Blue Jays draft fresh crop of college talent

June 15th, 2017

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays won't necessarily admit it, but they appear to have changed strategy during this year's MLB Draft, by targeting college players who should advance to the upper levels of the Minors relatively quickly.

Toronto used all but nine of its 41 picks during this year's MLB Draft on college players. The overall group includes 22 pitchers, five catchers, seven infielders and seven outfielders as the third and final day came to a close on Wednesday evening.

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The plan seemed to be pretty clear cut. Toronto's system has some promising young prospects who are still years away from the big leagues. The upper levels of the system have remained bare, and adding college players is one way to counterbalance that, but the Blue Jays insist they maintained a best-player-available approach this year.

"I think organizational need is really not something we try to focus on when we're drafting these players," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Steve Sanders said. "Often times those things can change as these players progress through the Minor Leagues and it's hard to anticipate what the needs are going to be by the time these guys are ready. It's more the way the board breaks and the way the player pool presents itself to us."

Toronto's player pool was centered around the infield during the early rounds. Shortstop Logan Warmoth (University of North Carolina), high school catcher Hagen Danner, catcher Riley Adams (University of San Diego), shortstop Kevin Smith (University of Maryland) and second baseman Cullen Large (College of William & Mary) represented five of the Blue Jays' first six picks.

By design, the Blue Jays have acquired quite a lot of depth at shortstop. Double-A New Hamsphire's is ranked the club's No. 4 prospect by Cuban prospect Jr. can play there as well -- but likely will end up elsewhere -- and now the latest additions of Warmoth, Smith and Large at second base.

"We certainly look at it as a good problem to have, and it's something that we'll talk to Gil Kim and the player development guys about and they'll be best suited to make the decisions as to where these guys go and where they get their innings," Sanders said. "Our hope is to add as many guys who can stick up the middle of the field and at shortstop as possible. There's hopefully enough innings to go around for all of them."