Center Field: Vernon Wells
Very few times in franchise history have the Toronto Blue Jays had a top-five pick in the MLB Amateur draft. In 1997, that is the exact spot Toronto was drafting and they did not miss selecting power-hitting centre fielder Vernon Wells.
Like many drafts, the Blue Jays got a top prospect straight out of High School as Wells was an 18-year-old coming out of Arlington, Texas. After being drafted in June 1997, Wells played in Single-A Short Season in St. Catherines and hit quite well, as in 66 games he had 31 extra-base hits to a .307 average.
The following year he moved up to play in Single-A, but 1999 was his breakout season. Wells started out in Dunedin (A+), moved to Knoxville (AA), then Syracuse (AAA) before being a late-season call-up to the majors and played 24 games for Toronto. Wells held his own batting .261, however, struck out 18 times to four walks.
Wells would spend all of 2000 in Syracuse with the exception of a pair of at-bats as a September call-up. In 2001, Wells would get an opportunity in May where he got into eight games, however, he was sent back to AAA for the season until he was called up for good in late August. Wells would get into 30 games hitting nine extra-base hits and collecting five stolen bases to a .313 batting average.
Wells spent nine full seasons as the Blue Jays centre fielder and a lot of the fans view of Wells is tainted by a contract that he signed. After the 2006 season in which Vernon Wells was coming off his third consecutive Gold Glove Award, being named an All-Star, having previously won the Silver Slugger Award for centre field and averaged 37 doubles, 28 home runs and 97 RBI over his past five seasons, he signed a massive 7-year, $126 million deal.
Over his next three seasons, Wells hit just 16, 20, and 15 home runs, never collecting more than 80 RBI. Fans started to turn on one of the top hitting players the franchise ever developed. In his final season in 2010, Wells was named an All-Star for the first time since signing the contract. He hit .273 with 31 home runs and 88 RBI that season, but new GM Alex Athonpolous took the opportunity to unload the contract and traded Wells to the Los Angeles Angels without retaining any money.
Wells would not be able to regain his early career success and retired after 2013 when his contract ran out. Wells is currently fourth in franchise history in home runs with 223 and second in RBI and doubles trailing Carlos Delgado.