The Toronto Blue Jays wasted little time in showing exactly what they wanted to do heading into the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft as they went 'college heavy' over the first two days of selection.
(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - Legend will have it that now Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro was none too pleased in his first few weeks with the organization as he watched then General Manager Alex Anthopoulos drain his core of Minor League talent in exchange for a trip to the post-season for the first time in a quarter century. If Anthopoulos knew he was on his way out, the Canadian-born baseball executive got to leave on his terms leaving behind the aftermath for Shapiro and Ross Atkins, the newest General Manager to clean up.
This week, Shapiro and Atkins along with a throng of scouts and baseball minds continued the replenishing of the Blue Jays minor league system with a college heavy emphasis in the early rounds of the draft.
At #22, Toronto took SS Logan Warmoth out of the University of North Carolina. Polished and ready to sign, Warmoth could be the perfect middle infielder to shoot past the Blue Jays lower levels and end up in Lansing and potentially Dunedin depending on the wear and tear that will be exposed come physical time down in Dunedin, Florida. Fans in Vancouver would love a look at Warmoth and they may get it - but the lower levels of the system are screaming for a middle infielder to step forward. Warmoth tore up the ACC hitting .337 in 53 games and could look nice beside Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette in the not so distant future.
The Blue Jays went power arm at #28 dipping their hands into the University of Central Florida for RHP Nate Pearson, a player that has touched three digits on the radar gun. You can bet your house and the land it was built on that Toronto will treat his arm like an egg balanced on an undersized spoon this season - but should he come to Vancouver, you could potentially see 18-25 innings depending on his assessment back at the Bobby Mattick Spring Training facility, where all players get a look-see from the Blue Jays staff. One note here, Pearson is the second straight 6-foot, 6-inch pitcher to be taken by the Blue Jays in the first round as RHP T.J. Zeuch towered over the rest a season ago in Vancouver before he was promoted to Lansing.
Of the Jays 11 picks in the first ten rounds, all but one had college experience (Hagen Danner, C, Huntington Beach, CA). Fans of name dropping will be slipping in their own drool if the Blue Jays send 8th Round pick Kacy Clemens to Scotiabank Field. Oh yes, the son of Mike 'Pinball' Clem.... 'er, sorry, Roger Clemens will have fans from across the Northwest League clamoring for anything Rocket related.
It's an interesting scenario for Vancouver fans who know that by having pitching coach Jim Czajkowski here with the Canadians once again, the Jays will likely send the drafted arms north of the border to work with one of the most trusted coaches in all of Minor League Baseball. Czajkowski (pronounced Sigh-Cow-Ski) has worked with Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino and Roberto Osuna among others during his time in Vancouver - and that track record alone should make the choice for the brain trust in Toronto easy when it comes to where they should start the professional careers of these bright young pitchers (hold on while I put my soapbox away).
The Canadians are working off of a six-man rotation this summer, as per the Blue Jays vision for protecting arms across a majority of the system. With Vancouver always a great place to start a player - the question becomes what the Blue Jays want to do with these players. Get them signed and get them up to start filling the left behind holes from Alex Anthopoulos? Or sign 'em up and give them the taste of a little Canadian-style baseball with 6,500 fans rockin' The Nat each night and easing their way into professional baseball here in Vancouver.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.