There are all kinds of interesting reactions to last night’s selections by the Jays of prep arms Phil Bickford and Clinton Hollon with the tenth and forty-seventh picks in the 2013 Rule 4 draft respectively, but since I’m lazy and spent way too much time digesting today’s roster moves, let’s just focus on what all Keith Law, who was a fan of neither pick, had to say.

Eschewing the concept of “winners” and “losers” that just doesn’t make sense given the vast uncertainty surrounding all things to do with the draft and how far off we are from realistically being able to call anything a losing pick, Law posted a piece in the early morning hours revealing his “Winners and questions” at ESPN.com (Insider Only). The Jays were one of the questions.

Law has been clear all along about his issues with Bickford and his lack of secondary stuff, as I noted in yesterday’s Draft Day Primer post. He takes issue with the selection of second rounder, Kentucky high schooler Clinton Hollon, as well, explaining that he “has first-round stuff but not command or control and has had arm trouble that wiped out most of last summer.”

Perhaps even more troubling, in the “Winners and questions” post, Law tells us that “both kids also earned negative makeup comments from scouts with whom I spoke.” So… perhaps they took a deep look into Clinton Hollon’s (apparent) Twitter feed. Ugh.

That said, it’s not all bad. As I noted yesterday, Law’s colleague Jason Churchill had Hollon, last year, prior to the injury, rated as the top junior arm in the nation. And as for Law himself, he offered a glimmer of hope on Bickford in the pre-draft chat he had with readers yesterday at ESPN.com.

Steve (California)
Craziest rumor you are hearing right now?
Nothing I haven’t posted – Dominic Smith to Colorado was one, Phil Bickford to Toronto or Seattle was another. Bickford is an odd one, because some scouts adore him, and others want no part of him because he doesn’t have a present average breaking ball.

So, at least the Jays aren’t entirely on an island with this one. And, in fact, as I noted in yesterday’s primer, Baseball Prospectus had him at 17th on their board, compared to Law’s ranking of 55th.

Here are some other highlights from yesterday’s chat:

Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown, MA)
Any idea on Bickford’s asking price?
I won’t repeat the number I heard, in case it’s inaccurate. It’s large.

Jay (Gilbert, AZ)
Why are scouts/analysts so split over Bickford? Is the lack of quality secondary pitches? Is that somewhat normal for prep pitchers?
He has a 40 breaking ball right now. How many big league RH starters are there who operate with no better than a fringe-average breaking ball?

Finally, here the Jays-related tidbits from today’s KLawchat, looking back at last night, and also at some of the picks that were made on Friday, as the draft continued on…

Mike (Toronto)
What do you think the Jays are thinking with this draft? drafting a hard sign and reach on first two picks and now a TJ guy?
I believe the two overdrafts were to pay Bickford at 10.

Derrick (Toronto)
Are the Bickford-AJ Burnett comparisons even close?
No. Those comparisons on the broadcast last night made little sense to me.

Tom (Phoenix)
What are your thoughts on teams (like the Blue Jays you mentioned earlier) overdrafting certain players in order to go over slot on certain players?
I like the strategy – just not for Bickford in particular.

Comments (31)

  1. ~//•_•\\~


  2. It is a high school kids twitter feed…. wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    • Agreed.

    • We didnt have twitter in the day…. imagine if we did…ya

      • Worse would have been all the cameras in the phones.
        I did “the tuck” through a party in highschool.
        That wouldn’t go away.

        • thank god no internet when I was in high school.. Only alcohol can make me forget the cut-off jean shorts and 70′s style stache I rocked when in high school

  3. Anybody else have a hard time believing Klaw is ever objective toward the jays? Always seems so bitter. I respect his knowledge, but not sure I have ever heard him say one thing positive about the Jays.

    • That’s some pretty laughable selective memory, then.

    • He does. He always loved sanchez. I like klaw but he is wrong quite a bit also.

      • You mean like everybody? STOP THE PRESSES!

        • No, its just that he is sometimes represented on this blog as a baseball scouting god. Hence, the title of this thread.

          • Law praises Jays guys a lot too. He’s pretty negative in general (he’ll rip holes into a guy and then rank him as a top 10 prospect).

            He’s wrong a lot (like everyone else), but he gives you an honest breakdown of a guy which is rare for a talking head. Most commentators just talk up prospects.

