As we inch towards baseball’s pandemic-shortened draft next month, some interesting names have emerged in connection with the Blue Jays first round pick, fifth overall.
Georgia RHP Emerson Hancock has been something of an industry consensus for that selection, and while he does check a number of boxes for the Blue Jays, there are some other players who, depending on their availability, might hear their names called when Toronto’s turn comes up.
FBJ good friend Jeff Ellis posted his first round thoughts over atYouTube, and his logic has some merit when it comes to the 5th pick. Louisville LHP Reid Detmers may not light up radar guns, but he’s probably the most polished arm in the draft, and shows a four-pitch mix that could move comfortably into the middle of a big league rotation in a relatively short period of time. More importantly, as Ellis points out, Detmers has those bloodlines (his Dad reached AAA) the Blue Jays covet – “windshields” as Ross Atkins terms it, and that combination might be hard to pass up. Similarly, Ellis thinks California power bat HS C Tyler Soderstrom, whose father pitched briefly in the bigs, and Arkansas OF Heston Kjerstad, whose brother played in the minors for five seasons before moving to Indy ball, might fit the bill.
Two other names fit the up-the-middle profile that the Blue Jays have also shown a preference for. UCLA’s Garrett Mitchell might be the toolsiest player in the draft, but some teams might see his type 1 diabetes as a risk – and don’t overlook their tendency to take a player whose stock has slipped. This year’s draft is expected to be college-heavy in the first ten picks, but Florida prep star Zac Veen has enough upside that he might break that trend and become a Blue Jay.
This will be the highest the Blue Jays have selected in the draft since taking Clemson RHP Billy Koch with the 4th overall pick in 1996 (they selected Texas HS OF Vernon Wells with the 5th pick the following year). With the 5th pick this year, they may be just outside of a group of four players that were on the verge of separating themselves from the rest of the class before play was halted over two months ago, but Toronto has a chance to add a player who should have some value over the next decade-plus.