Top Blue Jays Draft pick from every season

February 7th, 2024

The Blue Jays have used all avenues to build talent over the years, but the MLB Draft is always the foundation of a club’s farm system and sustainable winning.

With the Blue Jays trying to keep this competitive window open for as long as possible, a strong pipeline of prospects will be just as important to their success as the major trades and free-agent signings that got them here.

Let’s take a look back through each of the organisation’s top Draft picks dating back to 1977:

2023: Arjun Nimmala, SS, Strawberry Crest HS (Fla.) (No. 20)
Still just 17 when he was drafted, Nimmala represented a big bet on long-term upside by the Blue Jays. Nimmala’s bat was particularly enticing, already flashing some power with the ability to grow into much more as he grows physically. Going No. 20, Nimmala became the first first-generation Indian-American to be drafted in such a prominent slot across any of the four major North American professional leagues. His journey was documented in the film “Indian Baseball Dreams," which you can watch here.

2022: Brandon Barriera, LHP, American Heritage (Fla.) (No. 23)
One of the top pitchers available in the 2022 class, Barriera represented a unique mix of upside and polish for a high-school starter. The 18-year-old has advanced stuff, including a fastball that already touches 96 mph, plus a slider and encouraging changeup. As the Blue Jays continue to shift their player development strategy to take bigger swings on top-end outcomes and upside, Barriera is a perfect fit as they try to develop stars, not just starters.

2021: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Mississippi (No. 19)
When Hoglund, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, is healthy, he features a fastball that sits in the 92-95 mph range, which represents an uptick in velocity compared to the earlier years of his NCAA career. He’s also tightened up his slider in the mid-80s and throws a changeup and curveball to round out his arsenal. Hoglund’s control has always been one of his greatest strengths -- he walked just 2.0 batters per nine innings over his NCAA career.

2020: Austin Martin, SS, Vanderbilt (No. 5)
Expected to go even higher than fifth overall, the Blue Jays jumped on the opportunity to select one of the top NCAA players in the 2020 class. Martin represents another wave of future core talent and could reach the big leagues as soon as 2022.

2019: Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia (No. 11)
Manoah shot up Draft boards in his final season at West Virginia and fit what the Blue Jays like in a pitcher. The star of early 2021 through Spring Training and the start of the Minor League season, Manoah debuted in May and profiles as a key piece of this rotation long-term.

2018: Jordan Groshans, SS, Magnolia HS (Texas) (No. 12)
The Blue Jays loved Groshans’ offensive potential coming into the 2018 Draft and grabbed the high schooler 12th overall. Along with Martin (2020), Groshans could be a major piece of the club’s infield going forward.

2017: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina (No. 22)
Six picks before selecting Nate Pearson out of the College of Central Florida, the Blue Jays picked Warmoth, the polished, productive NCAA shortstop. Warmoth has climbed through the organization, reaching Triple-A in 2021.

2016: T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Pittsburgh (No. 21)
The big right-hander known for ground-ball contact appealed to the Blue Jays at No. 21, and after a few seasons in the Minors, Zeuch made his MLB debut in 2019.

2015: Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State (No. 29)
Harris had a productive NCAA career and projected as a polished starter coming out of Missouri State. The right-hander has yet to reach the Majors, but after several seasons in the Minors, where he posted high innings totals, he’s shifted into a relief role in 2021.

2014: Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina University (No. 9)
Hoffman came out of NCAA ball loaded with upside but underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the Draft, which allowed the Blue Jays to select him ninth overall. After being included in the trade package to acquire Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies in 2015, Hoffman made his pro debut in 2016.

2013: Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian HS (Calif.) (No. 10)
Bickford was one of the top arms in the 2013 class, but the Blue Jays could not come to terms with the right-hander, who re-entered the Draft two years later and was selected 18th overall by the Giants. He was dealt to the Brewers in 2016 and now pitches for the Dodgers.

2012: D.J. Davis, OF, Stone County HS (Miss.) (No. 17)
Davis was a gifted athlete and fit in well with this era of Blue Jays Drafts, where athleticism was being prioritized. The speedy outfielder topped out at Class A-Advanced in 2018, his final season in professional baseball at age 23.

2011: Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy (Mass.) (No. 21)
The Blue Jays couldn’t come to terms on a deal with Beede, who instead went to play NCAA ball at the powerhouse Vanderbilt and was later selected 14th overall in the 2014 Draft by the Giants.

2010: Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Institute of Technology (No. 11)
A safer NCAA pick before Toronto took Aaron Sanchez 34th and Noah Syndergaard 38th, McGuire spent time in the Blue Jays system until 2014 and later returned in 2018 to pitch in Triple-A, including four MLB appearances. McGuire last pitched professionally in the KBO in 2019.

