Welcome to edition four of the 2012 Draft Class retrospective, a regular installment this off-season, looking, 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 years past. For the previous editions, check 40-36 , 35-31 , and 30-26
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.
As per this piece, the odds of a player drafted after the 20th round are still a far-fetched seven percent. But hey, like all good prospect speculators, we can always dream. Four of the five names below signed and made their professional debuts this past season. Two were college age and played in the upper levels of rookie ball. Both showed some flashes of potential and we an probably say they will at least be promoted before any major decision is made on their futures. While the two signed high-schoolers struggled their way through opening seasons in the Gulf Coast League. However, if we were to make any allowances for these two, they were both drafted out of colder climate baseball territories, so probably struggled a bit with the heat and humidity in Florida. Grasping at straws? Maybe, next season will tell us more.
Jason Leblebijian – 25th Round – 775 Overall – Signed June 11th – After a mixed senior season at Bradley University, Jason made his pro debut in 2012 across three different levels, being honoured as the first class of 2012 graduate to see time in Lansing. And, similar to his final college season, the numbers across Bluefield, Vancouver, and Lansing are decidedly mixed. In nine Appalachian League games he got on base at a decent clip, but didn’t do much else, as seen in his .290 slugging percentage, good for an ISO of .094. Promoted to Vancouver (to play in a league more in line with his age?) Leblebijian got off to a hot start, hitting over .450 through 37 plate appearances. Things leveled off from there. Interestingly, his power numbers took off a bit, flashing a .405 slugging percentage. On the negative side, his walk rate halved and strike out rate increased. Promoted to Lansing for the final two weeks of the season, the walk rate doubled, strike outs came down a bit, and, once again, the power numbers fell off a cliff. Twelve games is hardly a reasonable sample size, but the Midwest League may have been a step too far in his first season.
In the field, Leblebijian was exclusively a shortstop in college. Seeing him in Vancouver, he’s a big body, and his movement isn’t as fluid as you would like at SS. Also, as the Jays system is loaded with prospects at short, Leblebijian’s future will lie elsewhere, as seen in Lansing where he spent the bulk of his time at second. In 2013, I see a return to Lansing where he will probably see the bulk of reps at second, giving him the opportunity to learn on the job, before a possible late promotion to Dunedin.
Matt Rose – 24th Round – 745 Overall – Unsigned – Looking at the draft board, Rose is listed as a right-handed pitcher, but looking at his high school stats, the 6’4″ 195 pounder seems to have been the best player on the team, in every position. Looking at the various hitting and pitching stat lines, he led the team in virtually every positive category. Interestingly, his pitching starts were over and done with after the ninth game of a 28 game season. He did make a relief appearance late in the season, but there is a whiff of arm troubles there, considering how dominant he was earlier in the year. I can’t find any scouting reports on Rose, so will try to keep an eye on him as he kicks off his college career at Georgia State.
Trey Pascazi – 23rd Round – 715 Overall – Signed July 9th – Another middle infielder, the 6’1″ 175 pound Pascazi was drafted out of East Rochester High School. Reading this interview, despite a verbal commitment to Monroe Community College, he was pretty intent on playing pro ball. Unfortunately, and again, these are small sample sizes, in 36 plate appearances with the Gulf Coast Jays, things didn’t go that well for Trey, as he managed only 5 hits with an incredible 19 strike outs. Pascazi switched to switch hitting three years ago, and, as per the interview, noted his left-handed hitting as a weakness. As the bulk of his GCL at bats were against right-handed pitching, this could go some way to explaining his struggles. As he will still only be 19 when next season opens up, another year in the GCL is on the cards.
Josh Almonte – 22nd Round – 685 Overall – Signed – Josh will go down in history as the one and only player ever to be drafted out of Long Island City High School as it is was due to close after the last school year. Almonte impressed scouts at the 2012 World Open Uncommitted Showcase with his work in the outfield. By all accounts, he has a huge arm and is quick, showing good footwork. At the plate, Almonte is raw, but how many 18 year olds aren’t? A gap hitter with potential home run power, Josh needs to engage his lower half more to complement his strong wrists and quick hands. Unfortunately, things didn’t come together this season with the GCL Jays, as Almonte’s stats are similar to Pascazi’s in that the strike out ratio is far too high. His walk rate was a miniscule 2.8% meaning his plate coverage this year was terrible. As a quick aside, looking at the numbers for the GCL roster, nobody really had what could be considered a good season. These are high school kids getting their first taste of pro ball. Next season will give us a better picture of Almonte’s potential. He’ll be 19 when the season opens, and after repeating in the GCL to begin with, will be looking for a later season promotion to Bluefield.
Colton Turner – 21st Round – 655 Overall – Signed June 11th – The only signed pitcher in this group of pitchers, Turner was
drafted out of Texas State University and assigned to the Vancouver Canadians. Exclusively a starter in high school, Turner started in his first four appearances for the C’s before a stint on the dl in July pushed him to the bullpen for the remainder of the season. As per this article it is exceedingly difficult to find out the specifics of minor league injuries but elbow problems did hinder him a bit in his junior year of college. Striking out a batter per inning in college, Colton had a 7.6 K/9 ratio in pro ball. This was offset somewhat by his 4.46 BB/9 ratio. All his other peripherals were pretty good, however, it is hard to predict where Turner may land in 2013 without knowing for sure the role Toronto have in mind for him. I saw him a couple of times in Vancouver and although he doesn’t throw particularly hard, at 6’3″ and 185 pounds, there is some room for improvement. If the Jays brass give him another opportunity to start (which makes sense) Turner will probably repeat a level, however, if his path is deemed to be a LOOGY sort of role, then he will be promoted to Lansing to start the season.