Major League Baseball’s draft takes place over the next three days, starting today. It’s hard to know who the Blue Jays will take with their first pick, but if past history is any indication, a college arm would be a safe bet when Toronto steps up to the podium for the 12th pick.
Here’s a look around at what the top sources in the industry are saying.
Jonathan Mayo predicts that the Blue Jays will step out of the college player mold with their first pick, selecting Arizona HS 3B Nolan Gorman, who many reports have had them linked to. Not hedging his bets, Mayo also suggests the team may select local product C Noah Naylor, whose stock has climbed steadily this spring.
Mayo’s colleague Jim Callis suggests that reports he’s received indicate that the Blue Jays are looking at a bat, and South Alabama OF Travis Swaggerty fits that bill.
BA notes that Swaggerty’s late-season slide, where his average dipped below .300, may cause him to slip. They have the Jays taking Mississippi LHP Ryan Rolison, who has been linked to Toronto for much of the spring, with their first pick. The Blue Jays have shown a preference for players who are young for their draft class, and Rolison matches that trend.
Few people outside of MLB scouts watch more college and prep baseball than Ellis, who we spoke to earlier this spring. Ellis has the Blue Jays taking Arizona HS LHP Matthew Liberatore. Liberatore would certainly be an outside-the-box pick for Toronto, but as Ellis writes, “His fastball is a low to mid 90’s pitch, but his off-speed pitches are the separators right now..”
Ellis’ colleague Taylor Blake Ward has the Blue Jays picking Wisconsin HS OF Jared Kelenic, who has the toolsy upside the Blue Jays covet.
Minor League Ball
Respected MiLB writer John Sickels has the Blue Jays selecting Florida prep righty Carter Stewart, who the team has been linked to several times this spring. And when we say the Blue Jays have been linked to a player, by the way, it’s an indication not just that Toronto scouts have been following them, but that regional and cross-checking scouts have been spotted at that prospect’s games. Much of that is due diligence, but when a team is taking multiple looks at a player, they’re likely very interested.
ESPN’s Law predicts that the Blue Jays will select Texas HS RHP Grayson Rodriguez. Rodriguez has caught a heavy dose of helium this spring thanks to his fastball, which hits 98 and sits 93-94.
Future Blue Jays
We have spoken with Blue Jays execs over the past couple of seasons, and have charted their draft history, and a couple of trends do emerge: they do look for past performance, as well as MLB bloodlines. Mark Shapiro feels that starting pitching is the hardest commodity to develop, and while there are a number of position players with plenty of upside available, it’s likely that they’ll be looking at an arm.
With that in mind, if they are available, we suggest that Rolison, or Stetson RHP Logan Gilbert might be called if they are still on the board at #12.
The next few days are always fun to watch, as we dig into the backgrounds of players the team selects. And we’ll do our best to list the signing scouts for the prospects the team chooses – these are the guys who have done the heavy lifting with these players, following them for several years, developing a relationship with them, and assessing their signability.