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Aug 24, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; National pitcher Touki Toussaint (20) delivers a pitch during the 2013 Under Armour All-American Baseball game at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

2014 MLB Draft: Five potential options for the Toronto Blue Jays first two picks

The 2014 MLB Draft starts tomorrow and the Toronto Blue Jays will make the ninth and eleventh overall selections. Who will they select with their first two picks? No one – not even the club – really knows the answer but there are a handful of players that at least seem more likely to land in Toronto than others.

Based on the position that the Blue Jays are drafting and after reviewing several mock drafts and other Twitter rumours I’ve come up with a list of five players who will likely receive at least some sort of consideration from Alex Anthopoulos and his gang. These aren’t necessarily the players I would select but seem to be the five who are generating the most interest among Blue Jays’ fans at the moment.

“The Blue Jays are worried Turner won’t be there for their first pick, but they’ll pounce on the shortstop if he is. If not, they could reach up for Florida high school righthander Touki Toussaint here.” Baseball America

Name: Trea Turner
Position: Shortstop
School: NC State
Height/Weight: 6’1/171

It seems like if Turner is available, he’ll be the Blue Jays’ first overall pick. He provides plus-plus speed plenty of pop as a middle infielder but the main knock against him is a lengthy swing, which will sell out for power. There’s also been some debate about whether or not he will be able to stick at shortstop but for the most part reviews for him defensively are positive.

The Blue Jays haven’t drafted many college hitters during Alex Anthopoulos’ tenure but with a dearth of quality position players within the organization it makes sense to me his priority would be to get a bat at a premium position in a class that is relatively weak in the hitting department.

Name: Touki Toussaint
Position: Right-handed pitcher
School: Coral Springs (Florida) Christian Academy HS
Height/Weight: 6’2/195

As noted above, according to Baseball America, if Turner is off the board at nine the Jays could very well go after Toussaint with their first pick. In a perfect world he would be available at 11 and the Jays could compliment their system with a high upside arm and a more mature position prospect. According to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, Toussaint throws his fastball in the mid-90′s with an easy delivery and electric arm action. He also features a hammer curve ball and was starting to show some feel for a changeup during his last outing. He has the upside to be a future number one starter and is probably one of the best prep arms in this year’s class.

Name: Jeff Hoffman
Position: Right-handed pitcher
School: East Carolina
Height/Weight: 6’3/190

Hoffman starred for East Carolina and was expected to be a top five pick in this year’s draft. A late season arm injury, which required Tommy John surgery, has likely dropped him out of the top ten. But he might not fall much further than that.

As Keith Law of ESPN ($) alluded to in his most recent mock draft, there’s not much benefit for Hoffman to hold out on signing and go back to school. He won’t be able to pitch next season so he might as well let a professional club pay for his rehab. This would likely lead Hoffman to accept an underslot deal, which could save the Blue Jays bonus pool money to spread around later in the draft (or as some fear, they may just keep it for themselves).

Either way, there’s a real case for taking a chance on Hoffman. His fastball would touch 97 MPH before the injury and his curveball was expected to be a weapon at the MLB level. It’s obviously unknown how much of his ability he would retain after the surgery but based on recent success rates it’s reasonable enough to believe that at least most of his ability will eventually return.

However Anthopoulos has admitted to becoming slightly more risk averse during his tenure as GM, which makes me wonder if he would take such a risk with such a high pick.

Name: Max Pentecost
Position: Catcher
School: Kennesaw State University
Height/Weight: 6’1/190

Another college bat? According to Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com, the Blue Jays’ “heavy hitters” were in town to see Pentecost two days ago and appear to be intrigued by the collegiate catcher.

Jim Callis of MLB.com says “Pentecost may not have a true plus tool, but he also doesn’t have a glaring weakness either. A right-handed hitter, he has bat speed and controls the strike zone.” Callis also quoted a club executive as describing Pentecost as the best “pure catcher” in the draft.

He did suffer a stress fracture to his throwing arm as a senior in high school but is considered to have a strong enough arm to stick behind the plate. He’ll need to become a better receiver but that’s expected to come with time.

As for the pick, to be honest I wouldn’t be a fan of the selection. If he signed a deal under slot I might find the pick a bit more stomachable but I think the Blue Jays could do better if Turner, Toussaint or Hoffman are off the board. LHP Kyle Freeman, LHP Sean Newcomb and OF Michael Conforto would all be better picks in my opinion but might not be available either.

Name: Tyler Beede
Position: Right-handed pitcher
School: Vanderbilt
Height/Weight: 6’4/215

According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, Beede has signed the necessary consent form that would be required for the Blue Jays to re-draft him. However I’d be very surprised to see AA draft him again. Beede struggled with command in college and never quite put it all together while with Vanderbilt. He packs three potential plus pitches but has Drabek-esque control of them, which led to his stock dropping a bit after an up-and-down junior season. He’ll still likely go in the first 20 picks but he’s a headache the Blue Jays could go without in my opinion.

Tags: 2014 MLB Draft Jeff Hoffman Max Pentecost Toronto Blue Jays Touki Toussaint Trea Turner Tyler Beede

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