Written by: Mason McRae (@mason_mcrae)
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Just after the MLB Draft in 2015, Toronto hired away Mark Shapiro from Cleveland and what followed seemed to be the end of the old regime as Alex Anthopolous parted ways and Paul Beeston retired.
That December of 2015, Toronto hired Ross Atkins and gave him the keys to the rebuild. Thus far, it’s been a somewhat successful and quick rebuild, but Toronto has the opportunity to put the ‘icing on the cake’ with the highest first round pick the organization has had since 1997, when they selected Vernon Wells, the ninth highest WAR contributor in franchise history.
Toronto’s core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Danny Jansen and Nate Pearson has all been assembled under Shapiro and Atkins, but the 2020 Draft is their chance to get an official stamp of approval from Blue Jays fans on the organization’s rebuild.
Let’s dive into some names you should be aware of heading into next week’s draft.
As Georgia pitcher Emerson Hancock continues to slide down boards (reportedly including Toronto’s), here’s a look at the speculated Blue Jays’s Draft Board.
- Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State – Doubtful he makes it past Baltimore, but he’s the top guy on Shane Farrell’s board.
- Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M – Lacy’s popped up in 1-1 talks and seems to be possible at 1-2, but Miami at 1-3 is where he likely goes. Kansas City is the latest he’d fall, so Toronto will have to look elsewhere.
- Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek – A number of analytical-leaning clubs seem to have Veen over Martin because of his Exit Velocity numbers. Toronto is in that bunch. If Veen is available at 5, he’s the pick. However, it appears he’ll be off the board at 4, with an underslot at pick 2 being an outside possibility.
- Austin Martin, UTL, Vanderbilt – Martin’s an option at 2 and 3, but he won’t make it past DJ Shvilik and Miami UNLESS Asa Lacy’s available (and the draft has flown off the rails). In that case, assuming Kansas City selects Veen, Austin Martin will be a Blue Jay.
- Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota – There’s still some uncertainly regarding whether the Jays have Meyer or Nick Gonzales on their board, but I suspect it’s the former. If I’m right, the first three picks are chalk and Veen is taken fourth, Meyer will be the choice here.
- Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State – There’s a chance Gonzales is gone at 2, but he’s reportedly not in play at 3. If Baltimore takes him, a trickle down effect could happen and somebody like Martin or Veen could be available. If Gonzales is available at still 5, it’s because Veen’s gone. That means Meyer is the likely choice.
- Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia – Hancock is no longer considered a lock to be selected within the top-5, but he’s still an odds-on favorite to be off the board within the first six picks. If worse comes to worse, the floor for the right-hander appears to be 9th overall to Colorado. Hancock is no longer in the Blue Jays’ plans according to my intel.
THE TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT
As I alluded to earlier, there’s a possibility Asa Lacy or Nick Gonzales are selected second overall. This would cause a massive domino effect. Here, I’m going to attempt to map-out every feasible scenario for the Blue Jays on draft day.
Torkelson’s a lock at 1-1, forget about him, it’s a guarantee. It’s more of a mystery beginning with the second pick, and from the sound of it, Baltimore is dead set on three players: Austin Martin, Asa Lacy, and Nick Gonzales. As of now, none of the three are receiving more consideration than the others.
If Baltimore goes Lacy, Miami goes Martin, with Heston Kjerstad being the weird option (which would just cause complete chaos). Assuming some sort of combination consisting of Torkelson, Martin and Lacy are selected with the first three picks, Kansas City will likely select Zac Veen. This means Toronto will choose between Max Meyer and Nick Gonzales. In my eyes, this is the most likely scenario as of now.
If Baltimore underslots Gonzales at second overall, the Marlins stick with Lacy (this means things have gotten weird) and Kansas City sticks with Veen (this means things have gotten even more weird), then BOOM: Austin Martin is somehow on the board at pick 5. Even with DJ Shvilik’s Vanderbilt connection, it appears the Marlins love Lacy more than Martin. Kansas City loves Veen and is likely to select him unless Lacy is available. That’s not likely, but it’s possible.
If Baltimore goes chalk and picks Martin, the Marlins select Lacy and Kansas City grabs Gonzales, the Blue Jays will draft Veen without thinking twice.
The apocalyptic final possibility: Miami underslots Kjerstad – which has been rumored – after Lacy goes off the board at 2. Then Kansas City selects Gonzales, which means Toronto would have their choice between Veen or Martin. In this case, Toronto takes Veen over Martin, and the latter falls to Seattle at pick 6. This scenario is highly unlikely, but I said I’d prepare you for every possible scenario.
