The pseudo-disaster that was last year’s Phil Bickford pick isn’t quite behind them yet, but the Jays took another big step on their way to getting their 2014 crop of draft picks locked up today, inking one slot-value deal and one double slot-value deal with their second- and fifth-rounders Sean Reid-Foley and Lane Thomas. And you’ll never believe which one got which!
That is, you’ll never believe it if you didn’t already know. Or if I didn’t give it away from how I phrased the second sentence of the previous paragraph.
Anyway… it’s Reid-Foley — the guy labelled a “steal” on many fronts — who got the slot-value deal. Jon Heyman tweeted the news this afternoon, announcing a bonus of $1.128-million.
I know this is a guy we’ve never seen pitch and don’t know a whole hell of a lot about, but — holy shit! — Reid-Foley was ranked the 18th best prospect in the draft by MLB.com, 20th by Baseball America, and 35th by ESPN. And the Jays took him at 49 and signed him for slot!??!?! That’s kind of amazing.
Now, Jeff Hoffman he is not. The profile of him at ESPN.com from Keith Law and/or Chris Crawford notes his lack of a third pitch — “he will occasionally throw a change, but there’s noticeable arm speed difference and it’s clear he’s not comfortable throwing it yet,” it’s explained — but suggests he’s got the floor of a high-leverage reliever and the ceiling of a number three starter, so that certainly isn’t bad. Especially when you remember how reluctant scouts are to put a “number one” tag on anybody. MLB.com, for what it’s worth, puts the same third-starter ceiling on him, but notes that he throws “four pitches for strikes,” so… that’s different.
Regardless, it ought to go without saying that it seems like a tremendous job for the Jays to have nabbed themselves a polished guy with first round talent for slot money at pick 49. And it turns out that those “savings” (the theoretical savings against what you’d have expected to pay him, that is) had a purpose. Not having to pay more to get SRF has allowed the club to make a bit of a reach — at least, if the industry consensus is to be believed — in signing fifth rounder Lane Thomas for twice what his pick was valued at. MLBTR explains:
The Blue Jays announced today that they’ve agreed to terms with fifth-round pick Lane Thomas, and MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets that Thomas will earn a hefty $750K bonus. That’s more than double the $343K value of Thomas’ No. 144 overall selection.
Thomas, a Tennessee commit, wasn’t ranked among MLB.com’s Top 200 draft prospects or the Top 100 of ESPN’s Keith Law, but Baseball America considered him the No. 172 prospect in this year’s draft class. BA praised the high school shortstop/center fielder’s athleticism, noting that many scouts believe he’s a true center fielder with plus speed once he’s underway. Others feel that his strong arm and athleticism will lend well to playing in the infield, per BA’s report. In his tweet, Callis noted that the Tennessee high schooler has solid “all-around tools.”
But don’t let the lower ranking get you too down, as Chris Crawford writes in his piece at ESPN.com about the teams who improved themselves the most in the draft, that “both Nick Wells and Lane Thomas have the talent to be among the best bats in their system.” Damning him with faint praise? Perhaps. But obviously the Jays like him plenty, and it’s not like the industry consensus is all knowing — I sure remember some furled brows at the time the Jays reached for Noah Syndergaard in the 2010 sandwich round. Which… well… which isn’t to say that every time a team shows it likes a player more than the industry does it means they must know something. But it isn’t to say that it doesn’t, either.
The Jays, per a team release, have also signed fourth-round prep catcher Matt Morgan, and eighth-round University of Florida pitcher Justin Shafer. Bluebird Banter has a handy table keeping track of the status of all the Jays’ picks, with respect to having signed or not (and the amount they’ve signed for), if you’re into that sort of thing.
Image via the Mayport (FL) Mirror. It’s really SRF! Signing his letter of intent to Florida State.