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In this guest post from Kyle Matte we look at which players the major mock drafts have linked the Jays to, how those players fit the patterns established by the drafts of the Anthopoulos era, and what to expect on Thursday night, as the Jays hold the ninth and eleventh picks in the MLB draft. Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleMatte, and stay tuned to DJF on Thursday night for our annual draft live blog!

In early May here at DJF, I looked back at the Toronto Blue Jays 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 drafts, attempting to identify a template or prototype for what this regime looks for in amateur pitchers and hitters. I won’t go into too much detail regarding the methodology (you can read all about it by checking out the article), but by combining scouting information and physical data from 80 notable prospects selected across the aforementioned drafts, a number of trends emerged for what Alex Anthopoulos and company covet most. By awarding points for meeting certain criteria, seven pitchers and five hitters widely considered to be in the top 60 overall emerged as the most suitable prospects – by my system, at least.

The regular seasons for both the high school and college ranks have reached their conclusions, though for many prospects, the baseball season carries on. College tournaments in the United States are well underway and will continue through June before culminating in the College World Series on June 25th, while high school prospects have been engaged in Showcase events that offer them one final opportunity to display their talent on a level playing field.

With that being said, barring serious injury, it’s unlikely that anything happening on the diamond over the last week or so has had a dramatic effect on any kind of ranking or perception by a front office. Teams have established their targets; most of what has been happening (and will continue to happen) leading up to Thursday night is extensive dialogue between organizations and player agents advisors. “We like your player. Slot for the ninth pick is 3 million. Will your client sign for 2.5?” The conversations are (likely) far more delicate and professional, but with the talent level established, signability becomes one of the biggest determining factors in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, outside of the occasional anonymous source, the general public is not privy to such exchanges, and furthermore, it’s probable that whatever number gets floated by advisors differs from team to team based upon client preference. The only way we might be able to gather the tone or flow of those conversations is through draft analysts and/or insiders who are presumably slotting players to teams in their mock drafts for a reason.

In this article, we’ll look at the most recent mock drafts published by Baseball America, MLB.com, MLB Draft Insider, Perfect Game, ESPN, and Scout.com to see who the experts are slotting to Toronto at 9 and 11. In most cases, these mocks will be their penultimate edition, as a final mock is usually released the morning or afternoon of the big day. We’ll conclude the article by looking at the twelve players I originally outlined to see where they presently stand in the eyes of the scouting community.

The Mocks:

Baseball America /John Manuel– June 1st
SS Trea Turner, RHP Jeff Hoffman

Baseball America has released four mock drafts thus far, and John Manuel has attached shortstop Trea Turner to the number nine pick in each of them. He notes that the Blue Jays are concerned Turner won’t be available, though nearly every mock draft I’ve seen believes otherwise. The number eleven pick has bounced between high school right hander Touki Toussaint and college pitcher Jeff Hoffman, as he feels Toronto will target upside with that selection.

MLB.com /Jim Callis – June 2nd
SS Trea Turner, RHP Jeff Hoffman

I’ve lost track of the exact number of mock drafts MLB.com has released between Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo (four, I think), but the recurring names are Turner, Hoffman, and Toussaint. The two analysts have moved the names around, but they’ve held firm on that trio since publishing their first mock draft almost a month ago.

MLB Draft Insider /Chris Crawford – June 3rd
SS Trea Turner, RHP Jeff Hoffman

We’re up to mock draft number seven from Chris Crawford, and after bouncing around names like Max Pentecost, Grant Holmes, Luke Weaver, Derek Fisher, and Nick Gordon in the early going, he seems to be settling in with the pack. He mentions taking Turner at 9 to protect against the Mets who appear interested in a college bat, and expresses confidence that Hoffman is the guy at eleven, should he be available.

Perfect Game /Patrick Ebert – June 4th
SS Trea Turner, RHP Jeff Hoffman

In earlier versions of the Perfect Game mock, Ebert and friends attached Bradley Zimmer and Sean Newcomb to the Blue Jays — two seemingly low-upside, “safe” college picks — not exactly fitting the Blue Jays typical strategy. In the final edition they joined with the masses, placing Turner and Hoffman to Toronto while also noting that Toussaint is the third name most prominently linked to the club.

