The Toronto Blue Jays looked to the four-year colleges for pitching in rounds 7-10 in the 2017 MLB Draft and drafted the son of a legend (and former Blue Jay).
With their selection in the seventh round, 219th overall, the Blue Jays finally drafted another pitcher, taking 6-foot-7 righty Colton Laws from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. The 21-year-old pitcher has only pitched for two years, as a redshirt sophomore (he didn’t play in his first year in college) and showed tremendous improvement between his two seasons. He was a star basketball player in high school but went to East Carolina in the fall of 2014 but then transferred to UNC Charlotte.
Baseball America notes that he gets a lot of ground balls and swings and misses, pounding the strike zone with an 88-92 mph fastball (with potential for more velocity at times). BA wrotes that “his slider and changeup have made progress in 2017, and while neither grades as above-average presently, he keeps both pitches down.”
Laws made 15 starts in 2017, throwing 96 1/3 innings with a stellar 1.87 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, striking out 94 and walking just 13.
In the eighth round, the Blue Jays did what they did early last year, select a player with big league blood lines. Kacy Clemens, listed as a first baseman, has also pitched for the University of Texas, Austin and is listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, swinging from left side of the plate. The son of Roger Clemens, Clemens hit 12 home runs in his senior season, improving his number from five as a junior as he hit .305/.414/.532 in 220 at bats. Clemens has always shown a great eye at the plate but strikes out a lot, making his 40 walks and 50 strikeouts both impressive feats. Clemens is a senior and should sign without much of a problem.
The Blue Jays took a junior out of Kentucky, Zach Logue, in the ninth round of the draft with the 279th selection. Logue stands 6-feet and weighs 165 pounds and was a starter in his third season with Kentucky, going 7-5 with a 4.97 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. While he gave up a lot of runs in his 18 outings (including 15 starts), Logue also had a very good strikeout-to-walk ratio, striking out 88 to just 25 walks. Baseball America notes that Logue’s fastball sat in the 87-90 mph range with a “fringe-average slider” that has him projecting more as a bullpen lefty than a starter.
In the 10th round, the Blue Jays went with another college pitcher, Justin Dillon, a five-year senior out of Sacramento State. The 6-foot-3, 220 pound righty has already had Tommy John surgery and was snake bitten again in 2016 thanks to a groin injury. Baseball America calls him “more pitcher than power,” using an 86-90 mph fastball that he uses with good command with solid grades for his slider, curveball and changeup. BA says that “nothing grades as plus as a pitch, but his command helps the four-pitch mix play up.” Dillon led the Hornets with 112 1/3 innings, going 5-8 with a 3.36 ERA, striking out 108 and walking only 24 this year. As a five-year senior, Dillon should sign quickly for an below-slot bonus although I’d think that the Blue Jays try to keep his innings total under wraps for the remainder of the year.
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