Toronto Blue Jays: Pre-Season Draft Targets: Pitchers

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 22: The Texas Longhorns during the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field on February 22, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 22: The Texas Longhorns during the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field on February 22, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

With college baseball up and running, I decided to take a look at some potential prospects the Blue Jays could have an interest in during this upcoming draft, and did a pre-season prospect target list.  This is going to be a two part series, as this part will have some options on the pitching side and the next piece will be on some position players.

The Jays are slated to pick 19th overall and should have a wealth of talented players to choose from when they’re on the clock.  Here are some of the pitchers we could see wearing blue and white soon.

Jaden Hill RHP LSU #5 On MLB Pipeline

Now I know, everyone is going to see the number five ranking and call me crazy for thinking that Jaden Hill could slip all the way to pick 19.  MLB Pipeline is a great resource, I love the work they do and reference them a lot, but they rank players based on projected tools, not in-game performance and team needs.  This sometimes leads to players being drafted in very different spots then where they were ranked.

Look at Garrett Mitchell, who was ranked sixth on Pipeline’s 2020 list because of his speed, defence, and bat to ball skills, but fell all the way to the Brewers at pick number 20 because of scouts’ concerns with his in-game power.  Hill has the potential to make the same kind of fall that Mitchell did because of how he has pitched this season.

More from Jays Journal

The LSU righty has all the tools to be an ace at the next level.   The 21 year old throws gas with a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90’s.  He pairs this with a 60 grade changeup that has “a lot of tumble” and a wipe out slider that has a 55 grade according to MLB Pipeline.  Hill has a big frame, standing at 6’4” 230 lbs which is a trend the Jays seem to like in their starters with examples being Nate Pearson and Alek Manoah who were also taken very high in the draft.

At the beginning of the season, Hill was in position to be a top five selection, but has run into some trouble, getting hit around a little bit.  This has led to an ugly 4.24 ERA in four starts in 2021.  His high ERA is largely due to giving up eight runs in a third of an inning against Oral Roberts, who had no trouble hitting his fastball according to scouts in attendance.

This rough outing has caused Hill to slide down draft boards, seeing him fall out of the top 10 on many of them.  It’s still early in the season and the righty out of Baton Rouge still has plenty of time to bounce back and reclaim the top prospect status that he once had.  But, if Hill continues to struggle, there’s a real shot that he could fall into the later half of the first round.  If this materializes, I would be all for the Jays talking a shot on a guy with so much potential, and bet on him putting it together.

Ty Madden RHP University of Texas #10 On MLB Pipeline

Madden has been a productive pitcher for the Long Horns over the course of his career, posting a 2.39 ERA across three different seasons, making 23 appearances, with 16 of those being starts.  Madden’s fastball sits around 93-96 mph, touching 99 on occasion and has great sinking action.

Along with his great fastball, Madden also has an above average slider and change up grading out at 60 and 55 according to Pipeline.  Already having three above average pitches gives Madden a real shot at being a starter at the next level.  Like Hill, Madden also has a good build standing at 6’3” and weighing in at 215 lbs, which will be a plus in the Jays’ eyes.

Madden’s one knock is his workload at Texas, as he hasn’t hit the 100 inning mark during his time in college.  This is due to working out of the ‘pen as a freshman and only making eight appearances in his last two seasons thanks to Covid.

I’ve seen Madden in the top seven in some mock drafts, and I’ve seen him falling out of the top twenty in others.  If he’s available at 19, I think that he would be an interesting pick if the Jays feel like the workload is a non issue for them and that his stuff will continue to play at the next level.

Jordan Wicks LHP Kansas State #16 On MLB Pipeline

Wicks is quickly becoming one of my favourite under the radar arms of this upcoming draft.  The lefty out of Kansas State has good stuff with a fastball that sits in the low-mid 90’s and a 65 grade changeup that is said to be one of the best in the draft.  Wicks’ breaking pitches aren’t as advanced as his fastball and change up are, and are considered below average pitches according to Pipeline.

The southpaw has tremendous spin rate which will be a plus in the eyes of a lot of organizations, especially the Jays, who value spin rate and spin efficiency in their pitchers.  With the kind of spin rate Wicks has, it makes it a lot more likely that he will develop a plus slider or curveball down the road, which will allow him to continue pitching in a startiing role.

Along with having good stuff, Wicks has also produced at both the collegiate and summer league levels, posting an 0.35 ERA in four starts before the shutdown in 2020.  After the shutdown, Wicks pitched for Rockford, in the North Woods League, and was excellent again, posting a 0.45 ERA in four starts.   Wicks has built off a strong 2020 and has continued to have success in 2021, posting a 1.78 ERA in four starts this season while seeing a jump in punch-outs as well, with an 11.4 K/9 ratio.

The main concern for Wicks will be adding a third pitch.  We’ve seen the Jays take chances on guys like Alek Manoah and Nate Pearson who also had the same knock coming out of college.  If the Jays are confident in Wicks adding a third pitch then I’d be on board with the decision if they decided to select him this summer.

Chase Petty RHP Mainland (NJ) #22 On MLB Pipeline

Chase Petty has a slim frame, but still manages to throw gas.  The 17 year old New Jersey native stands at 6’0” and weighs 185 lbs.  Despite his small stature, Petty has a fastball that sits in the upper 90’s and touches triple digits regularly, with good sinking action.  Petty compliments his fastball with a wicked, sharp breaking slider that plays really well off his heater.  The hard throwing righty does have a changeup in his arsenal, but it still needs some work as it can be flat from time to time.

Petty differs from the other arms on this list as he is coming out of high school, not college, so he’s not as far along in his development, which makes him a more risky pick because teams have less information about him. The Jays haven’t taken too many high schoolers in the first round in the Shapiro/Atkins era.

The only high school player selected in their time in Toronto was Jordan Groshans back in 2018 and that decision seems to be working out so far.   I think that the talent Petty possesses may help teams overlook the age and size concerns and allow them to take a risk on the hard throwing righty because of the upside he provides.  If Petty is available at 19, I would be all for the Jays betting on his tools and selecting the high schooler from Jersey.

Sam Bachman Miami(OH) #29 On MLB Pipeline

The final arm that I have on this list is an interesting one in Sam Bachman.  Bachman was an effective starter for the Redhawks during his freshman and sophomore seasons.  He’s kicked it up a notch in 2021 and has turned into one of the best pitchers in the country.

Bachman saw an increase in his fastball velocity back in the summer thanks to a change in his arm slot.  He saw his fastball jump from the low 90’s, up a couple of clicks to the mid 90’s.  Bachman even touched triple digits this past fall and has used this uptick in velocity to become virtually un-hittable this season.

Next. Blue Jays: What To Do With The Fifth Starter’s Spot. dark

So far this spring, Bachman has posted a 0.82 ERA, a 0.818 WHIP and a 13.1 K/9 ratio which are all career highs by a mile.  It is still early in the season, so it will be interesting to see if Bachman can continue this new found success.  If he can, he will definitely be someone on the Blue Jays radar this spring, and would be a hurler I’d be thrilled to see throwing north of the border one day.