ESPN /Keith Law – June 3rd
RHP Touki Toussaint, RHP Jeff Hoffman

Keith Law has published three mock drafts at the time of this writing, and in all three versions he has the Blue Jays taking Toussaint at 9, and Hoffman at 11. While he’s mentioned other names in his comments, these appear to be the guys for Keith, though he specifically mentioned no names are locked in at this point. In the latest mock, he opines that in selecting Hoffman eleventh, they should offer him half of the roughly 2.9 million dollar slot as the right hander has no leverage to speak of – something I’ll touch on later.

Scout.com /Kiley McDaniel – May 30th
SS Trea Turner, RHP Touki Toussaint

Scout.com’s Kiley McDaniel has released two mock drafts, both having Turner at nine, and a high school pitcher at eleven. In the first, the pitcher was right hander Grant Holmes, and in the second, it’s Touki. McDaniel goes as far as to suggest that Toronto has already agreed to a deal with Toussaint at eleventh overall. While commonplace, such an agreement is against the rules, and the team supposedly had Tyler Beede verbally agree to a similar deal in 2011, and we all know how that worked out. The Blue Jays have been frequently linked to Touki, so it’s definitely an interesting thought and perhaps one that carries merit.

It doesn’t take a detective to notice that less than a day before the draft, three names appear with regularity across the different outlets; Touki Toussaint, Jeff Hoffman, and Trea Turner. Each of these three has traits working in their favor, while also having negatives holding them back. That’s likely true for just about every prospect, but the pros and cons with these three are notable and in some cases ascend beyond stuff or shear talent level. For this reason, we’ll delve into more detail below.

The Prospects:

Touki Toussaint

(Video via Nick Faleris of BaseballProspectus.com)

Helium is the term used to describe a player whose stock is surging during their draft season. That describes Touki to a tee. He first started to break out last summer, and since the spring began, Touki has continued to rear back and touch the mid to high 90’s with what Baseball America describes as elite arm action. Toussaint combines his deadly fastball with an absurd curveball. TrackMan, which tracks pitch characteristics, identified Touki’s hammer curve as having the highest spin rotation of any Perfect Game All-American prospect — i.e. the best of the best high schoolers in the United States. High spin rotation leads to sharper, tighter break, which in turn leads to more swings and misses. In fact, Baseball America classified it as the best breaking ball of any high school pitcher in this draft class. Toussaint is able to do this because of his massive hands (and long fingers) — aspects of his game that you obviously can’t teach. And it doesn’t end there: I haven’t even mentioned his rapidly improving changeup — which Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus explains has taken a massive step forward as his third pitch – or the fact he’s still just 17.

After reading the above, you might be wondering how the hell a prospect like that might be available when Toronto picks at 9 and 11; it’s because he’s rawer than sashimi. Toussaint was born in Haiti and grew up playing soccer, not baseball. He’s only been pitching a few years now, and unsurprisingly, his mechanics are sloppy and he has major issues with repeatability. When you watch videos of the kid, it feels like you’re looking at a potential J2 signee, not a pitcher about to be selected in the Rule 4. With poor mechanics comes shaky control and a whole lot of risk. With Toussaint, you’re probably looking at two years of short season ball before a full season debut in Low-A in 2016. A pick like Touki is an investment; one that will require a lot of patience. Still, given the wave of arm injuries to hit baseball – likely due to kids throwing year round, non-stop, since they got out of diapers – it’s refreshing to know there is not nearly as much wear and tear on his arm as many of his peers.

Jeff Hoffman

(Video via Nick Faleris of BaseballProspectus.com)

Entering the 2014 season, Carlos Rodon was the clear-cut number one prospect, but Jeff Hoffman was closing the gap quickly. You may have heard this development scoffed at a bit by the guys on the Fringe Average podcast, but Frankie Pilliere of Perfect Game went so far as to proclaim Hoffman the draft’s top prospect when no one else would, and given his extensive scouting background, it’s doubtful he was doing this merely to stir up controversy. It likely had far more to do with a fastball that Baseball America described as evoking thoughts of Justin Verlander, as well as two potentially plus secondary pitches in his changeup and curveball. And all of this in an athletic and projectable 6-foot-4 body, no less!

