Jays Journal: Early 2011 Jays Draft Preview, Pick #21 (Pitching)

It’s much too early to hear about who is being scouted most often by the Jays or who they may or may not be “linked” to, but I thought that it would be interesting to look at some of the options the Jays may be closing in on at #21 overall. In no way, shape, or form am I making these the favorites as there’s still a ton of time left between now and the draft to change everyone’s mind and to bring some new names to the front of the line, but some have already brought forward early rankings as we near the draft. I took a look at which candidates are most often named at or near the #21 rankings amongst evaluators on various sites and publications, and came out with my top 5 pitching and top 5 hitting targets that I believed could fall to the Jays and ultimately be selected by them this summer.

I’ll present my picks in 2 installments, the first being the pitching targets, the second being the hitting targets. Here are the pitchers in no order of preference:

  • Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech, 6’3″ 205 lbs: The Jays selected Deck McGuire out of Georgia Tech in 2010 with their 1st pick and may very well head back to the same school in 2011 if he’s available at #21 (doubtful, but you never know). He works between 91-93 MPH with his fastball (peaking at 95 MPH), and also has a slider that reaches 80-83 MPH. He also works a decent change up. As much as I’d love for the Jays to be able to grab him at #21, chances are he’ll be gone well before that point. Here’s a video of him pitching:
  • I’m trying to not name my favorites at this point, but….if the Jays can land him at #21, I’ll be ecstatic.

  • Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS, 6’6″ 195 lbs: When you’re a left-handed pitcher in HS and already measure 6’6″ 195 lbs, you wind up attracting a lot of interest if you can at least get the ball over the plate. Here’s a video of him:
  • He has a really loose throwing motion and his size leaves for a lot of projection to be done by teams who scout him. Oddly enough for a HS arm, his change up (74-77 MPH) and slow curve (67 MPH) may actually grade as being better than his 92 MPH fastball at this point. It seems to me like he’s more of the type of pitcher that the Jays would target in the sandwich round, but if they like him enough and are not afraid of a project after taking so many pitchers in the 2010 draft, they could select him as early as #21. Owens was named the best pitcher in the Area Codes game and should be well atop the list of Jays targets in the 2011 draft if he continues to progress as anticipated.

  • Anthony Meo, RHP, Coastal Carolina, 6’2″ 195 lbs:
    Meo went to Cranston West HS where he was 7-2 with 95 Ks in 53 IP during his Senior year. He was selected for the 1st team all-state his last 2 HS seasons and helped his team to back-to-back championships. Meo is a First-Team All American and was named District IV Player of the year in 2010, and was also the unanimous Big South pitcher of the year after going 8-0 with a 1.27 ERA.
    2009 Stats: 13 GS / 17 GP / 76.2 IP / 67 hits / 32 BB / 68 SO / .233 AVG
    2010 Stats: 16 GS / 18 GP / 96.2 IP / 82 hits / 34 BB / 94 SO / .230 AVG
    The reason I believe the Jays may target Meo in the first round is not solely linked to his great performance and overall polish. The Jays proved in 2010′s draft, the first under the guidance of Alex Anthopoulos, that they may hold a trend of acquiring a safer pick in the first round so that they can reach for higher ceilings in the sandwich round. Well, Meo fits that mould to a capital T since he’s as sure a bet to develop into an MLB pitcher as Deck McGuire was in 2010. If the Jays do select him in the 1st rd, they’ll be able to target some prep players later on in the draft without having to worry about having depth in the minors that is close to MLB ready. Here’s a short (bad quality) video of Meo at work:
  • Tyler Anderson, LHP, Oregon, 6’3″ 195 lbs: Pitched for Team USA last year, uses 4 pitches to get outs, and works at a very deliberate rate (as you can see in a video available here). His slider works in the low 80s, and his fastball can hit 91-92 MPH, but it’s his change up that makes both of these pitches more effective. He is much more polished than most pitchers in the draft and uses speed changes and movement on his pitches in order to induce outs. The more I read about him, the more he sounds like a left-handed Deck McGuire with slightly less velocity, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the Jays nab him at #21.
  • Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS, 6’3″ 215 lbs: A hard pitching pitcher who was born in Cuba, he works in the mid to high 90s (hitting 97 MPH whenever he needs to) and also has an excellent curve. His delivery does use a ton of effort and may be deemed slightly violent at times. If the Jays want someone who can move quickly as a reliever and be a power arm at the back of the pen, he’d be the best candidate. With so many pitchers being touted as “possible closers of the future” for the Jays, there’s no guarantee that any of these will come to fruition. It’s still possible that Jose could remain a starter and progress to accordingly, but with his big-time effort delivery and that velocity while pitching in HS, he’s a very enticing prospect addition for any MLB team’s depth chart. Here’s a video of him dealing:

With so many young arms all ready in the system, it’s hard to admit that the Jays may very well select yet another top arm with the 21st pick. If a big time impact bat is available at 21, I suppose that we could expect the Jays to grab it – so long as they rate that player as being more valuable and talented than any pitcher available, of course. But, as I read the prospect profiles of the many arms available at the top of this draft, particularly the college starters, I started to wonder if the Jays could pass up such close to MLB ready talent. However, it also seems likely that much of the top level College arms talent will be gone by the time the 21st pick comes around, hence the inclusion of some HS arms in my top 5 list above.

