Recipient of bad advice, Phil Bickford.
The 5:00 PM deadline for clubs to come to terms with the players selected in June’s Rule 4 draft has come and gone. Merry Fans Lose Their Shit Over Unsigned Draft Picksmas! Do we have another Young Beedah on our hands?
Yes we do! Jim Callis of Baseball America tweeted, just as the clock passed 5 PM, that Phil Bickford, the Jays first pick, and tenth overall, will be going to Cal State Fullerton.
However, as a consolation we have Jake Brentz, the big Missouri high school left-hander, who the Jays took in the eleventh round– and was number 80 on Baseball America’s top 500 list. He was reportedly not as close to coming to terms with the Jays as Rowdy Tellez, but less than ten minutes before the deadline Callis tweeted that he signed for $700,000.
A few moments later, the Tellez– a power hitting first baseman from California– signing was passed along by Callis as well. Another top 100 talent (59th on the BA list, to be specific), Tellez signed for $850,000, according to the tweet from Callis.
The Jays, of course, also get the 11th overall pick in next year’s draft as compensation.
They will also, of course, have their own pick, in what is shaping up to be a superior draft. If the season finished today, they would hold picks 11 and 14.
In a very, very early preview of the draft-eligible college pitching crop for 2014 (headlined by, yes, Young Beedah) at Scout.com, Kiley McDaniel writes that, while the college pitching depth is similar in each class, “what makes 2014 a superior overall draft class is the high ceiling prep talent.”
Chris Crawford of ESPN.com spoke to an NL scout who he quoted on June 17th as saying, “On paper, it’s a much better crop (than 2013). It’s not the strongest group of advanced bats again, but there’s so much more depth than there has been the past two years, particularly with the high school hitters and even more particularly up the middle. This year, other than J.P. Crawford, there isn’t one high school shortstop I would have taken in the first round. Next year, there’s about four or five that I’d consider. It’s all speculation, but I feel much more confident about getting a quality player this year than the last two.”
So… that really is a positive. And as upsetting as some fans find it that the club has to wait a year to get someone else into the system, think about it this way: the compensation pick for not signing Beede was used to take Marcus Stroman, who is already at Double-A and will likely have made his Major League debut before Beede is even drafted again next year. In other words, there are ways to mitigate the fucked up timeline that is the result in not signing a pick like this– especially when we’re talking about a prep arm who was going to need years of development time in the minors. I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be shocked if this sort of thinking factored into their decision to draft Bickford, to hold firm on their number– assuming that’s what really happened, though we still don’t know the details– and work out ways to use additional pool money to go after Brentz and Tellez.
If they got all three, great. If they missed on Bickford and got a pick in a deeper draft next year, great.
Maybe that’s too rosy a shine to put on the failure to add anything but three second round talents to the system here, but it’s simply not as big a failure as it seems, when you look at the bigger picture. Especially if you’re Alex Anthopoulos, who is less worried than most about his long-term job security, and less eager, perhaps, to make sure he gets a first rounder into the system so that he may soon be able to point to him as evidence of competence at his job.
And maybe the Jays got more than second round talent here anyway. (And maybe they got more than three, as in his review of draft for AL teams, Frankie Piliere of Perfect Game writes that the club’s third-rounder “Patrick Murphy was looking like one of the top arms in the country before having Tommy John surgery last spring. Getting Murphy at 83rd overall may end up looking like a steal in the future.”)
Clinton Hollon, as I’ve noted far too many times, was rated by Jason Churchill of ESPN.com as the nation’s top high school junior arm back in the spring of last year, while Perfect Game, at one point back around that time, had him as their top prospect for the 2013 draft. It was mostly, or at least partially, due to injury that he slipped to the Jays (and that he signed for just 40% of the slot bonus number for his pick).
In his 2013 draft profile at ESPN.com, Keith Law called Hollon “one of the bigger wild cards in this draft, as he’ll show first-round stuff at times but is wildly inconsistent and has missed time in the past with arm issues. He’s been up to 95 many times, though he has sat more 89-91 this year, showing off a plus curveball at 78-81 that has depth and some angle with an 11/5 break.”
Jacob “Jake” Brentz is no slouch himself, as in April, Perfect Game wrote, “We’ll put this in the most simple manner possible. Left handed pitcher Jake Brentz is one of the more unique prospects, with one of the most unique resumes, that has come across the high school baseball prospect scene in the last two decades.” They noted that they’d placed him eighth, at the time, among the 2013 class, ahead of seventh pick Trey Ball and fourteenth pick Reese McGuire.
“Brentz might have the best pure left-handed arm in the draft class, hitting the upper 90s this spring (97 to 100 depending on whom you ask) and pitching at 90-95 even in cold weather,” wrote Keith Law at ESPN.com, while noting that his curveball is a work in progress. Law added, “He’s a great arm-strength pick given his age, but he’s raw as a pitcher and probably needs more delivery help than you’d like to see on a first rounder.”
There are three glowing scouting reports, as well, if you check out Brentz’s profile at Perfect Game. And… uh… by listing Brentz at 45th on his top 100, Law ranked him ahead of Bickford by ten spots.
Rowdy Tellez gets his own share praise, as well, as I noted in the piece I wrote when Hollon signed.
“Tellez was well known to scouts as early as his freshman year and his power hitting resume has few flaws. A big and very strong 6-foot-4, 240-pound left handed hitter, Tellez, whose given name is Ryan, won the Rawlings Home Run Challenge at the 2012 Perfect Game National Showcase and stories of some of his most prodigious blasts are local legend in the Sacramento baseball community judging by local media reports,” said a Perfect Game profile I linked to.
“Big, strong, left-handed-hitting first basemen don’t come through the Draft all that often these days. Tellez fits that mold, and his ability to do damage with the bat was generating some buzz this spring. The Northern California area product has a good idea of what he’s doing at the plate. He hits the ball with authority to all fields and he should be able to hit for average. His power tool is even better, with an ability to hit the ball out anywhere, with plus-plus pop to the pull side. Tellez is a capable fielder at first base, but there’s no question what teams are looking at. It’s that bat and the team that covets his power from the left side the most will be the one to take him,” wrote MLB.com.
Astros blog Crawfish Boxes profiled him as well, suggesting he was someone that the club might be looking at taking with the first pick of the second round.
So… it’s certainly not like the Jays didn’t get talent here. They did, however, get a bunch of lottery tickets with a lot of upside and a long way to go before reaching their potential, which is actually par for the course, during the Anthopoulos era. Even without Bickford, given the compensation pick in the strong 2014 draft, you could maybe even make the case that they did pretty well here. Not a lot of commentators will, I suspect– shit, maybe even the Jays wouldn’t, given what happened with Bickford– so maybe that shows which team I cheer for, but… I don’t know. I don’t hate it.
Image via CalHiSports.com.