While I’m usually all for a “draft the best player available” mentality, I hope the Blue Jays make an exception if Nick Gonzales is still available to them.
With a top five pick in this year’s MLB draft, the Blue Jays have a chance to add a star to their minor league system. Theoretically that could happen in any round, but with only four teams picking ahead of them this year, there’s an exciting opportunity here.
As we’ve talked about before here at Jays Journal, part of the Blue Jays’ draft strategy will be dictated by who is selected ahead of their pick, which could greatly alter their desired plans. I think it’s safe to say that neither Spencer Torkelson or Austin Martin are going to fall to the #5 spot in the draft, but things could play out in a variety of different ways after the top pair.
While I’ve always been a fan of the Blue Jays taking the “best player available” in most drafts, I don’t know if that will be the wisest strategy this time around. In fact, if Nick Gonzales is still on the board, I hope the Blue Jays take a pass, even if they have him in the highest spot on their ranking system.
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The reason I say this isn’t necessarily a knock on Gonzales himself, but it’s more about the way the Blue Jays minor league system is set up right now. If there’s any position with an abundance of talent, it’s likely in the middle infield. There’s no such thing as too much talent at a position, but using a high draft pick effectively will also be important.
Right now the Blue Jays have a talented middle infield in the big leagues in Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, and there is a lot more on the way throughout the minor league rungs. In fact, according to Baseball America’s most recent rankings (subscription required), there are nine middle infielders in the top 30 across the organization including Jordan Groshans, (#2), Orelvis Martinez (#6), Miguel Hiraldo (#8), and several more.
While Gonzales is viewed as arguably the best pure hitter in this year’s draft, it sounds like he is probably destined for a role at second base, even if he’s also played shortstop while in college. Scouts view him as a dangerous hitter, but the jury is still out on whether his power will develop a whole lot at the highest level. Given the prospects the Blue Jays already have, I’m not sure that’s the type of profile that makes the most sense.
In my mind, the Blue Jays will be much better off if they’re able to get one of pitchers Asa Lacy or Emerson Hancock, or possibly high school outfielder Zac Veen. Lacy is projected by most to be taken 3rd overall, but if he slips to the Blue Jays I’m sure they’ll pounce. Otherwise, I’d much prefer to see them take a pitcher in Hancock, or a high-upside outfielder in Veen.
Perhaps I’ll look back on this article in a few years and Gonzales will have made me eat my words, but based on the way the Blue Jays have gone about their rebuild, I don’t think the middle infield is the place to focus on in the first round of this year’s draft. For that reason, I hope they pass on Nick Gonzales if he’s still available, even if the projection boards say he’s the “best player available”.