The Blue Jays have had some successful drafts over the years, but which would should be considered as their best in franchise history?
I don’t know about you, but with the MLB draft coming up in a few weeks and there being no regular season at the moment, I’ve reading a lot about prospects lately. The upcoming draft should be a very interesting one for the Blue Jays with their having the number five selection, and hopefully they can add a few building blocks for the future.
As interested as I am in the upcoming draft, I came across an article from three writers over at MLB.com that outlined the best drafts of all-time for each franchise. Before I scrolled down to see who they had listed for the Blue Jays, I took a few guesses in my head, and I wasn’t even close.
According to the article from MLB.com, the best draft in franchise history came back in 1989. They made the argument for that year because the Blue Jays ended up picking two players who went on to have careers with more than 50 WAR in John Olerud and Jeff Kent. Of course, Kent only played 65 games in a Blue Jays uniform before he was traded to the Mets as part of a package that brought back David Cone. You can definitely argue that it was worth it for the Blue Jays, who went on to win their first World Series, but seeing Kent become a borderline Hall of Famer stung a little bit for sure. Amazingly, neither was a first round selection, as Olerud was taken in the 3rd, and Kent was a gem found in the 20th round. For those wondering, the Blue Jays took Eddie Zosky in the first round, a shortstop out of California State University.
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Was that the Blue Jays best draft ever though? It’s possible for sure, but I think if we had asked this same question a year or two ago, there would have been a very strong argument for the 2010 draft.
That year the Blue Jays had four first round picks because of compensation received when their own free agents left the previous year. With them the Blue Jays took Deck McGuire (11th), Aaron Sanchez (34th), Noah Syndergaard (38th), and Asher Wojciechowski (41st). In that draft they also picked up Justin Nicolino (80th), Sam Dyson (126th), Sean Nolin (186th), Dalton Pompey (486th), and even drafted Kris Bryant (546th) in the 18th round, although he didn’t end up signing.
While there is virtually nothing left to show for the Blue Jays from this group, it was certainly a successful draft at the time. Syndergaard has an All-Star appearance and Cy Young votes on his resume, and should have a bright career ahead of him after rehabbing his Tommy John surgery. As for Sanchez, injuries have robbed him of the potential that saw him lead the AL in ERA in 2016, and it’s hard to say if he’ll ever be able to recapture that kind of form. Nicolino was part of the infamous and massive trade with the Marlins back in 2012, and Nolin helped the Blue Jays acquire Josh Donaldson prior to 2015.
It’s pretty early to judge another group, but I’m a big fan of what the Blue Jays were able to do in the 2016 draft as well. That year they picked up Bo Bichette in the 2nd round (66th), and Cavan Biggio in the fifth round (162nd). If a few others like T.J. Zeuch or Josh Palacios can make a MLB impact, 2016 might be pointed to as a very impactful year as well.
I don’t know that there’s a more difficult sport to draft for, but hopefully the Blue Jays will be able to pull off a successful one in 2020. It’s too bad that’s it’s only five rounds as opposed to the typical 40, but hopefully Ross Atkins and company will be able to make the best of them.