We continue our draft coverage with rounds 16-20. The Jays got a couple of junior college players including one pitcher who had a lot of buzz out of high school. There were three pitchers and two infielders in this group of five.
In the 16th round, the Blue Jays went with a third baseman, Christian Williams, out of Gulf Coast State Junior College. The 6-foot-1 left-handed hitter had a very good year with the bat, hitting .320/.439/.541 with some pop, hitting eight home runs and 12 doubles. With a commitment to North Carolina State, Williams has a tough decision but was quoted by Jessica Quiroli as saying that he’s “leaning more toward signing.” Williams was drafted last season by the Miami Marlins in the 28th round.
From one junior college player to another, the Blue Jays selected right-handed pitcher Chandler Eden out of Yavapai Junior College in Arizona. Eden could be a player that the Blue Jays overpay for. Originally drafted by the Miami Marlins in 36th round of 2013, Eden was on the radars of a lot of recruiters, landing as the #70 draft prospect on the Baseball America 500 two years ago, coming out of Yuba City High School in California. He was drafted so low because of a strong commitment to Oregon State but only pitched eight innings with them and transferred to Yavapai last year.
Scouts have been mixed on what they’ve seen since this year since he hasn’t been consistent. With 48 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings, he has shown what Baseball America calls an “electric fastball in the 92-94 mph range and an effective curveball.” They characterize his delivery as “inconsistent.”
It will be interesting to see what happens with Eden. He has committed to Texas Tech to continue his college career but if the Blue Jays have some bonus pool room, they could make it worth his while to turn pro.
The Blue Jays selected 6-foot-3 righty Geno Encina out of the University of the Incarnate Word in Texas. In two years of pitching there, he started 24 games and posted a very strong 2.61 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP, striking out 121 batters and walking 28 in 169 innings. Encina plans on signing with the Blue Jays and features a high leg kick, similar to Matt Boyd.
John La Prise, a second and third baseman out of the University of Virginia, didn’t play much this year after undergoing surgery on his hip. The 21-year-old was a regular in his sophomore year, hitting .348/.397/.421 with 10 doubles and a home run before getting into only four games in 2015 but had four hits in the College World Series finals against Vanderbilt.
The final player in today’s five rounds of coverage is Tyler Burden, a right-handed pitcher out of Chowan University. The junior was an effective two-way player, hitting .407/.476/.731 over 145 at bats including 11 doubles, six triples and eight home runs. He made the All-CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) First-Team and was a NCBWA (National College Baseball Writers Association) as an infielder. On the mound, Burden threw 20 innings of relief and struck out 23 with a 4.05 ERA. Burden is the first Chowan player drafted out of the NCAA Division II school since 1995. Listed as a pitcher in the draft report by MLB.com, it would appear that the Blue Jays will have him focus his time on the mound as a pro.
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