ve got probably 9 or 10 guys after this season who’ll be into division 1 ball.  So we’ve got a handful of guys who can play.

Chris – We know the Gretzky name pretty well up here in Canada.

Tim – Absolutely.  Definitely recognizable name.  We had the pleasure of having Trevor around.  Playing with the Cubs organization now, and they’re a great family as well. 

Chris – Did you notice your guys acting any different, since I’d imagine there’s a lot of hype around with Gretzky’s kid around?

Tim – There is hype, but you know in that situation he’s just another teammate, and they’re parents.  So, even though there’s a lot of hype, there’s a lot more hype with opposing teams.  But it’s a normal situation.  Trevor’s a great kid, and Wayne’s a great guy, and you try to keep it at that.

Chris – I imagine there’s a lot of hype in high school ball in America, you have to coach up your guys how to deal with scouts at the game.

Tim – Absolutely, I think that’s part of learning how to growing up, learning to deal with some of that stuff.  You definitely try to guide them along a little bit, there’s still teenage boys, but I think that’s part of our job.

Ewan – As blue jays fans we’ve had to deal with a lot of injury issues with our pitchers in the past few years.  Has Phil had any problems like that coming up?

Tim – He’s never had any issues like that.  He’s always taking good care of himself.  He’s got a really loose arm, he’s really the typical power pitcher that puts a lot of strain on his arm.  He’s really smooth through his mechanics, and he can throw a lot of pitches, and come out and throw long toss the next day and not be effected.  He uses his body well, and he’s never been injured.

Ewan – Finally, as Jays fans we also had to deal with our high school pick two years ago Tyler Beede not signing, so we’re had some concerns taking another high school pitcher.  I don’t know how much you can speak to this, but if you had to say, what do you think the odds on him signing?

Tim – I cant speak directly to it, but I think when you’re in that situation as a 17 year old kid, I think its hard to definitely not to look at the opportunities in front of you, especially being with a good organization.  I think he’s definitely open if the right offer is there I think he’s definitely open to signing.  He’s gonna see what’s come his way, and make a decision.  I don’t think he’s stuck one way or the other, I think he’s gonna see what’s put in front of him and make a decision.

Ewan – Where is he committed college wise?

Tim – Cal State – Fullerton.

Ewan – I think that’s all we have for you, Tim.  Thanks for being so generous with your time.

Tim – I appreciate it.

BlueJaysPlus Podcast Episode 14: All Stars, Bickford, and PED's

Another great show this week, and it will also be my last for a while. Ewan and Chris interviewed Phil Bickford's coach(Tim Penprase), we talked about the Blue Jays potential All-Stars, Ewan ranted about PED's, and we covered a lot more. The transcript of the Penprase interviewed should be posted soon. Enjoy.


Download: Click HERE


0:00-16:00: Who will be sent down to make room for Reyes?
16:01-25:00: All Star Chances
25:01-40:45:Injuries Updates
40:46-48:15: Jamie Evans Signing
48:16-52:25: Bullpen Talk
52:26-1:04:25: PED's
1:04:26-1:16:35: Tim Penprase Interview
1:16:36-End: Week Ahead

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Rejuvenation of Brett Cecil

By: Alex Hume

Even with the improvements to the Blue Jays lineup and rotation, the bullpen remained a primary area of concern for the Blue Jays heading into the season in which they were attempting to break their 19-year playoff drought.  However, despite the improvements, the lineup and rotation have been wracked with injuries and inconsistency, while the bullpen has become a fixture.  Early in the year Casey Janssen was the model of dominance and was one of the top three relievers in baseball.  However, over the last six weeks, while Janssen has regressed from superhuman to merely very good, the bespectacled lefty named Brett Cecil has become the stalwart.

After unintentionally walking the first batter he faced on May 31 against the Padres, Brett reeled off a steak of 25 straight batters retired that was broken up by another intentional walk, this time to Michael Cuddyer of the Colorado Rockies, and has since retired all five men he has faced since that point.  Cecil has not allowed a hit to any of the last 38 batters he has faced (a franchise record) and the ten plate appearances before that were also hitless.  In Cecil’s last 50 batters faced, he has given up no runs, two hits and three walks (two intentional).

Brett has discovered success out of the bullpen with increased velocity and a simplification of his repertoire.  Cecil has seen an uptick in velocity from 89.50 mph the last two years (2011-2012) to 93.10 mph this year.  Part of the increase can be attributed to a full-time move to the bullpen, but also a weighted ball program that Steve Delabar brought with him to the Blue Jays when he came over from Seattle at the 2012 trading deadline.  The program results in shoulder strengthening and velocity increase; and the Blue Jays see so much potential in it that they have signed Jamie Evans,  the originator, to an exclusive consulting contract as they try to implement it throughout the organization.  The increased velocity and shift in role has allowed Cecil to significantly modify his repertoire.  Cecil has historically thrown his four-seam fastball about 35 percent of the time, followed by his changeup, sinker and slider all between 14 and 19 percent.  He has rounded out his repertoire with a curve (9.90%) and a cutter (7.02%).  In 2013, without the need to be able to face hitters multiple times in a game, he has essentially pared his repertoire to four pitches, abandoning the slider entirely and throwing his second-most abundant pitch (sinker – 16.14%) 2.69 times as frequently as he throws his changeup (5.98%).  He has also abandoned the changeup to left-handed hitters only throwing it twice all year.  The curveball, which he used sparingly, has now become his primary pitch.  After generating 23.79% whiff/swing coming into the year (590 pitches), Cecil has generated 54.55% whiff/swing on the pitch this year.  The increased whiff rates have led to a sharp increase in strikeout rate to 30.7%, compared with 17.4% in his career.

