MLB Draft Order Set: Jays pick 29th, 56th and 91st
With the recent James Shields saga concluding, the MLB was able to finalize the draft order ahead of this year’s MLB amateur draft held in June. The Toronto Blue Jays forfeited their first round draft pick in favour of signing the highly acclaimed Russell Martin but will pick up a compensation pick, making their first selection with the 29th pick followed by the 56th and 91st picks.
The Jays are also projected to have a spending pool of $5.63 million on the draft, which puts them in the bottom tier of the league. It would follow that the Jays are more likely to spend at the International level this year with the highly anticipated acquisition of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in early July.
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With that said, there have been some historically great selections made with the aforementioned picks. While many Jays fans may groan at the lower draft selection, combining it with the ignorant, “the draft is a crap-shoot,” attitude, this year’s draft can still hold lots of promise for the evolving Jays.
MiLB recently released their preliminary rankings for the upcoming draft. Without scouting every player, and taking the merit of the list at its word, at #29 is shortstop Kyler Murray. According to scouts, this shortstop has, “as high as ceiling as anyone,” but will be limited in his draft choice as he is a two-sport athlete committed to Texas A&M at the Quarterback position.
He’s blessed with a great athleticism which fuels phenomenal bat speed and the ability to make hard contact against elite pitchers. Murray may fit in Toronto as the organization currently lacks any real depth at shortstop and the Jays already have experience with prospects who have played two sports at the college level.
Dec 15, 2014; Allen, TX, USA; Kyler Murray of Allen high school poses for a portrait. He is the USA TODAY high school offensive player of the year. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Keeping that in mind, other #29th picks take on more famous names like Adam Wainwright and more recently, Carlos Quentin.
The top player, by WAR, with this selection was taken arguably when the draft was still in its infancy and thus may not be repeatable in today’s environment. His name was George Brett and he certainly made a tolerable career for himself.
Over 21 seasons in a single Kansas City Royals uniform, Brett tallied 88.4 WAR, 317 home-runs, a .305 batting average with 13 All-Star appearances and a 1980 MVP trophy. Oh, I forgot to mention he became a Hall of Famer in 1999 taking in 98.2 per cent of the vote.
Jun 16, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Kansas City Royals hitting coach George Brett (5) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
At 56, obviously the selection harbours less skill than at 29; that’s just how the system works. But that’s not to say there aren’t some diamonds in the rough either. The most recent star coming from the 2001 draft in J.J Hardy.
The second highest in WAR at that selection came in 1967 (long before my time) with the pick of outfielder Richie Zisk. But the one Jays fans will fondly remember is their 1982 selection with the 56th pick when they selected starting pitcher Jimmy Key. Over 15 seasons in the bigs, Key collected an impressive 49.4 WAR with a career ERA of 3.51 and four All-Star nominations. Let’s not forget that he was also part of the Jays when they won the World Series in 1992.
Aug 22, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays designated hitterWil Myers
(9) hits a home run in the eighth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay defeated Toronto 8-0. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Lastly comes the pick at 91. Admittedly, there’s been about as much success with this pick as R.A Dickey’s knuckleball in an open roof but there has been contribution at the major league level nevertheless. The three names people will remember most are Adam Everett (1995), Jeremy Affeldt (1997) and the highly controversial 2009 selection of the now Padres’ outfielder Wil Myers.
In two seasons, Myers has collected only 0.9 WAR, but I’d wager he surpasses Jim Beattie (15.4 WAR), the leader of this category, at some point in his career.
Mostly, these highlights mean nothing. However, it does go to show you that, through good scouting, better player development and a plethora of other factors, talent can come outside the first round of picks and make a profound impact on major league clubs.
Read into it what you will.