It has now been seven years since Ross Atkins has taken over the role as the Toronto Blue Jays General Manager and it still appears a good chunk of the fanbase still have their doubts about him. When Atkins took over the job on December 3, 2015, many fans were angry as they felt Alex Anthopoulos deserved a bigger role in the organization and was essentially pushed out the door. For this reason, it appears no matter what he does Atkins tends to get crucified on message boards throughout the internet by a portion of the fans.
As years have now passed to the point you can look at some of Atkins first moves with the club, I thought I’d take a look at some of the more significant moves over his first couple of seasons in the organization. It should be noted that Atkins has a lot of support, especially from scouting and President Mark Shaprio, who may have made some of the signings, but Atkins is the man looking after the direction.
The First Draft Under Atkins
Outside of some minor moves, Atkins did not make large impact transactions over the first seven months of his tenure other than selecting Joe Biagini in the Rule 5 Draft and trading Ben Revere for Drew Storen. The first draft under the Atkins regime has to be considered a great success, even without their first-round pick T.J. Zeuch succeeding. With his second-round pick, Atkins selected a high school kid who had committed to Arizona State University and got him to sign a $1.1M signing bonus to forgo his college career and that is current shortstop Bo Bichette.
Bichette is just turning 25-years old during the upcoming Spring Training and has played himself into a future massive contract after leading the league in each of the last two seasons in hits, while hitting a combined 49 home runs and 195 RBI in the same timeframe. Only two other players drafted in that round have current higher career WAR numbers (Pete Alonso 14.2 and Bryan Reynolds 13.6) than Bichette’s 12.9. Both of those players came straight from college and are two and three years older than the Blue Jays shortstop.
The next key piece from that draft was a fifth-round selection Cavan Biggio who was taken with the 162nd overall pick of the draft and signed to a $300,000 signing bonus. Biggio is just one of 14 players selected in that round to even make a major league appearance and leads all hitters with 37 career home runs, while also leading all other players in career WAR at 6.3 while just three other players are even above 1.0.
Atkins also drafted Kirby Snead (10th Round) who was used in the trade to acquire Matt Chapman, as well as selecting Josh Winckowski (15th Round) who was a piece used to acquired Steven Matz. Making these selections outside of the first round has to make the 2016 June Amateur Draft a complete success for Atkins.