Will Jays Ever Draft in Top 4 Again?

The Jays have been part of 23 drafts since they came into being in 1977. Between 1977 and 1982, the Jays enjoyed 5 top 5 picks in the draft, with SS Augie Schmidt being the last at 2nd overall. Since then, over 27 years from 1983 to 2009, the Jays have had 41 picks in the 1st round (supplementals included). In those 27 drafts, the Jays received a top 10 pick only 5 times. Of those 5 top 10 picks, the Jays chose C Matt Stark (1983) 9th overall, RP Billy Koch (1996) 4th overall, OF Vernon Wells (1997) 5th overall, 2B Felipe Lopez (1998) 8th overall, and finally SP Ricky Romero (2005) 6th overall.

Is it just me, or is that not right? The Jays have never, ever, had the 1st overall pick. In the interview I recently had with hotstove.com I mentioned that as a result of this fact, it’s not equitable to rate the Jays draft by comparing them to the Rays drafts.  Why? Well, take a walk with me down memory lane called the last 11 years….

  • 1999 – Rays pick 1st overall Josh Hamilton, the Jays pick 19th overall Alex Rios
  • 2000 – Rays pick 6th overall Rocco Baldelli, the Jays pick 19th overall Miguel Negron
  • 2001 – Rays pick 3rd overall Dewon Brazelton, the Jays pick 15th overall Gabe Gross
  • 2002 – Rays pick 2nd overall BJ Upton, the Jays pick 14th overall Russ Adams
  • 2003 – Rays pick 1st overall Delmon Young, the Jays pick 13th overall Aaron Hill
  • 2004 – Rays pick 4th overall Jeff Niemann, the Jays pick 16th overall David Purcey
  • 2005 – Rays pick 8th overall Wade Townsend, the Jays pick 6th overall Ricky Romero
  • 2006 – Rays pick 3rd overall Evan Longoria, the Jays pick 14th overall Travis Snider
  • 2007 – Rays pick 1st overall David Price, the Jays pick 16th overall Kevin Ahrens
  • 2008 – Rays pick 1st overall Tim Beckham, the Jays pick 17th overall David Cooper
  • 2009 – Rays pick 30th overall Levon Washington, the Jays pick 20th overall Chad Jenkins

So let me get this straight – in 27 years, the Jays get 0 1st overall pick. In the last 11 years, the Rays get 4. The Jays have had 5 top 10 picks in the last 27 years, the Rays have had 10 top 10 picks in the last 11 years. The Jays have had 2 top 5 picks in the last 27 years, the Rays have had 8 top 5 picks in the last 11 years.

Now, I know that drafting in baseball is about as inexact a science as you can get, and there are countless examples to do this with. However, it seems extremely odd to me that the Jays have never had the 1st overall pick, and that they so rarely end up in the top 10 picks. After all, we’ve endured an endless run of mediocrity over the last 15 years, so you would think we’d get “rewarded” a little more often. Our record is the culprit, but I still find it hard to swallow as a fan who wants league parity and is a fan of a team in the AL East of all places. It also makes me think that anyone who criticizes the Jays results in drafting – including myself – needs to be aware that their fortunes have been horrible in terms of allowance to rebuild through the draft.

The 2010 draft is just around the corner and the Jays find themselves out of the top 10 once again in the 11th spot, but at least the Rays fall behind them at 17. With all of this said, is there a real issue with the draft order and how it is decided? How could it be better and more evenly spread throughout the league? With MLB coming together and putting in teams whose sole goals are to make the game better, this may fall into the who international and overall draft issue. I hope that they do look at it and revise it slightly, for the sake of the Jays and teams in similar situations.

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