Unfortunately, in mid-April it was announced that Hoffman had a tear in his UCL and would require Tommy John surgery, decimating his draft stock. Without the injury, Hoffman was a lock to be in the top four and cut a deal exceeding 4 million in value. Now, I’m doubtful he’ll see half of that. Some have compared this situation to that of Lucas Giolito in 2012. The difference is that Hoffman is a college junior, not a high schooler. Hoff has just one year of college eligibility left, and even if he were to forgo entering the pros and return for his final season, he wouldn’t see a mound until late April and would have just a few weeks to prove his worth before the 2015 draft – in which he’d be a senior with nowhere to go. In other words, the guy has no leverage. However, to put it bluntly, Hoffman will be drafted in the first round by a team with some balls, and I’d wager he signs if offered a reasonable seven figure deal. Like Toussaint, there’s a ton of risk here (albeit for vastly different reasons), but there’s a plethora of value to be had if Hoffman can rebound to his pre-surgery form.

Trea Turner

(Video via BaseballAmerica.com)

Between Twitter and various comments section, I’ve probably stated this fact a dozen times by now: since Alex Anthopoulos became general manager, the highest bonus the Blue Jays have ever given to a college position player is the 250 thousand dollars handed to Andy Burns in 2011. It just doesn’t happen. Yet here we are, with five of the six mock drafts making the Turner-Toronto connection. Without a doubt there’s a dearth of up-the-middle infield depth in the Jays’ upper minors, and Jose Reyes’ hammies aren’t getting any younger, so perhaps the analysts are envisioning a positional and timeline fit. A 2016 infield that has Turner at short with Reyes moving over to second sounds great, but drafting for need rarely works out in baseball, and it makes less sense than usual given the pitching-heavy lean at the top of this draft. Say it with me folks: Best. Player. Available.

I don’t question that Turner is a very good prospect, as he’s a true shortstop that can stick at the position and has top of the charts speed (he stole 57 bases in 63 games in 2012 before an ankle injury slowed him down last year). However, there are questions about his offensive game. While they rank him as the college ranks’ best athlete and runner, Baseball America indicates that there’s a general consensus among scouts that despite a .342/.435/.507 slash line in 173 career college games, Turner is more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter at the highest level. Nick Faleris of Baseball Prospectus concurs, indicating his swing is long and sweepy and that the shortstop will likely require some sort of overhaul to his approach (). Even with the speed, that’s a hard profile to get overly excited about at the top of the first round.

The Archetypes:

The table below contains the twelve prospects I outlined in my original draft article as those who best fit what the Blue Jays seem to desire. I’ve included their ranks on the draft boards at each of the six major draft websites, as well as the average ranking, highest ranking, lowest ranking, and spread (the difference between highest and lowest, indicating possible consensus or disagreement).

