It seemed like the Blue Jays had a small draft of their own prior to the third round last year, with two first round selections, three choices in the compensation round and a second round pick. This year, however, with the elimination of the compensation round and the lack of extra selections altogether, the Blue Jays had just two picks in the first two rounds. The Jays rolled the dice with their third round pick last year, selecting two-sport star Anthony Alford, before pioneering the draft strategy of essentially punting their picks from rounds from 4-10 to free up slot money to spend on their higher picks. While 2012 fourth rounder Tucker Donahue is currently pitching for the Lansing Lugnuts, the Blue Jays’ fifth and sixth round picks from last year, Brad Delatte and Eric Phillips, combined to appear in just nine games and are both no longer with the organization.
It appears to be more of the same this year but starting in the third round. The Blue Jays managed to save roughly $250,000 in slot money when they signed 2012 first-round pick D.J. Davis last year, but signs point to them having to pay over slot to pry their first rounder this year, Phil Bickford, away from his commitment to Cal State Fullerton, so they’ll need all the pool money they can get.
3rd round, 83rd overall: Patrick Murphy, RHP – Hamilton HS (Arizona)
Big and strong at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Murphy was making his way up Arizona state rankings before partially tearing his UCL in late April, according to azcentral. The young right-hander opted for Tommy John surgery two months later and remains a question mark, as he didn’t pitch at all this past high school season. As Baseball America noted, Blue Jays area scout Blake Crosby has a bit of a history with the pitcher, as Murphy had a teammate in 2012 by the name of Mitch Nay, who the Jays drafted in the compensation round last year.
Had Murphy not gotten injured there was speculation that he could have been as high as a second round pick, since he can touch low-90s with his fastball while already showing a feel for a changeup and curveball. An Oregon commit, the Jays appear to have all the leverage here since the likelihood of Murphy being handed a scholarship is probably slim. With a slot value of $650,800 for this pick, the Blue Jays should pad their bonus pool nicely if/when Murphy signs.
4th round, 115th overall: Evan Smith, LHP – Montgomery HS (Alabama)
After throwing for the Blue Jays in a camp last month, Smith seemed to fit the bill to be selected by Toronto in the fourth round. Long and lean, the 6-foot-5 southpaw has a good pitcher’s frame but there are concerns about his delivery going forward. Smith’s a two-pitch pitcher at the moment, throwing a low-90s fastball (that used to top out at 86) as well as a slider. He’ll toss a two-seam version of his fastball at times but will look to add a third pitch, likely a changeup, when he starts his pro career.
Although he was committed to nearby Faulkner State Community College, Smith is set to sign with the Jays and report to mini camp on Tuesday, according AL.com. With this pick having a slot value of $446,100, the Blue Jays are likely planning on signing Smith for well below that figure.
From Baseball America: “Smith may have to have a delivery overhaul but has shown raw arm strength and hand speed to spin a breaking ball. Some scouts believe he’ll need two years in Rookie ball.”
5th round: Daniel Lietz, LHP – Heartland CC (Illinois)
Lietz failed to draw interest from any major league team out of high school, but when his fastball increased from the mid-80s to low-90s while at Heartland Community College this year, teams started paying attention. The 6-foot-2 Illinois native just turned 19 years old and still has room to grow. The Jays should continue to bank money toward their overall bonus pool with Lietz, as his draft position has a slot value of $334,000 and Lietz is a sure sign, getting ready to report to Blue Jays camp on Tuesday, according to nwi.com.
Via MLB.com: “Lietz also throws a slider, changeup, splitter and curveball. His slider and changeup both have the potential to be Major League-average offerings. Lietz isn’t afraid to pitch to contact with his fastball and has a good feel for pitching.”
6th Round: Matt Boyd, LHP – Oregon State (Oregon)
The third straight southpaw taken by the Blue Jays, Boyd was drafted in the 13th round by the Reds last year but chose not to sign and return to Oregon State. After finding success as a reliever in his first three years with the Beavers, Boyd became a starter this year and went 10-3 with a 2.15 ERA and 109 strikeouts in a team-high 121 1/3 innings. At 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, Boyd has a durable frame and shows a four-pitch mix of fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. As a college senior, signing with the Jays should be a no-brainer for Boyd.
From Baseball America: “He pitched in the 88-92 mph range this spring, topping out at 94, after touching 96 out of the bullpen on the Cape. He also offers good deception and angle to the plate. Boyd’s main issue is that he lacks a true out pitch, which ultimately would limit him to the back of a rotation or a relief role.”