That’s exactly how I felt after day one of the 2013 draft. I was convinced that the Blue Jays would use their first few selections on high-end, position players with big-time athletic ability. Let’s face facts, the team has drafted more than their fair share of pitchers in recent years and the system is starving for positional depth.
Well, curve ball number one got thrown with the 10th pick of the draft, when Toronto selected right-hander Phil Bickford with their first selection.
Yes, Bickford has high upside and a great arm, but he’s very raw and was probably a bit of a reach at the number 10 spot. With Reese McGuire, J.P. Crawford, and D.J. Peterson still on the board at the time, there was likely a better choice available.
But hey, Anthopoulos and his guys love young arms and likely felt like they needed to restock the farm after the trades of winter 2012/2013.
So it was a bit more shocking when, after their second round pick (47th overall) came around, Toronto again dipped into the pitching well, selecting right-hander Clinton Hollon.
A year ago, Hollon was at the top of the draft class. Armed with a power arm with a mid-90′s fastball and a solid slider, he was projected in the early first round.
However, red flags went up when forearm tendinitis popped up and he missed time at the end of his junior year in high school. Scout are concerned that his delivery needs tweaking, something noted as early as March 2012 by Jason Churchill of ESPN, saying:
Hollon, a Kentucky commit, has bumped 97 mph on the radar gun. And despite some red flags with his delivery, he has the best arm in the prep class of 2013. He’s just 6-foot-1, but he’s well built at 195 pounds and offers an upper-80s curveball, a mid-80s slider and a changeup. His slider may be his best shot at an out pitch at the next level.
Hollon has seen his stock move all over the place as some clubs are a bit weary of him due to some injury issues last year. He couldn’t pitch in the showcase circuit last summer because of some forearm tightness which prevented him from being properly evaluated early on and the injury itself has some scary ties. By itself, tightness isn’t scary, but it can be tied to more significant elbow issues in some cases.
That all said, scouts are torn whether Hollon profiles as a starter or as a reliever. Given his solid fastball and swing-and-miss slider, most feel the back-end of the bullpen is the likely destination, but that hinges on his development of his change-up or curve ball.
(All Stats via BlueJays.com)
Innings Pitched: 57
Total Strike Outs 87
Rawlings First Team All-American
(Video Credit: MLB.com)
So that in mind, Hollon is a solid prospect, albeit a risky one. Toronto likes to take risks, and this one could pay off in the long-term. That said, Toronto still has other areas of need, so was this the spot to take risks?