Blue Jays add hard-throwing RHP Harris at No. 29
Missouri State hurler previously taken by Toronto three years ago
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays got a potential steal Monday night by taking college right-hander Jon Harris with the 29th overall selection of the First-Year Player Draft.
Harris, who is a junior from Missouri State, was ranked the 10th-best prospect by MLBpipeline.com going into the Draft. He was previously taken by the Blue Jays in the 33rd round three years ago, but opted to attend school rather than sign a professional contract.
Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker never expected that Harris would still be on the board when Toronto was on the clock and immediately jumped at the chance to add another high quality arm to an organization that already has a lot of pitching depth.
"It was a great night," Parker told a group of reporters late Monday night. "We actually had Jon Harris ranked significantly higher than where we picked. He kind of fell a little further than we thought he was going to.
"It was one of those guys, as you're sitting there watching the draft, 'this guy keeps falling.' We had to take advantage of it. He's one of those guys who was kind of too high on our board to pass up."
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
The 6-foot-4 Harris hits 94 mph with his fastball and has a curveball, slider, and changeup in his repertoire as well. As a relatively polished college pitcher, there's a chance he moves quickly through the system and he projects as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
Harris was ranked the fourth-best pitcher in the Draft by MLBpipeline.com. Prospect experts Jim Callis projected Harris to be taken by the Cubs with the ninth pick, while MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo had him going at No. 13 to the Rays in their final mock draft. The drop would be upsetting to a lot of players, but Harris seemed to take the news in stride.
"It was not disappointing at all," Harris said. "I knew I was going to go somewhere in the first, you see all these sports wires speculating on where I would go and who would take me, but I had to face that I was going to get picked I just didn't know who.
"I wasn't up or down about anything ... I had the utmost confidence in [my agent] to do his job and I felt like I did my job this spring with the season that I had at Missouri State. Toronto's going to be a great fit for me, it's going to be a new home for me and I'm going to do what I can to wear the Toronto blue proudly."
The native of Florissant, Mo., had an 8-2 record with a 2.45 ERA in 103 innings for Missouri State. He struck out 116 and walked 36 with one complete game in his third season with the Bears. In 2013, Harris was named to the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America.
Toronto received the 29th pick of the Draft as compensation when outfielder Melky Cabrera signed a free-agent contract with the White Sox. The Blue Jays forfeited their original 16th overall selection by agreeing to terms with catcher Russell Martin to a five-year contract during the offseason.
The 29th overall pick comes with a recommended slot value of $1,944,800. Toronto has a pool of 5,411,000, which ranks 24th in the Draft. If teams spend more than their total allotment they are subject to taxes and the potential loss of a future pick.
As for what he brings to the table, Harris offered his own scouting report:
"I have some arm-side run on my fastball, which sets it off as a two-seam, but I can also cut it a little bit, I can throw it straight if I need to and I'm a fast worker," Harris said. "I like to get the ball and go. I don't like to sit and waste time between pitches. I like to get what I want and deliver the ball to home plate."