There is a world of amateur baseball out there, and it’s a fucking fools errand to go around thinking that anybody who isn’t paid handsomely to keep tabs on the players and the pro scouts watching them can provide you anything resembling value for their thoughts on who looks good, who should go where, who your favourite team should be targeting and who we should lose our shit over either drafting or passing up. Double that foolishness for anyone dumb enough to try and write about it in any kind of serious way, without the giant caveat I’m about to lay down: I have no fucking idea who these draft prospects are beyond what’s being written about them and I’m passing along.
To me, it’s absolutely ab-fucking-surd the way baseball fans have developed the tendency to react at all to the picks their club makes, but especially with faux outrage that their club has taken someone who they’ve heard doesn’t have the kind of ceiling they want, or have passed on someone they’ve heard better things about than the player selected. It just fucking kills me.
That said, there are some names out there to keep our eyes on, and some interesting ones being linked to the Jays.
On the Getting Blanked Podcast earlier today (which I had so little to do with I think I can objectively say was pretty fucking great), as well as episodes of ESPN Baseball Today this week, Keith Law has spoken about Lucas Giolito, who he’s said may be the most talented player in the draft, but who appears to be slipping because of a “non-serious elbow injury.” The Jays are one of the teams with multiple early picks who he figured would be contemplating drafting Giolito and going over-slot to sign him, culling extra money for him from their pool by going cheap or straight-up punting on a later pick. In fact, he has Giolito going to the Jays in his most recent mock draft at ESPN.com (Insider only), explaining that “they’re on everyone — Smoral, Cecchini, Dahl, prep catcher Stryker Trahan, and even the college arms I have going right ahead of them. There’s a strong sentiment that they’re one of two or three teams loading up to go over slot recommendations at their first pick for someone like Giolito, Russell or McCullers.”
Marc Hulet of FanGraphs is hearing similar rumblings, explaining that “The chatter has them mostly on prep players and the local media is big on prep catcher/outfielder Stryker Trahan but that’s mainly because he was in for workout and looked good. Two names I’ll throw out are prep hurler Lance McCullers Jr., whose father pitched in the majors but could be gone before the Jays’ first pick, and college starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who is likely a pro reliever and possibly MLB-ready (He addresses a club weakness – the bullpen – and could help them save some cash for supplemental round choices).”
Stroman is an interesting option, as Law explained on Thursday’s Baseball Today that he expects him to sign quickly, and be rushed through the minors in as little as eight weeks. If this is the route the Jays take with one of their picks, I’d expect that to be the plan– it’s rare that you can have a player making an impact so quickly in the Majors, and it would not just be interesting to see, but would help the Jays, either during a stretch drive, or as a ready-made replacement for trade bait like potential free agent relievers Darren Oliver, Francisco Cordero, and Jason Frasor.
Giolito is the really intriguing one, though, simply because of the talent– Law had him as high as number three in his first mock draft, and says in the preamble to his second, in which he couldn’t assign a team to Giolito, that he could very well go in the top 15. If he’s available when the Jays pick at 17, it would be a very AA-like move to make, I think. If he’s there and they pass, though, let’s please just all assume that the club didn’t like the medicals before we go shit ape, huh?
Choosing someone like him, and then a cheaper option like Stroman to balance the money pool, sounds like maybe an ideal outcome for fans of the club, but saying so forces me to go back to my original point, which is that we know so goddamn little about these guys that it’s not really possible to have any sort of reasonable expectation of the Jays’ strategy. It’s probably better to watch what they do, then work backwards to try and decipher what it suggests they were thinking, rather than the other way around.
There’s a lesson to be learned, I think, from out of the confusion two years ago when the Jays went off the board for a sandwich round pick not a lot of people were talking about– Noah Syndergaard. Whatever the team does, it’ll provide us with some real food for thought, but not a whole lot to get worked up about.
In that second mock draft of Law’s he has the Jays taking Louisiana high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini, though he says he’s “also hearing Stanford’s Stephen Piscotty here; his first-round range seems to be from Nos. 17 to 25. Otherwise, it’s the usual cast of high school upside bats, including Dahl if he makes it this far. I don’t think they’ll take Mississippi prep outfielder D.J. Davis here, but they are on him.” Cecchini is the Jays’ pick at 22 in his third mock.
Obviously, with so many moving parts ahead of them, everything wide open.