TORONTO -- The Blue Jays went with experience for their second overall selection of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft by taking college right-hander Marcus Stroman at No. 22 on Monday night.
Stroman is considered to be a well-polished and powerful pitcher, who has the potential to make a quick ascension to the Major Leagues. He is known mostly for his velocity but also possesses an above-average breaking ball.
The product of Duke University has drawn a lot of comparisons to former Major League closer Tom Gordon, and the Blue Jays were pleasantly surprised when he was still available late in the first round.
"Stroman is one of the best competitors in the Draft," Blue Jays director of scouting Andrew Tinnish said Monday night. "He's extremely athletic, great makeup. His stuff is very good. He's anywhere from 91-98 mph, pitches as a starter at probably 92-94 with a very good slider, and he also has a curveball that are good pitches as well."
The 21-year-old was ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the Draft according to MLB.com, and the pick comes with a price slot bonus of $1.8 million.
Stroman appeared in 17 games as a junior at Duke University this season. He went 3-4 with a 2.80 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. He recorded four saves, also making eight starts, but Tinnish said the Blue Jays haven't yet decided whether he will be used as a starter or reliever.
In 2011, Stroman made seven relief appearances, with four saves and 17 strikeouts, for the USA Baseball Collegiate National team. He was originally selected in the 18th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft by the Nationals but opted to attend university instead.
"I saw his stuff, saw him out of the bullpen last summer with Team USA and saw him start this year, and he is certainly very advanced," Tinnish said. "I'm not going to say he's Major League ready, but as far as a college pitcher, his stuff is as good as anybody."
The Blue Jays have heavily drafted pitchers during general manager Alex Anthopoulos' tenure in Toronto, but this time they broke away from their prototypical hurler.
Last year, Toronto used 12 of its first 15 picks on pitchers -- all of whom were at least 6-foot-1. Stroman at just 5-foot-9 doesn't fit that mold, but Tinnish said there are no concerns about long-term durability.
"He works extremely hard, he's very strong for his size," Tinnish said. "I think there are more examples of pitchers who are 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, but when we lined him up with the other pitchers who were available ... he had the best combination of what we were looking for."