2009: Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State University (No. 20)
Jenkins spent all seven seasons of his professional career with the Blue Jays organization and pitched in the Majors for parts of four seasons. He posted a career ERA of 3.31 over 100 2/3 innings, last pitching back in 2016 at the Triple-A level.

2008: David Cooper, 1B, University of California, Berkeley (No. 17)
Cooper generated some prospect buzz coming out of California and hit well in his debut season of 2008, eventually making his MLB debut in 2011 with the Blue Jays. Cooper appeared in 72 big league games, hitting .270 with six home runs and a .750 OPS. After spending time with Cleveland and the Mets, he last played professionally in 2015.

2007: Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial HS (Texas) (No. 16)
Ahrens had a long run with the organization, playing parts of eight seasons in the Minor Leagues and eventually topping out at Double-A in 2013. After two seasons in the Atlanta organization, he played some independent league ball up until 2017.

2006: Travis Snider, OF, Henry M. Jackson HS (Wash.) (No. 14)
Snider came loaded with hype, and prior to the 2009 season was one of the top-ranked prospects in all of baseball thanks to his offensive upside. He debuted with the Blue Jays briefly in 2008 and played parts of five seasons at the MLB level in Toronto, but his career has taken him all over. After spending time with the Pirates, Orioles, Royals, Mets, Rangers and D-backs, Snider opened the 2021 season with Atlanta.

2005: Ricky Romero, LHP, California State University, Fullerton (No. 6)
Billed as the future ace, Romero broke through with three excellent seasons from 2009 to 2011 until injuries caught up to him. The talented lefty last pitched professionally in 2017 with the Giants organization and can now be seen on Blue Jays broadcasts as an analyst.

2004: David Purcey, LHP, University of Oklahoma (No. 16)
Purcey pitched well through his first couple of seasons in the Minors and eventually earned his MLB debut in 2008 with the Blue Jays. The left-hander pitched parts of five MLB seasons -- last with the White Sox in 2013 -- and finished his pro career in the Chinese Professional Baseball League in 2015.

2003: Aaron Hill, 2B, Louisiana State University (No. 13)
A great pick by the Blue Jays, Hill played seven Major League seasons with the Blue Jays and 13 total. Hill’s best year came back in 2009, when he hit .286 with 36 home runs, earning an All-Star appearance and Silver Slugger Award.

2002: Russ Adams, SS, University of North Carolina (No. 14)
Adams profiled as Toronto’s shortstop of the future for a time and quickly earned his MLB debut in 2004. He played parts of five seasons in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, hitting .247 with a .685 OPS.

2001: Gabe Gross, OF, Auburn University (No. 15)
Gross put up some big numbers in the Minors before earning his big league debut in 2004 with the Blue Jays. He went on to play with the Brewers, Rays and A’s, too, seeing MLB time in parts of seven seasons before his final in 2010.

2000: Miguel Negron, OF, Manuela Toro HS (P.R.) (No. 18)
Negron was drafted out of Puerto Rico and played six Minor League seasons with the Blue Jays, reaching Double-A, before moving on to play with the Cubs, Mets and White Sox.

1999: Alex Ríos, OF, San Pedro Martin HS (P.R.) (No. 19)
Drafted as a third baseman, Rios went on to have a productive career as an outfielder for the Blue Jays, White Sox, Rangers and Royals. His best stretch with the Blue Jays came in 2006 and ’07, when he hit a combined .299 with an .857 OPS and was named to the All-Star Game in each year.

1998: Felipe López, SS, Lake Brantley HS (Fla.) (No. 8)
López played his first two MLB seasons with the Blue Jays before being dealt to the Reds as part of a four-team trade and went on to have a nice career over 11 seasons, also spending time with the Nationals, Cardinals, Brewers, D-backs, Rays and Red Sox.

1997: Vernon Wells, OF, Bowie HS (Texas) (No. 5)
One of the organization’s most productive players, Wells played 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, appearing in three All-Star Games and winning three Gold Glove Awards. His finest season came back in 2003, when Wells hit .317 with 33 home runs, 117 RBIs and a .909 OPS. He can now be seen on Blue Jays broadcasts.

1996: Billy Koch, RHP, Clemson (No. 4)
Koch made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays in 1999 and immediately established himself as the closer, saving an even 100 games over his three seasons with the club. Prior to the 2002 season, he was dealt to the A’s for a package that included Eric Hinske.

1995: Roy Halladay, RHP, Arvada West HS (Colo.) (No. 17)
The greatest pitcher in Blue Jays history pitched 12 years for the club, posting a 3.43 ERA and throwing over 2,000 innings. Halladay was the main attraction in Toronto for a decade, and every pitcher with aspirations of being “the ace” in Toronto will always be held to his standard.

1994: Kevin Witt, SS, Bishop Kenney HS (Fla.) (No. 28)
Witt put up some strong numbers in Double-A and Triple-A as a prospect, earning a call to the Majors in 1998. He played sparingly for the Blue Jays in ’98 and ’99, then went on to see time with the Padres, Tigers and Rays over the next several seasons.

