I decided to combine a couple of posts into this one since the Blue Jays didn’t sign very many of their late round picks in 2013.
I wrote this about Harris back in June:
“A senior from the Division II school University of Southern Arkansas, Harris had a fantastic season in 2013, winning the GAC (Great American Conference) Player of the Year award unanimously and was named Natural State Baseball’s Collegiate Player of the Year (Natural State Baseball is a blog about baseball in Arkansas). Harris shows a great mix of speed, power and contact ability, hitting .358 with 22 doubles, 6 triples and 12 home runs, leading NCAA Division II in total bases while walking 21 times and striking out 29 in 218 at bats. Harris could be an intriguing late round pick for the Jays and I would guess that he’d start his pro career in Vancouver.”
Well, I was right about him starting in Vancouver and reports that I got on him were solid (one writer told me that he has the quickest swing he’s ever seen) but it didn’t really translate into his numbers. Harris hit .263/.296/.362 with nine doubles and two home runs. The stats that really open up the biggest questions are his walks and strikeouts. Harris walked only four times and struck out 37 times in 162 plate appearances. While he showed some good power, Harris struggled a bit in the field, committing ten errors playing mostly second base. We’ll see what happens with the 22 year old next year.
Brett Barber was the Blue Jays player drafted the latest who signed:
“A 22-year-old, 6’1″ righty from Ohio University, Barber was the team’s closer and put up decent, if not outstanding, numbers this year. He threw just over 40 innings this season, putting up a 3.57 ERA and striking out 37 (but walking 18) (note: these stats come directly from Ohio’s website. There are other reports with different numbers for Barber, usually with different numbers of appearances and innings.) Athletics seem to be in Barber’s blood: his father, Mike, played football at Marshall University and in the NFL.”
Barber continued to close, having an exceptionally good season pitching at the Rookie level for the Bluefield Blue Jays. Barber had a 3.80 ERA, exceptional 1.03 WHIP, 23 strikeouts and just five walks in 21 1/3 innings. I liked what I saw when I was in Bluefield; though he doesn’t have exceptional stuff, throwing in the high-80s, Barber throws strikes and was able to get swings and misses on his curve. He’s a classic reliever whose “drop and drive” mechanics and aggressive approach remind me a bit of Casey Janssen, but Barber doesn’t have Janssen’s major league caliber velocity.
And that was it for the draft. Bryson Celek (college junior 1B, 31st round), Josh Sawyer (HS LHP, 32nd round), Edgar Cabral (HS catcher, 33rd round), Dane Dunning (HS RHP, 34th round), Akoni Arriaga (HS RHP, 35th round), Jon Nunnally (HS OF, son of Buffalo hitting coach Jon Nunnally, 38th round), Zachary Levinson (HS SS, 39th round) and Antonio Ruiz (HS 1B, 40th round) all failed to sign.
With the draft shrinkage to 40 rounds in 2012, teams signed a lot more non-drafted free agents. The Blue Jays have had a few NDFAs get to full-season ball lately including relief pitchers Wil Browning and Ian Kadish.
This year’s crop included pitchers Chris Rowley, Kamakani Usui, Cale Wine, Corey Gorman, Joe Lovecchio, infielders Koby Kraemer, Alexis Maldonado and Lydell Moseby and outfielder Thomas Collins III (also known as “Boomer” Collins).
Rowley and Collins were the best of this bunch, both dominating much younger competition in the Gulf Coast League. Rowley posted an outstanding 39:3 K/BB ratio with an insane 1.10 ERA and 0.67 WHIP over 32 2/3 innings. As a graduate of West Point (United States Military Academy), Rowley has military obligations so we’re not sure if he’s going to be able to return to professional baseball next season.
Collins had similarly outstanding numbers, hitting .305/.391/.439 with gobs of extra base hits in 215 plate appearances. At 24 years old, if Collins wants to make himself known as a prospect, he’s going to need to start the season in Lansing next year.
Joseph Lovecchio got hit hard pitching mostly in Bluefield while Usui put up fairly solid numbers as a 23 year old in the GCL. Kish was quite good both in the GCL and the Appalachian League, with a combined 1.39 ERA and 0.99 WHIP and will be 24 for next season. Cale Wine threw 27 innings in the GCL in his age 22 season and got hit fairly hard but put up an excellent 15:3 K/BB ratio.
Of the other three position players, Moseby spent some time in Bluefield but didn’t see the field much, hitting .220/.304/.260 in 56 plate appearances between Bluefield and the GCL combined. Maldonado showed that he could get on base, hitting .260/.351/.280 in 116 plate appearances in Bluefield. He had one extra-base hit (a triple) but took a very good 13 walks to 20 strikeouts. Kraemer had 117 plate appearances in the GCL and didn’t hit much at all, ending up with a .190/.274/.229 slash line.
And that was the 2013 draft. Lets run down some numbers. For the first time in a long while, the Blue Jays didn’t have any extra picks. In the first 10 rounds, they signed nine of ten and despite not signing Phil Bickford (#1 pick), the Jays actually saved a lot of money in the bonus pool that allowed them to overpay for 11th rounder Jake Brentz and 30th rounder Rowdy Tellez.
The Jays went for six high schoolers in the first ten rounds and took the other four players out of college. Surprisingly, the club spread out their bonus money in the first ten rounds a little more evenly, saving on some of the high schoolers due to injury issues. College lefty Matt Boyd signed for $75,000, which is more than might have been expected when we compare how much the Blue Jays were signing their later (in the first 10 rounds) college picks.
In rounds 11-20, the Blue Jays chose four high school players and signed three of them while signing all the rest of their college picks. Rounds 21-30 had three high schoolers selected (two signed) while the only junior college draftee from this chunk of picks, Tanner Cable, didn’t sign. The Blue Jays went with mostly high school players in the back 10 (rounds 31-40) and only signed two college players. Out of 40 picks, the Jays signed 28 and went with 17 high schoolers and the rest came from either junior or four-year colleges.
It was an interesting and, yet, frustrating draft in my eyes but we’re going to look at that again in our next post.