Perhaps the biggest change in Cecil isn’t necessarily the whiff rates, but most importantly his ability to keep the ball on the ground.  After spending his career around 40% in terms of groundball rate, the number has jumped to 50.6% this year on the backs of three of his pitches, the aforementioned curve, his cutter (which he is working in over three times as frequently as in years past) and the sinker which are generating groundball rates of 57, 62 and 39% respectively.   Not only is Cecil keeping the ball on the ground, but the balls in the air are being turned into easy outs.  Cecil has a career-low line drive rate this year at 18.1% and career low flyball rate at 31.3%.  Only 3.6% of Cecil’s flyballs have left the yard (Vernon Wells got him on April 19...HA!), a rate that can’t be expected to continue and has helped to depress his 1.46 ERA and 1.94 FIP, but even normalizing to a his career average home run rate, it would produce an xFIP (using personal average instead of league average) of 2.85, which would rank 18th in the league (instead of 10th) and still, best on the Blue Jays staff.

The true talent level of Brett Cecil likely lies somewhat below the level to which he has performed so far this season, but tanks to proper role identification and the help of a training program, Cecil is no longer a lost cause, but a low-cost valuable asset, and one that Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays should be proud to have.

Statistics from Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball

Alex is a fourth-year university student studying science.  He blogs about the Blue Jays at Hume's Jays Bullpen and blogged about fantasy baseball for a time at Bullpen Banter.  He can be reached on Twitter @AHume92.

Monday, June 17, 2013

BlueJaysPlus Podcast Episode 13: Zach Mortimer on Prospects and the Draft

We had a couple technical difficulties this week, as first, Ewan forgot to press record when he interviewed Eno Sarris of FanGraphs, and for some reason, part 1 of the podcast got messed up, and our voices are intertwined instead of one after another...I explain at the beginning of the episode. BUT, we still had a fantastic interview with Zach Mortimer, a scout for Baseball Prospectus, and we talked about the possibility of Casey Janssen being traded.  For now on I'm going to post an outline of the show so you can skip to parts you would like to listen to.




@ZachMort Interview:0:00-26:32
Casey Janssen Talk/Week Ahead/ Housekeeping:26:33-39:31

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's Time for a Catching Change

J.P. Arencibia is in the midst of his worse season in the big leagues. He is striking out in over 32% of his  plate appearances, and only walking in 2.6% of his PA's. The catcher with the marketable smile has become a free swinging monster who's great power(for a catcher) can't even make up for his lack of any other skills. His stats won't do for a team trying to get back into the playoff race, and I believe it's time to make a change at the catcher position. It's time the Blue Jays option J.P Arencibia down to AAA, and name Josh Thole the starting catcher. Here are my reasons:

He isn't Even Good For A Catcher
A classic argument that is used by JPA apologists is that for a catcher, JP's numbers aren't that bad. The problem with that statement is that it's false. Andrew Stoeten touched on this subject at yesterday, so I don't want to go so in depth about it. Among the 13 qualified catchers in baseball, JPA is 12th in WAR, 12th in wRC+, 12th in wOBA, 1st in K%, and last in BB%. The only thing JP does well in is that he is powerful;His .210 ISO is best among those 13 qualified catchers. So, what exactly does JP have to offer other than power? Nothing. He needs to go.

Josh Thole is Better
It's hard for people to admit, but Josh Thole is better than J.P. Yes, both Thole and Arencibia's defense is horrible, but there is definitely a gap in their offensive production. If you discount 2012 for Thole, who suffered from lingering concussion problems all year, it becomes obvious how much better than JP he is. From 2009-2011, Thole put up a .350 OBP, and although I don't have the exact number for what his wRC+ was in that span, it was around 96 or 97. That is below league average, although not for a catcher. JP's wRC+ in 2011-2012 was somewhere around 90 or 91, but there is no reason to believe he can produce at that level again. His ISO is still around the same as it has been every year in his career, but his K% and BB% are at career highs(or low I guess for BB%). That has caused a major decrease in his already horrid wOBA, which explains why he has a 75 wRC+  this season. JP's problems have been caused by his complete lack of plate discipline. The problem is that JP continues to do nothing about it, and actually treats it like a joke, tweeting about the walk he takes once every couple of weeks. If you are going to argue that Thole isn't an upgrade, you are wrong. In a lineup desperate for OBP, Thole needs to be playing, even if he is in the 8 or 9 spot in the lineup, because he could get on base at a mark that JP will never be able to achieve in his career.

Josh Thole Just Needs to be a Stop-Gap
When the Blue Jays traded away 2 of their top 3 catching prospects in this past year(Carlos Perez to Houston and Travis d'Arnaud to New York), fans thought that we will be stuck with JP forever. We won't be. Josh Thole only needs to start and be better than JP is for a year or so. The reason? A.J. Jimenez.

Jimenez was rated the Jays #8 prospect by our staff this past offseason, and he is now back playing full
Jimenez is the last of the 4 big
catching prospects left in the system.
time in New Hampshire after some elbow problems and surgery that he has had for a year. Jimenez' greatest skill is his defense, which scouts and coaches alike are saying is unbelievable. Defense from a catcher is nice, but Jimenez is no slouch on offense as well. His bat has been getting better every year, and Steamer Projections(published on FanGraphs) already has him able to post a 78 wRC+ in the majors. That isn't good, but it is better than JP. A.J also doesn't strike out a ton like JP does, and for the past few seasons, his K% has been declining, now sitting in the low teens. He doesn't take a lot of walks, but as long as he isn't striking out 30% of the time, I'm fine with that. A.J is already on the 40-man, and although he probably won't be ready to be a major league catcher in April 2014, June is realistic. He should finish this year in AA, get a month of big league action this September, and will likely get a couple of months of polishing down in Buffalo next year.

