Blue Jays: Top 2018 Drafted Positional Players

David Corcoran
NEW YORK,NY- DECEMBER 19: A detail shot of Louisville Slugger Bats, Rawlins Ball, and Frankiln batting gloves, the Official Bat, Ball and Batting gloves of Major League Baseball, photographed on December 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Freeman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK,NY- DECEMBER 19: A detail shot of Louisville Slugger Bats, Rawlins Ball, and Frankiln batting gloves, the Official Bat, Ball and Batting gloves of Major League Baseball, photographed on December 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Freeman/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Blue Jays have some position players on their 25 man roster that are hopefully set in place for years to come in the likes of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Cavan Biggio, along with their two catchers.

The Blue Jays also have some top-end positional prospects climbing through the ranks and two of the main ones were drafted in the 2018 Draft.

In this article, I will look at which positional players are standing out from the rest from the 2018 draft year.

Jordan Groshans (1st Round Pick)
The Blue Jays used their 12th overall pick to select Jordan Groshans out of high school.  It was a disappointing 2019 season for Groshans, but only because of injury. Groshans started the year as a 19-year-old playing for the Lansing Lugnuts in “A” Ball.  After 23 games, Groshans went down with a foot injury in early May which cost him the rest of the season.

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In limited at-bats, Groshans went 28 for 83 (.337) with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBI.  Groshans is still likely 2+ seasons away from being thought of as getting any major league action and as he plays shortstop the debate will start whether he moves. The options are he plays short and moves Bichette to third and VGJ to first; he moves to third and VGJ moves to first, or finally, Groshans learns to play the outfield.

I think it is most likely he moves to third. Groshans is currently ranked as the top positional prospect in the Blue Jays organization and the 67th best prospect in all of baseball.

Griffin Conine (2nd Round Pick)
Griffin Conine had a bit of a different type of disappointing season than Groshans had.  Conine started the season serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for realinic acid, which is a substance commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Conine came back after this suspension and took charge of the Lansing Lugnuts. In 80 games, he had 43 extra-base hits (22 home runs) to go with 64 RBI, however, he did finish with 125 strikeouts to just 38 walks.  Conine is the top outfield prospects in the Blue Jays organization and played strictly right-field last year. He doesn’t look like he has much versatility in the outfield and did commit eight errors to nine assists.

Conine will be 23 next summer and he’ll need to have a big season and climb through the system.

Nick Podkul (7th Round PIck)
There is a drastic drop off after Groshans and Conine as I have Nick Podkul coming in with the third-best year of the positional players.  Podkul played in both Lansing and Dunedin (High “A”) this past season. He got into 94 games and finished with a .244 average, he struck out just 63 times while walking 50 times.

Podkul also had an 85% success rate at stolen bases (17 for 20). Podkul split the year pretty evenly between second and third in Lansing, but once he was called up to Dunedin he played primarily third base, which leads me to believe is where the Blue Jays hope that he plays.  2020 will be a big year for Podkul as it will determine whether there is a future with the Blue Jays or if he’ll just be a minor leaguer.

Christopher Bec (5th Round Pick)
Christopher Bec may fall into a numbers game and might find a better chance in a different organization.  The Blue Jays as very deep with catching prospects and I don’t believe he falls anywhere close to having a chance at the Blue Jays roster unless Bec has a drastic improvement.  Bec will be turning 24 in two months and is coming off a season where he threw out just 21% of base runners and had seven balls get by him.

Offensively speaking, Bec struck out 25% of his at-bats but also walked 28 times over 199 plate appearances.  The walks led to a .343 on-base percentage and he is showing that he has base-stealing skills. In Vancouver in 2018, Bec was a perfect 16 for 16 in stolen bases and this past year he went 16 for 19.

Johnny Aiello (14th Round Pick)
Johnny Aiello will be turning 23 in February and spent the entire season in Lansing playing third base.  At the plate, Aiello had 26 extra-base hits over 77 games (260 at-bats) but also struck out 96 times. He seems like a magnet for the ball as he was hit 14 times this year and was also hit 15 times in his last season at College.  Aiello is in a similar situation that Bec and Podkul are in, which is 2020 will require them to have standout seasons or their time with the Blue Jays could be over shortly.

From the 2018 draft, the Blue Jays seemed to have struck gold with Jordan Groshans and Adam Kloffenstein, while Jeff Conine looks like a pretty solid prospect.  However, outside of those the only other potential major leaguer that I noticed was Cal Stevenson who the Jays packaged with Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini to acquire Derek Fisher.

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Prior to the trade Stevenson was batting .298 with 18 extra-base hits and 50 RBI in Dunedin. The draft as a whole does not look good, but if the three top guys come close to their projections you have to think the draft is a win.

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