The Blue Jays made their first two selections in the 2013 Amateur Draft, following their tendency to seek out risky, hard throwing, high ceiling high school pitchers, taking 17 year old right-hander Phil Bickford with their #10 pick overall, and 18 year old Clinton Hollon at #47 in the second round.
The scouting report on Bickford says he’s a 6’4” kid who has hit as high as 96 on the radar gun. The Blue Jays look for guys with big fastballs and the Blue Jays director of amateur scouting, Brian Parker says that the team feels that Bickford, who hails from Ventura, CA, has one of the best fastballs in the draft. There are signability issues but Parker also believes that they’ll be able to sign him away from his commitment to Cal State Fullerton. There are concerns that his off-speed pitches are way behind his fastball, but the Blue Jays don’t believe that to be a problem, especially with a pitcher so young. You can find his scouting report and video at MLB.com.
Clinton Hollon is a “smaller” pitcher (at about 6’) who can still get the ball flying in the mid-90s with what scouts call a “decent” breaking ball and some feel for a changeup. The Blue Jays went with this native of Lexington, KY mainly because he fell off draft boards after a bout of forearm tendinitis sidelined him last year. Hollon carries a PG (Perfect Game) grade of 10, reserved for the highest of prospects. You can find video and a scouting report at MLB.com.
In the blogosphere, there is definitely concern that the Blue Jays are focusing on pitching to the exclusion of position players with high upside. This is my opinion too. The Jays still have plenty of pitching at the lower levels of the minors with guys like Sanchez, Osuna, Norris, DeJong, Tirado, Cardona and Smoral but a lot of the position players that they’ve drafted in the early rounds have struggled. The only position player to be drafted in the early rounds to have taken a big step forward in his development is outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr. who was drafted in 2011 and has been having a solid year in Lansing. Many of the organization’s real position prospects have come later in the draft, like Dalton Pompey (16th round), Andy Burns (11th round), Kevin Pillar (32nd round) and Christian Lopes (7th round).
Are the Blue Jays counting on finding the diamond in the rough in the later rounds, perhaps on Day 2 of the draft (Rounds 3-10) today?