TORONTO -- The Blue Jays prioritized adding another potent bat to their infield on Monday night by selecting one of the best all-around hitters in the high school ranks with the 12th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.
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Toronto chose 18-year-old shortstop Jordan Groshans from Magnolia High School in Texas during the first round. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior garnered attention for his bat speed and a lack of glaring weaknesses in his overall game. Groshans already possesses some power, and there's an expectation for more as he grows into his athletic frame.
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The Blue Jays used their second pick of the day on Duke outfielder Griffin Conine, who is the son of former Major Leaguer Jeff Conine. The Draft continues on Tuesday with rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m.
The Blue Jays had been following Groshans since last summer, when he was making the rounds on the showcase circuit. Reports suggest he has a mature approach at the plate and makes consistent hard line-drive contact with a swing that eventually will be tweaked to generate a little bit more loft as he moves to wood bats.
"His ability on the field is undeniable," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Steve Sanders said of Groshans. "Offensively and defensively he brings tools to the table, and he's somebody we believe has the potential to be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter at the Major League level."
Groshans is listed at shortstop and the Blue Jays will give him an opportunity to stay there, but most scouting reports suggest he is destined for third base. Sanders said the Blue Jays have seen him play at both positions and didn't rule out a future at either spot. Instead, Sanders said that decision is something that will be "played out over time" as Groshans moves through the system.
There is a commitment to the University of Kansas to consider, where Groshans would potentially join his brother Jaxx, but the Blue Jays don't seem too concerned about signability. Sanders said Toronto was "certainly confident" that the two sides would be able to work something out. The 12th overall pick comes with a recommended slot value of $4,200,900, and the Blue Jays have a pool of $7,982,100 to spend on the first 10 rounds.
"We just feel Jordan has a lot of the attributes we look for," Sanders said. "Both in his swing, his combination of contact, of power, of plate discipline. He has a great feel and approach in the box. He is able to drive the ball to all fields, and again, we're confident that his offensive ability will certainly translate with wood [bats] at the next level."
Conine, who was taken with the 52nd overall pick, is said to have comparable upside to that of his two-time All-Star father. He fits the right-field profile as a prototypical power hitter. In 216 at-bats, he hit 18 home runs for a Duke team that just won the Athens Regional with a victory over Georgia. Conine also is considered a sound defender with modest quickness and he was ranked the No. 50 prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Toronto's second pick comes with an approximate value of $1.4 million. Conine was recently named to the second-team All-ACC for the second consecutive year. He is the first Duke player to record double-digit home runs in back-to-back seasons since former Athletic Nate Freiman (2008-09), but he'll need to work on making more consistent contact as evidenced by 72 strikeouts for the Blue Devils this season.
Groshans was ranked 31st overall by MLB Pipeline heading into this Draft. Toronto had the option of targeting pitching at No. 12, after right-hander Brady Singer (No. 2) and high school lefty Matthew Liberatore (No. 4) dropped further than most mock drafts expected. The Blue Jays opted to add another high-level position player to a mix that includes third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., shortstop Bo Bichette, second baseman Cavan Biggio and last year's first-round pick Logan Warmoth, among others.
"We obviously stacked the players and had decisions to make along the way," Sanders said, when asked about passing on Singer and Liberatore. "There were a lot of good players available. This is a strong Draft both offensively and on the pitching side. Ultimately we felt that Jordan was the best fit for our pick, but there were a number of other players, including some pitchers, we certainly considered and had interest in as well."