Selected in the 31st round of the 2018 draft, Austin Easter is already setting himself up for success beyond the baseball diamond. The senior from UNC Wilmington has graduated with a B.B.A. degree in Finance while showing improvement on the diamond throughout his baseball career. Easter had a 2.91 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 43 innings in his senior season, working almost exclusively out of the bullpen, striking out 47 and walking 13. Easter is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds so he doesn’t have a particularly big frame.
The Blue Jays grabbed another pitcher with a smaller build in the 32nd round, selecting Joey Pulido, a 5-foot-9 righty out of the University of Houston. Pulido hails from Clute Texas and played for Alvin Community College before transfering to Houston. In two seasons he was a reliever and tossed 91 1/3 innings with a 3.74 ERA and 95 strikeouts, walking 34 batters and saving eight games (including six in his senior season). Pulido was decribed by head coach Todd Whitting as a “solid go-to guy,” a “great teammate” and a “great competitor.” Seeing a little bit of video of Pulido, he’s a “drop-and-drive” pitcher who has a quick arm.
Matt Harris is another college reliever the Blue Jays selected, this time in the 33rd round, and the righty is listed at 6-feet tall and 180 pounds on the Florida Atlantic University website. The Palm Beach Gardens, Florida native went to Elon University for three years before transferring and he never put up an ERA lower than 4.38 in his freshman year at Elon. He only made three starts in his junior year and didn’t play in 2017, transferring to Florida Atlantic as a fifth-year graduate student and likely felt up to competing again after an injury sustained in 2016. Coming into FAU, head coach John McCormack said that Harris “has a really good fastball and his secondary stuff is good. Very aggressive-type guy.” In his comeback year, Harris logged 24 innings over 16 games with a 5.18 ERA and 1.60 WHIP, walking only two batters and striking out 26 but giving up 13.68 hits per nine innings.
The Blue Jays selected a righthanded pitcher in eight consecutive rounds (although Andy McGuire may play infield), ending with Grant Townsend, a 6-foot reliever from Oral Roberts University in round 34. The junior pitched for two years at Central Arizona College prior to coming to ORU and was named an NJCAA First-Team All American in 2017, throwing 100 2/3 innings with a 1.79 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, striking out 119 and walking only 24. He continued to rack up strikeouts at ORU, throwing 38 2/3 innings in relief, striking out 50 batters and walking 15 with a 4.19 ERA. From Lake Tapps, Washington, Townsend has another year of eligibility and could decide to go pro with the Jays or return to college for a year to increase his draft position.
In round 35, the Jays selected their second Canadian, third baseman Damiano Palmegiani who went to the Vauxhall Baseball Academy in Alberta. The high schooler hails originally from Caracas, Venezuela but his family moved to Surrey, B.C. when he was five. He returned to B.C. to play for Abbotsford of the B.C. Premier Baseball League in 2017 and played for the Canadian Junior National Team and was one of five Canadians to attend the Area Code Games in California. Palmegiani played in the Blue Jays’ Tournament 12 showcase in 2016 and 2017 and has a commitment to Cal State Northridge. I would expect Palmegiani to go to school in 2018 and be eligible for the draft again in three years.
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