It’s here! It’s here! It’s the day where we all lose our shit about a bunch of high school and college players we’ve never seen or– in most cases– heard of! It’s draft day! And in a crapshoot of crapshoots, it’s through the prism of the many dedicated gurus out there that we can try to give ourselves a sense of which potential picks to be fucking elated about when our team selects them, and which to furiously bemoan. Which ones to scream about them passing on, or being plucked out from under our noses. And, most importantly, which ones might be the next Dirk Hayhurst, pumping up their draft credentials by intentionally pitching to impress and confuse scouts, rather than to be successful (as he explained in a fascinating post on his personal blog this week).
So let’s see what they’re saying!
Keith Law has his final mock draft up today at ESPN.com, and in it he has the Jays taking California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford. He gives us a couple other names as possibilities, while noting specifically that he doesn’t think they’re leaning towards Georgia high school outfielders, Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, who we focused on earlier in the week, and in our first look at the Jays’ possibilities, back in mid-May.
Perhaps more interestingly, Law says that he’s “heard one rumor they’d take Bickford and tell him to take less money or go to school,” who earlier in the piece he said “put out such a huge bonus demand this week that some teams are scared off.”
That would be Phil Bickford, a California prep right-hander who in his scouting report at ESPN.com, Law calls a “high-upside, high-risk prep right-hander who has velocity and projectability but is a long way away from being a major league starting pitcher.” He was ranked 55th on Law’s top 100 draft prospects last month.
Law also believes that Washington state prep catcher Reese McGuire won’t get to the Jays, and that also seems to be what we see in the final mock draft from Jim Callis at Baseball America. He has McGuire going to the Pirates for the third straight mock, with the Jays selecting Austin Meadows– who he figures will be the best on their board at that point.
“Toronto will take a high-ceiling talent. I believe the Jays’ pecking order is Stewart or Frazier, followed by Meadows, Ball, McGuire and California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford.”
Crawford, Meadows, Ball, McGuire and Phil Bickford were briefly profiled in a great piece from Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star today, with Crawford being called a “defence-first prospect” for the time being, with a raw hit tool that scouts still believe can be an “impact player.”
Bickford, on the other hand, who John Sickels of Minor League Ball has as the eleventh best pitcher in the class, “has rocketed up mock draft charts with his strong play of late, including striking out 17 batters last weekend. He is considered a high-risk pick since his skills remain so raw and he has yet to develop a decent breaking ball. But he can already throw a fastball in the mid-90s and some scouts believe he’s just getting started.”
John Lott of the National Post explains, of the coverage of the Jays’ intentions, that “their alleged priorities are high-school players, including Indiana lefty Trey Ball, Washington catcher Reese McGuire and California shortstop J.P. Crawford. Some pundits also believe at least one of two highly publicized Georgia sluggers, Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, might also be available at No. 10.”
For Sickels, Meadows and Frazier– who, again, Law says the Jays are not on– rank as numbers two and three among his top 50 position players eligible.
Meadows, I explained in a previous draft-related piece, is a player “who Chris Crawford (@ChrisCrawfordV) ofMLB Draft Insider and ESPN’s draft blog called in the first edition of his 2013 Draftbook (published in January) ‘a potential cornerstone player for a franchise even if he has to move to a corner outfield position professionally’.”
As for Frazier, Crawford called him “an everyday outfielder who has the chance to make an all-star team or two.”
John Sickels’ latest mock has the Jays taking the one other player it seems they’re being linked to, two-way Indiana high school prospect Trey Ball. “I’ve been slotting Ball to the Jays for a couple of months now and he still fits here,” he says.
Ball is “a logical choice,” Sickels said in a previous mock, because of his “combination of upside, athleticism, and youth, plus Toronto’s usual orientation towards those qualities in the draft.” Similarly, Law said in his first mock that he “to be opportunistic on any player who was supposed to go higher than this and falls.”
So… that leaves us with this group to focus on the most, all of whom are high schoolers, and all of whom appear among the top 25 prospects listed at Baseball Prospectus.
Reese McGuire, who may not get to the Jays, but who would be intriguing to them, as BP calls him “an elite defender behind the plate,” and– contrary to other reports we’ve heard, like the ones I noted on May 17th– “also a high level hitting prospect.”
Clint Frazier, an outfielder who BP says “has responded to the scouting pressures with another incredible season and was hitting over .500 with 13 home runs as of this writing,” and “has the best raw bat speed in the draft.
Austin Meadows, who BP explains “has been overshadowed by Frazier in terms of overall performance and a knack for the spectacular this spring, he has by no means had a disappointing spring,” and can been seen as “a future middle of the order centerfielder on a winning team.”
Trey Ball, who BP tells us is “a very talented athlete that excels both on the mound as a left handed pitcher and as a fleet-footed center fielder with intriguing power potential, it is his left arm that carries the most weight at the professional level. His fastball routinely tops out around 92-93, and sits comfortably in the 88-91 range with obvious projection in his 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame that should lead to increased, more sustained velocity over the next 2-3 years.”
J.P. Crawford, who for BP is “the biggest impact prospect at the shortstop position,” and “has the physical potential to develop into a legitimate five-tool player, though there are a lot of question marks to answer before doing so.”
And Phil Bickford, who BP explains has “seen a meteoric rise this spring. Having run his fastball as high as 97 mph, Bickford typically works in the 91-94 range comfortably, and the combination of arm speed and size makes him very intruiging.”
Obviously we have no idea if this is actually the group the Jays will be selecting from, but if they are, you’ve got to feel pretty OK about what the club is going to do with the tenth overall pick. Even though… y’know… we don’t really know anything.
The draft starts at 7 PM ET and can be seen in Canada on Sportsnet One, or on a live stream via MLB.com. Let’s do this!
Image via MLB.com.