After reading my arguments, I hope you are able to see that JP needs to be sent down, or at least benched for a while, so he understand that his complete lack of plate discipline will not be tolerated. He has become lazy and just swings at everything, and needs to realize that there are options in the Jays organization that are better than he is, and one is just sitting on the bench. Hopefully that will make him understand that he needs to work on his approach.

A.J. Jimenez is a year away from being ready, but the decision is quite simple. A.J's offense and defense make him a 2 WAR player already in the big leagues, and I much rather have a 2 WAR player for $500K like AJJ will be making next year, than a 0(or possibly negative) WAR player making $1MM+ in 2014. JP has ran out of time to prove himself, and his future in Toronto shouldn't be long.

I'm sure there are plenty of you reading this who disagree with me, so please comment, and we'll discuss this even more.

You can follow me on twitter, @gideonturk. To connect with the site, Follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday Web Works: June 12th

Starting off with some great info from Batter's Box, as they got their hands on the 2013 Extended Spring Training stats, and have published an article containing info on the Jays minor leaguers who were down in Florida. The pitchers played much better than the hitters, which might be expected during the EST games, but it is probably because as a whole, the Jays had some of their top pitching prospects in EST. This list includes the likes of Adonys Cardona, Chase De Jong, Alberto Tirado, Tyler Gonzales, and Mat Smoral. Those 5 guys are all top 20 in our system, and showed it. Take these stats with a grain of salt obviously, not only because of the small sample, but also because it's EST, and there are so many variables effecting the results.

Mike Wilner wrote a bit of a Game Recap post on last night, focusing on JPA, Brett Cecil, and Chien-MingWang. I disagree with what he has to say about JPA, and I do plan on writing about that soon. Maybe later today now that the Jays game has been....

Postponed :( The Blue Jays official twitter account lets us know 5 and a half hours before first pitch that the game has been cancelled. Feels like it is ridiculously early, but we get to skip our bullpen start(Esmil Rogers), miss Chris Sale, and our taxed bullpen get's a day off which they wouldn't have been getting for a while anyways. I guess I'm fine with this.

A couple great pieces from Fangraphs. First, this one about Adam Lind, where Eno Sarris investigates what changes he has made to his swing, approach, and everything else to allow him to have such great success. Secondly, NotGraphs wins the internet with this GIF of Gerrit Cole throwing a 99 MPH GIF of Yasiel Puig hitting a home run. As I said, they won the internet.

At BlueBirdBanter, Nick Ashbourne explains how the Blue Jays offense resembles that of Lomar Overjols. You'll have to read to find out which 3 players make up that name.

Staying at BBB, also by Nick is this fantastic piece about why the Jays should start Maicer Izturis at second. BABIP is the best reason he lists, and Izturis' is really low right now, sitting at .212. Check it out, It's really good.

Don't leave SBNation yet, as SouthSideSox wrote an article that is basically trashing Hawk Harrelson and praising the Jays at the same time, so yeah, double whammy.

Lastly, Ben Nicholson-Smith takes a quick look at the Jays-White Sox mutual off-days, and it looks like today's game will be made up in late August or late September.Hurray!

Monday, June 10, 2013

BlueJaysPlus Podcast Episode 12: Post Draft Things, Mechanics, BioGenesis

I sat this week out, so Ewan and Chris did the show. They interviewed Jason Wojciechowski to talk about the BioGenesis steroid scandal, specifically Melky Cabrera. Chris also weighs in with some fantastic mechanics talk about the draft, amongst other things. Oh,and there were lots of roster moves this case you forgot that that happens every week with this ball club. Enjoy!


Download:Click Here

RSS: Click Here

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Live MLB Draft Blog!

The 2013 MLB Rule 4 draft is set to get underway in about 40 minutes, and we'll be live blogging the whole thing(OK, not the whole thing, mainly the Jays parts) for you tonight! This is our first foray into live blogging, so bear with us. We'll analyze the picks leading up to the Jays and how it effects the Blue Jays pick at #10, and then, after the Jays pick, we'll talk about that for a while, I guess.

We have a great team live blogging tonight, as Ewan, Marshall, Isaac, and myself(Gideon) will be manning this post. I'll try to embed any important tweets as well with updates on the draft.

Thanks for joining us, and keep on coming back and refreshing as new content will be coming rapidly(or at least I hope). We welcome your comments on this post as a great way to interact with us!

6:32 PM-Gideon
With half an hour left, I figured I'd get this started. Right now, it seems as if the Astros will be taking either Kohl Stewart or Colin Moran with the #1 pick. This info comes from a tweet by David Rawnsley of PerfectGameUSA(affiliated with BaseballProspectus).
The general consensus was that the Astros would take either RHP Mark Appel or RHP Jonathan Gray with that pick, but now it seems as if they might use last year's strategy again, when they chose to skip Appel for Carlos Correa, and then be able to sign guys for over slot later. If they were to do that this year, they'd probably be looking at Sean Manea with their pick at #40.

