22nd pick Marcus Stroman of Duke. No… the one in the middle.

We’re into the draft’s equivalent of the flyover states, as rounds two through seventy jillion are underway in Secaucus– and you can follow along with MLB.com’s Live Draft Tracker– but before we move on, I think it’s best we tidy up some of the stuff that’s buried in last night’s giant clusterfuck of a post, specifically having to do with the Jays’ first round, which Keith Law listed among his honourable mentions at ESPN.com (Insider Only), and their three key picks ones, DJ Davis, Marcus Stroman, and Matt Smoral.

DJ Davis – #17 – OF – Stone County HS (MS)

In his first round analysis for Baseball Prospectus (Paywall’d), Kevin Goldstein writes that the Jays “decided to spread their risk, and went conservative with their first pick in order to spend a little more money later.” Fireballing lefty Matt Smoral, picked 50th, seems to fit that bill, though Davis is certainly no slouch. I pointed out last night that ESPN’s Top 100 draft prospects list (Insider Only) had him at 65, but that a report from Lone Star Ball mentioned that he was at number 20 for Baseball America, and 30 overall for Goldstein.

Baseball America, like just about every other source, says he’s not quite a five-tool prospect, as his arm strength is suspect, and MLB.com suggests it will at least play in centre, where Davis can utilize his crazy speed. At SB Nation, John Sickels adds that Davis is fortunate he’s got the range for centre, “because he doesn’t have the arm for right field.”

In ESPN’s pick-by-pick analysis piece (Insider Only) Jason Churchill says that he thinks that he “could be a table setter if he maxes out the hit tool.” That seems to be the big question on Davis, as he’s reportedly got some power– “gap power,” tweeted Goldstein– and “the athleticism and bat speed to look like a potential star in the big leagues,” according to his ESPN scouting report (Insider Only). The same report refers to a “noisy lower half,” and suggests that he’s “a great upside play but will likely require a lot of patience as well as some work to calm down his swing.”

That said, there’s a hackneyed old saying that you can’t teach speed, and by all accounts Davis has shitloads of it– with some reports suggesting he’s just a notch below Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, who has stolen 63 bases, having been caught 13 times, in 53 games this season. More impressively, according to a report at the upside-focused PerfectGame.org, “the biggest excitement from scouts hasn’t come from Davis’ speed, which is a given at this point, but from the improvement he’s shown with the bat, especially with his power. Davis is not a slash-and-run hitter and takes a full, aggressive swing at the ball and is looking to drive pitches. He’s also proven to be a very patient hitter who is willing to wait for his pitch and take a walk, a very valuable skill for a baserunning threat.”

A crazy athletic, up-the-middle, huge upside talent who may allow the Jays to move some money around and sign some upside picks selected later? I’m almost surprised that we were kind of surprised by the pick.


Marcus Stroman – #22 – RHP – Duke

The MLB Network guys were falling all over themselves to praise this pick, with Jonathan Mayo saying on the broadcast that “he may be the steal of this first round.” That’s because Stroman “would go in the top five picks this year if he were only about five or six inches taller,” according to his ESPN.com scouting report (Insider Only), thanks to a repertoire that Baseball America praises as including a “fastball, which sits 92-94 mph,” a “wipeout slider that can make hitters look silly,” and because “he has added a changeup and cutter in the last year as he evolved from an infielder/closer into a starter.”

Goldstein adds in his pick-by-pick analysis at BP (Paywall’d) that “Stroman seemed to be the Plan B player for any number of teams in front of this pick,” and reiterates Mayo’s contention that he could be a steal for the Jays.

“Stroman’s main issue is a lack of plane or downward life on his fastball, so he gives up more contact than you’d like on the pitch, but that could be alleviated if he tried to throw a two-seamer, or if he goes to the pen and adds a grade of velocity,” says the ESPN.com report. Many suggest the bullpen could be in his immediate future– as well as the Majors later this summer– and that neither of the two options suggested above seem unrealistic. “The Jays could attempt to teach Stroman a two-seamer to create more sink on his heater and use him as a starter,” writes Jason Churchill in his pick-by-pick analysis at ESPN (Insider Only), while the PerfectGame.org report says that in a relief outing for Duke, his fastball “was clocked as high as 100 mph.”

