As the MLB draft approaches next month, there is consensus among scouts that this is a strong draft class, but no one player has emerged as a true #1 candidate.
Blue Jays Amateur Scouting Director was understandably tight-lipped about who and where the Blue Jays are concentrating their scouting efforts on, and wouldn’t say how this class compares to last year’s:
(It’s) hard to comment on the overall strength of this class relative to others but there does seems to be some quality depth in a number of areas.
As far as the Blue Jays are concerned, a number of names, including Mississippl LHP Ryan Rolison, Stetson RHP Logan Gilbert, Duke OF Griffin Conine, and South Alabama OF Travis Swaggerty have been rumoured to be on Toronto’s radar. In addition, some internet sources have suggested that Florida HS OF Connor Scott, Arizona HS 3B Nolan Gorman, and Tennessee LHP Ryan Weathers have been scouted heavily by the Blue Jays.
It’s hard to know exactly who the Blue Jays are considering with their first pick, 12th overall, but if past history is any indication, it will likely be a college player. They have also shown a preference for MLB bloodlines, which would seem to point to Conine, but his stock has fallen considerably this spring – he’s fallen out of the first round at MLB Pipeline. He’s looking more and more like a 2nd or 3rd round pick, which also could have him being selected by Toronto, given their past selections of players whose stock has fallen.
Jeff Ellis, who does a thorough job of evaluating draft prospects at 247sports.com, suggests that South Florida LHP Shane McClanahan, who was looking like a possible #1 pick six weeks ago, could wind up available at #12. Ellis points out both the pros and cons of selecting McClanahan:
His size will be a concern, but his fastball looks like a potential plus-plus offering. His changeup is another weapon and his slider has improved as well. McClanahan is an undersized arm, from a small school, with two years of eligibility, a history of arm troubles, and past issues with command. I state all of this just to show that, in spite of all those concerns, he is in the running for a high selection. This speaks to his ceiling and the general rarity of finding left-handed pitchers with his ceiling and profile.
Baseball America suggests Florida 3B Jonathan India, who has quietly been climbing the rankings, would be a good fit for Toronto:
When the season began, it would have seemed silly to project Florida third baseman Jonathan India among the top 15 picks in the draft. However, with just over a month until the draft, India has been among the best hitters in the SEC and has also given scouts a few games at shortstop—though he’s unlikely to play the position as a pro.
The SEC is the most competitive conference in college baseball, and success there is often a good predictor of the same in pro ball.
Given his bloodlines, Weathers is an interesting candidate, although as a high schooler, he’s likely out of the Blue Jays comfort zone with a first overall pick. There have been rumours that Toronto has also heavily been scouting Gorman and California HS SS Brice Turang.
Jonathan Mayo at MLB Pipeline has Toronto selecting Rolison, a choice that makes more and more sense. He’s had an up-and-down spring, and Ellis outlines why:
He does get hit a lot and combined with his walk rate means that a lot of runners have reached base. This is part of the reason he has not lasted long into his starts this year his average is under six innings per start, which is not ideal for a player who is looking at upper first round draft positioning. In the end, he is still a lefty who hits 96 and has two well-developed secondary offerings. The ceiling is that of a number two with a relatively high floor.