This is one of baseball’s most exciting weekends for those who follow and love the MLB draft process. Later today is the All-Star Futures Game, where two Blue Jays prospects Ricky Tiedemann and Yosver Zulueta made the roster and could potentially pitch an inning or two in the game at some point through the day (start time 4. p.m. PT).
On Monday the festivities continue with the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game the following day, making for an action-packed weekend where three different Blue Jays, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alek Manoah, and Alejandro Kirk, will take part.
Mixed in between all of this action is the 2022 MLB Draft, set to begin tomorrow at 4. p.m. PT. I am a massive fan of the draft and the entire process, watching players get a chance to realize their dreams and play professional baseball but also watching the strategy behind different organizations and their decisions as they look to restock the organizational cupboard with new talent.
That being said, let’s take a look at the Blue Jays and how they look heading into the 2022 MLB Draft.
With 20 rounds in the draft, the Blue Jays hold 22 picks this season, three more compared to last year when they lost their second-round pick as compensation for signing George Springer the prior offseason. Because Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray rejected their qualifying offers and signed elsewhere earlier this year, the Blue Jays receive two additional conditional draft picks just before the third round.
The Jays’ first pick is at #23 and the club has never selected at this spot before in franchise history. Following that selection, the Jays will draft at #60, #77, #78, and #98 before the fourth round. Some notable players the Jays have drafted around the #23 slot include Steve Karsay (#22 – 1990) and Marcus Stroman (#22 – 2012).
In terms of pool money, the Blue Jays have $8,367,700 in pool money for all 22 picks, ranking at #16 amongst all the other teams. The #23 pick also has a slot value of $3,075,300 with the #60 pick coming in at $1,216,100. You can find the rest of the round’s three to ten slot values here.
Ross Atkins History of Drafting
Since becoming general manager in the 2015 offseason, Ross Atkins has primarily drafted college-level players with the Blue Jays’ first pick. Below are his first selections:
2016 – T.J. Zeuch RHP (University of Pittsburgh)
2017 – Logan Warmoth INF (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
2018 – Jordan Groshans INF (Magnolia High School)
2019 – Alek Manoah RHP (West Virginia University)
2020 – Austin Martin INF/OF (Vanderbilt University)
2021 – Gunnar Hoglund INF/OF (University of Mississippi)
The Blue Jays hold the #23 pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. Let’s examine the potential draft strategy and previous draft history under the current front office.
Looking at the above list, only three players still remain in the Blue Jays organization. Alek Manoah is also the only player currently featured on the Jays squad while both Warmoth and Groshans (the only high school first-round pick under Atkins) currently find themselves in AAA.
T.J. Zeuch made his MLB debut back in 2019 and flirted with the Jays roster over a few seasons until being DFA’d midway through last season and traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. He is currently in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system.
Over the past two seasons, Ross Atkins has traded his most recent first selections, sending Austin Martin to the Twins as part of the Jose Berrios package while trading Gunnar Hoglund to the Athletics with three other prospects for third baseman Matt Chapman. He is also no stranger to trading away second picks as well, sending Griffin Conine (Duke, 2018) to the Marlins for Jonathan Villar and trading Kendall Williams (IMG Academy, 2019) to the Dodgers as part of the Ross Stripling package, both at the 2020 trade deadline.
Predicting the First Selection
The MLB mock drafts for this year have been all over the place, as the top prospect list is dominated by prep school players with Major League ties through the family tree.
Looking at what the Blue Jays need in the system and what the mock drafts and primarily rumour mill/rumblings are concerned, many believe the front office will be selecting a college-level bat, primarily an outfielder. There are quite a few college players ranked in the area where the Jays are selecting like Dylan Beavers (California), Drew Gilbert (Tennesse), Chase DeLauter (James Madison), and Sterlin Thompson (Florida), so it will be interesting if one or two of those names are on the board come draft time.
The Jays went to the Tennesse well last year with fourth-round selection Chad Dallas, so one wonders if they will go back if Gilbert is on the board. The Jays have also been tied to third base prep star Tucker Toman, who is regarded for his hitting ability and currently has a commitment to LSU. The Jays have a lot of depth in the middle infield area spread throughout the system but adding a third baseman like Toman who can develop over the next three to four years will bode well given the current trajectory of top prospects Groshans and Orelvis Martinez within the upper portion of the system.
The Jays could also select a college-level pitcher like Gabriel Hughes (Gonzaga), Cooper Hjerpe (Oregan State), or Cade Horton (Oklahoma) but many are predicting that these three will be gone along with a number of other prep school pitchers before the Jays step up to the podium. The club currently has a lot of pitching depth down in the lower minor levels like High-A Vancouver so adding a college arm who could potentially work their way through the minors in quick succession like Manoah would be a huge benefit to the future Blue Jays pitching staff.
Tune in this Sunday to see who the Blue Jays take with their first pick and how the rest of the MLB Draft shakes up!