High School Pitcher
One of the more risky moves in a draft, the Blue Jays could be persuaded to use their top pick on a high school arm this season.
There is always the added risk that any high schooler will forego signing and instead head to college ball, especially with players now holding more power given Name, Image, and Likeness creates more financial opportunities within NCAA college programs, as well as the opportunity to improve their draft rankings for a higher signing bonus a few years down the road.
In this MLB Draft, there is an abundance of high-school position players who rank high on the top draft prospects list and there are only six high school pitchers currently featured within the top 30 as per MLB Pipeline. Other teams looking for young pitchers may use their picks on these six before the Jays reach the draft board, leaving less for the later first-round picks. This will obviously change throughout the day as no draft ever goes according to rankings but something to consider as the fun begins on July 17th.
Ross Atkins has also only ever used the first pick of the draft on one high school player since taking the General Manager role back in late 2015 and that was on infielder Jordan Groshans back in 2018. The rest has been a mix of position players or pitchers but from the collegiate level.
The reason a high school pitcher makes sense with this pick is that the Blue Jays have three starters currently on long-term contracts/team control in Jose Berrios, Alek Manoah, and Kevin Gausman. While Hyun Jin Ryu’s injury leaves a hole in the rotation and the Yusei Kikuchi deal might not see the light of the entire three years, adding another young talented prospect pitcher amongst the crop of Irv Carter, Sem Robberse, CJ Van Eyk, and Adam Kloffenstein sets the Blue Jays up pretty well in three to four years time.
The biggest obstacle will be persuading any high school player to forego going to college ball, which is usually done by signing over slot unless the Jays take a player farther down on the rankings board. The risk will always be there but Ross Atkins and co. have had a solid track record in signing high draft picks, but this would be a first for the current front office.