As we’ve already discussed, the Toronto Blue Jays began the 2011 first year player’s draft by selecting five players out of high school, all with signability issues, indicating the team’s willingness to spend a lot of money at this year’s draft. That trend has continued this afternoon, with the team’s first pick of the second round, where they selected left handed pitcher Daniel Norris from Science Hill High School in Tennessee.

According to ESPN:

He’ll show 93-96 early in outings but hasn’t held that velocity, sitting more 88-92 by the third inning, with a sharp but long mid-80s slider up to 88, a big low-70s curveball with tight rotation, and good feel for a 75-78 mph changeup. Norris lands on line but because he starts on the third base of the rubber he comes slightly across his body. His delivery is a little unusual, with only a cursory leg kick but a big shoulder tilt, and so much arm acceleration that on some pitches his landing foot will fly off the ground.

Not bad for a 74th overall pick. Norris was pegged by many as the best left handed high school pitcher in the draft, but it’s likely going to cost somewhere around a $3.9 million signing bonus to keep him from fulfilling his commitment to Clemson University.

The Blue Jays strategy for this draft is becoming clearer and clearer, and it’s hard to believe that they’d willingly make the selections they’re making without the financial ability to spend a lot of money. I made the comparison earlier today to the $16.5 million that the Detroit Tigers spent on Joaquin Benoit this offseason. The way things are going, the Blue Jays could topple that figure in bonuses.

We use the phrase “market inefficiency” a lot in baseball to describe taking advantage of the system to improve your team, and if Toronto is willing to spend as much as I think they’re willing to spend, this is exactly what the Blue Jays are exploiting to seriously put themselves in the running for one of the best systems in baseball.

Comments (38)

  1. Thanks Vernon Wells, you continue to give to this franchise even more now that your gone!

  2. Best picture ever.

  3. Agreed. With the possibility of next years draft having hard slot in place, why not spend big time last year and this year. Won’t have to do it again.

  4. Let’s save a few words of thanks for Alex Rios too. Christ, how nice is it not to have that anchor around the team’s neck (and that’s not even considering what a brutal season he’s having).

  5. Word is AA is spearheading a post-draft celebratory key party out by the moon tower. Y’all should come.

  6. The thanks really should be given to Kenny Williams of the Chi Sox for taking Rios off of waivers and to Beeston for having the last word and telling JP Riccardi to let him go.

  7. @Gruber’s Mullet: Of course, you’re right. But since someone had thanked VW, I thought it only fair to thank Rios in the same fashion. Thanks should really go too Williams and Reagins.

  8. After the draft, AA, will be driving to Houston to buy Aerosmith tickets. Number one priority of the summer.

  9. Holy shit, we could probably do this all day.

  10. Jays also drafted Jeremy Gabryszwski. I think this was done strictly to reward fans for their dedication in learning how to spell “Rzepczynski”.

  11. Get your maple boners ready. The Jays drafted Thomas Robson.

  12. And a college pitcher with a torn labrum….ouch!

    So far a very risky portfolio of prospects. All high schoolers and one injured college pitcher. They must think that their current portfolio of prospects in the system are not risky enough, which is probably accurate considering the Jays historical preference for college players.

  13. JRock:

    Without the injury, it sounds like he was a 1st-round talent. So while it makes it a riskier pick, it definitely still fits with the upside philosophy.

  14. Spiggy:

    I agree. Injuries often scare teams off, so there can be good value found there, e.g., Eric Thames. And with our huge scouting staff, I have faith that AA and his team did their homework on him.

    I was just pointing out that the Jays seem to have taken a more risky approach to the draft this year. IMO this is a good thing because our system is already stocked with a lot of college talent from earlier drafts.

  15. AA: “Can you throw a slider man?”

    Norris: “Nope”

    AA: “It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”

  16. This is why it just baffles me when fans at the Dome boo Rios when he comes up to bat for the White Sox…we should be applauding Chicago for taking him off of our hands and now opening up the door to all of these fancy schmancy draft picks. It will be completely and utterly confounding when the same happens for ole Verny when the Angels come to town.

  17. @Sonya I don’t think Wells will receive the same response. Despite his struggles, Wells was well liked, seemingly down to earth and looked legitimately frustrated with his inability to live up to a ridiculous contract.

    Rios on the other hand was quite the opposite, with his ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ moment arriving in that YouTube clip where he refused to sign an autograph for a kid outside of the R.O.M.

  18. I am curious. Will the Jays have enough spots on their Rookie ball team(s?) for all of these high school pitchers we’re stocking up on?

    Also, it makes a lot of sense targeting high school guys with signability issues because if you don’t sign them you could just pick a college player in the draft the next year with the additional pick you get (no lost development time in the organization).

  19. @ mr. wenn

    LOL! . . . “It’d be a lot cooler if you did . . .” LOL!

