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Blue Jays sticking to blueprint in MLB Draft

Toronto ready for steady approach with 2 first-round picks
MLB.com

TORONTO -- With the 2017 MLB Draft now just days away, Toronto director of amateur scouting Steve Sanders is putting the finishing touches on the first Draft he'll lead in his new position.

Sanders has been greeted with a welcome gift, too, as the Blue Jays will pick twice in the first round on June 12. Despite the possibilities that come with an extra pick, 28th overall as compensation for the departure of Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto's scouting department is sticking to their set process.

TORONTO -- With the 2017 MLB Draft now just days away, Toronto director of amateur scouting Steve Sanders is putting the finishing touches on the first Draft he'll lead in his new position.

Sanders has been greeted with a welcome gift, too, as the Blue Jays will pick twice in the first round on June 12. Despite the possibilities that come with an extra pick, 28th overall as compensation for the departure of Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto's scouting department is sticking to their set process.

"We're incredibly lucky and we're certainly excited about the opportunity to pick twice in the first round," Sanders said on Thursday. "It doesn't change the way we go about things or the way we prepare. I think it allows us to be a little more flexible, but it also requires us to be even better and more diligent in our preparations."

Toronto's 2016 Draft came before Sanders' arrival late last year, but represented the first class brought in under general manager Ross Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro. The new regime broke somewhat from the previous habits of the Alex Anthopoulos regime -- often centered around powerful high-school arms with upside and athletically gifted outfielders -- and turned more consistently to the college ranks.

:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::

Those college picks, led by first-round right-hander T.J. Zeuch and second-round outfielder J.B. Woodman, did allow the Blue Jays to work in higher risk picks like shortstop Bo Bichette, who they selected nine picks after Woodman. That strategy has paid off in a big way. Bichette is now starring alongside Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in Class A Lansing, leading the Midwest League in batting average and OPS.

"We started meeting with our scouting department and our front office here earlier this week," Sanders said. "I think with where we're picking in the Draft, it's hard. There's a lot, obviously, going on in front of us that will make it really tough to know exactly what's going to happen. At this point we're trying to do our best to prepare for anything that could happen."

Sanders views this year's Draft class as a very balanced group in terms of positions and talent. Signability will be a factor, as always, but Toronto does enter the Draft with a bonus pool of $8,231,000, the 13th-most in MLB, which should give Toronto's Draft room some added freedom.

"Our goal is to go in and add as much impact to the Blue Jays organization in a given Draft as possible," Sanders said. "Some years may be more heavily balanced at a certain position or a certain area, but in general, our goal is to get talented players, and later in the Draft we may need to try to find players that fit needs at the lower levels."

With baseball technology and metrics advancing at a rapid pace, the Blue Jays also have more information than ever to sift through on their targeted prospects. Since their meetings began recently with the front office in Toronto, it has been all hands on deck.

"We're using not only as many resources, but as many people as we possibly can," Sanders said, "and collaborating with our analytics department, our player development, our international scouting department. We've had guys from all of those departments in the Draft room with us the last few days playing active roles in trying to help us make the best decisions."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays