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With the official signing of the Blue Jays’ final two 2020 draft picks this week, we wanted to get a breakdown of the players that the Toronto Blue Jays selected in the abbreviated draft as well as the undrafted free agents. I spoke to the Blue Jays’ Director of Amateur Scouting, Shane Farrell, and got his thoughts on the players and some of the directions that the draft took.
The first thing I asked Farrell about the fact that all of the players the Blue Jays selected and signed were college players and whether that was a deliberate strategy.
Farrell said, “No, not by any means. We certainly didn’t set out with the intent of taking all college players, that’s just the way the board happened to line up and with each turn for us to make a pick, the top player on the board was a college player. Nothing was premeditated by any means.”
I asked about the thought process behind choosing Austin Martin. Some people remarked that some teams find their “guy” at a high pick and will stick to him no matter who might still be available.
Farrell said, “I think just staying true to our core principles and philosophies of taking the best player that’s available at that selection. With the way our rankings turned out over the couple of weeks of meeting leading up to the draft, Austin was certainly near the top of our board and he was definitely the top player on the board when it came turn for us to make the pick. “
Here’s Farrell giving us some more on Martin:
“For us, I think just understanding the offensive upside along with the defensive versatility is really what drew us to a player like Austin. Then you start to dig a little bit deeper, find out more about the person that we’re potentially acquiring as well, continue to separate him amongst the group of players we were talking about in that range. Just how committed he is to continuing to get better, how much of a baseball rat he truly is. Those are things we really valued and took to heart.”
The Jays took pitcher C.J. Van Eyck out of Florida State in the second round.
“C.J.’s an interesting starter candidate with a four-pitch mix. He has good feel to throw all four pitches. We’re looking forward to his development, he can continue to improve some things control and command-wise with him but we’re excited to add that starter’s package where we did.”
Third-round pick, pitcher Trent Palmer:
“Trent’s exciting, a guy from a smaller school that kind of came on the summer prior up in the Cape [Cod League]. He’s got a good arm, up to 97 [mph] with a really good slider. So we’re excited to add him, with the potential to be a starter with really good arm speed and a couple of intriguing pitches.”
I asked Farrell about the looks that the Blue Jays had gotten on Palmer in the Cape Cod League and what they had seen this season and how they were weighting the two different time periods:
“I think this year being so unique, we were leaning on every look and every piece of information that we had. We obviously had strong opinions on him coming out of the Cape, all being very positive, and then just to see his natural and forward progression moving into the spring and through his four starts, were really positive indicators for us and in a lot of ways drove the decision to select him where we did.”
I asked Farrell about fourth-rounder pitcher Nick Frasso:
“Nick’s really intriguing . . . knowing the upside here with the fastball and fastball effectiveness inside the strike zone is something we’re really happy to add into the organization. I’m excited for our player development to get their hands on him and continue to improve his secondary offerings and get him back on the mound.”
On the last pick in the draft, outfielder Zach Britton:
“We were excited to get Zach were we did. I think his ability to play both corner outfield positions, he’s had some history throughout his amateur career of getting behind the plate as well and just knowing the feel to hit and ability to hit from the left side is something that we’re really excited about. His ability to stay on the ball and drive it to left-center field and collect the amount of doubles he did in such a short season was really impressive so we’re happy to add Zach as well.”
I asked about the fact that Britton has had been a catcher as an amateur and whether he would play that position as a pro with the Blue Jays:
“That remains to be seen. I think we need to continue to learn more about Zach. Any discussions we have about his future defensive home will be made with Zach’s input.”
The Blue Jays signed three undrafted free agents: Harrison Ray of Vanderbilt (teammate of Austin Martin), outfielder MacKenzie Mueller of Baylor and utility player Zac Cook of University of Texas-Arlington.
“Harry Ray is a really high character individual, somebody that has some strong baseball tools, secondary tools for that, the ability to tap into a little bit of power for a smaller-statured player. But he can run, he can throw, he’s got some defensive versatility, I think he’ll be a a good addition to the organization.
“Mueller is a really strong, physical corner bat. Combining his power potential with some zone contact skills that he’s shown is exciting. I’m looking forward to him putting a whole year together when he’s healthy.
“Zac Cook is an interesting lefthanded bat. A guy with some ability to manage the zone. He put in a lot of work to add weight and strength this offseason heading into 2020 and it showed quite a bit early on and we’re hopeful that those trends remain.”
I also asked Farrell what the scouts are up to now, moving on to next season’s players:
“The turnaround time to the next year’s draft class is always extremely quick. This year’s no different although there are some different hurdles that we’re faced with for obvious reasons. We’re continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our scouts, scouting as best we can locally, getting to some of these high school showcases and college summer leagues that are around the areas where our scouts live. So that’s been our attention as we turn to 2021.”
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