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.