Whoever the Astros take, it won't effect the Jays much. What will effect the Jays is what happens with pick 8-9, owned by the Royals and the Pirates respectively. This should be fun, so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Some non draft news. I just saw a tweet from @ShiDavidi of Sportsnet saying the Jays will purchase Andy Laroche's contract tomorrow to replace the sent down Anthony Gose. I think that was pretty expected, so not so newsworthy.


Just a reminder, if you haven't already checked them out, Marshall and Ewan put up some great draft pieces these past couple of days. Marshall's piece can be found by clicking here, and Ewan's by click here. I'm sure they want your feedback, so leave a comment or two.


We're less than 10 minutes away now, and I thought I'd write who I'd like the Jays to select.

LHP Trey Ball has good mechanics and a very ceiling of a #2 starter. For more about him, read the articles I linked to above. The good mechanics are key for me, as they are something other pitchers in this draft with similar ceilings don't have, and with the Jays recent injury history, I think mechanics should be a focus when acquiring players.


So we're already to go. Don't expect the first pick to be announced for 10-15 minutes. This is going to be a long night. So, the king of twitter, Fernando Tatis, keeps us entertained with some comedy!


The others will be joining in soon. But, it seems as if we know who the 1st pick will be. Keith Law informs us in the following tweet!


So with Appel likely going to the Astros, I assume it will be Gray to the Cubs and then Bryant to the Rockies. Stewart probably goes to the Twins, and from there, things could change. Should be exciting. Stick with us!


It's Appel.
The Houston Astros select RHP Mark Appel out of Stanford. Cubs on the clock. Seems as it will be Gray. We shall see.


Jim Bowden is hearing Cubs will go Gray. The tweet:

Kris Byrant to the Cubs according to John Manuel of BA.Oh, and now confirmed by Bud Selig.
Interesting. He's powerful. He went to the University of San Diego and plays third base. Will be interesting to see if the Rockies go with Gray or take a bat.

The Astros grab the pitcher they passed on last year, in Stanford right hander Mark Appel.  This shows that money wasn't a concern, because you'd suspect that Jonathan Gray would've signed for slightly less money.
The real lesson in this pick is Scott Boras always wins.  Gambled by letting Appel go back into the draft, and he's the big winner.
Harold Reynolds thinks that Appel could be in Houston by July.  His first comment of the night that is totally out to lunch.  Not saying that Appel doesn't have the MLB ready talent, right now, but there is zero chance a hopeless team burns through service time in order to add a win to a 65 win team. 

The Astros did the right thing by picking Mark Appel #1 overall. There was a ton of speculation about various players, many people had them taking Gray, Moran, or Stewart. But then again, there is speculation every single year. I think the Astros knew Appel was the guy from the beginning, being the most polished, most advanced, player on the board. Another step forward for the Astros rebuild. They are doing it right.

Rockies select RHP Jonathan Gray. I'm surprised. A bit. Doesn't really effect the Jays. Top 3 off the board after 3 picks. Makes sense.


The Cubs surprise people to a certain degree, by passing on Jonathan Gray, to take what the rarest thing in the game these days is, which is right handed power.  3rd baseman Kris Bryant has as much power as any pick in recent memory. 
With seemingly 3rd base long term plugged by Javier Baez, and 1st base with Anthony Rizzo, I'd expect that Bryant could be ticketed for right field. 
Harold Reynolds tells us that he's seen Bryant pick it at 3rd, and he can stay there.  I question how many times he's been out to San Diego to scout Bryant's D.

So the Twins, as expected, will pick Stewart. The tweet:


With Bryant off the board, the Rockies don't get cute and force a hitter in this slot.  They take Jonathan Gray, and wind up with who I thought was the best talent in the draft. 
I always thought the Rockies should've been focused on pitching to begin with, so this works just as well. 
Lack of Harold Reynolds lunacy after this pick, but I'd expect its only because they cut to commercial.
Despite the 3 picks not being in order, the top 3 are the 3 players we expected.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo say Indians are in on Frazier. We'll see if they pick him

The first no brainer of the night.  The Twins have one of the most stacked farm systems in the entire league, however it is still lacking pitching.  The ability to pair a stud arm like Kohl Stewart, along side their stud position players like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.  Together those are the trio who could lead the twinkies back to prominence. 
Mark Appel calls in, and credits God for showing him the path to go.  Pretty lofty nickname he's given to Scott Boras.

Indians go ginger and select Frazier. #6 will likely be Shipley, per Passan.

Oh, and Frazier sings Taylor Swift, so the Jays missed big time.

First pick of the draft(Frazier) that could have a trickle down effect, as mentioned by Ewan in his article. We'll see how it effects the Jays.


First real shock of the night occurs at #5 as the Indians take Clint Frazier over Colin Moran, and not only blow up draft boards, but also crush my heart.  I was still holding out hope that Frazier's unconventional body and player type would fall to the Jays at 10. 
Now the question becomes where does Colin Moran fall.  He doesn't strike me as a Red Sox type pick.  Big wildcard introduced.
Harold Reynolds comps Frazier to Mike Trout, which seems really lazy.  I also learned that Frazier has grown 2 inches in the past couple weeks, and is now 6'1.

Marlins select Moran. WOW. What a Moranic pick. Sorry, just wanted to make that pun. I lime it. Makes the picture cloudy now for the Jays. Let's what happens!


Since Colin Moran fell into their laps, they pass on Braden Shipley to take the polished MLB ready third baseman.
I'm hoping that this means that Shipley falls into the Royals lap, since I expect they are looking for a college pitcher.  This could lead to Trey Ball falling to the Jays.  Ball is at the top of my board right now.
Luhnow in his interview basically tells Reynolds he's a moron for thinking Appel will get there by July.
Also, I appreciate whoever the host is, for throwing a jab at the Royals (and ex-hitting coach Jack Maloof) by saying they are looking to "hit a home run"

Red Sox take Ball. I shall go cry. Meadows now top of my list.