1993: Chris Carpenter, RHP, Trinity HS (N.H.) (No. 15)
Carpenter’s career path is fascinating. After debuting in 1997, Carpenter posted a 4.83 ERA with the Blue Jays over six seasons. He then joined the Cardinals, where it all came together. Carpenter emerged as one of the game’s best starters, pitching to a 3.07 ERA over nine seasons and winning a Cy Young Award in 2005.

1992: Shannon Stewart, OF, Miami Southridge Senior HS (Fla.) (No. 19)
One of the more underrated players in Blue Jays history, Stewart played 10 seasons for the Blue Jays, putting up consistent numbers despite never being named to an All-Star team. He rounded out his career with stops in Minnesota and Oakland before returning to the Blue Jays for one final year in 2008.

1991: Shawn Green, OF, Tustin HS (Calif.) (No. 16)
A great pick and exceptional player, Green debuted as a 20-year-old with the Blue Jays in 1993 and eventually became a regular in 1995. Green hit .286 with an .849 OPS over parts of seven seasons in Toronto before he was dealt to the Dodgers in 1999. Had he stayed in Toronto through his late 20s and early 30s, Green would be spoken of as a franchise great.

1990: Steve Karsay, RHP, Christ the King HS (N.Y.) (No. 22)
Blue Jays fans will know Karsay as the prospect dealt to the A’s at the 1993 Trade Deadline for Rickey Henderson. He went on to enjoy an 11-year MLB career.

1989: Eddie Zosky, SS, California State University, Fresno (No. 19)
There were high hopes for Zosky, but he appeared in just 26 games for the Blue Jays in ’91 and ’92. He was dealt to the Marlins in late 1994.

1988: Ed Sprague, 3B, Stanford (No. 25)
A part-time player in ’91 and ’92, Sprague stepped into a starting role for the 1993 World Series team. Sprague carved out a nice career, too, playing 11 seasons for the Blue Jays, Padres, Pirates, Mariners, Red Sox and A’s.

1987: Alex Sanchez, RHP, University of California, Los Angeles (No. 17)
Sanchez’s MLB career was limited to just four appearances with the Blue Jays in 1989. He went on to play several more years in the Minor Leagues before stops in the Chinese Professional Baseball League and independent leagues.

1986: Earl Sanders, RHP, Jackson State (No. 26)
Sanders pitched for seven seasons in the Minors, topping out at Double-A with the Blue Jays in 1990. He spent a season each with Atlanta and Houston, making 1992 his final year in pro ball.

1985: Greg David, C, Barron Collier HS (Fla.) (No. 25)
A catcher who eventually moved to first base and third base, David played eight seasons in the Minors. He reached Single A Myrtle Beach with the Blue Jays in 1989, his final year with the organization.

1984: Dane Johnson, RHP, St. Thomas University (No. 48)
Johnson was eventually released by the Blue Jays following the 1989 season and five years in Single A, but after a stint with the White Sox, he returned to the Blue Jays as a 33-year-old in 1996 and made 10 relief appearances.

1983: Matt Stark, C, Los Altos HS (Calif.) (No. 9)
Stark put up some nice offensive numbers in the Minors, hitting 17 home runs with an .829 OPS in Double-A in 1986. That earned him a taste of the big leagues, where he appeared in five games with the Blue Jays.

1982: Augie Schmidt, SS, University of New Orleans (No. 2)
Selected just behind No. 1 overall pick Shawon Dunston and a few before Dwight Gooden, Schmidt played five seasons in the Minor Leagues and reached Triple-A, but did not appear in the big leagues.

1981: Matt Williams, RHP, Rice (No. 5)
Williams appeared in four career games with the Blue Jays in 1983. He later joined the Rangers, where he had another stint in the big leagues in 1985.

1980: Garry Harris, SS, Herbert Hoover HS (Calif.) (No. 2)
Harris played just four years of pro baseball, finishing as a 20-year-old in 1983 with Double-A Knoxville.

1979: Jay Schroeder, C, Palisades HS (Calif.) (No. 3)
Schroeder played four seasons with the Blue Jays organization, topping out with the Single A Kinston club in 1983.

1978: Lloyd Moseby, OF, Oakland HS (Calif.) (No. 2)
An all-time great in the Blue Jays organization, “Shaker” played 10 of his 12 MLB seasons with the Blue Jays and still stands as one of the best basestealers in club history. When the Blue Jays were winning their World Series in ’92 and ’93, Moseby was actually rounding out his pro career overseas in the Japan Central League, playing for Yomiuri.

1977: Tom Goffena, SS, Sidney HS (Ohio) (No. 25)
Goffena played three professional seasons with the Blue Jays, totaling 145 games. His final year came in 1979 with the Single A Dunedin club.