I know playoff baseball will be with us for quite some time, but for all intents and purposes, the off-season began at 21:28 pm last Wednesday evening as the Toronto Blue Jays avoided losing 90 ball games of this hideous 2012 season, by beating Minnesota 2-1. So, as we plunge headlong into a winter without baseball (made worse by the lack of hockey), the Jays have a lot to do.
As a writer (and I may be being generous here) the off-season will provide bursts of activity such as the winter meetings, etc. but for the most part, there is going to be quite a few weeks where we are searching for copy.
A regular installment I am going to do, starting today, is a look, in descending order, at the Jays 2012 draft class and how they fared this season. This being the first draft under the new agreement whereby teams were penalized for going over their allotted bonus pool, most picks who signed, did so early, and therefore were able to make their pro debuts much quicker than in past years.
I won’t be trying to rank these prospects in any particular order. Am sure we’ll see numerous efforts at prospect rankings over the winter. These pieces will simply be a quick breakdown of where the player played, how they did, where they may land in 2013, etc.
I will be splitting the class into chunks of five players or so. So, the first few should be rather easy, since many at the lower end of the draft didn’t sign.
Jose Cuas- 40th Round – 1225 Overall – Unsigned – A big, rangy shortstop, the Jays apparently got closer to signing Cuas than
anybody would have predicted. A scholarship to Maryland put his asking price at $500,000, well over slot. The Jays reportedly offered in the $200,000 range and flew Cuas up to Toronto for some wining and dining. Which, for an 18 year old kid, means batting practice and infield drills at the Rogers Center. Unfortunately, it was not enough, and Cuas heads off to three years of college ball after finishing his high school career on a high, with his team winning the New York City championships.
Shaun Valeriote – 39th Round – 1195 Overall – Signed June 11th – No matter what happens to Valeriote in his pro career he’ll always be able to say he was the first ever Ontario University Athletics baseball player to be drafted. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Jays director of scouting Andrew Tinnish is a Brock University alum. A first basemen who won the OUA triple crown in his final season, Valeriote got into 27 games for GCL Blue Jays this season. He struggled a bit, with only six extra base hits leading to a low(ish) ISO of .114. He also struck out 24.8% of his at bats. As a twenty two year old college graduate, Shaun will likely need to jump to Vancouver next season if he has any chance of progressing. Based on this past season’s numbers, that may be a bit of a stretch.
Nick Lovullo – 38th Round – 1165 Overall – Unsigned – The son of Jays first base coach Tory Lovullo, Nick had a terrible senior season at the plate, sporting a .626 OPS. This pick smells like a favour for Tory. That being said, his last year in high school was far and away his worst and his previous seasons saw much higher numbers all around. Either way, it matters little, as Nick has chosen the college path opting to make good on his scholarship offer to D1 College of the Holy Cross.
Daniel Devonshire – 37th Round – 1135 Overall – Signed June 7th – The only New Zealander drafted this year (funnily enough) and only the third ever drafted Kiwi. Reading his summer league coach’s assessment, Devonshire’s strengths are his ability to get on base and raw power. Very raw. Looking at his stats in Fangraphs, firstly, they list his position as DH. That’s not a good sign. He had a healthy walk rate in 34 plate appearances for the GCL Jays, which helped to inflate his OBP, unfortunately though, that is the only positive. He managed a paltry four hits, none of which were for extra bases. Daniel turns twenty-one during spring training next year so will probably be given another chance to show his pop. A repeat season in the Gulf Coast League is probably on the cards.
Brian Cruz – 36th Round – 1105 Overall – Unsigned – The third shortstop to go unsigned in the bottom five. Cruz was taken in the 39th round out of high school so improved a bit after his freshmen year. By not signing he’ll be hoping to put up some big numbers his next two seasons before being draft eligible again. Looking at his hitting statistics from last season, bit of a nothing year. Got on base at a healthy clip, but showed no power. Bit of a blah pick, doubt we’ll hear much from Cruz again.
So there we have it, the bottom five rounds produced three unsigned shortstops and two players that will probably be remembered more for where they came from then what they end up doing in the Jays system. Those taken in these later rounds, statistically at least, have a remote chance of becoming mlb players. Why not take a Kiwi that shows tons of raw power then? In the off-chance he figures it out, the Jays end up with a power hitting first basemen that loves rugby. A chance worth taking.