Hoping Shipley falls to the Jays now, him and Stanek intrigue. Along with Meadows, of course.

Red Sox snag Trey Ball, who another of the guys I really wanted.  I'll be very disappointed if the Royals snag Meadows next, which there has been some buzz on them taking.  That would be my nightmare scenario, which could lead to someone like a JP Crawford going to the Jays.
Let's hope the Royals are looking for pitching and take one of Bickford, Meadows, or Stanek.

Royals take Hunter Dozier. Very big surprise. Pirates now going to choose between Meadows and McGuire. Jays likely to get the one who they don't take.

Pirates select Meadows, so now McGuire and Shipley are available. Let's hope for Shipley. 


I just pity Royals fans.  Hunter Dozier wasn't ranked in the top 30 by anyone. 
Jesus Christ.  Reynolds loves the pick.  Compares him to Troy Tulowitzki, and says he's a lock to stay at short.  Jonathan Mayo immediately says Reynolds doesn't know anything, and he's not a shortstop.
This pick is atrocious, and is Dayton Moore's final insult to Royals fans on his way out the door. 
I don't care how little money Dozier takes, even of it gets them Bickford or Manaea.
Now that Harold Reynolds realizes its a crappy pick he's questioning it.

I don't like this pick. I'll explain soon. No more live blogging picks. We'll be giving our thoughts on this pick, and then be back at it when the Jays draft in the 2nd round.

I'll be back with the live blog when the second round comes on. I'm writing a separate post on Bickford.

Aaaaaaaaand I'm back! The Jays have their 2nd round pick at #47, which should be in a few minutes. Let's see what happens.

No idea who Clinton Hollon is. 

Well that sounds good, I think. I'll look for scouting reports and post them on here. Stay tuned. 

So Hollon throws with a 3/4 arm slot, and his mechanics are messy and, as Rode says above, he has an effort delivery. Once again, the Jays go to a guy with a high risk of injury. But, I won't rant again, I'll focus on the good. He was going to be a mid 1st round pick this draft before getting hurt, so their is some potential here. He sits 91-94 and touches 97 according to the scouting report I found, and apparently has good control. He also throws a high 70's curve and his change up features good arm speed. The money line from this scouting report though is the following. "Potential for 4 above average offerings". Very nice. If he stays healthy, this could be a nice little snag for AA and the crew.

Jays Select Phil Bickford: Mechanics Continue to Mean Nothing

You'd think after years of having seasons thrown away because of pitcher injuries the Jays Front Office would get a clue and stop acquiring pitchers with bad mechanics that lead to injuries. But, that clearly isn't the case as with the 10th overall pick in tonight's draft, the Blue Jays picked high school RHP Phil Bickford from California.  I'm getting tired of the Jays being stupid.

Bickford has the 2nd best high school in the draft according to BA, reaching 97 MPH and sitting between 92 and 94 MPH. This might be good, but a flamethrower with bad mechanics leads to injuries 99.9% of the time.

He also lacks a good breaking pitch. His slider can be a wipeout pitch some times, but most of the time it will just hang up there and get hit. Phil also throws a change up which is nothing to write home about, so yeah, very exciting player!

The best worst part about Bickford though has to be his mechanics. He throws with a 3/4 arm slot as shown in this video below, and is just an injury waiting to happen. His high ceiling is very nice, but it's hard to reach a ceiling without an arm. Given the odds that his arm falls off(not literally obviously), his ceiling seems untouchable.

But wait, there's more. He's also a tough sign. So, if he doesn't sign, the Jays get the 11th pick next year, in what is considered as an even weaker draft than this one!!! Hurray!!! This was such a smart move.

The Blue Jays have one starter in the big leagues with good mechanics(Buehrle), and he is vastly overpaid, and might be leaving town soon. In the minors, their best prospects, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna, both have horrid mechanics. Now throw in Bickford, and the Jays have really created a recipe for success faille here. There is an old saying that goes "Pitchers win Championships". It means healthy pitchers, not the Josh Johnson and Phil Bickford's of the world!

Want to know why you should hate this pick? Law had him at 55 on his rankings.

How does one spin this is a good pick? Fail to mention the bad, obviously. Take it away, Brian Parker.

I'll leave with this. The Jays need a philosophy change. If it requires a new GM, then that's the cost that will need to be paid. But, AA can't keep on getting these guys that are destined to be hurt, and then blame everything on bad luck. It might be time to #FireAA(not mid-season, off-season).

You can follow me on twitter, @gideonturk. To connect with the site, Follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook.

Mock Draft Scenarios

By: Ewan Ross

          To couple with the previous piece written by Marshall Henson wrote about the players the Blue Jays may select at #10 overall, I’m going to go through each of the picks preceding the Blue Jays selection, and attempt to lay out who I believe each of these teams will pick.  The basis for these beliefs is via the multitude of mock drafts (from ESPN’s Keith Law, Baseball America’s Jim Callis,’s Kiley McDaniel &’s Jonathan Mayo).
            Hopefully, you’ll find this useful to get an accurate sense of which players will be available when the Jays walk up to the podium.

