With four picks in the first round and the first compensation round, the Blue Jays loaded up with a collection of exciting pitching prospects.
Deck McGuire at No. 11, Aaron Sanchez at No. 34, Noah Syndergaard at No. 38 and Asher Wojciechowski (pictured) with the 41st pick all were drafted by Toronto early in the 2010 MLB Draft.
With that in mind, it would be logical to assume GM Alex Anthopoulos and Scouting Director Andrew Tinnish would have focused on position players as the next round(s) commenced yesterday.
You know what they say about those who assume.
Three of the Jays next six picks were pitchers, and of the 36 players the Jays selected in the first 30 rounds, 21 were pitchers. This draft imbalance actually makes sense when you look at the state of Toronto's pitching depth beyond the starting rotation.
Aside from Kyle Drabek and Chad Jenkins, there isn't a projectable MLB pitcher in the system. Say what you will about the likes of Brad Mills and Robert Ray, but they are at best fringe prospects. Counting on them to produce for us on the big club just doesn't make sense.
However, the farm system is full of intriguing reliever/closer types with the likes of David Purcey, Zach Stewart and Tim Collins leading the way.
Digging even further into the pitchers Toronto just drafted, its interesting to note that nine of the 21 are lefties. Considering that statistically righties outnumber lefties by almost two-to-one, selecting so many southpaws provides an intriguing insight into the Jays' draft strategy.
Another interesting aspect of this draft class is the number of high schoolers in it.
One of the first things Anthopoulos did when he took over the GM duties was to triple the scouting staff. Now with AA and Tinnish conducting their first draft together, the evidence of the changes this new philosophy will bring are clear with the selection of 22 high schoolers among their 36 picks.
Some draftees of note*:
No. 61 Griffin Murphy, LHP, Redlands East Valley HS, California:
A tall left-hander with a fastball that touches 93 mph, Murphy also possesses a hard-breaking curve and a solid changeup. His command has been an issue in the past, but the 18-year-old's three average-to-above-average pitches made him too difficult to pass on. Murphy has a delivery reminiscent to that of the Angels' Scott Kazmir.
No. 69 Kellen Sweeney, 3B, Jefferson HS, Iowa:
The brother of A's outfielder Ryan Sweeney, Kellen figures to be a solid gap-to-gap hitter with above average plate discipline. While he primarily played at shortstop at Jefferson HS, the Jays have listed him as a third baseman. Toronto hopes Sweeney, who is not an above average defender, can polish his defensive skills and remain in the infield. One red flag is that he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009.
No. 80 Justin Nicolino, LHP, University HS, Florida:
The 6-foot-3 southpaw has an average fastball that sits between 89-92 mph, coupled with an average curveball and an above-average change up. The RivalsHigh prospect ranking had Nicolino 84th among the top 100 high schoolers. The left-hander has committed to play baseball at Virginia this fall. This pick was obtained due to the departure of current Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro.
No. 93 Christopher Hawkins, 3B, North Gwinnett HS, Georgia:
Much like Sweeney, Hawkins played primarily at shortstop in HS, but will be listed at 3B in the Jays organization. Hawkins has plus speed, with a little bit of pop. He should hit for a high average, as he hits the ball with conviction to all parts of the diamond. He has the upside to be a solid Major League player.
No. 156 Dickie Thon, SS, Academia Perpetuo Socorro HS, Puerto Rico:
Many thought Thon would be selected earlier in the Draft due to his strong showing in the Puerto Rico Skills Showcase this spring. To go along with his baseball bloodlines (Dad, Dickie Thon Sr. had a 14-year MLB career), Thon is also an outstanding athlete with a smooth swing and slick glove. The high schooler has committed to play baseball at Rice University this fall.
The Jays also selected three Canadians on the draft's second day: junior college outfielder Marcus Knecht of Toronto, a compensation pick in the third round; high school outfielder Dalton Pompey of Mississauga, Ont., in the 16th round; and Texas Tech left-hander Jay Johnson of Sussex Corner, N.B., in the 28th round.
The potential jewel of these Canucks is Knecht. The 6'1" left fielder, who grew up playing triple-A hockey against current National Hockey League stars John Tavares and Steven Stamkos (who was drafted by the Brewers in the 23rd round in 2008), was projected as the 50th best prospect by the Perfect Game scouting service. He could have gone Monday night, but slipped to the Blue Jays at the 113th selection.
And finally, the Jays may have had the steal of the late rounds with the selection of 3B Kris Bryant in the 18th round. Many draft experts suggested Bryant was worthy of a pick in the first five rounds, with a real good head on his shoulders.
Although his defense needs some fine-tuning, the youngster hit 22 home runs this season, the third most in Nevada history. The 6'5", 210-pounder was also named Nevada's Gatorade Baseball Player of the year for the 2009-10 season, in which he had a .484 batting average with 22 home runs, 51 RBIs and a 1.312 slugging percentage.
But before we get too excited about any of these players, we need to remember that at least half these kids will never play a single game in the majors and perhaps just a handful of them will play more than 100 games.
Nonetheless, it looks like AA and Tinnish really did the extra leg work it takes when scouting high school players.
Now the challenge of signing these kids begins.
Speaking of which, John Paxton and Jake Eliopoulos, the two Canadians we drafted last year at 37th and 68th overall respectively who refused to sign, had massive falls in this year's draft. Paxon fell to 132nd (Mariners) and Eliopoulos to 472nd (Dodgers).
I'll let you draw your own conclusions.