The 2013 MLB Draft has completed and the Blue Jays (and Blue Jays fans) have their work cut out to figure out what it all means. Personally, I think that there are only a couple of bats that are potentially impact quality and one of them probably won’t sign.
The biggest news is that the Jays maintained their draft strategy of taking big, young, projectable pitchers, especially with their first 9 picks. There were some sleeper names lower down, but some of the higher quality high school arms may not sign and go to college.
Round 1: RHP Phil Bickford (17) – Bickford is a controversial pick. Scouts say that his mechanics are going lead this young righty who throws up to 96 mph already into trouble. They also criticize his lack of quality offspeed pitches. He was ranked by Baseball America as the 8th best RHP in the draft (20th player overall) and went 23rd in their 4th mock draft. At Minor League Ball, John Sickels had him going 8th overall to the Kansas City Royals. Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com had him ranked at 26th in the Top 100. Apparently, there is some signability concern with Bickford who has asked for a really big signing bonus.
Round 2: RHP Clinton Hollon (18) – Hollon is another hard thrower, but without as big a body as some of the Jays other selections. He has had some injury scares, including “forearm tightness” that led to his falling off the draft board last year. He rose back up with a strong season in 2013. Some strategists think that the Jays reached for Hollon at 47th overall because he’ll sign for less money. Jonathan Mayo ranked him 86th before the draft.
Round 3: RHP Patrick Murphy (18 on June 10) – Murphy was tagged as a “wild card” by Perfect Game. He was recovering from Tommy John surgery and they thought that he would have been at least a 2nd round pick had he not had the injury. The Jays must believe that he’s got his velocity back and will be ready to pitch in the Gulf Coast League this year or next. UPDATE: Murphy has signed for $500,000, slot is $650,800.
Round 4: LHP Evan Smith (17) – At 6’5″, Smith is exactly what the Jays are looking for, a big, young lefty who can bring the heat and can probably add more velocity as he grows and fills out. I couldn’t find much on the Alabama high-schooler, but it appears that in May this year, his fastball was sitting in the 88-93 range and he threw a curveball at about 80 mph. According to this report from Birmingham, Alabama, the Blue Jays expect him to sign quickly. UPDATE: Smith has signed for $350,000. Slot is $446,100.
Round 5: LHP Daniel Lietz (19) – The first draftee from a Junior College for the Jays, Lietz went undrafted out of high school but was rocketing up the draft boards this year. Jonathan Mayo likes the fact that his fastball has jumped in velocity this year and that he has three other workable pitches that could be major-league-average after some development. Baseball America had him ranked 254th overall. UPDATE: Lietz is reported to have signed. Financial details unavailable. Slot is $334,000.
Round 6: LHP Matt Boyd (22) – The first college senior that the Jays selected, Boyd is, by far, the most polished pitcher that the team selected so far. He was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds, but went to Oregon State and spent three years as a reliever. As a starter in his senior year, he threw over 121 innings with a 2.15 ERA and limited batters to a .196 batting average and walked only thirty while striking out 109. Jonathan Mayo ranked him #72 at MLB.com and thinks that all four of his pitches could be major-league-average, which is quite a compliment to the big durable lefty. Look for the Jays to limit his innings a bit and he’ll probably start off in Vancouver after signing fairly quickly. Boyd was also ranked as the 30th best lefty in the draft by Baseball America.
Round 7: RHP Conner Greene (18) – Greene comes into the draft as a projectable righty who stands 6’3″ but only weighs 165 lbs. He’s been scouted as hitting 90 mph and since he still needs to fill out, the Jays think that number will increase as he gets stronger. Jonathan Mayo writes that he has a good feel for a curveball and a splitter but needs to work on control and command. UPDATE: Greene is reported to have signed. Financial details unavailable. Slot is $187,400.
Round 8: RHP Kendall Graveman (22) – A senior coming out of Mississippi State, he was drafted in the 36th round last season but went back to school for his senior year. He should be a quick sign for the Jays and looks to be (by the looks of Mayo’s scouting report) to be a solid organizational arm who could start his pro career in Vancouver or Lansing. He wasn’t dominant in his final year of college, putting up a 3.14 ERA in 103 innings while striking out only 65 and walking 27.
Round 9: LHP Chad Girodo (22) – With the next pick, the Blue Jays took Graveman’s teammate, lefty reliever Girodo. He wasn’t even the closer on the squad, but posted excellent numbers in his senior year: he threw 41 innings, giving up 32 hits and 14 walks while striking out 53 batters.
Round 10: C Garrett Custons (22) – Custons, a senior from the US Air Force Academy, hit .353 with 22 doubles, 3 triples and 1 HR on the season and threw out 54% of basestealers on the season. If he does end up playing pro ball (he may have armed forces commitments to carry out), he would probably be a solid defensive organization catcher for the Blue Jays. UPDATE: Custons is reported to have signed. Financial details are unavailable. Slot is $136,800