Well, tonight is the opening of the 2013 Rule 4 (Amateur) Draft and the Blue Jays should be ready to select a new class of 40 players who will begin their professional careers. While I’m excited that the Blue Jays are picking 10th overall this season, this year will mark the first time in the Alex Anthopoulos era in which they only have one selection per round.
We won’t have the 7 picks over the first three rounds like we did in 2011 and 2012 (see more below) or even 9 picks over the first three rounds (plus compensation rounds) that the Blue Jays had in 2010. Also, some of you may have noticed that last year, the draft was shrunk to 40 rounds (from 50). I think that this will lead to more undrafted free agent signings than there have been in the past.
I won’t speculate too much on who the Jays will select at #10 this season, although high school left-handed pitcher (and outfielder) Trey Ball, high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows and high school catcher Reese McGuire are all players whose names have been brought up in connection with the Blue Jays’ interests and who could be available when the Jays make their selection. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to follow it live. I’ll be umpiring a baseball game tonight, but I’ll try to follow along (as much as I can) on Twitter.
Here is a summary of some of the Blue Jays recent draft picks in the early rounds (and some other notable players).
Chad Jenkins (1st round, 20th overall) – Currently in Buffalo (he just started last night) but will be back with the Blue Jays to start on June 11. Has put up some solid numbers in the major leagues and could eventually develop into a solid back-end of the rotation pitcher. He’s a sinkerball type pitcher, so don’t expect a lot of strikeouts. Jenkins is now 25.
The next three picks — James Paxton, Jake Eliopoulos and Jake Barrett — didn’t sign. Eliopoulos was tragically found dead earlier this year.
Jake Marisnick (3rd round, 104th overall) – Traded to Miami in the massive deal this winter, Jake is currently in AA Jacksonville putting up some decent numbers. His batting average isn’t great (.240), but he’s got 6 home runs in 125 ABs as well as 8 stolen bases. He has a .731 OPS.
Other notables: SS Ryan Goins (4th round) is currently playing in AAA Buffalo. IF Ryan Schimpf (5th round) is currently playing in AA New Hampshire. 1B K.C. Hobson (6th round) is currently playing with A+ Dunedin. LHP Aaron Loup (9th round)is currently playing for the ML Blue Jays. C Yan Gomes (10th round) is currently playing for ML Cleveland. He was part of the Mike Aviles trade that brought RP Esmil Rogers to Toronto. C Sean Ochinko (11th round) is currently playing in AA New Hampshire. RHP Drew Hutchison (15th round) is currently on the 60-day DL for Toronto after Tommy John surgery. SS Kevin Nolan (20th round) is currently playing for AA New Hampshire.
RHP Deck McGuire (1st round, 11th overall) – Pitching in New Hampshire for his second year. While the surface stats are not the best, he is pitching much better than last season and is looking for more consistency on the mound.* Deck is 23 (will turn 24 at on June 23).
RHP Aaron Sanchez (Compensation Round A, 34th overall) – Currently on the DL with an undisclosed injury. He has been dominant in A+ Dunedin and could very well be a #2 starter or better if all things break his way. Sanchez is still 20.
RHP Noah Syndergaard (Compensation Round A, 38th overall) – now with the Mets organization after the trade for R.A. Dickey.
RHP Asher Wojciechowski (Compensation Round A, 41st overall) –Now with the Astros organization after the 2012 trade for J.A. Happ. He’s already in AAA and has been putting up decent numbers for the Oklahoma City Red Hawks.
LHP Griffin Murphy (2nd Round, 61st overall) – Murphy is plying his trade (and trademark “Rollie Fingers-esque” moustache) in Lansing. His numbers aren’t so great so far, but he started the season injured. Murphy is 22 and has been working exclusively in relief.
IF Kellen Sweeney (2nd round, 69th overall) – Sweeney is struggling a bit with the bat again in Lansing, mostly playing 1st base. He’s shown some power and good patience at the plate, but his .204 batting average is just not going to cut it for the moment. Age 21.
LHP Justin Nicolino (2nd round, 80th overall) – Nicolino went to the Marlins in the big trade this offseason.
OF Chris Hawkins (3rd round, 93rd overall) – Hawkins has had some good times and some struggles in Lansing. A well-spoken, outgoing young man (as you heard in our interview with him from the Podcast), there’s some pop in his bat and we hope that he gets it going again, but he hit just .171 in May.
OF Marcus Knecht (Compensation Round B, 113th overall) – Knecht is in A+ Dunedin hitting .215 with a .609 OPS. He had an outstanding 2011 in Lansing, but has struggled since. He shows flashes both of power and speed but hasn’t been able to put it all together.
Other Notables: LHP Sean Nolin (6th round) is currently in AA New Hamsphire and made one start with the Blue Jays this May. OF Dalton Pompey (16th round) is a Mississauga native playing with A Lansing. He’s recently been named to the Midwest League All-Star Game. RHP Danny Barnes (35th round) was an All-Star for A+ Dunedin in 2012. He’s currently on the DL with Dunedin.
