This evening, beginning at 7 PM, MLB will conduct the first round, and the first supplemental round of its Rule 4 Draft from gorgeous Secaucus, NJ. The Houston Astros are currently, technically, on the clock, as holders of the first pick, and after that, the real clusterfuck begins, as club will start making their selections, picking up the pieces of their draft boards, and trying to figure out how best to manage their money.
I’ll have a Draft Threat post up in time for Houston’s selection at 7 PM, and will keep updating it as the evening progresses, with an eye obviously on the Jays, and whatever information I can get my hands on regarding the players they pick. And it shouldn’t even be too insufferable, as the Jays should provide one of the evening’s more interesting story-lines– for all of baseball, not just for us– as they’ll be making five picks (17, 22, 50, 58 and 60), and have been viewed as quite aggressive in their selections– not to mention in their acquisition of extra picks– since Alex Anthopoulos assumed the GM’s chair.
It’s not an unrealistic expectation that they’ll be one of the clubs attempting to game the system and extracting as much value out of their multiple picks as possible. How they might do this remains somewhat up in the air. Anthopoulos has said, as I posted earlier, that it’s possible they’ll take guys who can be signed under-slot later in the draft, if they feel a player is available to them earlier who is worth going after, but the impression he left was that this was dependent on who is available to them.
Keith Law certainly feels that they’re leaning this way, as he explains in his latest mock draft at ESPN.com (Insider Only), that “everyone says the Blue Jays intend to continue to draft for upside wherever possible, figuring that average players won’t get it done in the AL East.” He has them picking Louisiana high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini at 17, telling us that he “had them with Giolito last time and still think they’d take him.”
That would be Lucas Giolito, a name we’ve already probably become far too aware of around here, as he is reputedly a top tier talent who hasn’t been able to throw since February, due to an elbow injury. The medical concerns are enough to make teams think twice about picking him in the top ten, but he’s still going to want a lot of money, and because of the new limits, that will make him a difficult sign for clubs with smaller pools of available cash.
As Law’s comment implies, he has Giolito being off the board by the time the Jays pick– as does Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, who has the Jays taking Florida high school right-hander Lance McCullers with their first selection.
“Most believe that the Blue Jays will continue to be both creative and aggressive in the draft,” Goldstein explains. “Giolito makes sense here, but that might require some maneuvering that is difficult to figure out. McCullers has one of the best pure arms in the draft, and is not considered the easiest of signings.”
Goldstein has the club going with Washington high school catcher Clint Coulter in his final mock, explaining that “There are a number of dynamics in play with this pick. The second of Toronto’s two in this round, the Blue Jays could go with a conservative quick sign here both to save money, and because there is no compensation for not signing the player selected here. It won’t be a crazy reach, and Coulter is one of many players mentioned here as moving a few slots above where their talent might suggest.
Law adds that the Jays are “also on [Alabama high school outfielder David] Dahl and [Louisiana high school catcher] Stryker Trahan, and they would consider a college starter who fell, shifting to higher-upside prep kids with the next pick. They’re among the few teams still in on [Ohio high school left-hander Matt] Smoral in the first round.”
It’s all up to… well… mostly everybody else. But we do have a few resources who’ll be taking stabs at what the Jays may be thinking — which is at least better than the many folks pretend they know the slightest fuck about any individual prospects based on the reports they’ve read– or at least enough to provoke outrage when a club passes on one for another. Puke.
For example, at Bluebird Banter, Woodman663 examines what the Jays have done in their previous drafts under Anthopoulos, and looks to find prevailing trends that may inform their selections tonight and tomorrow.
At the Toronto Star, Richard Griffin follows the money, and looks in-depth at how the CBA changes will impact tonight’s proceedings– and notes how Alex Anthopoulos, sensible man that he is, thinks that the penalties for going over slot, are too harsh to not obey.
John Lott also has a primer at the National Post, wherein he explains– among other things– that “for the past 10 days, 15 club officials have been meeting in a draft room at the Rogers Centre, comparing reports on 600 to 700 players, arguing and ultimately ranking their prospects. They rate position players on the basis of five key tools and each tool is broken into sub-components. Some of the toughest calls come when they compare a pitcher and position player and decide where to rank him on their draft board. [Scouting director Andrew] Tinnish has the final say.”
Image via Rich Pilling/Getty.