Hello Mills, goodbye to two former No. 1s

* Adding LHP Brad Mills met that the Blue Jays designate former No. 1 Deck McGuire for assignment and demoted former No. 1 Chad Jenkins. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent


By Bob Elliott

Welcome back Brad Mills.

Farewell Deck McGuire.

McGuire might re-surface as Edwin Encarnacion did.

Or he might bounce back a la Jose Bautista who was tossed around like a hot potato in 2004 as Rule V draftee (five teams in 196 days).

Or he could be traded, or placed on waivers and return to triple-A Buffalo.

What does it say when a former No. 1 pick (McGuire, the Jays first pick in 2010) is designated for assignment on Thursday and another No.1 (Chad Jenkins in 2009), is demoted on Friday, to make room for Mills, who will be the Jays new long man?

We’re not really sure but isn’t real good when you bump two former No. 1 picks are bumped for someone who comes on when you’re losing 6-1 in the third inning.

Mills pitched two innings allowing eight runs on seven hits -- including two homers to David Ortiz and one to Mike Napoli -- and three walks in the Jays 14-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox Monday night.

The first time we tried to talk to McGuire was draft day 2010. The Blue Jays were in Atlanta. We phoned the Georgia Tech sports information officer at the NCAA regional in Atlanta.

“Hold on a second,” said the baseball SID.

“Ah, he’d rather be with his teammates right now at a time like this -- you know we were just eliminated, our season is over.”

The No. 8th-ranked Yellow Jackets had been eliminated from the NCAA regional, losing 10-8 to the Alabama Crimson Tide. McGuire did not pitch.

I asked if McGuire was sure he didn’t want to talk about being drafted 11th over-all and moving on to the next step of his life.

“He’s sure,” said the Georgia Techie. “He does not want to talk.”

McGuire had pitched two days before beating Alabama 5-2 to put Georgia Tech at 2-0 and needing only one win to advance. He allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks while fanning six in a 5-2 victory.

On the season, McGuire was 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 16 starts walking 33 and striking out 118 in 112 2/3 innings. The Jays have him a $2 million US signing bonus. He was compared by some scouts to John Lackey on draft day.

For those of you draft board watching along at home, lefty Chris Sale of Florida Gulf Coast -- not to be confused with Aaron Sele -- went to the White Sox two picks later.

Between the end of the 2011 season and this spring McGuire made 69 appearances -- 67 starts -- at double-A New Hampshire, before being promoted to triple-A Buffalo where he made 10 starts.

Scouts say McGuire didn’t improve as he should have, his fastball was straight at grandma’s clothes line and he lacked an out pitch.

For Jenkins, who will always be remembered as the player that the Jays took five picks before Los Angeles Angels scouting director Eddie Bane chose Mike Trout, it was the fourth time he’d been demoted.

With the injuries and lack of position player depth in the farm system the Jays are running out what resembles a second-year expansion franchise. The starting lineup Saturday afternoon included infielders Munenori Kawasaki, Dan Johnson and Juan Francisco, right fielder Anthony Gose and starter Marcus Stroman, who all started at triple-A Buffalo this season.

Add bench players Steve Tolleson, Erik Kratz, Darin Mastroianni and eight of the Jays 25 active players were scheduled to play at Buffalo this year. Only Stroman’s stock is on the rise.

The Jays have used the disabled list 13 times this season, which is a lot, but less than the visiting Rangers who have required it 21 times.

Plus the Jays haven’t lost four members of their starting rotation like the New York Yankees or three starters as the Tampa Bay Rays have.

With Dioner Navarro hitting clean-up as he was Friday (fifth on Saturday) Bautista’s protection looks like George Bell’s the final weekend of 1987.

Injuries to Tony Fernandez and Ernie Whitt the final 10 days when the likes of Rance Mulliniks, Juan Beniquez and Rick Leach hit in front of and behind MVP George Bell going a combined 3-for-18 (.167) that final weekend of the 1987 season ... the Meltdown in Mo-Town.


Houston we have a problem: You have to feel for Astros fifth round pick Jacob Nix of Los Alamitos, Calif. who had a deal worked out for $1.5 million and 21st-rounder Mac Marshall, a Georgia high school lefty

But when the Astros could not sign No. 1 pick lefty Brady Aiken, a San Diego high schooler, Houston didn’t have extra slot money left to pay Nix or Marshall. Baseball America reported that the Astros made a $1.5 million US offer to Marshall attending summer classes at LSU.

It’s the third time in draft history (since 1965) that the No. 1 overall pick has not signed as Aiken joins Danny Goodwin (1971) and Tim Belcher (1983).

Now, the question is since advisor Casey Close was quoted on the situation, will the NCAA allow Aiken and Nix to accept scholarships.

It didn’t when Blue Jays pick James Paxton tried to return to Kentucky and agent Scott Boras and Jays president Paul Beeston had negotiated a contract.

The Astros have had the No. 1 pick in North America the last three years: Carlos Correa (.325 average with six homers, 57 RBIs and 20 steals at class-A Lancaster) in 2012, right-hander Mark Appel (1-5, 10.80 ERA at Lancaster) from Stanford last year and Aiken who they did not sign.