Toronto Blue Jays: MLB Draft Big Board for 2021
5. Harry Ford C – North Cobb (GA)
Ford doesn’t offer the same five-tool upsides that Montgomery has the potential to provide, but his versatility and plus hit tool are why I find him such an intriguing prospect.
Ford is currently listed as a catcher, and a good one too, with the potential to stick behind the plate once he turns pro thanks to his plus arm and 1.81 pop time. The Georgia native isn’t your average catcher though and is viewed as a plus athlete, with excellent twitch and speed, running a 6.5 second, 60-yard dash. Ford’s athleticism gives evaluators the belief that the backstop could man another premium position on the diamond such as shortstop or center field if a team already possesses a quality catcher (like the Blue Jays) that would necessitate Ford moving off the position.
This versatility has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who came up as a catcher but transitioned to second base later in his career, where he would wind up winning a Gold Glove Award. Along with his plus athleticism, Ford is viewed as a prospect that is going to hit for a high average at the next level, with a little bit of pop in his bat as well, and projects to hit in the upper .200’s with 20+ home run upside.
Harry Ford is another high schooler that would be a surprise to see available at 19, due to his plus athleticism, commitment to Georgia Tech, and hit tool. There have been rumblings that the athletic backstop has a chance to sneak into the top 5, with Baltimore reportedly looking to go under slot again this draft. I’ve also seen Ford fall in multiple mock drafts and was the Blue Jays’ pick in theScore’s most recent edition, which is why I have included him on this list and would be thrilled if the Blue Jays were given the opportunity to select such a unique athlete tonight.
4.Matt McLain – SS UCLA
Despite being selected in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Matt McLain decided to honor his commitment to UCLA and took his talents to the west coast. McLain has improved every season at the plate with the Bruins and capped off his illustrious career with an exceptional 2021 season, slashing .333, .434, and .579, while walking as many times as he struck out in 47 games.
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McLain also showcased more power this past season, hitting nine long balls which more than doubled his prior career-high. Along with his tremendous production at the dish, the UCLA product is a threat on the base paths, swiping nine bags in ten attempts last season, and is seen as someone who will be a consistent base stealer at the next level. McLain was undoubtedly one of the better hitters in the country last season. Despite this, I do question if his power will translate with a wood bat, as the California native is a little undersized and struggled to drive the ball in the Cape Cod League (which uses wood bats) back in 2019, posting a subpar .425 slugging percentage in 34 games.
Scouts have also questioned whether McLain has the arm to stick at shortstop, or if a move to second base may be needed down the road to aid in becoming a plus defender. Despite the concerns about McLain’s power and arm, I believe the hit tool is too enticing to pass at pick 19 and would be willing to absorb those risks in order to get such a talented offensive player into the Blue Jays organization.
3. Gavin Williams – RHP East Carolina University
Gavin Williams was one of the best pitchers in the country this past season.
After primarily working out of the bullpen during his first three years at ECU, Williams got his first full look as a starter in 2021 and did not disappoint. The right-hander had a fantastic year for the Pirates, posting a 1.98 ERA while striking out nearly 14 and a half batters per nine innings through 15 outings. Williams’ stellar season earned him a spot on Baseball America’s All American team, which featured other top pitching prospects such as Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, and Doug Nikhazy.
The North Carolina native has a powerful arsenal. Williams features a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 90’s and even touched triple digits back when he was pitching in a relief role. He combines his elite heater with a sharp slider that sits in the upper 80’s along with a slower curveball that has great depth. Both breaking balls possess swing and miss upside at the next level, which I believe will allow Williams to stick as a starter long term. The only potential knocks on the ECU product are his age and workload. Williams is a senior and will turn 22 later this month making him one of the older players in this class, which will concern some teams who value age in a prospect.
Along with this, the right-hander has only worked one season as a starter and totaled a mere 81 ⅓ innings in that time span. This has left some evaluators questioning if the hard-throwing righty will have a difficult time adjusting to pitching a full big league starter’s workload.
Personally, these concerns do not bother me at all. I like Williams as a prospect so much that I have him ranked ahead of Kumar Rocker (Rocker is not on this list as he is going to go in the top 10 and will not be available when the Blue Jays make their selection), due to that fact he possesses a harder heater than the former Commodore and has a wider assortment of off-speed pitches. Williams is a high floor and a high ceiling prospect. At the bare minimum, I see the right-hander becoming a quality, hard-throwing middle relief pitcher, with the upside to turn into a top of the rotation arm.
2. Sam Bachman – RHP Miami (OH)
During his first two seasons in Miami (OH), Bachman was a quality starter for the Redhawks, posting a mid-three ERA in 19 outings during that time span. The right-hander was able to increase his fastball velocity this past offseason, seeing it jump from the low to mid 90’s, and even touched triple digits this past fall.
This sudden increase in velocity has turned Bachman from a relatively unheard-of prospect into a legitimate top 15 talent. The Indiana native is far from just a power arm as he is able to locate his heater extremely well, and also features an elite slider, giving scouts the impression that at the bare minimum, the right-hander has the tools to evolve into a quality relief pitcher at the next level. Bachman’s ceiling will be determined by his ability to add a third pitch to his repertoire, in order for him to stick as a starter. Bachman and Williams are super similar prospects. I gave the Miami (OH) product the slight edge over Williams due to the fact that he has a better command of his heater and a more refined slider than either of Williams’ secondary pitches.
Despite this, I think that both arms have top of the rotation upside. I just feel that Bachman is a little more advanced at the current moment and feel that he has the ability to help the Blue Jays in the near future.
1. Colton Cowser – OF Sam Houston State
Sam Houston State’s Colton Cowser may be the most polished position player in this year’s class. Cowser has a sweet, left-handed swing with a refined approach where he uses the whole field and is able to drive the ball from foul line to foul line. The Texas native has always hit for a high average, slashing .354 during his time in Huntsville, but showcased more power this past season, mashing 16 long balls in just 55 games.
Cowser’s recent power surge has really rounded out his game and made him a complete hitter, who projects to hit for average and power at the next level. Defensively, scouts are split on where Cowser will play once he turns pro. The outfielder has plus speed, which has left some teams believing that he has the ability to stick in center field, but others worry about the Texas native’s lack of arm strength and wonder if a corner outfield spot may better suit the young outfielder.
The Blue Jays lack high-end outfield talent in their farm system. Cowser would immediately become one of the team’s best outfield prospect while also providing the club a draft pick that could soar through the farm system due to how advanced of an offensive player he is.