Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and his Draft Gurus

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Max Pentecost- Image via


Pre-2014 season minors system rankings by BP:

ALEX ANTHOPOULOS. 13th. We couldn’t get free access to BA’s grade for this one, so we used the one provided by Baseball Prospectus instead. The Jays had some compensation for failing to sign Phil Bickford in this draft and they got a really great piece in return in the 2014 draft. However, by this point, the Jays system – despite aggressive international additions – had fallen to middle of the road in terms of rankings. Did fans care much? Some did and still do, but I feel most would say they enjoyed the aggressive nature of the deal Alex Anthopoulos made to better the on-field product.. GM. and his Draft Gurus

We’ll focus on the best draft-year guys from this draft since most are too far away to predict success or failure:

Based on their first performances and overall package, you can see that the Jays selected a lot of players and pitcher you can envision making it to The Show. The Jays also remained determined on the international front, signing (with international ranking from BA in brackets) Juan Meza (10th), Kevin Vicuna (30th), Jesus Navarro, and Guadulupe Chavez.

It’s hard to provide a complete analysis of what the 2014 haul brought in for the Toronto Blue Jays, but one thing we know is that the guys listed above have real promise, and Hoffman in particular has a chance to become the steal of the entire draft class. There’s also little doubt that Pentecost will be an MLB catcher. At this point, it’s more of a question of whether he’ll be a starter and how great he will become. I certainly believe this class shows promise should continue the trend of AA’s draft classes to find at least a trio of MLB talents.

What will 2015 bring? Nobody can say for certain, but expert expectations are that pitching will dominate the early rounds.

Here is the Jays pre-2015 draft by BA:

10th. The Jays jumped up 3 spots from previous year’s BP ranking and was in the top third. Actually, not they don’t if you consider that 6 of the top 10 Jays prospects on BA’s list are on the active roster today!. GM. and his Draft Gurus. ALEX ANTHOPOULOS

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Despite a slight hiccup where the system fell to the lower third of the talent rankings (22nd), it has generally been able to remain in the top half of MLB. That tells us that not only have Alex Anthopoulos and his draft gurus been able to identify talent in the draft and on the international market, but they’ve dealt a ton of them and still wound up with an extremely talented system. So talented, in fact, that

6 of the top 10

made the starting roster this season and there are still near MLB ready talents waiting behind them in AA.

I know that we can all sit back and identify teams that have grabbed the Mike Trout and Chris Sale caliber players and challenge whether or not the Jays have been just as successful. I also know that fans have a right to be frustrated about missing our on some key talent, as listed above. And, finally, I also know that the scouting department definitely had the right to ask itself questions and ponder whether or not their efforts were worthwhile. After all, this is a Jays scouting department that has NEVER selected first overall, and I once wrote a piece entitled “Will Jays Ever Draft In Top 4 Again” for good reason. There’s just no comparison between what they’ve had to draft with when placed against others – such as what the Rays have had. The Rays have selected 4 first overall picks since 1999 and 8 top 4 picks in same timeframe compared to none in top 4 for Jays from 1997 on.

I do, however, want fans to picture a world where J.P. Ricciardi had stuck around and not used the compensation picks strategy and had not been as aggressive on the international side of things. Just ponder if he kept this strategy going, something that frustrated fans for a long time in Toronto:

"“Ricciardi was also clear that his key asset – the club’s wealth of young pitching talent – is not a chip he’ll trade in easily. He’s banking on the usually dependable stars who didn’t fully perform this season – Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay – to return to form, while second baseman Aaron Hill, out half the season with a concussion, simply returns.”"

Reluctance to deal, reluctance to realize how to improve your team, and reluctance to use your prospects to improve your team. It just didn’t work. That Jays team fell short of the playoffs every time because they weren’t willing to do the hard things that need to be done to keep the flow of prospects going while also using that wealth to better the MLB team. In fact, as he works for the New York Mets, it seems that they are using the Ricciardi way over there as well as they have been reluctant to make moves needed to bring them closer to the top.

Alex Anthopoulos and his draft gurus should be commended for doing an outstanding job. I’m not sure why the scouting department has had such a high turnover rate. It may be systemic, it may be that those people were ready for new challenges, or it may be that the Jays wanted fresh or improved talents. What I do know is that regardless of who has been doing the scouting, the Jays have been able to alter their strategy to fit the rules, picks, and bonus totals they have to work with. They’ve refocused their attention to Latin America, and they’ve been able to keep a great flow of prospects going as a result.

Which draft has impressed you the most in the tenure of Alex Anthopoulos and his draft gurus?

Eric Elliot touched on some Draft Preview items for the Jays this season here. The Jays enter the 2015 draft with a steep hill to climb as they forewent their 1st rd selection due to the signing of Russell Martin and will only be able to make their selection with the 29th overall pick. Their next pick isn’t until the 51st selection and their final top 100 selection is 91st overall. The Jays had 8 top 100 picks in 2010, 7 of them in 2011, 6 of them in 2012, 3 of them in 2013, and 4 of them in 2014. This indicates that their job has gotten consistently harder to do when preparing for the draft and forces to remain as focused as possible.

With a half decade’s worth of drafting history to go on, I’m confident Alex Anthopoulos and his draft gurus will figure it out. Enjoy the team folks and know that Alex Anthopoulos and his draft gurus have the team covered. Now let’s see what the prospects haul has in store in 2015 and see just how they’ll get maximum returns.

Next: Scott Copeland solid in Buffalo Bisons loss

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