The Toronto Blue Jays made one selection in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft but lost three of their own, including lefty Matt Smoral.
Toronto’s lone selection was right-handed pitcher Philip Walby, a 21-year-old from the Washington Nationals’ organization. Walby joined the Nats mid-season after spending the bulk of his career with the New York Yankees after being drafted out of San Diego State University in the 12th round in 2013.
Walby has topped out at advanced-A, posting a cumulative 4.22 ERA at that level over parts of three seasons. Control is a serious issue for him as he’s averaged 6.3 batters per nine innings in the minors alongside his 9.4 strikeouts.
The organization’s trio of losses are headlined by Smoral, the 6-foot-8 left hander that Toronto drafted 50th overall in 2012 and gave a $2 million bonus to.
Smoral has battled injuries and pitched just 106.2 innings since being drafted, topping out at advanced-A Dunedin in 2015 before throwing 13.0 innings with Vancouver this past season. His control is very much a work in progress and his stats give little reason for surface-level optimism with a career 5.91 ERA, but if Smoral can get healthy and sticks with his development, there is still potential for him to figure things out down the road. With so many moving parts, he’ll need much more time than the average 6-foot-2 pitcher.
Toronto also lost shortstop Jorge Flores to the Philadelphia Phillies. Flores, 25, stands just 5-foot-5 and has been with the Blue Jays since 2012. He’s coming off a real down year where he hit just .211 with a .557 OPS between advanced-A Dunedin and double-A New Hampshire, but did play much better in 2015 where he posted a .707 OPS in double-A.
Catcher Jorge Saez was selected by the Yankees, and given Toronto’s thin catching depth in the middle-to-upper minors, this move may force the Jays to adjust slightly. Saez, 26, was also drafted by the Blue Jays in 2012 out of Lee University and has been in the organization ever since. He broke out last season between Dunedin and New Hampshire, hitting 12 home runs and producing an .809 OPS.