Of course, the most likely scenario is Toronto taking Max Meyer at 5th overall, with Torkelson, Martin, Lacy and Veen going in that order beforehand. However, the possibilities above have come up in conversations with people in the industry, and there’s some wild hunches you should be aware of once draft day finally arrives.
Earlier this week, I tweeted about Toronto having a model-based board they trust, meaning they aren’t likely to stray from their plan on June 10th. Holistically speaking, that notion also represent the organization’s entire draft strategy: take the best player available, assess risk versus reward and take your shots (relative to public perception) when appropriate.
While I’m aware of a number of players Toronto likes, it’s impossible to pinpoint who will be the Best Player Available once the organization goes On the Clock in the second round and beyond. While smart money is currently on the Blue Jays selecting either Max Meyer or Zac Veen at fifth overall, good luck wagering their selections in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds with any confidence in such a unique draft.
There’s nothing more poetic and pleasing than Toronto drafting and signing a Canuck. Last year, the organization took Dasan Brown in the third round. As an organization, Toronto has selected a Canadian every year since 2007. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four Canadians garnering interest from the Blue Jays and two who are a little more off-the-radar, but should be of inherent interest amongst the fanbase.
Calvin Ziegler, RHP, St.Mary’s (HS)
No Canadian has improved their stock more so then the UConn commit has recently. Ziegler hit 97 and sat 94-95 in a bullpen video he released last week. He’s the hardest throwing Canadian, though not the top-ranked on my board (see below), but Toronto’s called and it would likely be a slight over-slot deal – in the fourth or fifth round – from what I’ve heard.
Cooper Davis, OF, Vanderbilt
With the shortened draft, somebody like Davis is probably out of organizational discussions, but Toronto took Davis in the 2017 draft and from what I’ve heard there’s a mutual respect between the two parties. There’s a slim chance he’d sign for 20K as an undrafted free agent in the case he doesn’t get drafted, which appears to be the likely outcome. Davis has played everywhere in the outfield, and he’s a plus-runner with some feel to hit.
Logan Hofmann, RHP, Northwestern State
Just last year, Hofmann was taken in the 35th round out of a Kansas Junior College program. But instead of signing, he opted to head to Northwestern State, where he allowed ZERO earned runs and just 14 hits in 28.0 innings pitched. He’s a pitchability guy with feel for an above average changeup and an average fastball (which sits from 88-90 T92). Toronto’s called on Hofmann; if he went in the fifth round, he’d be a cost-effective sign, likely getting a touch above $100,000. However, it’s more likely he goes undrafted, and I don’t think he’ll take 20K as an UDFA, given the fact he’s 20.6 and would be eligible again next season.
Owen Caissie, OF, Notre Dame (HS)
No player is beloved as much by the Toronto brass as Caissie. Even Mark Shapiro has been spotted at the outfielder’s games, and the organization has made it clear how much it loves the Canadian talent. Caissie’s an analytically inclined prospect, he’s got loft in his swing and creates plus raw power with decent leg speed for the size. He’s a fit at pick 77, and Toronto’s been calling his agent consistently leading up to next week’s draft.
David Calabrese, OF, St. Elizabeth Catholic (HS)
Calabrese is the top Canadian on my board, and with how Toronto used its third round pick last season, I’m shocked he hasn’t been talked about more. He’s similar to Dasan Brown, their 2019 third rounder, and shares double plus speed as well as an above average hit tool. Calabrese seems to be getting most interest around pick 55-70, and his age is a massive reason why, as he’s one of the youngest prospects who are draft eligible. While Calabrese is certainly good, Toronto doesn’t seem connected to him as of yet.
Theo Millas, RHP, Echola Alpha (HS)
Millas is another prospect I love, and he’s the top Canadian pitcher on my board. Unfortunately, Toronto doesn’t seem to be dialing much interest into him. Millas sat 92-93 at the All-American Showcase game last year, and he possesses three pitches that all flash average-or-better ability. His mechanics are similar to that of Kyle Hendricks. He’s in play as early as pick 106 for Toronto, but I’m doubting any chance of a possible selection.
Follow P365 MLB Draft Analyst Mason McRae on Twitter! @mason_mcrae
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Featured image courtesy of photographer Eric Miller and Gopher Sports