Blue Jays: Pre-Season Draft Targets: Position Players
Earlier this month, I put out my Blue Jays Pre-Season Draft Targets Pitchers addition article, which took an in depth look at some hurlers that the Jays could have an interest in during the upcoming MLB draft. In this piece, I’ll be doing the same thing but instead, I’ll be doing a deep dive on some position players that we could see selected this summer.
The 2021 draft looks to be a deep one, that has quality players all over the board. This should leave Blue Jays management with plenty of options as they hold the 19th overall selection. Here are some of my favorite prospects on the position player side.
Colton Cowser OF Sam Houston State #13 On MLB Pipeline
Despite bringing in George Springer last offseason, the Jays biggest organizational need still remains in the outfield. The Blue Jays top 30 prospect list is super lopsided, with there being only three true outfielders on it, none of which are considered to be in the top 15 of their system. Thankfully, the back half of the first round seems to be loaded with talented outfielders. This will give GM Ross Atkins plenty of options if he chooses to fill a need and add to the organization’s outfield depth.
One of those options is Sam Houston State’s Colton Cowser. Cowser has the tools to become a star at the next level. The Texas native can flat out hit, posting a .361 batting average, and a 1.052 OPS in his freshman year for the Bearkats. After a little bit of a down year in the 2020 shortened season, Cowser has come back with authority, posting a .962 OPS in his first 13 games.
More from Jays Journal
- Blue Jays: Alek Manoah on pace to succeed in possible postseason
- Blue Jays: Bradley Zimmer has carved himself a valuable role
- Anthony Bass has been the shutdown reliever the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. open to a long-term contract
- Blue Jays: Snapping cold streaks at the right time
Despite the high OPS, Cowser really only has gap power right now and isn’t considered to be a long ball threat yet, only hitting ten home runs in his 86 games for Sam Houston State. Cowser does have room to grow however, as he stands at 6’3 but only weighs 195lbs, so adding some weight should help the lefty tap into his raw power, which should lead to more balls leaving the yard.
Defensively, scouts are split on whether Cowser will stay in center field at the next level. He has the speed and instincts to patrol the position, but it will really come down to his arm strength, which is considered to be a little below average despite having 50 grade on MLB Pipeline. The addition of some weight will also help Cowser with his arm strength, along with his power, which could lead to him sticking in center, or becoming a lethal power corner outfielder.
I’ve seen Cowser go in the top 10 of mock drafts and I’ve seen him fall out of the top 20 in others. He’s produced in college and has shown that he is undoubtedly a first round talent. If he’s on the board at 19, I would be all for the Jays adding a guy with elite bat to ball skills and hope that with some additional weight he can add some power to his game.
James Wood OF IMG Academy Bradenton (FL) #14 On MLB Pipeline
IMG Academy has produced a number of college and pro athletes over the last decade. The Jays even dipped into their talent pool back in 2019 when they selected Kendal Williams in the second round of the MLB Draft. Atkins may be tempted to turn to the Florida based powerhouse again this summer thanks to another potential superstar they’ve produced in James Wood.
Wood, a Maryland native transferred to IMG to focus on baseball and to help garner more attention from scouts. The move seems to be paying off, as after a great junior season, and “one of the best summers of any prep prospect”, Wood seems to be locked into a top 20 selection this upcoming draft.
Wood’s best attribute is undoubtedly his size, as he stands at a massive 6’6 and weighs 230lbs, which leaves scouts dreaming about the power potential the lefty has. The power is definitely there, but Wood does have a tendency to rely on his upper body too much and can get “handsy” in his swing, so some mechanical adjustments will have to be made if he is going to fully tap into his raw power. If he can do so, scouts see Wood as a middle of the order bat that will consistently hit 25-30 home runs at the next level.
Despite being so tall and carrying a good amount of weight, Wood is considered to be a plus runner, receiving a 55 grade according to Pipeline. Combining his plus legs with his great arm, scouts think that Wood has the potential to stick in center field and become a true threat with both the glove and the bat.
Coming in at such a large size is leading to some questions about Wood’s durability. You look at bigger outfielders like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton who seem to always be on the IL with little nagging injuries that are caused in large part because of their size. Wood is nowhere near the weight of guys like Judge or Stanton yet, but some are still concerned about how his body will hold up playing in the outfield on a day to day basis.
Personally, I don’t think that Wood will ever get to the size that Judge and Stanton are. I think that guys like Mike Trout and Dave Winfield are better comparisons to him, as they both played in the outfield at a similar weight that Wood measures in at, and never really ran into injury trouble during their careers.
