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The 2020 MLB draft (also known as the Rule 4 draft), bringing players into the league from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, is the most unusual in memory since the draft began. Instead of the 40 rounds of draft picks that the clubs would make, there are just five this year, one tonight and four tomorrow. Additionally, to help protect the teams’ financial situations (really?), clubs only have to pay a maximum of $100,000 towards the players’ signing bonuses this year with the balance being paid in 2021 and 2022.
After selecting Vanderbilt infielder/outfielder Austin Martin in the first round, thought by some to be the best hitter in the draft, the Blue Jays went on to select righthanded pitcher C.J. Van Eyk in the second round.
Van Eyk was a high school stud coming out of Florida in 2017 but he fell in the draft in 2017 due to arm soreness in his senior year. The New York Mets did draft him in the 19th round but he didn’t sign. He went to Florida State and continuously improved his stock, from a bullpen arm in his first season at Florida State, into a starting role in his sophomore year, logging 99 1/3 innings with a 3.81 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, striking out 129 and walking just 41. In his abbreviated junior year, he was off to a solid start, posting a 1.31 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 25 and walking 12 in 20 2/3 innings.
MLB.com ranked Van Eyk as the 39th prospect coming into the draft and rated his fastball as a 55-grade pitch with his curveball at 60, his change at 50, his control at 45, giving him an overall 50 grade. MLB notes that Van Eyk’s fastball works in the 93-94 mph range, hitting 95 and he has good command of his fastball and adds a great curveball with “almost 12-to-6 action that has really good late downward bite.” They see him as “capable of being a complete pitcher because of his willingness to pitch in with his fastball, his ability to throw his breaking ball at any point in the count and his feel for mixing his pitches to keep hitters off-balance.” That said, there are issues with his command that showed up in 2020 that he’ll need to figure out.
Baseball America ranked Van Eyk at #46 in their ranking of the top 500 players in the draft and noted that he would have been a top-100 player without his high school injuries. Like MLB, BA likes Van Eyk’s three-pitch mix and note that his changeup has “sinking action that fools hitters on both sides [of the plate],” rating all three pitches as “solid-average or better.” They also like his arm motion although his mechanics are “deliberate,” with “very little coil or torque in his lower half.” They note he’s not “as explosive as the top-end pitchers in the class, which could make him more of a late first- or second-round pick.”
In his collegiate career, Van Eyk was a 2019 Third Team All-ACC player, a 2019 All-Athens Regional player, a Second Team ABCA All-Atlantic Region player and was a 2018 Second Team Freshman All-American, selected by Baseball America, D1Baseball and NCBWA. He was also selected to the 2018 ACC All-Freshman Team.
What do you think of the Jays’ second-round pick in the 2020 draft? Let us know in the comments!
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