Last post, we covered rounds one to three for the Blue Jays 2012 draft and we’ll get to the rest of the draft here and summarize some fascinating trends that were revealed by Alex Anthopoulos’s reactions to the new draft rules handed down after the new 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
To refresh our memories, in 2012, the Blue Jays had 44 picks and selected 23 high school players, 15 four-year college players and six junior college players. We discussed the first seven picks last time, and the Blue Jays signed all seven. D.J. Davis, a toolsy center fielder was taken first with Marcus Stroman, the only college player selected by the Blue Jays in the first three rounds, chosen as compensation for not signing Tyler Beede in 2011.
In the supplemental round, the Blue Jays grabbed LHP Matt Smoral, 3B Mitch Nay and RHP Tyler Gonzales. While all are young, Mitch Nay has certainly opened some eyes with his first year of pro ball in 2013.
Second round pick Chase DeJong had a very impressive year in Bluefield last year (who, like Nay, had a playoff call-up to Vancouver) and third rounder Anthony Alford is a giant wild card who will likely be available to the Blue Jays for Extended Spring Training and a handful of league games in 2014.
I deliberately didn’t write about the signing bonuses that these draftees got and how that fit into the new slotting scheme that arrived in 2012. I felt that it was important to look at the rest of the first 10 rounds and see how that all fit together. If you haven’t discovered Bluebird Banter’s handy Draft Table yet, you should definitely head there to follow the 2014 draft in June. They do a fantastic job tracking not only signees and their signing bonuses but provide info on non-drafted free agents that the Blue Jays sign following the draft. To summarize the slot bonuses for the first ten rounds, I’m going to use the table that commenter MjwW provided. I’m actually going to copy that here (see below) and hopefully no one will get mad. If you want to find it yourself, it’s in the comments section of the Bluebird Banter Draft Table.
First, let’s turn to the remainder of the first 10 rounds. As mentioned last time, all of these selections were college players who signed for $5,000 with the previously mentioned Alex Azor signing for only $1,000.
The fourth round pick was right-handed pitcher Tucker Donahue (see our interview with him from just before the 2013 season started). Donahue throws a 94-mph fastball with a slider to go with it and while his overall numbers look pretty ugly, he was making a lot of adjustments in 2013 with the Lansing Lugnuts.
Fifth rounder Brad Delatte was released after spending the 2012 season with the Vancouver Canadians and sixth rounder Eric Phillips is listed as active but did not play at all in 2013, leading me to believe that he was also released but it wasn’t recorded in the MiLB.com database.
Seventh round pick Ian Parmley is an outfielder who had a solid season with the Vancouver Canadians in 2013. He’s a speedy outfielder who had a decent batting average and on-base percentage (.257/.323/.284) but without any power to speak of. He is one of the better base stealers in the organization, however, with 21 steals in 23 attempts last year.
The eighth rounder was catcher Tucker Frawley who played one season as a backup with Vancouver. I assume that he was released since he did not play in 2013 although MiLB.com lists him as “active.”
Selected in the ninth round, hard hitting first baseman Jordan Leyland had a very good first part of the season in Vancouver, leading the club (until his promotion) with a .341/.435/.467 line in 135 at bats. He didn’t fare as well with Lansing, hitting .231/.320/.308 with two doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs in 130 at bats. Leyland is 24 now and hasn’t shown a lot of power but has an excellent eye.
Finally, tenth round pick Alex Azor played in 14 games with Bluefield in 2012 and has been on military leave ever since.
To sum up, just three of those seven picks are still with the organization (counting Azor as “not with the organization”) leaving the Blue Jays with a fairly healthy eleven picks still around from the first fourteen. Here’s MjwW’s chart of where the Blue Jays saved money from their Bonus Pool and where they spent it:
MjwW didn’t do a final update on Marcus Stroman’s signing, but he signed for $1.8 million which was exactly the amount he was slotted for. What does this mean? The Blue Jays exceeded their slot allotment by about $54,700. They saved $1,213,800 by basically punting the last seven picks of the first ten rounds. They also saved $250,000 with D.J. Davis and $107,200 with Tyler Gonzales. They gave Matt Smoral an extra $1,000,000 over slot and gave Mitch Nay $115,900 over slot. Chase DeJong got $239,700 over slot and Anthony Alford got about $270,000 over slot, allowing the Blue Jays to chase the high-ceiling players in the first few rounds.