Five tool players are extremely hard to find and James Wood has the potential to turn into one. The size is definitely a concern and there will be some kinks in his swing that have to be ironed out, but if Wood is available at 19, I would be thrilled to see the Jays add such a talented athlete with so much upside to their system.
Harry Ford C North Cobb (GA) #19 On MLB Pipeline
Now I know people are going to see a catcher on this list and lose their minds. The Jays do have two young big league catchers in Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk, along with two other backstops on their top 30 prospect list in Gabriel Moreno and Riley Adams. The Blue Jays have great catching depth, it might be the strongest position group in their organization, and is definitely not a need for this ball club.
Despite all of this, if the best player on the board is a catcher when the Jays are on the clock, then he has to be the pick. Drafting by need is an excellent way to get fired as a GM. Teams should always be looking to draft the best player available, even if it goes against positional need. This especially true in baseball, where players are 2-5 years away from the big leagues when they’re drafted, so a lot can change in an organization in that time.
The worst thing that happens is you end up with multiple quality players at one position and either someone moves off their natural spot, or someone gets traded to fill a position of need. Harry Ford could end up being the best player on the board when the Jays have to make their selection this June and this is why I am considering him as a potential prospect of interest.
The Georgia native has a sweet right handed swing and is said to have some of the “best bat speed in the class”. Ford is no stranger to making loud contact and has the potential to develop plus power, despite only having a 50 grade on Pipeline. The Georgia Tech commit definitely has the tools to stick behind the dish, as he “stood out as a receiver while handling premium pitching”, and has solid arm strength as well.
Ford is also an exceptional athlete, running a sub 6.6 60 yard dash, and earning a 60 run tool on Pipeline. Because of how athletic he is, scouts think that Ford could easily move off the catcher position and find a home up the middle in the infield, or in the outfield. This versatility has had scouts comparing him to Craig Biggio, who came up as a catcher but played all over the diamond during his Hall of Fame career .
Even though the catching position is not a need for the Jays, I would still be on board if they decided to select Harry Ford, as he has the potential to be a great player thanks to his raw athleticism and bat to ball skills. The Jays should be looking to add great players, regardless of what position they play, so if they feel like Ford is the best player available when their turn comes up, he should be a no brainer pick.
Benny Montgomery OF Red Land (PA) #21 On MLB Pipeline
Back to the outfield with another prep prospect in Benny Montgomery. Montgomery is another high school outfielder with five tool potential. With the tools he has showcased, you could make a case for Montgomery to be a top five selection this summer. The Pennsylvania native can fly, running a 6.42 60 yard dash, which earned him a 70 speed grade on MLB Pipeline, with many other scouts giving him an 80 grade (the highest grade you can receive).
Montgomery pairs this electric speed with an elite arm that was clocked in the mid 90’s from the outfield, and raw power with exit velos that are consistently triple digits. Combining his speed, arm, and power gives Montgomery the potential to become one of the premier center fielders in baseball one day which is a super exciting proposition for most MLB teams.
Where Montgomery struggles is making consistent contact due to a swing that “lacks fluidity”. This has caused him to be inconsistent at the dish and is the reason why he’s projected to go in the latter half of the first round and not in the top five. He showed more consistency with the bat last summer, but scouts still want to see more before they can give him a top half of the first round grade.
Benny Montgomery may have the highest ceiling in this draft class. The Jays typically don’t like taking super high ceiling, super high floor guys in the first round, but Montgomery may be someone that breaks this trend just because of how high his ceiling is. I would be intrigued if the Jays decided to select Montgomery and would be excited to see how he continues to develop in their organization.
Sal Frelick OF Boston College #25 On MLB Pipeline
Frelick is having a monster start to his season. He’s hitting a career high .379 with a OPS just shy of 1.200 for the Eagles. Frelick seems to be finally tapping into his power, as he’s belted five long balls this season. There were some concerns surrounding his in-game power, as Frelick only hit six home runs in his first two seasons with BC. After almost surpassing that total in 18 games this year he seems to be putting those fears to rest, and should see an increase in his 45 power grade on Pipeline.
Frelick has always had great bat to ball skills and a great eye, walking more than he’s struck out during his time in Boston. Combining his new found power, with his plus hands and plate discipline is turning Frelick into one of the most feared offensive threats in the country.
Standing at only 5’9 175lbs, there are some scouts who wonder if this power surge is real or if it’s just a fluke, so it will be interesting to see if Frelick can continue to hit for power for the rest of the season, despite his small frame. If he can continue to do so, the lefty has the chance to sky rocket up draft boards which could put him out of the Jays range.
As of now, Frelick is still someone who could be available at pick 19 and should be on the Jays’ radar because of this. If he falls to them, Sal Frelick would be an intriguing pick and would be a great bat to add to the Jays’ system.