  20. “Signability issues” exist to a much lesser extent in this draft than previous drafts with the rumored implementation of the scale system. There may no longer be a financial upside to going to university, and for many of these guys even a considerable improvement in draft position might not result in a higher signing bonus in 3 years. “Signability” should be a non-issue.

  21. 15 picks so far

    2 college pitchers (i.e. 13 high schoolers)

    3 position players

    12 pitchers

  22. I almost forgot about that Rios incident…boos are justified.

  23. But actually, what’s with the HS love?

  24. Do you think the Jays will have an issue with any of these guys in particular? The ones I really like are Beede, Dwight Smith Jr., Norris, and Stilson

  25. Draft time always reminds me of Chasing Steinbrenner, a solid read from Rob Bradford. He wrote extensively about Ricciardi’s first draft and his surrounding philosophy. Here’s an excerpt.

    “With Tinnish set to leave the lunch and head off to another scouting assignment, the talk turned to his priorities. “Are you going to any high school games?” Ricciardi asked. When it was explained that the boyish-looking scout’s schedule didn’t include many, if any, high-schoolers, Ricciardi responded, “Thattaboy. If you’ve got absolutely nothing else going on, go to a mall or the beach. Then, if you’ve got nothing else going on, go a high school game.”"

  26. Hey, Parkes

    Would it be possible to get AA himself on the Wednesday podcast? Or even in th enext month? I’d simply love to hear what he has to say about all the high school kids.

  27. @Moi: AA is coming up, sometime between now and 7:00 pm on Prime Time Sports with Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt on THE FAN 590 to talk about the draftees.

  28. this draft is a joke, whatever happened to the moneyball moto of never drafting high school pitchers because they are unpredictable? and now you have to pay them millions on top of that? how many high school pitchers actually developed into major leaguers? JP was right, college pitchers at least have a track record you can go by.

  29. @NorthYorkJays: There is the strange dichotomy of the J.P. Ricciardi reign in a nutshell. He did reasonably well at the draft table. One wonders how much better shape the team might have been in now, had he been willing to expend any effort whatsoever on scouting the 50% of the talent pool with the highest upside/highest risk. Klaw has also made comments to this effect about the way the Jays “scouted” high schoolers in the Ricciardi years, at least when he was there.

  30. @mudpie:

    I see this draft as adding more risk but also more potential reward to the Jays’ organizational portfolio of prospects. A balancing out of sorts since the Jays have focused mainly on college players over the last few years.

    I read somewhere, I cannot recall where right now, that Andrew Tinnish said prior to the draft that all they cared about was the potential upside and not the risk involved. If upside is all you care about, it is no surprise they ended up taking mainly high school talent. Even one of the 2 college players they took is a high risk/reward pick since he is currently injured.


    Tinnish: “The guys with a higher ceiling, there’s going to be more risk involved,” he said. “Do you need to balance it by taking some lower-risk guys? I don’t think so.

    “You take the player you feel like is going to have the most impact at the big league level. There is more risk involved with an Aaron Sanchez or a Noah Syndergaard versus a Deck McGuire, but a lot of that is because of age.”

  32. “The fans are amazing and showing mad love right now I can’t wait to get up there [to Canada]”

    -Tyler Beede’s latest tweet.

    I’d say he is going to sign.

  33. @mudpie: High school pitchers may be unpredictable, but that’s where guys like Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Mat Latos, Zach Britton, Jordan Walden, Jeremy Hellickson, Yovani Gallardo, Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, Chad Billingsley, Tyler Clippard, Jonny Venters, Zach Greinke, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Josh Johnson, Scott Kazmir (there was a time when he was very good [age 21-24]), Jonathan Broxton, and Gavin Floyd came from.

    Not to mention Nolan Ryan, Vida Blue, Bert Blyleven, Goose Gossage, Frank Tanana, Dennis Eckersley, John Candelaria, Lee Smith, David Cone, David Wells, Dwight Gooden, Kenny Rogers, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Tom Gordon, Andy Pettitte, Brad Radke, Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Jake Peavy, Josh Beckett and on and on.

    Have there been HS busts? [Getting Blanked] yeah, but AA outlined that he was going to gamble on high upside talent in order to better compete in the AL East. This draft should leave absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s shooting for the moon on just about every pick. It’s a good gamble due to the fact that with the uncertainty as to whether the wild west bonus rules will still be in place next year, some guys might be into taking less money than they ordinarily would with the thought that less money this year might still equal more than they’re going to get next year.

  34. @tom, ok good points, but if the jays are going to spend 10 mil on picks just to get 1 major leaguer, you might as well spend that money on free agents. If you look at the talent on the jays, how much of it came from post 1st round? only lind. everyone else came through trades or free agent signing. that seems to be the better strategy to me. what exactly have paxton and eliopolous been doing?

  35. @mr. wenn

    You really don’t think Wells will be booed? He got it a LOT while he was a Jay, more than Rios IIRC. Not saying he should be booed, but the precedent is certainly there. Also, Toronto tends to be a boo-happy city of fans.

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