Toronto Blue Jays: Draft Review

General Manager: Alex Anthopoulos
Farm Director: Tony LaCava
Scouting Director: Andrew Tinnish

2006-2009 Draft Results:
First three rounds included
x- over-slot signees ($200,000 or more)

2009 1st Round: Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State
1S. James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky (Did not sign)
2. Jake Eliopoulos, LHP, Ontario HS (Did not sign)
3. Jake Barrett, RHP, Arizona HS (Did not sign)
3. Jake Marisnick, OF, California HS
6x- K.C. Hobson, OF, California HS
15x – Andrew Hutchinson, RHP, Florida HS
18x – Daniel Webb, RHP, Florida JC

Ah, the amateur draft. What was once the strength of the organization became a weakness during the Ricciardi regime, and that was on full display when the organization failed to sign three of its top four draft picks in ’09. The club managed to get Jenkins signed, but he has yet to throw a pitch for the club. As well, Marisnick, Webb, Hobson, and Hutchinson all failed to sign in time to receive valuable development instruction during the ’09 season.

The organization received compensatory picks for the three players that did not sign in ’09, but the club loses some leverage; if the players they choose in those positions in ’10 do not sign, then the club does not receive compensation in 2011… and you can bet the players’ advisers will be all over that.

2008 1st Round: David Cooper, 1B, California
2. Kenny Wilson, OF, Florida HS
3. Andrew Liebel, RHP, Long Beach State

Another somewhat uninspired draft. The club wanted Brett Wallace (and eventually got him) but settled for Cooper in the draft. After a solid debut, the first baseman looked a little lost at double-A and hit just .258/.340/.389 with a .131 ISO in 473 at-bats. His walk rate of 11.0% brings some hope with it, and the strikeout rate was reasonable at 19.5% if the left-handed hitter can find his power stroke. With below-average defense, Cooper is all offense.

Wilson was a bit of a surprise in the second round. After years of avoiding raw, athletic players the organization is still learning how to develop them properly and this speedster needs to harness his swing (30.8 K%, .093 ISO in low-A). He nabbed 37 bases in 49 attempts but missed time due to injury and appeared in just 95 games on the season.

Third-rounder Liebel is not flashy; he’s more of a durable, workhorse-type with an average fastball and good control (2.42 BB/9 in high-A). He posted a 3.66 FIP in the Florida State League and received two late-season starts in double-A. His ground-ball rate was just shy of 50%.

The club scored with reliever Danny Farquhar in the 10th round (mid-90s fastball, crazy movement and 51% GB rate), as he slips into the Top 10 list at the expense of a few less-developed prospects. Tyler Pastornicky (5th round) is an intriguing shortstop with good speed (57 steals in 75 tries) but limited power. Right-hander Bobby Bell (18th) also had a nice ’09 season (10.46 K/9, 50% GB rate in 96.1 innings) and seems fully recovered from injuries suffered while playing college ball for Rice University.

2007 1st Round: Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Texas HS
1. J.P. Arencibia, C, Tennessee
1S. Brett Cecil, LHP, Maryland
1S. Justin Jackson, SS, North Carolina HS
1S. Trystan Magnuson, RHP, Louisville
2. John Tolisano, 2B, Florida HS
2. Eric Eiland, OF, Texas HS
3. Alan Farina, RHP, Clemson

With seven picks before the third round, the club looked poised to really infuse some depth and talent into the minor league system. Unfortunately, the organization has not had much luck developing prep picks (outside of Travis Snider, a rare talent) after years of focusing on collegiate picks only. Ahrens (.215/.282/.302), Jackson (.213/.321/.269), Tolisano (.232/.305/.379), and Eiland (.194/.289/.258) have all underperformed – but the quartet is also still young.

Arencibia had a breakout ’08 season but slipped while playing in triple-A in ’09. Despite that fact, he made the Top 10 list based on his potential. Cecil contributed to the Majors in ’09 and made 17 starts for Toronto after spending much of his college career in the bullpen. Magnuson had a poor ’08 season in the rotation in low-A ball, but he moved back to the bullpen in ’09 and reached double-A. Farina has been slowed by injuries but he has a good fastball.

Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski (5th round) could end up being the steal of the draft for the Jays. The left-hander made 11 starts for Toronto in ’09 and gets a ton of ground balls (51.2% in the Majors). Randy Boone (7th) is another good ground-ball pitcher (53.6 GB%). Second baseman Brad Emaus (11th) should serve as an offensive-minded utility player in the Scott Spiezio mold. Outfielder Darin Mastroianni (16th) had a nice ’09 season by reaching double-A and he could also develop into a useful part-time player after nabbing 70 bases in 85 tries and hitting .301/.400/.370 with a 13.4% walk rate between high-A and double-A.

2006 1st Round: Travis Snider, OF, Washington HS
2. None
3. None
x- Graham Godfrey, RHP, College of Charleston

Snider makes this draft, which is a good thing since the club did not have second- or third-round picks. Snider struggled in 77 big-league games in ’09 by hitting .241/.328/.419 but his potential remains massive. He just needs to trim his strikeout rate (32.4%) and stop swinging at so many pitcher’s pitches.

Godfrey was used (along with Kristian Bell) to obtain Marco Scutaro from the A’s, which turned out to be one of Ricciardi’s best deals, as it netted the Jays two years of the infielder and then two draft picks (34th, 78th overall), as he recently signed with Boston as a free agent.

Up Next: The Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Matt B.

Depressing, hopefully in 5 years we will review AAs drafts and be bragging about the annual influx of young (cheap) talent from solid drafting.