            And he’s not wrong when he says that Bickford has a projection-able body and plus fastball without a breaking ball at this point. If the Jays can teach him one and he becomes Sanchez 2.0 that doesn’t make Law wrong that Bickford doesn’t have the same quality of breaking pitch that other prospects still on the board have. I’ll go for high ceiling complete flameout picks before Riccardi style high floor guys.

            The makeup comment is the only one that concerns me a bit. But more than a few douche bags have been really good at sports. As long as makeup concerns doesn’t mean lazy I don’t really care.

          • Point, keyboard masher

  4. The real question is how long until the Jays draft a position player?

  5. I guess it doesn’t matter a lot if the 4-10 round pitching picks are signability ones, but I hope there is some more balance coming.

  6. It’s a crap shoot. These are kids. Who cares?

  7. Oliver to possibly come back for the road trip starting next week rehab today in buffalo by the way. WHo is the odd man out when he goes back? The jays website jays santos is one the 60 dl WTF???

    Really though is it between juan perez/wagner on who goes back to buffalo?

  8. Is a fringe average breaking ball normal for a 17 year old? Or should he be a lot more developed at this point?

    Seems like something that can be taught if the raw talent is there.

    Not being a homer or saying it will happen. Just spitballing.

    • I would suggest teaching someone a breaking ball is quite a bit easier than teaching someone to throw 97

    • Especially if he held off even trying to throw one until his was 15 or 16 which isn’t unheard of.

    • A lot of coaches suggest that young pitchers should postpone learning a breaking ball as long as possible, to reduce stress on their arm. So no, it’s not unheard of that a young pitcher doesn’t have a breaking ball.

      With that said, the breaking ball tends to be the pitch that makes or breaks a pitcher, as you’ll notice a certain Henderson Alvarez couldn’t get anybody out because he lacked one. So this goes both ways here.

      • Good point. I remember hearing an interview with Dr. James Andrews who said he doesn’t think kids should be throwing breaking balls at all until they are finished growing. I think it was something about tendons being the slowest growing parts.

  9. So who exactly do the Jays plan on filling the lower levels of their system with, position player wise, given the nine consecutive pitchers they’ve taken to start this draft? Cannon fodder?

  10. Ugh. Again. What HSer has a 70 breaking ball and what team wants that baggage on the arm? Breaking stuff way easier to teach and get a feel for than teach speed. It’s not like he is pitching in the big leagues next year with a 40 BB – he isn’t even 18 yet!? Law wants a HSer that is fully developed?

  11. The only concern with the breaking ball thing is that apparently a curveball is something that is either in the wrist or isn’t. So if* Bickford has been trying to throw a curveball but can’t really do it then that is a concern, but there is certainly a possibility that with better teaching it could be in there.

    Mostly though who the f cares. It’s not like Bickford was Hayden Simpson-esque bad. The jays obviously would have scouted him a lot and like him more than the consensus. Maybe they’re wrong, maybe they’re right. It will be several years before anybody knows.

  12. All I need to know is if Bickford can drop a rhyme like Tyler Beede.

  13. he’s a fucking high schooler throwin 97!>??!?!?!! why the fuck would he care about a curve ball at this point? Believe it or not, pitchers can develop pitches later in their ‘career’…

  14. I wonder what his fastball would rank on the scouting scale. I’m of the mind that when you draft high schoolers, you know you’re getting a long term project. If you’re trying to build an elite calibre starter, well most of them sport plus fastballs. Being able to pitch inside the zone and get whiffs with the fastball is a huge, huge plus and solves a lot of problems. Assuming the jays first order of business will be to teach him a changeup and if the kid takes to it at all you basically have another syndergaard on your hands, who even klaw would concede is a top 100 prospect and eventually was part of a package that netted the jays a supposed top end veteran pitcher. Another prospect bickford might be comparable to is a high school aged kevin gausman. I’d be interested to see where his secondaries were at the same age. Definitely like the upside, project picks rather than the chad jenkins/deck mcguire strategy

  15. Andrew, you’re such a fat hipster hog.

    So cool and so tough, at least at a keyboard.

  16. My only issue with this pick is that they probably could have taken someone else in the first round and bickford could of fallen to them at 47th. Would have been a gamble but then again 90% of these players will never be nothing more then fringe major leaguers anyways. I don’t put much weight in the consensus picks as history shows you can’t forecast what these guys will turn out to be. It’s a complete crapshoot. And if he won’t sign then that’s two first rounders next year so that’s a plus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *