This marks the FBJ debut of Mason McRae , an avid student of the game. In his first dispatch, he takes a look at the Blue Jays recent draft history, and players they have been rumoured to have been following in advance of selecting 11th overall in the first round. You can follow Mason on Twitter: @mason_mcrae.
With the MLB Draft less than 5 days away, rumours of who the Blue Jays might be interested in at Pick 11 are starting to fly out. But With many holes to fill, what is the best bet for the Jays? Do they go best player available and try to fill one of many holes, or do they try and pair one of the many talented arms in the class with their up and coming prospect, Nate Pearson?
What does Ross Atkins look for in the draft?
Atkins developed a pattern quickly when taking over the Jays in 2015, selecting three straight College Players in the first round: TJ Zeuch in 2016, and Logan Warmoth/Nate Pearson in 2017. All three were ranked lower on the board then where picked according to Baseball America and FanGraphs. So did the Jays reach for a position of need? Or did they take who they believed was the best player available? Because in 2018 they took a Shortstop out of Magnolia, Texas. That would be Jordan Groshans, who so far has shown lots of talent. But once again, the Jays took a player lower on most Draft Boards then when picked. With the best Prep arm still available (Matthew Liberatore), as well as the 2018 College Baseball Pitcher of the year (Brady Singer) and a weak pipeline of pitchers in Toronto’s farm system you’d think a Pitcher was what Atkins and Company would want. Did Atkins believe Groshans was the BPA? Or were they much lower on Singer, and Liberatore compared to everybody else. All of these questions make this year’s draft even more of mystery than you would hope. But it seems like Atkins and Amateur Scouting Director Steve Sanders have a habit of reaching for the player they believe is the best available regardless of the position.
Who have the Jays showed heavy interest in?
- Corbin Carroll – Lakeside HS (OF): An extremely advanced hitter who performed well for Team USA in the past summer. Carroll is my favourite prep Outfielder in the class, him and Riley Greene have battled it out for the top spot all year. Some scouts are higher on Greene, but the Jays scouts have been spotted at nearly every one of Carroll’s High school games this past season. Carroll has been linked to the Jays at 11 if he’s still available for a while now. His style of play would fit perfectly in Toronto and he’d make a lot of sense at 11.
- Bryson Stott – UNLV (SS): One of the best shortstops in college baseball this year, Stott has grown every year at UNLV. His power tool has been the one that’s grown the most though, finishing with 10 home runs this season, which is the double the amount he had in the previous two seasons combined. Similar to Carroll, Jays scouts have been seen at many of Stott’s games and he’s been linked to Toronto at 11 for awhile now as well. He’s not my favourite CBB shortstop; that would be Logan Davidson. But if Atkins decided Stott was the better of the two and selected him, I couldn’t complain.
Who should Jays fans want at 11?
- Daniel Espino – Georgia Premier Academy (RHP): My favourite arm in the class, reasonably so. He features the best fastball in the class which sits 95-97 and gets up to 99 regularly, and hits 100. His Curveball flashes plus with a 12-6 break, and his Slider also flashes plus plus with some great late action on it. Daniel has been extremely low on some Draft Boards, like FanGraphs who has dropped him all the way to 34. The only concern is his arm action, which has lead to arm injuries for other prep Pitchers in the past. His ability to hide the ball well in his delivery and how much he uses his legs is just as impressive as his repertoire of pitches.
- Alex Manoah – West Virginia (RHP): My favourite arm in college baseball, he features one of the most devastating Sliders in this year’s class. His fastball sits 94-96 and touches 97. He is one of the biggest risers in this year’s draft. If he fell to the Jays at 11, I don’t know how they could pass him up unless they have a choice of Espino, Carroll, Stott and him. Which would probably be a dream scenario for the Jays.
Other Reasonable Selections fans SHOULD want: Corbin Carroll (See Above), Logan Davidson, Jack Leiter, Josh Jung.
Possible selections that I would NOT be a fan of: George Kirby, Quinn Priester, Brett Baty, Matt Allan.
You never draft based on a need in the MLB Draft, you always take the BPA. But, when you have a System loaded with Position player talent like the Blue Jays are, you have to start taking the best arm available eventually. Last year they passed on numerous arms capable of being big leaguers by 2021, based off Atkins’ draft history. The Jays will more than likely take the BPA on THEIR board regardless of position which is the best bet long-term. Stott/Carroll are the two with the best shot of being taken by Toronto, with Alex Manoah, Logan Davidson, and Jackson Ruthledge all picks that fit the Jays mould. If the Jays have Espino on the board still at 11, and take him. I think that’s the BPA at 11 and the one who will make the best impact on the Jays come 2021.