The Major League Baseball draft is less than two months away, and as is usually the case, the picture is becoming somewhat clearer. There is still the usual movement up and down the board, but the top prospects for the draft (Oregon St C Adley Rutschman, Cal 1B Andrew Vaughan) have long since separated themselves from the pack.
This year’s class is said to not be in the same as drafts of the past several years both in terms of depth and overall quality. College bats are thought to be the top commodity in terms of volume.
There are many sources of information about the draft, but two that stand out are Baseball America and Jeff Ellis of scout.com. BA has an impressive list of scouts across the nation that their staff have accumulated, while Ellis has an extensive list of contacts, and has followed many of the players in this year’s draft for several years.
Both sources came out with their latest mock draft this week. BA’s (behind a paywall) has the Blue Jays taking Vanderbilt OF J.J. Bleday, while Ellis has them taking West Virgina RHP Alek Mantoah.
The Blue Jays have the 11th pick overall. It’s fairly easy to predict them having an even higher pick next year.
BA feels that Bleday is a bat on an upward trajectory:
Bleday has been steadily rising all spring with improved power numbers and a fantastic track record of hitting in the SEC.
Mantoah, the Friday starter for West Virginia who fanned 15 in a complete game shutout yesterday, checks several boxes for Toronto, according to Ellis:
Manoah’s older brother was drafted by the Mets and is still in their system. Manoah has built on his Cape performance and is now a solid upper half of the first round prospect. His size and dominating performances, along with his bloodlines, make him a natural fit to the Blue Jays.
Furthermore, Ellis points out that when Giants President of Baseball Ops Farhan Zaidi was with the Dodgers, they showed a preference for Vandy players, so Bleday may not even be available when the Blue Jays pick.
As a sleeper, bloodlines may once again come into play says Ellis, who suggests Delbarton HS RHP Jack Leiter may fit that bill. Yes, that Jack Leiter, son of former Blue Jays Al, cousin of current Blue Jay Mark, nephew of former MLBer Mark. Jason Pennini of Prospects Live tweeted this recent report on Leiter:
Jack Leiter carving turkey, phrase credit (@JasonAtTheGame )
AB1: FB in, CB D/In, Cut FB D/A, CB D/In
AB2: FB U/In, SL FB D/A, FB U/A, CB D
AB3: FB D/A, FB U/In, CB D/A, CB D/A
AB4: FB In, CB D/A, FB U/In, CB A
AB 5: CB A, FB D/In, CB A (stayed up), FB In pic.twitter.com/IQUBdjUlje
— Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) April 9, 2019
A commitment to (surprise) Vanderbilt and a rumoured high bonus demand may dissuade teams from selecting Leiter.
Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs sent this tweet out over two months ago:
West Virginia RHP Alek Manoah drew a big scouting audience of about 40, with a few VP/director types. All but one fastball has been 95-97 and this was his first slider of the day. K’d 5 of the 6 batters faced thru 2 IP. #44 in our draft rankings https://t.co/bfNqrcUABB pic.twitter.com/REamQe6gkp
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) February 15, 2019
MLB Pipeline in a bit of a dated (early December) report:
Ellis on Bleday:
His power has trended way up this year, though he is walking much less and striking out more. It has been a trade-off, but one most teams would gladly take from a player. He moves well and has a strong arm. So when I mention athleticism, he might lack foot speed, but stands out in all other areas.
MLB Pipeline on Bleday, who may be the first college OF to be selected in the draft:
Other players who have been rumoured to be the subject of close attention from the Blue Jays include Clemson SS Logan Davidson, Missouri OF Kameron Misner, and Washington HS OF Corbin Carroll.