Toronto Blue Jays: A Decade Of Hits And Misses In The 1st Round

by Clayton Richer | Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
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J.P. Arencibia

The Toronto Blue Jays are currently attempting to replenish their farm system after trading many of their prized prospects in pursuit of Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey this past off-season. Here is a look at the last decade of 1st round draft picks selected by the Blue Jays and where these players currently sit in the organizational food chain.

2013- Phillip Bickford: was selected 10th overall in the most recent amateur draft and was immediately regarded as a tough sign for the Blue Jays. Bickford stayed true to his word opting not to sign on the dotted line in hopes of pursuing an education at Cal State Fullerton. The Blue Jays dropped the ball on this selection in a year when the depleted farm system needed a boost, the Jays should have selected an easier sign.

2012- D.J. Davis: was drafted 17th overall in the 2012 amateur draft by the Blue Jays brain trust  and the first of 5 players selected by the Jays in the 1st round. Davis is currently assigned to the Jays rookie league affiliate Bluefield Blue Jays where he his honing his craft. The speedy outfielder is batting .248 with 6 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 52 games for the baby Jays.

2012- Marcus Stroman: was selected 22nd overall as compensation for the Blue Jays inability to come to terms with pitcher Tyler Beede the previous year. Stroman was regarded as potentially the most major league ready arm out of the draft but his timetable was derailed after a 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Stroman has impress this season posting an 8-4 record with a 3.22 earned run average and 117 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched for the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Stroman could be a September call-up but first needs to be added to the 40 man roster.

2012- Matt Smoral: was chosen 50th overall by the Blue Jays for compensation for the loss of free agent Frank Francisco. Smoral experienced his first taste of professional baseball in 2013 pitching for the Jays rookie affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. The 19-year old lefty has struggled in 22 innings pitched surrendering 18 earned runs to the tune of a 7.15 earned run average. Smoral has struck out 25 batters which equates to more than a batter an inning which should play out well for him once he establishes his control.

2012- Mitch Nay: was drafted 58th overall as a compensation selection for the free agent loss of Jon Rauch. Nay also made his professional debut this season for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays and has impressed thus far. Nay is batting .313 with 65 hits, 6 home runs and an .828 OPS in 58 games at third base in his rookie season.

2012- Tyler Gonzales: was the final selection of the 1st round at 60th overall as the compensation selection for the free agent loss of Jose Molina. Gonzales has struggled early on for the rookie affiliate Blue Jays sporting an inflated earned run average of 10.45 in 10 innings pitched. The 20-year old has surrendered 12 runs while whiffing 9 batters in his limited appearances.

2011- Tyler Beedewas drafted 21st overall and remained in negotiations with the Jays until the 25th hour leading to the signing deadline. Beede round up passing on the Jays offer opting for Vanderbilt University.

2011- Jacob Anderson: chosen 35th overall as a compensation selection for the free agent loss of Scott Downs. Anderson is currently on the 60-day disabled list having not played a game all season. Anderson was hopeful in rebounding from a disappointing 2012 season where he batted .194 striking out 72 times in 54 games.

2011- Joseph Musgrove: was selected 46th overall by the Jays as a compensation pick for the free agent loss of John Buck. Musgrove was dealt to the Houston Astros as part of the package for J.A. Happ. Musgrove is 1-3 with a 5.06 earned run average in 26 innings pitched this season for the Astros rookie affiliate.

2011- Dwight SmithThe son of former major leaguer Dwight Smith Sr. was selected 53rd overall as a compensation pick for the free agent loss of Kevin Gregg. Smith is enjoying an impressive season with the Single A Lansing Lugnuts where he sports a .277 average with 110 hits, 7 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 103 games for the Lugnuts.

2011- Kevin Comer: was the 57th overall selection after the Jays traded for Miguel Olivo knowing he would opt for free agency earning them the selection.  Comer was also traded to the Houston Astros as part of the J.A Happ deal where he is currently pitching for their low Single A affiliate. Comer boasts a 2-4 record with a 4.69 earned run average in 40 innings pitched thus far this season.

2010- Deck McGuirewas drafted 11 overall by the Jays and came with big expectations after signing with the Jays. Unfortunately McGuire has not lived up to the hype or his signing bonus thus far in his professional career especially since Chirs Sale was selected two picks after McGuire. The hurler has not seen his earned run average dip under 5.07 in 2 seasons with the Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. No need to remind you what Sale is doing in the majors.

2010- Aaron SanchezThe big right hander was selected 34th overall as a compensation pick due to the free agent loss of Marco Scutaro. Sanchez is all that remains of the big 3 pitchers of the Jays future and was ranked 65th by Baseball America leading into the 2013 season. Sanchez is currently pitching for the Dunedin Blue Jays in high Single A where he sports a 3-5 record with a 3. 63 earned run average in 19 starts. Sanchez has fanned 71 hitters in 79 innings pitch with Dunedin.