#1 Overall – Houston Astros
Primary Target – Jonathan Gray – RH Pitcher – Oklahoma
Secondary Target – Mark Appel – RH Pitcher – Stanford
Tertiary Target – Colin Moran – Third Base – North Carolina
            Ostensibly the Astros decision should come down to two players, the two most talented players in the draft, Right Handers Jonathan Gray, and Mark Appel.  The consensus appears to be that they are the two most talented players in the draft, and if this pick was just about talent they would be the picks.  Talent evaluators seem very split on which is more talented, and so the deciding factor may come down to price.  Jonathan Gray’s price may have fallen due to testing positive for Adderall in the week before the draft, while Mark Appel’s price is always going to be high due to his connection to Scott Boras as his agent advisor.
The wildcard in all this would be third baseman Colin Moran.  Last year at this time, it seemed that the two players they were down to was Byron Buxton, and Mark Appel, and they went off the board and selected shortstop Carlos Correa for a well below slot deal.  In doing this, they not only got a very talented prospect at #1, but also saved a boatload of money in order to players later in the draft and pay them well above slot.  If that scenario were to play out this year, Moran would be the beneficiary. 
Jays Impact - However, regardless of how things play out, none of this is likely to impact the Jays selection, since even if the Astros pass on Gray or Appel, there is zero chance they make it all the way down to #10.

#2 Overall – Chicago Cubs
Primary Target – Mark Appel – RH Pitcher – Stanford
Secondary Target – Jonathan Gray – RH Pitcher – Oklahoma
            The Cubs are probably the easiest team to project in this year’s draft.  Unlike every one of the other teams in the draft they haven’t floated any below slot rumors.  The Cubs strategy is simply to take whichever of the two top end pitchers falls to them.  The rumours seem to be that they prefer Mark Appel to Jonathan Gray, so if the Astros surprise everyone and go off the board, I’d expect Appel would be the pick. 
Jays Impact – Much like the #1 overall pick, this one has zero impact on who the Jays select.  Just like the Astros, regardless of Gray or Appel gets past the Cubs, the lowest they would fall would be to the Red Sox at #7.

#3 Overall – Colorado Rockies
Primary Target – Kris Bryant – Third Base – San Diego
            Just like the Cubs, the Rockies seem fairly easy to peg.  Everyone you read says that they will take power bat Kris Bryant with the #3 pick.  In Keith Law’s last mock draft, he played out the Colin Moran scenario, and still had the Rockies selecting Brant with the #3 pick instead of one of the high upside pitchers.  Very late in the process, there have been rumblings about the Rockies taking first baseman Dominic Smith with the #3 pick, notably from the esteemed Peter Gammons…

The easy explanation here is that they have floated these rumours in order to attempt to drive Bryant’s price down.  I’d think there is zero chance that they pass on Bryant, and if they do, the only possibility is that they pick one of the pitchers instead.
Jays Impact – There are rumours that the Jays might have a passing interest in Dominic Smith, so if the Rockies go off the board, and select him, that would take one of their options off the board.  I don’t see that as happening, so next to no impact with this pick as well

#4 Overall – Minnesota Twins
Primary Target – Kohl Stewart – RH Pitcher – Texas High School
Secondary Option – Jonathan Gray – RH Pitcher – Oklahoma
Tertiary Option – Mark Appel – RH Pitcher - Stanford
            Like the three picks before them, the Twins appear to be locked in on a certain player.  In this case its Texas high school right hander, Kohl Stewart, and for the Twins that’s quite a surprise.  In normal circumstances, the Twins generally have a history of selecting high school position players (notably outfielders), and also college pitchers.  With the current state of their farm system however, pitchers have become a massive area of need, so it would be stunning for them to pass an arm this time around.  However, if the draft shakes out as expected there won’t be a college arm worth taking.  This will drive them to go outside their box, into selecting Kohl Stewart, who is clearly the top prep arm in the class.
            However, if one of Gray or Appel is available, I’d be stunned if they were to pass on them, although Appel’s connection to Boras may scare them.  Again, in the scenario Law laid out, the Twins still passed on Gray, and took Stewart. 
Jays Impact – If the Twins were to take Gray or Appel, if available, it could lead to a massive trickle down.  It would leave Stewart on the board, and turn the Indians into a massive wild card. 

#5 Overall – Cleveland Indians
Primary Target – Colin Moran – Third Base – North Carolina
Secondary Target – Jonathan Gray – RH Pitcher – Oklahoma
Tertiary Target – Mark Appel – RH Pitcher - Stanford
            Colin Moran seems to be the likely selection here.  Unlike most draft prospects, he lacks the loud tools you would normally select, however, he’s a polished hitter.  The only real scenario that seems likely in which they would go another direction, is if Moran is the surprise #1 pick to the Astros.  If Gray or Appel falls all the way to #5, I see no possible way that a team as desperate for MLB ready pitching could possibly pass on that. 
Jays Impact – The only way the Indians pick would impact on the Jays is if none of Appel, Moran, or Gray are available.  In that scenario they could cause a massive trickle down if they pass on Stewart, because who then they become a complete unknown. 

#6 Overall – Miami Marlins
Primary Target – Braden Shipley – RH Pitcher - Nevada
            In every single mock draft I’ve seen the Marlins have taken college right hander Braden Shipley.  This fit’s their M.O., because Shipley appears to be a bargain pick, but one still with considerable ability.  Shipley is a relatively recent conversion to the mound, and that brings with it both positives and negatives.  It can generally lead to questionable mechanics (as you’d see from the likes of Sergio Santos), but on the positive side, his arm hasn’t had nearly as many pitches on it, throughout the pre-MLB portion of his career.   
Jays Impact – If the Marlins passed on Shipley (which I don’t expect), I’d expect the Royals would likely snatch him up.  This could lead to someone else trickling down.

