Former Blue Jays draft pick Phil Bickford heading to independent ball


When the Toronto Blue Jays opted to utilize their first round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft on Phil Bickford, it was a curious selection that turned out to be a mistake. Seen as a long-shot to sign due to his commitment to Cal State Fullerton, the Blue Jays were unable to sway the right-hander away from school and had to wait an additional year to receive a compensation pick.

If only Phil Bickford could have seen just one year into the future.

According to Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA, Bickford has opted not to return to school this fall and is likely to opt for joining an independent league team this spring. From there, he will re-enter the MLB Draft in June.

In his lone season at Cal State Fullerton, the 6’4″ 185 pound righty went 6-3 with a 2.13 ERA and a 8.76 K/9 ratio in 76 innings of work, according to the team’s website. That performance, coupled with a solid turn in independent baseball will only enhance his draft stock in June. However, there is a curiosity there of whether or not if he could do better than the #7 pick  or the $2 million signing bonus he turned down to spend one year in college.

Of course, while the Blue Jays did have to sacrifice a year of development time, the team did turn that compensation pick into catcher Max Pentecost in the 2014 draft, which was arguably a better overall choice for the club’s needs. They also drafted Jeff Hoffman in the first round, replacing a questionable sign with an arm that likely would have been the top pick in the draft had it not been for Tommy John surgery.

The Blue Jays have made a habit of turning those comp picks into upgrades, also working the magic by turning their failure to sign Tyler Beede into a gem named Marcus Stroman. That worked out pretty well for them, right?