Blue Jays Draft 2016: Part II – The Mocks

Apr 14, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (left) and relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (right) celebrate a win over the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated New York 4-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (left) and relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (right) celebrate a win over the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated New York 4-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Most of the mock drafts expect the Jays to take a pitcher with their first pick in the 2016 draft.  But which pitcher?

This article is the second in a series of three about the Jays and the 2016 First Year Player Draft, to be held on June 9-11.  In this article, I look at the projections made by 20 of the mock draft websites, and discuss three of the players suggested as good fits for the Blue Jays at #21.  In the previous article, I discussed the “philosophical” questions that the Jays should be asking before establishing a draft strategy, and in tomorrow’s article I will be discussing some of the “wild card” players that the Jays might consider with the 21st overall pick.

Let’s start with the mocks.  I took 20 mock draft sites, including both the well-known ones (fangraphs, and some of the lesser-known ones.  I only considered draft projections made in the last 30 days, and only those that provided projections for the 21st pick (a few of them only projected the top 10).  The results are as follows:

2016 Mock draft pick 21
2016 Mock draft pick 21 /

As you will see, of the 20 projections there was one player who was suggested three times (Matt Manning) and two players who were suggested twice (Jordan Sheffield and Cal Quantrill).  Let’s have a look at those three players – all right-handed pitchers.

Matt Manning – RHP – 6’6″, 195 lbs, born 1998

Manning is a classic upside pick.  His fastball is already in the mid-90s, touching 98. Perfect Game rates it as the 3rd best fastball in this year’s prep class (behind only Jason Groome and Riley Pint, both of whom are projected top-5).  But Matt’s curve and changeup are still works in process, and his pitching motion is inconsistent.

Matt still has a lot of learning to do, but for an 18 years old who has only been pitching for just over a year that is to be expected.  He might well be still growing (his father, ex-NBA centre Rich Manning is 6’11”) but even if not, this diamond is going to need a lot of polishing.  So he would not be of benefit to the Jays for several years.  But if he manages to put it all together, his upside is as high as any pitcher in the draft.

Jordan Sheffield – RHP – 6’0″, 180 lbs, born 1995

In 2013, a then18-year-old Sheffield was rated the 10th best RHP in the draft and was projected to be drafted in the first round.  But he had elbow problems that culminated in Tommy John surgery.  The Red Sox drafted him in the 13th round, but he chose to not sign and instead enrolled at Vanderbilt.

He missed all of 2014, returning in 2015 to pitch 60 solid innings.  He pitched in the Cape Cod league that summer, but struggled with command and ended up with a 5.49 ERA over 20 innings.  Going into the Vanderbilt 2015-16 season, he was considered a long shot to be a first round selection in the 2016 draft, but his 2.38 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 90.1 innings put him squarely back in that discussion.

Jordan has a mid-90s fastball with movement, which has been graded as high as a 70.  His curve and change-up both rate as above-average, and he has put a lot of work into cleaning up his mechanics.  On the plus side, he is one of the more advanced pitchers at the top of this year’s class, and should (if all goes well) advance relatively quickly to the major league level.  On the negative side, there is evidence that having Tommy John increases a pitcher’s chances of a second surgery, and it is somewhat troubling to base a draft decision on only 90 innings of first-round-level performance.

Cal Quantrill – RHP – 6’3″, 185 lbs, born 1995

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

It is January.  A 20-year-old right handed pitcher is considered a serious candidate to go first overall in the mlb draft in the following summer.  But, playing for his college team in the early spring, he damages his elbow and has to have Tommy John surgery.  As a result, he missed the rest of his pre-draft year.  By the time the draft rolls around he has not started (seriously) pitching, so teams are forced to make a draft decision on the basis of his excellent performance 2 years earlier, pre-surgery.

More from Blue Jays Draft

Am I talking about Jeff Hoffman, who the Jays drafted 9th overall in 2014 and who became the centrepiece of the Troy Tulowitzki trade in July 2015?  Or about Cal Quantrill, son of Paul Quantrill, who the Jays might very well draft with the 21st pick in 2016?

Quantrill was a beast for Stanford in 2014 and early 2015, with a 2.58 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched.  Cal has an 89-94 fastball with good sink, and already has a plus changeup.  His slider and curve are both average but inconsistent, and he is still improving.

It is rare these days to find a college-level pitcher with true ace upside.  It is even more rare to find one available at #21.  This could be a combination that the Jays find difficult to turn down.  But on the other hand, a gamble like Quantrill is best made by a team with a strong farm system who can afford to gamble.  The Jays – alas! – no longer meet that definition.

And here are three more all-but-irrelevant reasons for the Jays to draft Quantrill:

  1. Cal is Canadian – born in Port Hope, Ontario about 100 km north-east of Toronto.  Canajan, eh!
  2. Cal was originally drafted in the 26th round by the Yankees in 2013 but did not sign with the team who arguably ended his father’s career through overuse (Paul Quantrill still holds the Yankees record for appearances in one season with 86).  Having a Yankee fail-to-sign at the top of a Toronto rotation would be highly aesthetic.
  3. Cal’s father Paul currently works for the Blue Jays as a Special Assistant to the Organization.  He wouldn’t give the Jays a Port Hope snow job, would he?

The bottom line

Any one of these three players would be an interesting choice for the Jays at 21st overall.  Each comes with risks, but also with substantial upside.