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Toronto Blue Jays 2012 Draft Preview

Toronto Blue Jays 2012 Draft Preview

June 1, 2012

2012 MLB draft June 4-6

 It’s that time of year again; as the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft (also known as the Rule 4 draft) is less than a week away. The draft is set to begin on Monday, June 4th at 7pm Eastern. Teams have been working tirelessly since the previous draft scouting players across North America and Puerto Rico in preparation for next week’s event. For teams like the Blue Jays that currently pride themselves of “building from within,” this event is vital to their success.

2012 represents the first draft under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which made significant changes to the draft. Gone are things including Major League contracts for drafted players, flawed compensation guidelines for players and the “loose-slotting” system we’ve seen in years past. This will undoubtedly alter the Blue Jays draft strategy as they were one of the teams that took advantage of the loose-slotting system.

Major League Baseball will be implementing a new compensation guideline for players entering free agency. Type A and Type B free agents will no longer exist, starting in 2013. The pending free agent will only be subject to compensation if the club has had that player for the entire season. The team must also offer a one-year guaranteed contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the top 125 highest paid players from the prior season. This alone with likely eliminate compensation for relievers and back-up catchers, which the Blue Jays took full advantage of last winter. The team that signs a player subject to compensation will forfeit their first-round pick, unless it selects in top-10, in which case they would forfeit a second-round pick. The team that loses the player will receive a selection at the end of the first-round. Those picks will select based on reverse order of winning percentage.

Each team is now given a pool or budget based on a specific value of each pick a team possesses in the first ten rounds. The first-overall pick is given a “hard” value and every pick after that to the final pick in the 10th round is a percentage of the first overall pick. With this new system of “hard-slotting” bonuses, there are penalties to teams that exceed their signing bonus pool. For example, if a team goes over their pool by 0-5 percent they will encounter a 75 percent tax on the overage. Teams that go over by 5-10 percent will pay the same tax and lose a first-round pick in the next year’s draft. Teams that go over by 10-15 percent will have to pay 100 percent tax on the overage and lose a first-and second-round pick in the next year’s draft. Finally, if a team exceeds their pool by 15+ percent they will pay the 100 percent tax and lose their first-round picks in the next two drafts. In terms everyone will understand, I doubt we see teams going over budget because of these stiff penalties.

Figure 1. Blue Jays draft pool breakdown 2012, via Baseball America

The Blue Jays will hold 14 picks in the first 10 rounds of the 2012 draft. The four extra picks come from failing to sign 2011 first-round pick RHP Tyler Beede (22nd overall) as well as losing RHP Frank Francisco (50th overall), RHP Jon Rauch (58th overall) and C Jose Molina (60th overall) to free agency. This marks the fourth year in a row where the Blue Jays have extra picks. They hold the 17/22/50/58/60 overall picks in the draft and Baseball America has acknowledged that they have an overall pool of $8.8308M to spend in 2012. For full break down see figure 1 on the right.

Teams are allowed to spread the money among their picks in different ways as long as they stay under budget. Players outside the first ten rounds don’t count against the pool unless there signing bonus exceeds $100,000. If a team is unable to sign a player it cannot simply apply that slotted money elsewhere, instead they lose that amount from their overall budget.

Having said that, signability will be even more important to team’s drafts as they don’t want to have to forfeit money from their budgets. We as Blue Jays fans have been accustom to this phrase as last year we went over-slot to sign LHP Daniel Norris, RHP Kevin Comer, RHP Mark Biggs, 3B Matt Dean to name a few.

The 2012 draft will consist of 40 rounds instead of the normal 50 round drafts we’ve been use to over the years. Another big change is to the signing deadline for the drafted players it’s moved from its normal mid-August deadline to mid-July (July 13th for 2012). This is a huge plus for teams and drafted players as it will get these players into the system quicker and allow time for development. This will pay huge dividends for high-school players, even college kids as they will be able to get vital innings and ABs right away. It could also push player’s development that much faster to an earlier call-up then we’ve seen which in turn will lead to players becoming arbitration available quicker.

Draft Synopsis

Again in this year’s draft there is no clear-cut number 1 pick. It’s a weak draft this year, which is pitching heavy according to many scouts and will be dominated early by prep talent because of a weak collegiate class.

Position of Interest

While we will still see the Blue Jays stick to their normal ‘best player available’ strategy it will need to be altered slightly because of the changes stated above. In a deep farm system that currently ranks 5th overall according to Baseball America, the team is lacking serious first-base depth. Pitching is always a must have on draft day as it is so valuable to every team.

It’s going to be fun to follow the draft as it is the first under the new CBA and it will be interesting to see how teams adapt to the changes. Although the draft is said to be weaker than last year, there is still a bunch of talent to be had.

JaysProspects is going to outline four players we think could be a potential fit for the Blue Jays as well as two Canadian’s to keep your eye on. There will be two players and one Canadian being outlined both Saturday and Sunday. We will also have a sleeper pick on Monday morning to get you ready for the draft at 7pm.