Keith Law of the Athletic (subscription required) has updated his mock amateur draft to version 2.0, looking at the board of potential first round picks to kick off the All-Star Game festivities in Seattle on July 9th. The Toronto Blue Jays will select a player at number 20 in the first round.
Law sees Toronto selecting 19-year old, right-handed hitting third baseman Aidan Miller out of JW Mitchell High in Trinity, Florida. According to Law, “Miller had a rough spring due to a broken hamate bone but has had some strong workouts for clubs this month now that he’s recovered.” Miller is currently ranked 12th in the draft by MLB Pipeline.
He also thinks the Blue Jays “represent a floor for several of those college bats who might slip out of the top 15 because of the crowded class”, so maybe they go after 6’2” 200 lb left-handed hitting SS Jacob Gonzalez of University of Mississippi, who’s started at SS for the Ole Miss Rebels since his freshman season in 2021, and is ranked 15th by MLB Pipeline. Or possibly 6’4” 225 lb right-handed hitting 3B Brock Wilken of Wake Forest University, who’s started for the Demon Deacons since his freshman year in 2021, and is ranked 24th by MLB Pipeline.
Miller was ranked as high as 9th in Jonathan Mayo’s mock draft for MLB Pipeline last December, but has seen his draft stock fall after missing most of his senior season because of a broken hamate. Mayo noted that “Miller has a ton of power and could be a better-than-average hitter when all is said and done, while playing a very good third base.” He’s the younger brother of catcher Jackson Miller, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd round of the 2020 amateur draft.
He also started all nine games for Team USA’s 2022 under-18 national team, hitting .478 and being named to the All-World Team as a right fielder in the September 2022 U-18 Baseball World Cup. Miller has represented Team USA on its U-12, U-15 and U-18 national teams, and won gold with both the 15U and 18U teams. He has committed to the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Baseball America (subscription required) ranks him 20th and grades him as follows: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Field: 50 | Arm: 60. They say, “He is one of the best pure hitters in the high school class and has thunderous bat speed, a sound approach, advanced understanding of the strike zone and plus raw power projections.” His arm plays in RF as well as 3B.
But Do the Blue Jays Need Another Infield Prospect?
After promising Blue Jays fans “waves of very, very talented pitchers coming through our system” in an August 2019 interview , GM Ross Atkins might want to update that promise to “waves of talented infielders” in the system? In 2020, he drafted since traded Austin Martin 5th overall. Last year, he took three infielders in the top 80 picks overall, selecting Josh Kasevich 60th, SS Tucker Toman 77th, and 2B/3B Cade Doughty 78th.
And while they did draft left-handed high school pitcher Brandon Barriera at 23rd overall last year. as well as the since traded RHP Gunnar Hoglund out of Ole Miss with the 19th overall pick in 2021, the Blue Jays organization do indeed already have some promising 3B/SS in the minors, including Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barger, Leo Jimenez, Doughty, Kasevich, Toman, Manuel Beltre and Alex De Jesus, who all feature on Blue Jays Top 30 prospects lists.
But given the Blue Jays organization currently only features one top 100 prospect in LHP Ricky Tiedemann, shouldn’t Atkins and his scouting staff be focusing on drafting pitchers given the lack of depth? The Los Angeles Dodgers have eight prospects in Baseball America’s updated top 100 ranking; five of them are pitchers, including former Blue Jays farmhand Nick Frasso. Cleveland has four pitchers in the top 100. Do the Blue Jays really need to draft another SS or 3B?
No doubt if Aidan Miller dropped to them at the 20th pick, they’d have to seriously consider him given the athleticism and raw talent, but there are also some interesting pitching prospects who should be available then as well, including 6’5” 200 lb LHP Joe Whitman of Kent State University, who is ranked 27th in Keith Law’s mock draft and 46th by MLB Pipeline.
MLB Pipeline profiles two high school pitchers in their first round projections, including Thomas White out of Phillips Academy (MA), who has committed to the Vanderbilt Commodores. He’s ranked 23rd by MLB and 14th by Baseball America, and would be the first ever high school lefty from Massachusetts drafted in the 1st round. Blue Jays fans might remember the last high school pitcher drafted in the 1st round from Massachusetts in 2011, when the Jays took RHP Tyler Beede, who turned down a $2.5 million signing bonus to attend Vanderbilt.
Another high schooler, Charlee Soto, is a 17-year old, 6’5” 210 lb RHP from Reborn Christian Academy (FL) who is ranked 25th by MLB Pipeline and 30th by Baseball America. He’s committed to the University of Central Florida Knights, but is expected to sign if drafted in the 1st round. He’s one of the hardest-throwing high school pitchers in the draft.
In fact, in Jonathan Mayo’s latest mock draft for MLB Pipeline, he notes that “Some of the high school arms, like [lefty Thomas] White or right-hander Charlee Soto [might be available at No. 20], and the Blue Jays did go that route with Brandon Barriera a year ago.”
So while you don’t draft based on need, what would you prefer Blue Jays fans? Another left side infielder or more pitching depth? We’ll find out what the Blue Jays brass decides on July 9th.