#7 Overall – Boston Red Sox
Primary Target – Clint Frazier – Outfielder – Georgia High School
Secondary Target – Austin Meadows – Outfielder - Georgia High School
Tertiary Target – Phil Bickford – RH Pitcher – California High School
            The Red Sox are at this point are a very tough team to peg down.  All the mock drafts, have the Red Sox taking one of the Georgian outfielders.  The scouting industry seems fairly divided on which of these two players is the superior prospect.  As for Bickford, who I list as the tertiary option, he has flown up the draft boards in the past couple weeks, and he’s jumped into consideration for both the Red Sox & Royals.

Jays Impact – The Red Sox are the primary reason why none of the first five picks are relevant.  Any of those top selections that fall, will be hovered up by the Red Sox.  Even if they needed to sacrifice a future first round pick to take someone like Mark Appel I could see them doing that, especially since their pick will likely be a late one in the upcoming season.

#8 Overall – Kansas City Royals
Primary Target – Trey Ball LH Pitcher– Indiana High School
Secondary Target – Phil Bickford – RH Pitcher – California High School
Tertiary Target – Ryne Stanek – RH Pitcher - Arkansas
Other options  – Austin Meadows - Outfielder - Georgia High School

It seems apparent that the Royals would desperately like to take a pitcher here and ideally a college one, and with Gray, Appel & Shipley all gone if they go that way it would seem like Kansas City native Ryne Stanek would be the way to go.  However, the Razorback pitcher has pitched thru elbow pain late in the year which has raised red flags.  If anyone is going to take him this early its his home town team, but I'd expect its even a shade early for them.
So without a college player worth taking here, I'd expect the Royals to look to the Prep ranks at either Indiana lefty Trey Ball or California righty Phil Bickford. 
Ball is a two way player who not only dials it up over 95 from the left side, but also would profile as a 2nd round talent as an outfielder.  He has the type of long frame scouts dream on from a pitcher, and the temptation of a power southpaw may be too much to pass up.
Bickford on the other hand has been the story of the past week as he has rocketed up the draft board on the strength of his 17 strikeout final start (which say him strikeout his first 11 batters).  Previously seen as more a late first rounder he's put himself firmly in the mix as high as 8.  Bickford is this draft's wildcard, as he also has apparently a high signing demand making him a possibility if the Astros were to go the Moran route at #1 to be their target if he were to fall.  Keep an eye on him.
If the Royals do go with a position player Austin Meadows seems the likely fit, but they could also go with New Mexico first baseman DJ Peterson.  However, I fully expect them to land on one of the three pitchers listed above.
Jays Impact – Its expected that the Jays are interested in both the prep arms listed above, especially Ball.  If Ball gets past the Royals, look for him to land in Toronto's lap at 10.

#9 Overall – Pittsburgh Pirates
Primary Target – Reese McGuire – Catcher – Washington High School
            Every single mock draft has had the Pirates taking high school catcher Reese McGuire.  In this pick, the Pirates kind of have a gun to their head.  This pick is compensation for them failing to sign Mark Appel last season, and that means that if they couldn’t come to terms with this pick, they wouldn’t get a subsequent compensation pick.  The thought seems to be that McGuire could be a cheap sign, but one with considerable risk.  The track record of high school catchers is incredibly poor.  Since Joe Mauer was selected with the #1 pick of the 2001 draft, the only first round high school catcher to reach the majors as a catcher is Hank Conger.   While McGuire is seen as major league ready defensively, but his bat may never come around.
Jays Impact – This pick seems locked in, but if the Pirates were to pass on McGuire, it seems very likely that the Jays would take him.  Since that isn’t likely, I’m discounting McGuire as an option.
            After laying out this scenario, if I assume that the 7 picks appear to be locked in (1-6 & 9) that means that only 2 of the players on the following list will be off the board, when the Jays pick.  The list is in order of the players I wish to see the Blue Jays take.

1 – Clint Frazier – Outfield – Georgia High School
2 – Trey Ball – LH Pitcher – Indiana High School
3 – Austin Meadows – Outfield – Georgia High School
4 – Phil Bickford – RH Pitcher – California High School
5 – Dominic Smith – First Base – California High School
6 – JP Crawford – Shortstop – California High School

If this scenarios play out the way I have laid it out, I am advocating that the Blue Jays take whoever is left over among the group of Ball, Frazier & Meadows.  If they pass on that remaining player, I will be varying degrees of disappointed.  

More Draft coverage coming later today as Donn reveals his 2nd part of his Guest Post mock draft. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What To Expect From The Blue Jays Heading Into Draft Day

By: Marshall Henson

The MLB Rule 4 Draft is this Thursday, and in the first round, the Blue Jays will be picking 10th overall. This is their highest pick since JPR passed up on Troy Tulowitzki to select the great Ricky Romero. I will be previewing the top prospects in this draft that the Jays have either been linked to, or look to be drafted around the are where the Jays are picking.

I feel it’s safe to assume that certain players are bound to go ahead of the Blue Jays' tenth pick in this year’s rule four amateur draft, but after those five players anything could happen. The players I believe will be picked of the Jays are: Jonathan Grey, Mark Appel, Kris Bryant, Kohl Stewart, and Colin Moran.