Of the players in the “back seven” of the first ten rounds, I would argue that only one has a real shot of making the majors. Tucker Donahue has an electric fastball and scout Zach Mortimer told me that he loved Donahue’s pick in the fourth round. He said that to be able to get a guy who throws 94 in the fourth round for only $5,000 was a real scouting coup by the Blue Jays. While he’s working on things, it appears that he’s the only guy in that group with the type of tools that will translate to the major leagues. I saw Leyland in August when he was in Lansing and saw that the better quality of pitching was able to exploit a weakness that he had to pitches on the outside part of the plate. I never saw Parmley but he fits the profile of a number of outfielders in Vancouver last year who could get on base (although Parmley didn’t hit for a high average), could play center field and run very will but had no power.
We’ll see in the discussion of the 2013 draft that the reason the Blue Jays used such an extreme strategy in 2012 was because of the fact that they had five picks before the second round and wanted to make sure that they could afford to sign the high-talent players that they were targeting. They got a nice mix of position players and pitchers of different kinds. Stroman was obviously the most developed player in the bunch but the Jays got two very athletic (but very raw) outfielders in Davis and Alford, a potential big league power bat in Nay, a potential power-armed lefty in Smoral and the same from the right side in Gonzales. Finally, they also got another righty in DeJong who has already shown advanced understanding of how to pitch with quality secondary offerings at 19 years of age.
There is still some talent to come in the rest of the draft for the Blue Jays, but to kick off rounds 11-20, the Blue Jays went with two high-profile high school players who didn’t sign: Grant Heyman in the 11th round and top-rated Canadian Ryan Kellogg in the 12th. After that, however, the Blue Jays signed the rest of these rounds starting with 13th rounder John Silviano. Silviano, despite showing flashes of excellence with the bat, has really struggled, hitting under .200 in each of his two pro years. Zakery Wasilewski, a high school lefty from Virginia, had a solid season, pitching close to home in Bluefield. He showed vast improvements from his first pro year but still struggled with his control, walking 30 in just over 50 innings. Ryan Borucki signed an above slot deal worth a reported $426,000 after being selected in the fifteenth round. Borucki didn’t pitch in 2013 due to injury and has a history of arm problems.
In the 16th round, the Jays selected Will Dupont, an infielder out of a Missouri high school. Dupont repeated the Gulf Coast League (GCL) this year as a part-time player and put up decent (but not particularly impressive) stats. 17th rounder Shane Dawson could end up being the steal of this draft. Coming from an Alberta community college, the lefty just turned 20 following the end of the season in which he racked up an incredible number of strikeouts in Bluefield and Vancouver (61 Ks in 46 innings) before being shut down due to an arm injury. Dawson is another youngster who can get the most out of what he has, topping out around 88 mph, but being fairly thin, there may be room to improve his fastball. He already has an impressive curveball and excellent control.
In the 18th round, the Blue Jays chose another lefty, this time it was 6’5″ Alonzo Gonzalez out of a California community college. Gonzalez was thrown into full-season ball last year but was demoted after some very difficult times in Lansing. He posted much better numbers with Vancouver and will likely get another chance at the Midwest League in 2014.
Infielder Jorge Flores was selected in the 19th round, also out of community college. “Mighty Mouse,” as I like to call him, gets surprising extra-base power from his 5-foot-5 frame (22 doubles in under 300 plate appearances) and made it to Dunedin last year, which puts him in a three-way tie for the second-highest level reached for the 2012 draft (Stroman is closest to the big leagues). To close out this group, the 20th round pick for the Blue Jays in 2012 was D.J. Jones who only received occasional playing time with the Bluefield Blue Jays.
Obviously, there are going to be more players still hanging around the system from a draft that was only a year and a half ago, but the Blue Jays have a few young players (all in this group were selected out of high school or community college) who are showing tremendous potential. Of the ten selected in this segment of the draft, eight signed and all eight are still in the system. The highest ceiling for anyone in this group is likely Shane Dawson while Zak Wasilewski has some potential if he can find his control. If Alonzo Gonzalez can find an extra few mph on his fastball and more deception and if Jorge Flores can keep adjusting to better pitching, both could rise to the high minors at least. Finally, Borucki is a wild card since he hasn’t pitched in a year and came with a low-90s fastball.
