Toronto likely looking to restock position players
After stockpiling pitchers in recent Drafts, Blue Jays eyeing shortstop Martin, among others
TORONTO -- The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Blue Jays, whose first selection is the 29th overall pick.
In about 50 words
The Blue Jays are without a first-round pick for the first time since 1984. Toronto forfeited its selection, which would have been 17th overall, to sign free-agent catcher Russell Martin. The good news is that the Blue Jays possess a compensatory pick that they received when outfielder Melky Cabrera signed with the White Sox.
Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker is poised to oversee his third Draft. He joined the organization in 2009 as a professional scout before moving up to pro crosschecker in January 2012. Parker spent less than half of a season in that role before taking over Draft duties when Andrew Tinnish was promoted to assistant general manager.
Parker got off to a rough start in 2013 when Phil Bickford, the team's top pick, did not agree to terms with the Blue Jays. Last year, though, Toronto appeared to have one of its best Drafts in recent memory and received a great deal of credit from experts for its haul. Right-hander Jeff Hoffman and catcher Max Pentecost headlined the list of additions, but righty Sean Reid-Foley and outfielder Lane Thomas also provided upside.
The Blue Jays have been linked to Florida shortstop Richie Martin by multiple media reports over the past several weeks. Martin is ranked the No. 34 prospect for the upcoming Draft by MLBPipeline.com and projects to be a strong fielder at the big league level. The question is whether there's enough upside in the bat, as Martin has struggled offensively during two seasons with the Gators before turning things around in his first summer in the Cape Cod League.
Toronto reportedly has also been keeping an eye on West Columbus (N.C.) High School outfielder Eric Jenkins, Eustis (Fla.) High School right-hander Brady Singer and North Florida outfielder Donnie Dewees. MLB.com's Jim Callis projects Dewees to be selected by the A's with the 20th overall pick, but the other players the Blue Jays are considering would be available at No. 29, according to his latest mock draft.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Blue Jays have been assigned a pool of $5,411,000, which ranks 24th in the Majors. The value assigned to Toronto's first-round compensatory pick is $1,855,000.
The Blue Jays have stockpiled their Minor League system with pitching prospects, but they have a need for high-ceiling position players. Toronto hasn't developed an elite position player since Adam Lind and Aaron Hill, and while outfielder Dalton Pompey provides some hope for the future, there is a need for additional talent.
Toronto does have some promising outfielders on the rise in the form of Anthony Alford, D.J. Davis and Dwight Smith, but the only player who projects to hit for a lot of power is third baseman Mitch Nay and possibly last year's fifth-round selection, Lane Thomas.
During the past four years, the Blue Jays have placed a strong emphasis on selecting pitchers. There has been a clear preference for tall, athletic pitchers who project to have more durability than some of their smaller counterparts. With the exception of Marcus Stroman in 2012, all of the pitchers taken in the first 10 rounds have been at least 6-foot-1.
Last year, the Blue Jays used six of their top 11 picks on pitchers. That was down from 2013, when they used all but one of their top 12 selections on pitchers, but it shows there is still a strong emphasis on pitching depth. According to MLBPipeline.com, three of the club's top five prospects and 14 of the top 30 are pitchers. The number would be higher, but Toronto has promoted many of its upper-level pitching prospects to the Majors over the last two years.
RECENT DRAFT HISTORY
The Blue Jays caught a lucky break last year when Hoffman fell to No. 9 in the 2014 Draft. Hoffman was originally considered a possible top overall pick until a right elbow injury forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery. The 22-year-old has since made a full recovery and is pitching for Class A Advanced Dunedin.
By all accounts, Hoffman shouldn't require a lot of time in the Minors before he's ready for the big leagues. Toronto manager John Gibbons has even raised the possibility that Hoffman could make his debut later this year if his season goes as expected. He's coming off a strong college career at East Carolina University, and he has an advanced skill set for his age, which is the main reason for a potentially quick timeline.
Pompey wasn't taken in the 2010 Draft until the 16th round, but he has since become one of the club's top prospects. He rose to fame last year after beginning the season at Dunedin, before eventually making his way through the entire Minor League system and getting called up to the big leageus in September.
Pompey began the 2015 campaign as Toronto's starting center fielder. He struggled at the plate and in the field before losing his job to Kevin Pillar. That resulted in a demotion to the Minors, but the future still appears bright, as the 22-year-old has plenty of time to develop. He is ranked as the Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect by MLBPipeline.com.
In The Show
The Blue Jays have seven players on their 25-man active roster that they selected in the Draft. Most of the homegrown talent can be found on the pitching staff and includes closer Brett Cecil, Opening Day starter Drew Hutchison, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup. Pillar and infielder Ryan Goins were also drafted by the club.
There's also a lot of young homegrown talent waiting in the wings. Left-hander Daniel Norris is pitching for Triple-A Buffalo, but he is expected to make his return at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The Blue Jays' recent top picks
2014: Hoffman, RHP, Class A Advanced Dunedin
2014: Pentecost, C, Injured
2013: Bickford, RHP, Did not sign
2012: Davis, OF, Class A Lansing
2012: Stroman, RHP, 60-day DL
2011: Tyler Beede, RHP, Did not sign