Here are the players, after those five, that could end up being selected by the Jays. They’re in order of who I would want the Jays to take once their pick arrives. The list is derived from videos I’ve watched, along with scouting reports I’ve read. I don’t own a pitcher or batter bias, rather, I prefer the best player available, with the most projectability and the least risk, in my opinion. I am not a professional scout, I have just watched some video and read a lot about each of these players. Keep in mind that when the Jays have gone with position players in the top few rounds under the AA regime, they seem to go with toolsy players who don't necessarily need to stick in the outfield, so Frazier and Meadows are likely being targeted at this point. 

1-CLINT FRAZIER – OF – 6’1 – 190 LBS -- 18 YEARS OLD
Frazier’s unique combination of speed and power put him near the top of most draft broads, and if the Jays are lucky enough to have him fall onto their laps, they cannot pass on him, in my opinion. He’s outstandingly athletic with room for growth, and again, the power and speed are quite evident. He could have a 70 power bat in the future, and 50 hit tool. He plays the game all-out, which can have its pros and cons obviously, evident in the constant drama that surrounds Brett Lawrie. 

2-BRADEN SHIPLEY – RHP – 6’3 – 190 LBS -- 21 YEARS OLD
This solid college righty has really raised his draft stock, especially when considering he wasn’t drafted out of high school, at all. Shipley throws 3 solid pitches that all project as possibly above average offerings, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, and has been seen up to 98mph. His change up is considered by many as his best pitch, and he throws it in the mid 80's and it's very hard to pick up out of his hand. His curveball is pretty non-existent right now, defintitley not a plus pitch yet, but it does have some movement and he throws it in the high 70's. He projects as a #2 out of college.

3-AUSTIN MEADOWS – OF – 6’3 – 200 LBS -- 18 YEARS OLD
Meadows and Frazier are practically tied on many boards a product of their similar skill sets and same home state, but Frazier’s raw power intrigues me more than Meadows even 5 tools. Meadows is, like Frazier, a projectable high school outfielder with crazy bat potential, but with less power and more speed. I would be thrilled with Meadows if he ends up with the Jays, because he’s a very projectable corner-outfielder with 5 tools. 

4-RYNE STANEK – RHP – 6’4 – 190 LBS -- 22 YEARS OLD
This near-23 year old has fallen on some draft boards, and is truly a wildcard, meaning he could go anywhere in the first half of the draft. Stanek’s a projectable right hander with a mid-90s fastball that’s been seen up to 97. The slider is lethal at times, but is seen as inconsistent. Also shows a curve and change, both in progress, but could turn into solid offerings. The fear that his all-out effort delivery could force him into the bullpen could let him slip down in the draft, right onto the Jays’ lap if they wish to select him.

5-TREY BALL – LHP/OF – 6’6 – 180 LBS -- 18 YEARS OLD
Will Ball be headed to the Jays tomorrow? 

Ball has been continuously linked with the Jays according to Keith Law of ESPN and others. He seems like the most likely pick at 10. He has played two positions effectively, but I believe most prefer him, and his 6’6 frame, as a starting pitcher. As a lefty in the mid-low-90s with the fastball that can touch 96 out of high school, with a tight breaking curve (with a lack of experience with the pitch), there is much to love. Ball projects as a #2 starter (maybe even better), with the OF as a backup plan, if he was to need it. His mechanics are said to be very smooth and repeatable, something the Jays sure could use in their system.
*Line represents where, if I was drafting the Jays’ pick would be located. Meaning one of the other four would be mildly disappointing, unless the pick is paid under slot value, giving the Jays more money to buy high on a second rounder. 

6-PHIL BICKFORD – RHP – 6’4 – 185 LBS -- 17 YEARS OLD
Bickford, like Stanek is a wild card. I, unfortunately, don’t know as much as I’d like to about Bickford. From the videos and reports I’ve seen, the fastball hits 97 and the slider has large break with big swing and miss potential. He throws from an unorthodox ¾ arm slot that makes his slider that much better, but also very inconsistent. He has top of the rotation potential, but has a long way to go, especially with the interesting mechanics possessed by the young right hander.

7-REESE MCGUIRE – C – 6’1 – 190 LBS -- 18 YEARS OLD
McGuire is a defense-first catcher, with room to grow at the plate. Some say he could catch in the big leagues at this moment—if it didn’t mean he had to hit. His elite defense is highly touted, and it only takes one team to believe in a decent bat to grab him early on, including the Jays. The track record of HS prep catchers is not good, to say the least, so risk is a huge factor here.

8-DOMINIC SMITH – 1B – 6’ – 195 LBS -- 18 YEARS OLD
Smith is a gold glove caliber 1B (ok), with bat potential to follow (obviously). Smith has been linked to the Jays, but I personally don’t see how they pass on at least three of the players ahead of him on this list. I also doubt the Jays could sign a high-school student with college commitments for under slot value, despite the possible overdraft. 

9-JP CRAWFORD – SS – 6’2 – 180 LBS -- 18 YEARS OLD
JP is the cousin of Dodgers
 All Star Carl Crawford, so
talent runs in his family.

Personally, I DO NOT want the Jays to select Crawford. He’s nothing special, and is only rated so high because there is literally no other SS with a chance to make the big leagues in this draft. There are guys I prefer over Crawford (minimally), but Crawford has been linked to the Jays, whereas others like Hunter Renfroe have not. Crawford isn’t a stand out in the field or with the bat. This is the one guy that I would be utterly disappointed with the Jays drafting, even if he signs under slot value.

For more info on the Draft, check out the latest episode of the BJP Podcast, where Gideon and Ewan talked with Jeremy Nygaard about the players the Jays might take.

You can follow me on twitter, @Canucks_BlueJay.

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