His ESPN.com scouting report (Insider Only) knocks that notion down a peg, telling us that “as a starter, Stroman works from 92-95, but has shown 95-97 in relief before,” but… that’s still pretty damn good.


Matthew Smoral – #50 – RHP – Solon HS (OH)

“Smoral has big upside thanks to a mid-90s fastball and plus slider from a low arm slot,” writes Jason Churchill in his pick-by-pick supplemental round analysis at ESPN.com (Insider Only), which draws comparisons to Madison Bumgarner in ESPN’s scouting report (Insider Only)– though that’s not quite as big a compliment to the talk of Randy Johnson in the positive-focused PerfectGame.org report. “Six-foot-seven lefties who can touch 95 mph don’t exactly grow on trees,” wrote Kevin Goldstein in his final mock draft for Baseball Prospectus.

It’s a bit of a risky pick, however, because of both injury and signability. “He has a scholarship to the University of North Carolina and may be a tough sign,” writes John Sickels at SB Nation, while the ESPN scouting report points to the fact that he “made just three outings this spring before his season ended due to a stress fracture in his right (and thus landing) foot.” They add that “before that, Smoral had pitched like a potential top-10 overall pick, touching 95, sitting 89-93 with plus life and a hard out-pitch slider, even showing the ability to pitch to his glove side with the fastball.”

He wasn’t quite yet his old self, I suppose, in this video from Baseball America, which shows him in his return to action from the injury, but there’s obviously a lot of upside in what Goldstein tweeted was “your aggressive punch of a pick we’ve been waiting for from the Jays.”


A Note on Info and Analysis

We’ve ranted a bunch of times about fans losing their minds over the draft, when really, these are all guys that not a whole hell of a lot of people know a damn thing about. I read an absurd page of an MLB.com Blue Jays forum, for example, where people were laying out their ideal picks for the Jays at all their different slots, as though these tools had any fucking clue about anything!

But you know what? Fine. Have your meaningless fun, because it’s all pretty fucking OK in the grand scheme, compared to the sites out there who are writing about these prospects in their own voice, as though they’re presenting their own information, as though they’d know the first fucking thing about these guys without the hard work of experts like Keith Law, Jim Callis, Kevin Goldstein, John Sickels, Jonathan Mayo, Jason Churchill, the scouting reports at PerfectGame.org, and others.

Yes, we use the work of those guys to help compile the pictures of minor league prospects that get passed around as gospel on sites like this, but there are many other avenues in which to glean information on those guys, including freely available stats, statements from team officials, coaches, etc.

While I don’t know what every writer gets up to in the course of studying this stuff– and I’m not asking for resumes– I just want to make it real clear that I know sweet fuck all about these draftees, or any amateur baseball talent, honestly. And that’s why I’m acknowledging– and tried my best to do so last night– where this information is coming from, who you should be looking to for extra information (because I’m certainly not going to give away everything that each person or service is saying), and when I’m just spitballin’ something from my own knowledge base.

A blog like this has so much to do with work being produced by others– be it rumours heard, opinion columns to shit on, or scouting reports to digest– that it sometimes feels dicey, probably for good reason, how much I’m using from particular sources, especially because I truly value what they do and want to responsibly promote their work while still giving enough of a taste of it to use it to my own ends. I hope I’ve managed to do that, but perhaps more importantly, I hope to fuck nobody is out there explicitly and intentionally not doing that, and writing like an expert without a hint of suggestion that they’re not.


Image via Twitter.

Comments (42)

  1. The last 2 guys the Jays have taken have left the MLB guys at a complete loss for words, as if they’ve never heard their names mentioned even once. Both were crappy college relievers. They are probably trying to save as much as possible for Smoral and Alford, and I’m curious to see if they’ll punt all the picks from round 4 on to make sure they sign all the guys at the top.

    You’ve doing a great job amalgamating all this draft coverage, so kudos and thanks for all the work.

  2. I’m pretty confident the Jays will sign the difficult sign types like Smoral and Alford. Reason being they are “punting” picks on college seniors that will sign well below slot. AA and team would have done enough research to know what dollar figure gets the tough signs done.
    If not, they’ve drafted players that don’t sign, as well as drafting players way earlier than they deserve to be drafted. I don’t see that happening

    • Alford seems like a really tough sign. A lot of guys tell teams they wont sign if drafted, and they all say they want to go to college and get a degree and come into the draft later.