2010- Noah Syndergaardwas selected 38th overall as a compensation selection for the Jays failure to sign their 2009 sandwich pick James Paxton. Syndergaard was dealt to the New York Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal and has Mets fans licking their lips for his eventual arrival to the majors. Syndergaard is currently 6-0 with a minuscule 1. 59 earned run average fanning 64 batters in 10 starts for the Double A Binghamton Mets.

2010- Asher Wojciechowski: was drafted 41st overall as yet another compensation selection for the Jays not resigning catcher Rod Barajas. The 6’4″ righty was dealt to Houston in the Happ deal along with Comer and Musgrove. Wojciechowski is currently pitching for the Astros Triple A affiliate where he is 9-6 with a 3.48 era.

2009- Chad Jenkins: was chosen 20th overall by the Jays and has had a few cups of coffee with the big club. Jenkins has a career minor league era over 4.00 and it is unclear where he sits in the Jays future plans. He has appeared in 17 games between 2 seasons with the Jays posting a 2-3 record with 4.06 era. Food for thought, the Angels selected Mike Trout 5 picks later.

2009- James Paxton: was taken 37th overall as compensation for the loss of pitcher A.J. Burnett. Paxton refused to sign with the Jays only to sign with the Mariners a year later as a 4th round selection. Paxton is pitching in Triple A with a 4.64 era in 25 starts for the Tacoma Rainiers.

 2008- David Cooper: the first baseman was selected 17th overall but has failed to make an impact at the major league level. Cooper hits for contact but doesn’t possess the power to be an everyday first baseman in the majors.Cooper was released by the Blue Jays earlier this season after suffering a serious back injury. The Indians recently signed him to a minor league deal. The Milwaukee Brewers selected Brett Lawrie 16th overall whom it is rumored the Jays were targeting.

2007- Kevin Ahrens: was selected 16th overall as compensation for the Texas Rangers signing Frank Catalanotto. Ahrens is toiling in the minors having never surpassed Double A with a career minor league average of .238.

2007- J.P. Arencibia: went 21st overall as the third catcher selected in the round behind Matt Wieters and Devin Mesoraco. J.P. is the Blue Jays starting catcher having almost 3 full seasons in the majors under his belt. This season will mark the second time Arencibia has connected for more than 20 home runs.

2007- Brett Cecil: the left handed pitcher was selected 38th overall as a compensation loss for Justin Speier (Yes, Justin Speier). Cecil has come into his own as a reliever this season earning an All-Star birth for the first time. He originally broke into the league in 2009 enjoying some success as a starter before faltering and having to reinvent himself.

2007- Justin Jackson: was drafted 45th overall as a shortstop as a compensation pick for the loss of Frank Catalanotto. Jackson made the transition to the mound this season after hitting .230 over 7 minor league seasons. Jackson has a 3.18 earned run average on the bump in his rookie season as a hurler.

2007- Trystan Magnuson: was taken 56th overall after the free agent loss to Ted Lilly. Magnuson returned to the Blue Jays and is currently in Double A after being dealt to the Oakland A’s in the Rajai Davis in 2010. The right hander has 14 innings of major league service time with the Athletics in 2011.

2006- Travis Snider: was taken 14th overall and never lived up to the Blue Jays expectations floating back and forth from the majors to the minors. Snider was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Brad Lincoln who ironically was also taken in the 1st round of the same draft only 4th overall ahead of Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.

2005- Ricky Romero: is the highest Blue Jays draft pick of the decade being selected 6th overall ahead of Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce. Romero enjoyed his best season in 2011 when he went 15-11 with a 2.89 era and earned an All-Star birth. Somewhere in between the wheels have fallen off and Romero is trying to find himself in the minors after a disastrous 2012 season.

2004- David Purcey: was unfortunately drafted 16th overall ahead of pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Purcey has spent big league time with the Jays, Athletics, Tigers and now the White Sox. He sports a career 5..15 earned run average and is a fringe major leaguer at best.

2004: Zach Jackson: is another disappointing reminder of the 2004 draft going 32nd overall as a compensation selection for Kelvim Escobar. The pitcher was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers as part of the package bringing Lyle Overbay to Toronto. Jackson is pitching for the Royals Triple A team after last seeing time in the majors in 2009.

BHC Pick of the Litter: J.P. Arencibia

BHC Franchise Flop: Kevin Ahrens

Analysis: The Blue Jays have had 27 1st round selections in the last decade and for the most part the career paths of most the selections are disappointing. The likes of J.P. Arencibia and Ricky Romero are arguably the most successful players developed which isn’t saying much. Chad Jenkins instead of Mike Trout really gets you where the sun don’t shine.








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Clayton Richer
About the Author

Clayton Richer is an MLB scribe from north of the border with a slight bias for the Toronto Blue Jays. Clayton has also been the shop-keeper at Baseball Hot Corner since the sites inception in 2012. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @ClaytonRicher

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