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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