Taken in the 21st round, Colton Turner spent 2013, his Age-22 season, with Vancouver and Lansing, putting up very strong numbers despite struggling with control in Lansing. In the 22nd round, the Blue Jays selected outfielder Josh Almonte who remained in the GCL in 2013, with a .458 OPS in 159 plate appearances. At 23rd, high school infielder Trey Pascazi was selected. Like Almonte, Pascazi had a poor (just three hits in 36 plate appearances) season in the GCL but didn’t play often. Both were drafted out of New York State and the prevailing thought is that northeastern high school players take a bit longer to develop since they get fewer at bats in shorter seasons in school. Right-handed pitcher Matt Rose, selected in the 24th round didn’t sign and 25th rounder, college infielder Jason Leblebijian was an organizational utility man, jumping between Dunedin, Vancouver and Lansing in 2013.
Canadian outfielder Nathan DeSouza was picked in the 26th round and showed some power in his second year of the GCL with six extra-base hits in 81 plate appearances. 27th rounder Daniel Zamora did not sign and 28th rounder, catcher Daniel Klein, put up some pretty solid offensive numbers in Vancouver after being demoted from Lansing where he really struggled with the bat despite putting up excellent defensive numbers. The Blue Jays didn’t sign their 29th and 30th round picks, pitcher Cole Irvin and outfielder Devin Pearson.
In the rounds from 21-30, the Jays didn’t sign four players and all six remain in the system. I can see Leblebijian and Klein having solid minor league careers due Leblebijian’s defensive versatility and Klein’s excellent defense behind the plate but most of the others are too young to tell although I might wager a small amount of money that DeSouza could break out a little bit in Bluefield if given the opportunity.
Only four players of the “back 10” signed and there appears to be two “legacy” selections among them: Devyn Rivera (35th round) may be third base coach Luis Rivera‘s son (or other relative) and Nick Lovullo (38th round) is former first base coach Torey Lovullo‘s son. The players who did sign have a couple of interesting names. In the 31st round (heretofore known as the “Kevin Pillar Honourary Round”), the Blue Jays may well have struck gold again in 2012 with shortstop-turned-utility-man-turned catcher Derrick Chung. The 25 year old had an excellent season in first year catching as a professional, throwing out 43 percent of runners and hitting .287/.341/.336 in Dunedin. He’s hitting even better in the Arizona Fall League, hitting at a .390 pace with one more game remaining. While he doesn’t have much power, Chung’s defense, leadership and ability to hit for contact could keep him playing for a long time.
Selected in the 32nd round was another catcher, Jorge Saez. Saez, 23, is another excellent defensive catcher (40% caught stealing in 2013 in Bluefield) who shows some offensive potential in addition to some excellent leadership skills. The other two signees were Canadian infielder Shaun Valeriote (39th round) who has since been released and 37th rounder Daniel Devonshire who posted a sub-.500 OPS in his second year in the GCL.
If you’re looking for some overall numbers, out of the 44 selections, the Blue Jays signed 32 and still have 27 in the organization. Since the draft was shortened to 40 rounds, you’ll see a lot more non-drafted free agents signed. 2012’s class included players like relievers Wil Browning, Kyle Anderson and Chuck Ghysels.
I have a feeling that in five years, we’re going to look back at the 2012 draft and say that it was probably one of the more balanced and solid drafts the Blue Jays have had under Alex Anthopoulos. While the Blue Jays missed out on Michael Wacha and Lance McCullers, the drafting of Marcus Stroman, who will likely make his major league debut in 2014, and the raw potential of D.J. Davis make the first round quite appealing. There is definitely talent in the supplemental round selections and Mitch Nay has a very mature approach at the plate that will serve him well in full-season ball in 2014. I’ve already sung the praises of 2nd rounder Chase DeJong and, if 3rd rounder Anthony Alford comes around to playing baseball full time, some believe that his incredible athleticism can help him catch up for the the lost development time.
Later picks that could be excellent steals include Zak Wasilewski, Shane Dawson and Derrick Chung. Aside from that, it’s hard to prognosticate, particularly with how the Blue Jays have targeted high school players under Anthopoulos. It really takes a few years of seasoning to figure out what a player is going to be. Early success could be an indicator of a great career, but it also could just be that the player is better developed at an early age. I’ve also written about the chasm that exists between players’ successes in Vancouver and in Lansing and there are certain qualities that allow players to be very successful in a short-season league that don’t translate well when a player jumps to full-season ball.
The 2012 draft was also the last one that Andrew Tinnish presided over. He moved up in the organization and Brian Parker was elevated to the position of Director of Amateur Scouting and handled the 2013 draft. As we will see in the discussion of the 2013 draft (which will be in multiple parts), Parker seems to have a slightly different philosophy than Tinnish and only time will tell if it was better or worse.