The Blue Jays are in an interesting spot heading into the 2021 MLB Draft. Not only do they have a team entering their competitive window, but they also feature a loaded farm system, ranking third in all of baseball according to Keith Law of the Athletic.
Due to the immense amount of talent on both their big league roster and in their farm system, GM Ross Atkins may be in a position to swing for the fences when selecting at pick number 19, and take a shot on a player with superstar upside that just hasn’t been able to put it all together yet.
If the Blue Jays decided to go this route, then Florida’s Jay Allen should be at the top of their draft board due to the raw athleticism he possesses and the immense amount of potential he has displayed over the past few seasons. Allen is a tremendous athlete. He was a three sport star in high school and received legitimate interest from colleges to continue his career on the gridiron as a quarterback. Allen ultimately committed to the University of Florida to play baseball, which is the sport that most scouts feel he has the highest ceiling in.
Allen’s elite athleticism translates into plus speed, where he has received run grades as high as 70 from home to first. He uses his plus speed and high baseball IQ on both the base paths and in the field, where evaluators believe that Allen has the tools to not only man centre field but thrive in the position once he turns pro.
The Florida native’s bat is undoubtedly behind his legs and glove. The right hander possesses an average hit tool at best and has struggled to make consistent contact against high caliber pitching on the summer circuit. Allen will often get caught out on his front foot, which has caused a lot of weak contact to the left side of the infield and has really hindered him from displaying any kind of power.
Despite the mechanical issues, scouts do believe that there is plenty of untapped power in Allen’s game due to how twitchy of an athlete he is, and his projectable 6’2”, 190 lbs frame. Getting Allen into a pro facility should help him iron out some of the kinks in his swing and add some extra muscles to his frame, which will hopefully allow him to tap into his raw power.
Jay Allen is going to be a high risk pick for the club that decides to gamble on his upside. We’ve seen the Jays draft players such as Anthony Alford and D.J Davis early on because of their raw athleticism, with the hopes of being able to improve their hit and power tools. These selections didn’t pan out for the club which may scare fans away from wanting to take a player like Allen so high in the draft.
I will definitely be skeptical if the team decides to pull the trigger on Allen at pick 19. I feel that there are more polished outfield prospects in this class such as Colton Cowser and Sal Frelick, along with prospects who are risky but provide more power potential such as Jud Fabian and Joshua Baez.
The Jays have sent a number of scouts to attend Allen’s games recently, so there appears to be some interest from the club, leading me to believe that there is a real chance that the Florida native could be donning a Blue Jays (minor league affiliate) jersey in the near future.
Atkins has done a fantastic job drafting early on during his time in Toronto, landing players such as Bo Bichette, Nate Pearson, Jordan Groshans, Alek Manoah, and Austin Martin within the first 50 picks in the last five years. I wasn’t a fan of the Groshans pick immediately after it was made, and now he is widely considered a top 50 prospect in all of baseball.
If Atkins believes enough in Allen’s tools to use a top 20 pick on the Florida native, then even though I won’t love the selection, I’ll definitely trust the veteran GM’s judgement and will be excited to see what kind of player Allen is able to turn into in the Blue Jays organization.