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Creativity was key in Blue Jays' Draft strategy

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' 2018 MLB Draft ultimately will be defined by the depth and quality of prospects selected, but it was the unique strategy implemented on Day 1 that became the immediate takeaway from this week's annual event.

Toronto used a little bit of creativity to make the most of a $7,982,100 bonus pool for the first 10 rounds. Instead of spending $4.2 million on the 12th overall pick, the Blue Jays found someone they liked at a lower cost, took him earlier than expected and used the remaining money to essentially trade up later in the Draft.

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' 2018 MLB Draft ultimately will be defined by the depth and quality of prospects selected, but it was the unique strategy implemented on Day 1 that became the immediate takeaway from this week's annual event.

Toronto used a little bit of creativity to make the most of a $7,982,100 bonus pool for the first 10 rounds. Instead of spending $4.2 million on the 12th overall pick, the Blue Jays found someone they liked at a lower cost, took him earlier than expected and used the remaining money to essentially trade up later in the Draft.

Draft Tracker: Every Blue Jays pick

The end result was shortstop Jordan Groshans and right-hander Adam Kloffenstein -- teammates at Magnolia (Texas) High School -- selected No. 12 and No. 88, respectively. Those two first-round talents for the price of one, along with No. 52 pick Griffin Conine -- son of former Major Leaguer Jeff Conine -- gave Toronto a total of five catchers, nine infielders, four outfielders and 22 pitchers over the course of three days.

"The way the Draft worked out, we were certainly opportunistic in being able to make it happen, which we were excited about," director of amateur scouting Steve Sanders said. "A lot of things had to go right for that to happen, but [we got] two guys that we were certainly interested in coming into the Draft."

Blue Jays draft Groshans, Conine on Day 1

Blue Jays' social media came to life when Toronto was put on the clock with its first-round pick on Monday night. Top pitching prospects Brady Singer and Matthew Liberatore were projected to go early in a lot of mock drafts, yet both were still available at No. 12. For a team that needed pitching to augment an emerging class of elite position players, it seemed almost too good to be true.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Then something unexpected happened. The Blue Jays passed on the highly touted arms and announced the 18-year-old Groshans as their pick. That raised eyebrows -- among fans and media alike -- because although Groshans was a heavily scouted prospect, he also wasn't supposed to go this early. MLB Pipeline ranked him at No. 31. He wasn't expected to be there when Toronto picked again at No. 52, but the first round? Twelfth overall?

Though the reasoning wasn't clear outside the organization, internally, the Blue Jays were putting the wheels in motion for a plan that addresses the need for pitching, just not the names people were expecting, and the decision was tied to the first-round pick. Kloffenstein, who had a strong commitment to Texas Christian University, was the target. The 17-year-old was expected to go to school, but he also had made it widely known that he would turn pro for the right price.

Toronto drafts Kloffenstein, Groshans' teammate

"It was pretty wild," Kloffenstein said. "I didn't expect it to happen the way it did. I was expecting to go on the first day. We did some talking and we did some stuff with other teams, and I told them 'No.' ... Then the Blue Jays called and said they wanted both of the Magnolia boys, and I said, 'Well, with the two slots you have left, you'll have to do a lot better than what the slots were.' They were like, 'OK, we'll try to get there.'"

Video: Draft 2018: Blue Jays draft RHP Kloffenstein No. 88

After a back and forth, Toronto reportedly did get there. The 88th overall pick came with an approximate slot value of $653,000, but according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kloffenstein signed for approximately $2.5 million. It's not officially a package deal with Groshans, but it might as well be based on how the events unfolded.

If targeting the high school teammates was the plan all along, the Blue Jays did an impressive job of keeping it under wraps. Kloffenstein told MLB.com that to his knowledge, he was in play for upwards of 15 teams going into the Draft, and Toronto was not among them. That changed with one late-night phone call.

"We're really excited about both," Sanders said. "Both guys have been on our radar for a long time, both on their own merit. We certainly saw a lot of Magnolia High School this year."

Worth mentioning

• Nineteen Canadians were taken in this year's Draft, and Toronto grabbed two of them: right-hander Will McAffer (North Vancouver, B.C.) and third baseman Damiano Palmegiani (Surrey, B.C.) in the 25th and 35th rounds, respectively. Catcher Noah Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) was the top overall Canadian, selected 29th overall by Cleveland.

• In the 36th round, the Blue Jays took a flyer on high school catcher Kameron Guangorena, who has a strong commitment to Cal State Fullerton. Guangorena is not expected to sign, but if one of the higher-priced deals falls through, then he could become an option. Guangorena was ranked the No. 104 prospect in the Draft by MLB Pipeline.

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

Toronto Blue Jays