The Amateur Draft
Now that the MLB owners and MLBPA have agreed on moving forward with the 2020 Amateur Entry Draft, the Blue Jays can take a big sigh of relief. Due to the poor 2019 Jays record, they now have the 5th overall pick in the draft. The last time the Blue Jays picked this high in the draft was back when they selected Vernon Wells also with the 5th overall pick. Most players drafted won’t make an immediate impact on the MLB roster, but with a couple of minor league seasons, they will still be in the realm of a possibility with the young core that the Jays have assembled.
So who might the Jays draft? If you follow college baseball or even the many mock drafts that are on the internet, you might notice that there are several names that are routinely at the top of most mock drafts. Those names include RHP Emerson Hancock, LHP Asa Lacy, 3B/2B/CF Austin Martin, 1B/OF Spencer Torkelson, OF Garrett Mitchell, and 2B Nick Gonzales.
To touch briefly on the pitchers, both Hancock and Lacy are likely to be picked before the Jays 5th pick. Hancock was previously seen as a potential #1 pick and has “Ace” type stuff, and Lacy who has been rumoured as the Jays pick in many mock drafts has likely improved his stock with a brief 2020 NCAA season with numbers like 24 IP, 48 SO, 0.75 ERA, and a whip of 0.708.
So that leaves the hitters. Austin Martin has put up another monster season before the early ending. He has also been mentioned regularly as a possible #1 selection, so I won’t pretend that he will still be on the board at #5. So that leaves the following 3;
Torkelson has been seen as the best hitter in the draft. All he has done since he joined the collegiate ranks is hit and break records. Torkelson has been mentioned as a possible #1 selection, but his lack of defensive versatility is the big negative with him. Torkelson likely is viewed as a 1B/DH type, but he has tried to address this by playing the outfield in the Cape Cod Summer League. If Torkelson is still available at #5 then I would suggest that the Jays would take him as the best player available. Torkelson possesses legitimate game power with 23 homers in 242 AB and a .351 BA and .446 OBP during his second season at Arizona State. In the recent shortened season in only 17 games, Torkelson was hitting .340 BA with an insane .598 OBP.
Gonzales has been a standout at New Mexico State. He has predominantly played 2B but was moved to SS for the 2020 NCAA shortened season. There has been some concern with the glove, but it is the bat that will get him to the major leagues. In 2019 Gonzales hit a ridiculous .432 BA with a .532 OBP. He then followed that up with a good showing at the Cape Cod Summer league where he would hit .351 BA and .451 OBP. In the shortened 2020 NCAA season, Gonzales would continue but with an uptick in the power department. In only 58 AB Gonzales had 12 homers, which may be a little misleading as some of his doubles were likely making it over the fence. Overall, Gonzales looks like a 20+ homer MLB regular that could likely hit for both power and OBP. A move to the outfield might be difficult, with some scouts questioning his arm strength.
The true outfielder of the bunch. Mitchell has been viewed as a five-tool player. His biggest knock has been the concern that his diabetes could be challenging to manage over a grueling MLB schedule. In Mitchell’s sophomore season at UCLA, he led the team in most offensive categories, including breaking a 30-year-old team record with 12 triples. Mitchell produced a line of .349/.418/.566 and would chip in 18 steals. Mitchell was also a Gold Glove finalist for his work in the outfield. Mitchell’s successes continued in the shortened 2020 NCAA season. Through 15 games, Mitchell had a similar slash line of .355/.425/.484. Though Mitchell has yet to find the power to his swing, he could make for an excellent left-handed leadoff hitter with good OBP and Gold Glove-caliber defense.