Average

BA

MLB.com

ESPN

MLB Draft
Insider

Scout.com

PG/BP

High

Low

Spread

LHP Brady Aiken

1.0

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

C/OF Alex Jackson

4.8

4

4

5

5

3

7

3

7

4

RHP Grant Holmes

9.8

16

11

6

6

11

8

6

16

10

RHP Touki Toussaint

12.3

12

8

13

10

13

18

8

18

10

CF Derek Hill

18.2

22

20

11

11

19

26

11

26

15

SS Jacob Gatewood

25.0

21

22

23

17

54

21

17

54

37

CF Marcus Wilson

36.2

44

35

41

29

41

40

29

44

15

RHP Michael Kopech

40.5

37

41

40

39

42

48

37

48

11

SS Ti’quan Forbes

43.3

46

50

41

36

29

60

29

60

31

RHP Zech Lemond

56.7

78

58

36

46

47

61

36

78

42

RHP Dylan Cease

65.7

77

76

48

54

79

64

48

79

31

RHP Garrett Fulenchek

69.8

54

57

78

69

110

 52

52

110

58

*Rankings are the most recent published as of Wednesday evening

Aiken remains the prize stallion that unfortunately will not be falling to the ninth pick; every outlet has him as their number one prospect. Alex Jackson, the catcher-but-likely-outfielder, is spotted as high as third and as low as seventh. There are even more frequent rumors tying him to the Marlins at second overall, so he’s all but out of the picture, too. The Holmes-Toussaint split remains in favor of the former at 4 to 2, and it’s looking more and more like the range for both is between the Phillies at #7 and the Nationals at #18. Centerfielder Derek Hill has made a late charge up draft boards – most notably on Keith Law and Chris Crawford’s, which rank him 11th. MLB.com originally placed him just 64th, but with their jump to 20th it looks to be a consensus lock he’ll be a mid-first round pick. If the Blue Jays really like him, it’s highly doubtful he’s there in the second round. The same can be said with Jacob Gatewood, though he’s been surging in the wrong direction as of late. At this point he would be a definite reach at 11, but if they’ve fallen in love with the power they might have to bite the bullet, as he’ll be long gone by the 49th pick. Both position players would have to be considered potential under-slot signs should Toronto select them in the upper third of the first. The latter six names on the table above should all be considered in play for the second round. Wilson and Forbes have seen a late push into the back half of the first round in numerous mocks, while Cease and Lemond have fallen back for the most part due to injury concerns. If he’s there, I still think Kopech is the guy in the second round; the archetype fits him like a glove.

That said, this process was never meant to be a prediction of who the Blue Jays will select. It was merely an attempt to gain at least some level of insight into the possible thinking of the inner brain-trust at 1 Blue Jays Way. For anyone to claim that they know with any level of confidence who a team is drafting any more than 20 minutes before the selection is announced is a bit of an exercise in absurdity. The player the team really loves could be stolen earlier than expected, or a player they liked but never realistically considered because he was ranked too highly could fall into their laps. The moment the Houston Astros make their selection, the draft board of every organization in the top ten becomes fluid. It’s going to be a hell of a ride tonight, so sit down, buckle up, and get ready to hear Bud Selig horribly mispronounce names while looking like someone just kidnapped him out of a 1970’s retirement home. Giddy up!

Comments (51)

  1. The Blue Jays are going to troll everyone and take someone completely different, aren’t they?

  2. Great job Kyle!

    I can’t see them letting Hoffman get past them. Even with TJ, he’s not far from the majors and he has no leverage.

  3. Why don’t we just draft bickford and beede.? Teach them not to walk away.

    • Apparently that’s fine with Beede. He’s signed a “re-consent” form which allows just that.

      “Anthopoulos confirmed last week that Beede signed the re-consent card that allows him to be re-drafted by the Jays. “If he’s there for us and we have him lined up accordingly, we would (draft him).”

      Toronto Star

      • Jeff Blair just had some scout guy on to talk about the draft. He mention those two. Apparently Beede has gone through 5 agents in two years so it would seem that he has some issues. With regard to Bickford, he said it looked like the Jays saw something in the medicals after the draft that they didn’t like.

        The scout guy said it looked like the Jays would take 2 of the 3 names everyone is mentioning.

        5 agents in 2 years!!! If I were the jays, I’d draft him in the later rounds and offer him $1.00 as a signing bonus. Like they did with that guy from Newmarket.

  4. We cant draft bickford you lion tamer

  5. No Touki Toissant. He reminds me of a Nuke Lalooshe.

  6. Definitely scared of that touki kid now. Dont want to have anything to do with him. Rish is beyond huuggeee for a guy like that. The other 2 are much better picks and the hoffman guy is great value considering his prior form and the success rate of tj surgery.

    • You can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket.

    • I read that second sentence and in my mind it sounded like “Rish is beyond Hug-y”…. which was confusing. I thought maybe it was some term the kids were using these days and that I’m getting too old and out of touch.

    • Have confidence in your ability to develop. Draft Touki.

      • That makes sense, but it seems to be that the greatest weakness of the current Blue Jays regime is its ability to develop players. I can understand shying away from guys who are 5 years from the bigs.

        • Not so sure I agree with that. Every team has its hits and misses, and considering we take more risk than most, the development of guys like Stroman, Sanchez (a work in progress, but still), Norris, Syndergaard, Osuna, DeSclafani, Nicolino, and Gose (hasn’t hit his ceiling, but his bat was significantly worse when we acquired him) among others is a pretty huge feather in the cap of this front office.

