Even as the Blue Jays desperately fight for a playoff spot, the organization still has one eye on the future. In this respect, the 2023 MLB draft is upon us and will take place on July 9-11 at Lumen Field in Seattle.
The Blue Jays have the 20th overall pick, in what is widely regarded as a deep draft class. There will be 39 selections in total for the first round.
The Blue Jays have a total bonus pool of just under $6.53 million US available to sign draft picks, which is 26th in the Majors. (For some context, the Pirates lead the pack with just under $16.19 million.) For the first round specifically they have just under $3.75 million, which is 20th.
As per Jim Callis of MLB.com, it's worth noting teams that exceed their bonus pool face a penalty. In this respect, a record-tying 23 teams outspent their pools in last year. (No team has ever overspent by more than five percent, which has a 75 percent tax on the overage.)
Regardless, the main question of concern is who the Blue Jays will aim for in the first round on Sunday? Here are three position players they should consider:
Jacob Gonzalez - shortstop
6 ft 2 in
There is an argument to be made, that Jacob Gonzalez could be the best available shortstop in this year's draft. And yet, as per the updated MLB.com prospect rankings, there are five players placed ahead of him at the position.
Yes, the pre-draft ranking system isn't an exact science when it comes to determining who is better. Regardless, this presents an opportunity for the Blue Jays to take advantage of Gonzalez being potentially undervalued, given where they will be picking in the first round.
Indeed, there is a lot to like about the Ole Miss alumni. He is all but certain to be the first ever Rebels position player picked in the first round of the MLB draft.
Gonzalez already has experience of being the best, from both an individual and team perspective. He was named the nation's Freshman of the Year in 2021, and last year helped the Rebels win their first ever College World Series championship.
The Whittier, California native may not have superior power with his bat, he is still a very good hitter who can still improve. He has an excellent baseball IQ and is capable of using the entire field.
Gonzalez produced a .319/.427/.561 slash line and .988 OPS during his three years at college. He totaled 40 home runs, 158 RBI and 186 runs in 186 games.
The 21-year-old has also shown an ability to perform well when the pressure is intensified. This was best exemplified in Game 2 of the 2022 College World Series, when he went 3-for-4 and hit a home run to help clinch the championship.
While there are no guarantees, the expectation is that Gonzalez has enough talent to remain at shortstop. He has decent quickness, a superior glove and good arm strength.