Blue jays Draft 2018: Part II – The Mocks

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Bo Bichette
MIAMI, FL - JULY 09: Bo Bichette /

The mock draft sites are unusually consistent in their predictions of the player the Jays will draft with their first pick, #12 overall.

This is the second in a three-part series about the Blue Jays and the upcoming June 4th First Year Player draft.  Part I Strategy) can be seen here, and Part III (the Dark Horses) can be found here.

Every year, in the weeks (and months!) leading up to the first-year player draft, a number of websites publish mock drafts, in which they try to predict which players will be taken by which teams.  The predictions are rarely dead-on (in 2017, the three players who were most frequently predicted as Jays’ #22 picks were Keston Hiura, Jake Burger and Nate Pearson).  Hiura ended up going #9 to Milwaukee, and Burger #11 to the White Sox, so we will likely never know how high they were on the Jays’ list.  But the Jays did draft Pearson with the #28 pick.

The 2018 mocks (or at least, the thirteen that I reviewed) are unusual in that there is one player who is predicted by four different mocks (Ryan Rolison), another predicted three times (Shane McClanahan) and a third predicted twice (Connor Scott).  So in aggregate, the top three picks cover nine of the 13 mocks.

Let’s have a look at these three players.

Ryan Rolison, LHP, University of Mississippi

There is a lot to like about Rolison.  He is 6’2″, 195 pounds (or 6’3″, 205, depending where you look) with a fastball that averages 91-94 and has touched 95.  That pitch alone would make him draft-worthy, but he also has a curve that is already plus and has been described as one of the best breaking balls in the 2018 draft.  And his delivery is smooth.

"“He’s got premium stuff, but he pitches. He doesn’t look like he’s throwing 92, 93 miles per hour when he’s out there. He looks like your average college lefty that’s throwing 84, 85 miles per hour,” Bianco said. “But it’s premium stuff. He’s throwing a curveball at 82, 83 miles per hour."

The knocks against Ryan are pretty standard for a 20-year-old college pitcher.  His third and fourth pitches are very much works in process, and his control is inconsistent.  There is also a concern about his recent performance.  Ryan was excellent in 2017, with a 3.06 ERA in college play, and a 1.93 ERA in the Cape Cod League.  But so far in 2018, his ERA is 4.03.  Possibly a small sample size aberration, but …

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Ryan is a draft-eligible sophomore who might well be still improving, which could make him a tougher (and more expensive) sign than if he were a senior.  But a strong, hard-throwing lefty who already has a plus secondary pitch might well be worth the $4 million slot for the #12 pick.

Shane McClanahan, LHP, University of South Florida

In many ways, McClanahan is similar to Ryan Rolison.  Shane is a 6’2″, 188 pound left-handed pitcher with a power fastball (even more so than Ryan).  McClanahan regularly sits 92-98 with movement and has touched 100 – very unusual for a college lefty (well, actually, 100 mph is unusual for *any* pitcher!).  And like Ryan, he already has a plus secondary pitch – in Shane’s case, a change-up.  As one site put it:

"The young southpaw has some of the most electric stuff in this year’s draft class, including a fastball that has reached as high as 100 miles per hour. His changeup is also a plus pitch, and he has an incredible 111 strikeouts in just 66 1⁄3 innings so far this season. He might have more upside than anyone else in his draft class."

Like Rolison, McClanahan is still working on his third and fourth pitches, and has troubles with consistency.  He has another potential red flag in that he had Tommy John surgery in 2016 – but he came back strong in 2017 and shows no signs of a failed recovery.  Another “knock” on McClanahan is that some scouts see him as a reliever rather than a starter.  But (a) that is what they said about Nate Pearson last year and (b) in today’s game, a back-of-the-bullpen shutdown reliever has considerable value.

Connor Scott, OF, Plant High School (Florida)

Before you get your hopes up: yes, Connor Smith was both an outfielder and a pitcher in high school.  But his future is almost certainly in the field, not on the mound.  So curb your Ohtani dreams!

Scott is a typical high school first round pick.  He is an excellent athlete (and student), with bat speed, raw power and an MLB-style high lift swing.  He is said to have legitimate 70 speed, and bat control highly advanced for his age.  But a long way from MLB-ready.  The Jays would be drafting him for the upside, which is considerable.  He is currently 18 years old, 6’4″ and 180 lbs.  Add another 20-30 pounds of muscle and a few years of training, and he could be something special.  But, like most green-as-grass high schoolers, he is a lottery ticket.  High risk, but when tickets like this one pay off, they can pay off big.  As one writer puts it, in saying that Scott might have the highest upside of any player in the draft:

"Tall and lanky, Scott has just averageish power right now, but there’s plenty of room for him to add size and strength to his frame without compromising his athleticism any. He has above-average feel for hitting, should have at least average power, could play a plus center field, has a 70 grade throwing arm in the outfield, and should be able to swipe 20 bags a year given his speed….Connor Scott hitting his ceiling is a game-changing player."

In prior drafts, Team Shapkins has focused on college-level players with their first rounders (Warmouth and Pearson in 2017, T.J. Zeuch in 2016).  But Shapiro has spoken of a “sustainable” farm system, continually replenished with younger talent as more advanced talent graduates.  Signings like Eric Pardinho fit that model.  Might they feel that a generally stronger farm system allows the Jays to take a few chances on high-risk but high-ceiling talents like Scott?

Next: What baseball's 2nd chance culture means for Osuna

The bottom line

There should be plenty of talent left for the Jays at pick #12 this year.  Any of the above three players would likely be a top-12 in the Jays farm system, almost immediately, with upside.