After running through the 2012 draft picks and attempting to predict where the signed players may land in 2013, I thought it would be interesting to quickly buzz through the 2011 draft picks to see how they are getting on. I’ve got a few reasons for this. One, spring training has sprung, but the Jays really have very few questions to answer in the next month or two. After following up a 2012 Grapefruit League 24-7 record with a 73 win season I really don’t give a crap how they do this spring (as an update, they are basically plugging along, playing .500 ball while many of their top players don their countries colours).
Two, the earlier signing dates only kicked in for 2012 so many ’11 picks actually didn’t see any pro action until this past season.
Finally, I’m just curious to see how these kids are getting on. As pundits such as Marc Hulet have noted, the Jays recent trend of drafting athletes with high ceilings hasn’t really borne fruit thus far.
Thanks to the commenters who made suggestions after my 2012 series finished up. The main theme being that it tended to drag on a bit, especially as I made it a mission to delve into the potential college careers of those that got away. Well, the constructive criticism has been taken on board and I’ll be glossing over the 2011 unsigned picks. Also, as noted in Round One of this exercise, if any of the players drafted also have made Colleague Kyle’s top 30 prospect breakdown, I’ll be deferring to him for any scouting breakdown.
To use a UFC analogy, round four is the beginning of the ‘Championship Rounds’, where generally our heroes are too tired to do anything of note. A quick aside, the signing bonus information for the latter rounds is often guesswork, and as I get lower and lower I’m not going to bother with much guessing, so ‘Unknown’ will become the order of the day:
Justin Atkinson – 26th Round – 799 Overall – $100,000 – Maple Boner alert! The product of North Surrey H.S. got into 12 games as an 18 year old in 2011 before playing a full (short) season last year. His raw numbers for the GCL Jays weren’t great, but he did show decent plate discipline with a low (for his age) K% of 14.2. He also got on base at a decent clip despite a low BB%. Justin was called up to Bluefield late in August to replace Christian Lopes who jumped to Vancouver. With Matt Dean entrenched at third in Bluefield and hopefully doing the same in Vancouver next season, my prediction for Atkinson is that he will be going home. Manning second for the C’s.
Derrick Loveless – 27th Round – 829 Overall – $125,000 – I just love the name, sounds like something out of Superbad, McLovin and D. Loveless. Getting a five game cup of coffee with the GCL Jays after signing in ’11, Loveless repeated the level in 2012. Splitting time between left and center, the outfielder struggled at the dish putting up a .165/.278/.304 slash line. Loveless is the epitome of a high upside but very raw athlete that has a lot to learn about being a baseball player. Having focused on multiple sports in his high school career, the Jays will give him lots of rope to find his feet. Having just turned twenty, the organization will push him to Bluefield in 2013 despite the struggles.
Jorge Vega-Rosado – 28th Round – 859 Overall – $200,000 – Signing quickly and for a good chunk of change, JVR got into 51 games for the GCL Jays in 2011, putting up a very nice .317/.380/.470 slash line. That line was augmented by a .378 BABIP which could point towards rookie ball defending or someone who hits the ball pretty hard. Difficult to tell when no access to GB/FB rates. A middle infielder in 2011, JVR saw time at five positions last season, over three different levels. The Jays were aggressive with him to begin the year, with a full-season assignment in Lansing. A terrible start was made worse with an undisclosed injury which kept him on the shelf for two months. A short rehab in the GCL was followed by two months in the Appalachian League with Bluefield. He put up some pretty decent numbers in Virginia, but the power dissipated somewhat and his BB rates were on the low side. Should be interesting to see the approach the Jays take with him this season, given fact both middle infielder spots seem spoken for in Lansing. Could be JVR is put on a more linear path with a Vancouver assignment.
Taylor Cole – 29th Round – 889 Overall – $50,000 – I’ve written quite a bit about Taylor over on my Vancouver Canadians blog so won’t go into the whole backstory. There is absolutely nothing negative to say about the right-hander’s 2012, leading the Northwest League in ERA and WHIP, while placing second (to teammate Javier Avendano) in FIP. Taylor struck out 7.73/9 while walking 2.31/9. Still, his velocity hasn’t returned to its high school levels and last season, he was very much a control pitcher. I think he will be successful as part of a stacked Lansing staff in 2013 but beyond that I have my worries.
Kevin Patterson – 30th Round – 919 Overall – Unknown – A seriously big dude at 6’4″ 220 pounds, the first basemen got 48 games over two levels in 2011. After putting up a combined OPS of .956 the Jays had seen enough of him at rookie level (he’s 24) so Lansing was the next station stop in 2012. Understandably, the jump didn’t help his overall numbers as there was regression across the board. Still, 19 home runs, good for second in the league isn’t bad, and led to a healthy .220 ISO. A reasonabe 11.6% walk rate contributed towards a .340 OBP which is decent. I found a (very brief) scouting report which sounds like any big guy (Art Charles included). Likes fastballs inside that can be turned on, struggles away. I hope Kevin is enjoying the Florida heat as think he’ll be staying in Dunedin.
Austin Nola – 31st Round – 949 Overall – Unsigned – holy crap, I pulled out the ol’ Slapshot line in the last post regarding Austin’s brother Aaron, but I honestly didn’t realize the Jays had drafted both of them.
Kevin Pillar – 32nd Round – 979 Overall - Unknown – What more can be said about Mr Pillar that hasn’t been said already? This is exactly the kind of player you hope to find in the lower rounds. I named my first annual sleeper prospect list after him, and colleague Kyle ranked him #17 on his prospect countdown. Over at Fangraphs, Marc Hulet had him at fourteen (moving up after the trades) with one of the best quotes you could say about him – ‘He’s one of those prospects that grows on you.’ As per Hulet’s prediction, Pillar will start the season with New Hampshire before a possible move to triple A. For me, there would have to be a few injuries to see him in Toronto this year.
I’m going to finish there, instead of the usual ten. Kevin Pillar has shown there is value to be had in the later rounds. I don’t think he’ll be the only name on this particular list to have some success in the system as all the names that signed are intriguing and will be watched closely (be me at least) in the season to come.