If you have a favorite of your own at this point, in a very early draft prediction way, let us know!

- MG

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Topics: Anthony Meo, Henry Owens, Jed Bradley, Jose Fernandez, Tyler Anderson

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  • George

    Interesting comment, Matt, about the Jays drafting safe the first pick and riskier later. Do you think they actually use a different formula for rating players later in the order? It could be that the value assigned to experience would rate a college player higher than a high school player, and so place him higher in the draft order.

  • http://jaysjournal.com matgermain

    Good point George. I do think that the Jays will try to take the best player on the board, no matter what, but there’s a big difference between drafting 11th and draft 21st, so I’m not sure that the 2010 strategy will be the same as the 2011 strategy. As your statement indicates, most teams like to take the sure thing that is more likely to help them in the near future with the top picks, so the Jays will likely have the choice between lesser ranked college players, or prep players that are most highly ranked. My bet is on the latter, with some hope that one or two college arms could fall through the cracks and wind up with the Jays.

    I do believe the Jays played it safe in the 1st round in 2010 and didn’t go after the highest ceiling guys, but I still love Deck McGuire’s potential. Whether or not they do the same in 2011 remains to be seen. But, with so many arms making headway in the minors this season, if the Jays do land an arm with the first round pick, I would not be surprised in the least to see it being a top prep arm, as they’ll want “waves” of talent coming up to the majors, or wagons if you buy into Anthopoulos’s freight train motto!

  • Dave

    I would agree with mat. There are a lot of great highschool arms in this draft and guys like Bradley will (prob) get picked up before the Jays get a shot. The waves of talent phenomena would be best served with a prep arm, so I could def see Owens in the mix as he is very much in the mold of Aaron Sanchez. Jose Fernandez may be to much to hope for as a guy who throws in the high 90′s with a hammer curve with his size is bound to go early – Feliz Hernandez comps I think will be thrown around.

    I think there’s also a chance Dillion Howard falls to 21, and If so he would be a great great pickup. I think a guy like Anderson would be around for us at 35, but even so I’d rather have Ryan Carpenter who’s got a bit more upside.

    I wonder though how much overslot AA would go for a stud blue chipper like Josh Bell. I hope we walk away with him with out 21 pick and grab a safe college guy like Carpenter/Anderson at 35. It will be interesting to see if AA goes really above slot to sign the best talent.

  • JayTeam

    Matt, you’re saying we should grab an impact bat if they are “more valuable and talented than any pitcher available”. I would argue we should always draft a college bat if they are equally talented. High WAR success rates and lower bust rates are considerably better with college bats than any of the other 3 categories (HS bats, HS or College pitchers). I believe this was part of Victor Wang’s research. Also saw a fanpost at Sickles’ Minor League Ball site that showed a similar correlation for BA top 100 prospects.

    • Mat Germain

      That’s an interesting take on it, but in reality, how guaranteed are you to target the “right” college bat, and are there enough of them available to make it to #21? It’s a good theory to go by I’m sure, but it’s also not an exact science.

      For example, if we look at the success that the Tigers have had in drafting HS pitchers like Rick Procello, Jacob Turner, Casey Crosby, HS hitter Nick Castellanos, and others out of HS, we see that they seem to have a knack for picking up HS guys that make an impact at the MLB level. They’ve been forced to go that route because they often are picking later in the draft, and have had to go overslot later on as a result (aside from Turner who was taken 9th overall). This is the same thing that the Jays may be forced to do as they are outside the top 20.

      Also, some teams just have more success than others in going with whatever strategy they use, that’s all I’m saying here. So long as the scouts are doing a great job, you should be getting quality players or pitchers on board. The Jays have invested enough in their scouting to do a great job, and have ensured that scouts can look at guys they target more often than they have in the past in order to make sure they don’t make a mistake. This is why I believe that they may target a prep player at #21 in 2011. The majority of the top college players may (or should) be gone by then, and they’ll still want a top-notch prospect.

      If the Jays followed the theory you’re talking about, they would have grabbed a college bat like Gary Brown, Zack Cox, or Kyle Parker in the 2010 draft, so I’m not sure this is the case under Alex Anthopoulos. But, every draft has its strengths, and hitting was definitely not the strength of the 2010 draft, so that may be a bad example to draw from. Unfortunately, it’s the only AA led draft we have to go by, so I can’t really use any other example.

      I would agree with your comment about grabbing a college bat “if they are equally talented” statement, but I doubt that you could ever find an exact correlation between 2 players. Some scouts will like one more than the other, so it depends on Andrew Tinnish and his making the ultimate decision on who to support as he makes the case to Alex Anthopoulos.

      Either way, expect the Jays to grab the absolute best player based on the evaluations they’ve made. They’ve proven they’re not going to shy away from players based on the bonus asking price, which is a great thing for Jays fans all over!

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