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Blue Jays seek high-end pitching in Draft

With elite position players in system, arms will be top priority
May 27, 2018

The Blue Jays have one of the most promising Minor League systems in baseball, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford and others won't be able to do everything on their own. If the next generation of talent is going to be successful, depth will be key, and additional

The Blue Jays have one of the most promising Minor League systems in baseball, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford and others won't be able to do everything on their own. If the next generation of talent is going to be successful, depth will be key, and additional high-ceiling talent will be needed. That's where the MLB Draft comes into play.
The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and tonight at 6 ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
Go to to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Blue Jays, whose first selection is the 12th overall pick:
In about 50 words
The Blue Jays have been trying to rebuild on the fly and the best way to do that is with a successful draft. The lower levels of Toronto's system have been stocked and depth is no longer the pressing concern it once was. That could allow the front office to gamble on high-risk, high-reward picks, but recent history has shown a preference for the college route.
The scoop
Steve Sanders is about to oversee his second MLB Draft as the Blue Jays' director of amateur scouting. Sanders spent two years as Boston's assistant director of amateur scouting before joining Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins in the Blue Jays' front office during the fall of 2016. In Sanders' first draft, he used nine of his first 11 picks on college players, with catcher Hagen Danner and Junior College righty Nate Pearson as the lone exceptions.

First-round buzz
Toronto has taken a college arm with a first-round pick during each of the last four Drafts, and according to MLB Pipeline's Jonathan Mayo, there's a chance it will happen again. In his latest mock draft, Mayo linked Toronto to lefty Shane McClanahan from the University of South Florida. Mayo also previously linked the Blue Jays to LHP Ryan Rolison, RHP Logan Gilbert and RHP Jackson Kowar. Jim Callis thinks there's a chance Toronto will go with a younger position player and he mentions OF Jarred Kelenic, 3B Nolan Gorman, SS Xavier Edwards, 3B Jordan Groshans and C Noah Naylor as possibilities.

Money matters
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 $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five 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.
This year, the Blue Jays have a pool of $7,982,100 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $4,200,900 to spend on their first selection.
Shopping list
The Blue Jays have one of the best Minor League systems in baseball. Toronto is loaded with elite position player talent -- Guerrero, Bichette and Alford just to name a few -- but there is a clear need for quality pitching in the upper levels. The future looks bright for Sean Reid-Foley, Nate Pearson and T.J. Zeuch, but the Blue Jays need some additional arms to complement their emerging depth in the field. The current configuration adds to the case that Toronto should stock up on college arm early in the draft, but if the strategy is best player available, they could look to add another elite bat instead.

Trend watch
The Blue Jays have taken a starting pitcher in the first round each of the last nine years. A couple of those drafts involved multiple picks where position players were taken as well, but there has been a clear emphasis on starting from the mound and building out from there.
Rising fast
Double-A second baseman Cavan Biggio entered this season outside of MLB Pipeline's top 30 Blue Jays prospects, but he has since moved up to No. 18. While Guerrero and Bichette get almost all of the attention, Biggio has managed to somewhat quietly put up some of the best numbers in the Eastern League. Through Biggio's first 44 games of the season, he was batting .313 with 12 home runs and a 1.108 OPS. Some critics will point to the Fisher Cats' hitter friendly ballpark for lefties, but if Biggio continues to hit like this, his overall ranking will only improve, and he may have a chance to join that next wave of talent headlined by Bichette and Guerrero.

Cinderella story
The Blue Jays have several Cinderella stories on their 25-man roster. Center fielder Kevin Pillar fell all the way to the 32nd round in the 2011 MLB Draft, reliever Danny Barnes went in the 35th round of the 2010 draft and Russell Martin was passed over after his first year of junior college before going to the Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2002 draft. In the Minors, lefty Ryan Borucki is ranked Toronto's No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline, but he didn't get picked until the 15th round in 2012. One name to keep an eye on here is Class A Lansing OF Chavez Young, who was taken in the 39th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, but has posted an OPS above .800 so far this season for the Lugnuts.

In the show
There are currently 14 players on the 40-man roster who were original draft picks by the Blue Jays, and all but three have made at least one appearance for the big league club. Barnes (2010, 35th round) LHP Aaron Loup (2009, 9th round), LHP Tim Mayza (2013, 12th round), RHP William McGuire (2010, 1st round), RHP Aaron Sanchez (2010, 1st round), RHP Marcus Stroman (2012, 1st round), RHP Dennis Tepera (2009, 19th round), Alford (2012, 3rd round), Pillar (2011, 32nd round), OF Dalton Pompey (2010, 16th round) and OF John Smith (2011, 1st round) have all received opportunities. Borucki (15th round, 2012), C Danny Janssen (2013, 16th round) and 1B Rowdy Tellez (2013, 30th round) are the other four on the 40-man roster who have yet to make their debut.
The Blue Jays' recent top picks
2017: SS Logan Warmoth (Class A Advanced Dunedin), RHP Nate Pearson (Class A Advanced Dunedin)
2016: RHP T.J. Zeuch (Double-A New Hampshire)
2015: RHP Jon Harris (Double-A New Hampshire)
2014: C Max Pentecost (Double-A New Hampshire), RHP Jeff Hoffman (Traded to Colorado)
2013: RHP Phil Bickford (Did not sign)

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.