      But Alford doesn’t even intend to play pro baseball or play college baseball. He is going to college to play football.

      It is really tough to sign a player who is a two-sport athlete that may favour another sport over baseball.

      The Jays will have to go way, way over slot to sign this guy. Even then, it might not be a money issue with this kid.

      • And he would appear to be a pretty good football player. He was offered 9 scholarships, and was a four star recruit (I don’t know college football, but that seems good) and one of the top 100 high school players in the country according to ESPN. He also won football player of the year two times in a row in his state.

        So it is not like if he goes to college he is going to be some 4th string backup. He may have a future as a pro football player.

        • I’d be shocked if he signs. Unless they offer him a boatload of money which apparently is their purpose.

          • I think they would have to offer like top 10 pick type money.

            He would appear pretty committed to football.

            But it isn’t like I know the kid or anything, so it could be all about leverage to get more cash. But even then, I’m not so sure why he would say “don’t draft me” because it would appear he could have been a high pick if he was committed to baseball.

  3. Can we sign his dad to play 1B?

  4. The last paragraph of this article is the reason why I come to DJF every, single, day. That Stoeten is a critical thinker is the reason why this blog is so valuable. As a guy who holds a masters in English, and an unofficial minor in critical thinking, this is the best place on earth to get blue jays info.

  5. to all the idiots screeming about lucas giolio, just shut up already!

  6. His dad looks like the love child of Frank Thomas, Bo Jackson and Eric Thames

  7. Thanks for compiling all of this in one place. I’d have no idea otherwise. Keep up the good work.

  8. I love the comp players given during last nights draft, if you go by that, basically everyone taken is expected to be an all-star.

    As an aside, I remember when the Blue Jays drafted Russ Adams JP Ricciardi compared him to a Walt Weiss and I thought ‘I sure as hell hope you would take a player with your first pick that you expected to have a better upside than Walt Weiss”, unfortunately that to was an overstatement as well.

  9. That last part almost sounds defensive Stoeten. Somebody rattling your cage?
    Tell ‘em to fuck off.
    You have always based your opinion on what you have read and have creditted the source.We all do.You and I have differed in the past but thats because we have been educated.in baseball from different sources.My education comes more from listening to guys who I don’t even deserve to be in the same room with.Two differing sources,each with their own opinion.Even AA bases his opinion on information provided by others.

    As with DJF,you know how I feel.Your efforts to provide a clearing house of information from an eclectic and varied internet, to me at least, seems a hurculean task at times.
    We will continue to agree and disagree,but the respect is still there.
    Keep on doin what you’re doin.
    Fuck everybody else.

  10. A nice touch of humility. And good coverage, thanks.

  11. Thanks for all the hard work, Stote.

  12. Its the against the south side pricks tonights y’all!!

    AJ better keep his cleats down or Brett Lattimer is gonna claw his fuckin eyes out!!!!

    • I think I see what you’re going for, but you’re referencing the wrong killer. Robert Lattimer killed his severely disabled daughter and justified it on compassionate grounds. Probably best to use someone else for eye-clawing.

    • How do you spell Pszynki? Who the fuck cares right grooobah?

      • This is how you spell it:

        Frosted tipped hairdo, spiker extrodinaire, hated by even his own players(just ask Jake Peavey), and a Natural Born Prick.

        I want to see one of the Jays go em’ and teach him a north of the border lesson.

        Ballsdeep, lets plant the seed NOW. See you at Opera Bobs next years opening day.

  13. I personally have no problem with the Jays punting a few of the next few rounds if they believe in the guys they’ve drafted and WANT to sign, especially if they’re going for a ceiling vs volume type of strategy for the draft.

    Great work on the coverage, though Stoeten.

  14. I guess that picture is proof of what scouts mean when they say that a kid has a “projectable” body? Because, yeah, I guess Stroman the Younger has room to pack on some muscle….

  15. Bard sent to AAA.

    The Jays broke him!

  16. Hey Stoeten you’re last 5 paragraphs are kick ass and I commend you for that. Good stuff.

  17. One post that doesn’t go out of its way to shit on Jays fans that are harmless would be fantastic.

    Stick to shitting on the drunken tools fucking up the live game experience. Dumping on the internet GMs is lame and unproductive. We need more fans talking about the team even if they’re not spending 365 days a year reading a dozen other baseball sites.

  18. You’ve got Smoral as a “RHP”

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