          • I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree – as much as I’m not a Farrell fan, that’s also what he pointed out. While Syndergaard was excellent here, he became an elite prospect once he left. Osuna looks good, but he was good from the start – that’s not development. The Jays haven’t developed a hitting prospect since Lind/Hill. Gose wasn’t drafted by the Jays, although I guess that points out the problem with this analysis – how much credit goes to the team who drafted a player, how much to the team that trades for him, etc.

            I mean, if the other side of the coin is to draft a SS who’s going to hit .240/.290/.400, then yeah, swing for the fences with Toussaint. I suppose I’d be more worried about their ability to develop a hitter with a similar profile as Toussaint, as you mention, they’re solid with the pitchers.

            • Oh nonsense.

              • Which part? That the Jays are below average at developing players?

                • Well at least your narrow-focused “analysis” or evaluation of their developmental abilities. Pretty sure you would need to compare across organizations to have any sense.

                  • Yeah, of course. I mean, I acknowledged that they’re better with pitchers. I’m not going to compare all 30 teams at development in the comments here (although you certainly see other posts suggesting the same across the internet).

                    Anyways, I’m happy to discuss, disagree, be convinced that I’m wrong, and I thought that ‘oh nonsense’ was a bit much. I’m stressed about other life events right now and over sensitive though.

  7. Touki and Hoffman sounds like a pretty good haul to me… But check back with me in like 5 years and then I’ll tell you if I was right.

    • That’s exactly the right attitude. What will be awesome today is when the Jays make their two picks, the comments and the Twitter are going to blow up immediately with rage about taking some kid that the poster hadn’t even heard about three weeks ago.

      My personal preference is that they take HS position players (if they’re drafting position players), but I’m ok I think with your picks too. You can never draft too many arms…

  8. Just personal preference, but I’d love to see the Jays draft Aaron Nola if he falls to them.

  9. I’m ready to make a judgement based on three you tube clips.

    I like Touki and Hoffman. Its always pitching for me. You can find a shortstop who struggles to hit at the major leagues elsewhere.

  10. The final BA mock has them taking Pentecost at 9.

  11. Max Pentecost sounds like an interesting player to follow. He is an athletic catcher with a professional hit tool who it is reported the Jays have sent a lot of scouts to watch.
    He is the best catcher in the draft and polished hitter. While not the typical up the middle positional player the Jays have targeted recently he does project to stay at catcher which is a premium position.
    Of course none of us has any real idea of who these players are or who the Jays are seriously looking at.

  12. Toussiant & Hoffman (and sign them both) would be amazing!!! In my view, they are without a question 2 of the top 5 guys in this draft.
    Hoffman will be a stud.
    Toussiant needs a pitching guru to work on his mechanics, but his scouting report at 17 is almost identical to one I read about Yordano Ventura when he was 19…

  13. Check out the difference in lower body mechanics between Toussaint and Hoffman. Toussaint hits mid 90s almost without using his legs. There is almost no drive towards the plate. I don’t know much about biomechanics, but you have to imagine there is more in that arm if he started using his whole body.

  14. Why don’t they just draft another Mike Trout. and David Price.

    God its not that hard.

  15. Anybody know where we can watch this draft if we don’t have mlb network?

  16. I’m wondering how serious is the “inverted W” in Hoffman’s delivery. First off, am I correct that he has one (or had one before his TJ) and secondly, is it a prevalent opinion among scouts that it leads to injury problems?
    He may never get to MLB for that matter.

  17. Touki’s curve: it looks like the ball’s going to be about 10 feet higher than where it ends up.

  18. Hoffman sounds like a good “buy low option” anyway.

    Hell, his lack of leverage combined with the insane (and probably bullshit) comments about not spending the entire draft budget, might lineup to indicate some real hardball negotiating right there to free up money to throw at late round picks with signability issues.

    Fuck I don’t know. I trust this group to not do anything too stupid.

  19. Can we all just agree, that we’ll all freak out after the draft?

    • Nah, lets get an early start.

      I can’t fucking believe they let Grant fucking Holmes go by after he fell to them. What a bunch of morons. This is Trout all over again.

  20. Ugh. Anyone else have the misfortune of watching Zaun analyzing why Toronto seems to have been the only team to not have drafted Mike Trout, Michael Wacha, etc.?

  21. Touki just wants to burn this muthafucka down

  22. My sources are telling me Jays pick RHP Nick Howard.

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