RHP Tyler Beede (1st round, 21st overall) – Beede didn’t sign with the Blue Jays and went to Vanderbilt.
OF Jacob Anderson (Compensation Round A, 35th overall) – Anderson, a high schooler, struggled in Bluefield in 2012. He will probably return there or begin the 2013 short season in Vancouver.
RHP Joe Musgrove (Compensation Round A, 46th overall) – Musgrove was traded to the Astros organization in the J.A. Happ deal.
OF Dwight Smith, Jr. (Compensation Round A, 53rd overall) – Smith is now with Class-A Lansing hitting very well (.279/.351/.368) through 138 ABs, which is a surprise considering that he didn’t hit particularly well in short-season ball last year. Still 20, he’s showing a mature approach at the plate and on the bases (90% stolen base percentage).
RHP Kevin Comer (Compensation Round A, 57th overall) – Comer was traded to Houston in the J.A. Happ deal.
LHP Daniel Norris (2nd round, 74th overall) – Norris has been very successful in the past 5 starts with Class-A Lansing. He just turned 20 and scouts say that he has some of the best stuff in the Jays’ system. He needs to develop more control, but could be a beast in the coming years.
RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski (2nd round, 78th overall) – Jeremy had a strong season last year mostly as a starter in Bluefield. He turned 20 in March and should be slated to begin 2013 in Vancouver.
RHP John Stilson (3rd round, 108th overall) – Stilson is now in AAA Buffalo and pitching very well in relief. He could be in Toronto as early as next season and is one of the few real “prospects” that the Jays have playing for the Bisons.
Other Notables: RHP Tom Robson (4th round) is a BC boy who might very well be back in Canada pitching in Vancouver this year. 2B Christian Lopes (7th round) is a Midwest League All-Star selection in 2013 for the Lansing Lugnuts. 3B Andy Burns (11th round) is a Florida State League All-Star selection in A+ Dunedin. 3B Matthew Dean (13th round) had a poor year in 2012 in Bluefield, but is projected to have a lot of power. 2B Jon Berti (18th round) is leading the Florida State League in stolen bases. He’s having a decent year in A+ Dunedin. OF Eric Arce (25th round) is a power hitting corner outfielder. He might play in Vancouver this year. 1B Kevin Patterson (30th round) is hitting up a storm in Lansing after being demoted from Dunedin. OF Kevin Pillar (32nd round) is having an outstanding year in AA New Hampshire. He’s being tagged by scouts as a legitimate major league candidate.
OF D.J. Davis (1st round, 17th overall) – Davis is tagged for a start to the season in Vancouver in 2013. He won’t be 19 until July and put up good numbers last year in Bluefield and Dunedin (Rookie). Scouts love his upside but question his hit tool.
RHP Marcus Stroman (1st round, 22nd overall) – At 22, Stroman already pitching well in AA. The team wants to explore their options with him as a starter although many scouts and writers think that he’ll be a dominant closer in the majors. He could probably step into the Blue Jays’ bullpen right now and be a solid reliever, giving him one of the highest floors of anyone in the system.
LHP Matt Smoral (Compensation Round A, 50th overall) – Smoral is a 6’8″ lefty who hasn’t played a professional game yet due to injury. Scouts love what he brings to the table, though.
3B Mitch Nay (Compensation Round A, 58th overall) – Nay also missed out on the opportunity to play last year because an injury. He’s said to have a great power bat, which will probably be on display in Bluefield in 2013.
RHP Tyler Gonzales (Compensation Round A, 60th overall) – Gonzales had a rough go in the Gulf Coast League last year. Scouts think that he could be something good, or might not develop into a high-minor leaguer or major leaguer at all, depending on how some of his pitches evolve.
RHP Chase DeJong (Round 2, 81st overall) – DeJong had very strong numbers in the Gulf Coast League last year and made an appearance in Lansing for the “Crosstown Showdown.” He could very well start in Vancouver.
OF Anthony Alford (Round 3, 112th overall). Alford is well known for many things, but so far, playing baseball isn’t one of them. Alford didn’t do particularly well in a handful of at-bats in the GCL, but word is that he’ll start in Vancouver for however much time the Blue Jays have him for before he reports to college for football practice.
Other Notables: RHP Tucker Donahue (4th round) is pitching in relief in Class-A Lansing. LHP Alonzo Gonzalez (18th round) is a starter in Lansing. SS Jorge Flores (19th round) is playing in Lansing. C Derrick Chung (31st round) was hitting very well in A+ Dunedin before sustaining an injury.
So… who will the Blue Jays take in 2013? Find out soon!
* I talked to Tom Gauthier, play-by-play broadcaster for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, about Deck for Episode 7 of the Blue Jays from Away Podcast.
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