While they did nab one high school arm, the Blue Jays took primarily college seniors once again in rounds 7-10 this year. After drafting Navy outfielder Alex Azor, who was quoted saying that he’d sign for a hot dog, in the 10th round last year, the Blue Jays went a similar route this time around, drafting catcher Garrett Custons, who seems more focused on continuing to serve in the Air Force rather than playing pro baseball.
7th round: Conner Greene, RHP – Santa Monica HS (California)
Listed as 6-foor-3, 165 pounds, there’s obvious projection in Greene’s frame and he’s a sure bet to bulk up in the coming years. Committed to the College of Southern Nevada, Greene carried his high school team on both sides of the ball and won’t get the opportunity to hit professionally like he had hoped with the Blue Jays.
“Hopefully I’m given a fair enough offer where I can finally achieve my dream and go out there and play baseball,” Greene told the Santa Monica Mirror before the draft. The recommended slot value for the Jays’ seventh round pick is $187,400.
Greene pitches on a good downhill plane from a near-overhand release point, with mainly a fastball, changeup and curveball, though all three pitches and Greene’s command of them need work. Perfect Game noted that Greene “needs to add strength but does lots of things very well.”
From Baseball America: “He usually pitches at 87-88, and his secondary stuff is underdeveloped. He throws a splitter rather than a changeup, and the pitch has sink but is inconsistent. His curve has 11-to-5 break, and his best ones rate as 40s on the 20-80 scouting scale.”
8th Round, 235th overall: Kendall Graveman, RHP – Mississippi State (Mississippi)
As a senior with Mississippi State, Graveman tossed a team-high 91 2/3 innings for the Bulldogs this year and finished with a 3.04 ERA in 15 regular season starts. He averaged less than six strikeouts per nine innings across his four college seasons but he doesn’t walk that many, either (2.3 BB/9 this season). Graveman was drafted by the Marlins in the 36th round last year but didn’t sign, a move that worked out well for him as he’s now with MSU in the College World Series.
A pitcher that fields his position well, he earned SEC All-Defensive Team honors and should be a safe bet to sign well below the recommended slot value for his draft position of $156,900. He was ranked No. 470 on Baseball America’s Top 500 list, and recently allowed six runs (four earned) on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in MSU’s super regional game against Virginia on June 9.
BA on Graveman’s repertoire: “He throws inside when he needs to but generally works hitters away with an 87-91 mph sinking two-seamer and changeup that help him get ground balls. Graveman throws a fringy curveball and has used a slider at times as well, but his breaking ball is short.”
9th round, 265th overall: Chad Girodo, LHP – Mississippi State (Mississippi)
Another pitcher from Mississippi State—this time left-handed and a reliever—Girodo turned his baseball career around this season. After his first three college seasons produced a combined 6.70 ERA in 86 innings with a 6.6 K/9, Girodo managed a 1.38 ERA in 32 2/3 innings with 39 strikeouts, good for a 10.74 K/9.
He most recently got the win in Mississippi State’s super regional game on June 10 that sent the Bulldogs to the College World Series, allowed two earned runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also struck out 10 of the 22 batters he faced. As both a reliever and a college senior, the Jays should easily be able to bank most of the $146,500 in recommended slot money associated with Girodo.
From Baseball America: “The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left-hander has two solid-average pitches that could make him fill a big league relief role down the line. He has a fastball with late life that sits in the 88-91 mph range and a short, late slider that scrapes 80 mph.”
10th round, 295th overall: Garrett Custons, C – Air Force (Colorado)
A first-team All-Mountain West catcher for the Air Force Falcons, Custons put together a solid year on both sides of the ball this season. He posted new career-highs in batting average (.353) and doubles (22), while leading the conference in pickoffs and finishing third with 20 runners caught stealing. Custons is the fifth baseball player in Air Force history to get drafted and the first in six years.
“If I get the opportunity to play baseball professionally, it would be a lifetime dream come true,” Custons told the Falcons’ official website. “But I know my priority is serving in the Air Force as an officer. I came to the Academy to become an officer and fully plan on serving my country.”
By the sounds of things, the Blue Jays should be able to pocket nearly all of the $136,800 of recommended slot value, assuming Custons even signs at all.
From Baseball America: “Custons was primarily a catcher for Air Force and has average arm strength. He also played some outfield. He shows some feel for the barrel with his strong right-handed swing and is a below-average runner.”