Jay Blue: Jays select Harris, Singer on Day 1

Blue Jays Draft College Pitcher, HS Pitcher on Day 1
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away

The Toronto Blue Jays stayed with what has worked for them and drafted two pitchers on Day 1 of the 2015 MLB Draft.

With their first pick, the Blue Jays selected a polished college right-hander in Jon Harris. Harris, rated very favourably by MLB.com’s Jim Callis, is a 6-foot-4 righty who is still fairly lanky. Drafted out of high school by the Blue Jays in the 33rd round of the 2012 draft, Harris came to the Blue Jays again after his junior of college, filling out physically and improving his draft stock tremendously. In high school, he was the Suburban North Conference Player of the Year in 2010 as a sophomore and was still very strong over his final two years at the prep level.

Harris went on to Missouri State University where he was a freshman starter with a 3.87 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, striking out 61 in 76 2/3 innings. He was somewhat better in his sophomore year, with a 3.16 ERA and 1.18 ERA, striking out 66 in 79 2/3 innings but really broke out in the Cape Cod League that summer. He started eight games and didn’t have superb stats but scouts were reporting that his fastball his gained significant velocity. Harris proved that he could hold his velocity better in his senior year, throwing 103 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 1.08 ERA, striking out 116 batters while walking 36. He earned a conference Pitcher of the Week award in 2014 and was a Collegeiate Baseball Freshman All-America selection in 2013.

Harris throws from an over-the-top arm angle and sits 92-94 mph as a starter and has gotten used to a heavy workload in college, averaging 110 pitches per start. He missed a couple of games due to an ankle injury but has proven that he’s over it after throwing a complete-game shutout in his first game back.

Reports on his mechanics and offspeed stuff are generally very good and paint Harris as a pitcher with a very high floor as a major leaguer but not necessarily with front-of-the-rotation stuff. His curveball is touted by most as his best offspeed pitch although Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs really liked his slider in the outing that he saw. McDaniel raved about Harris’s changeup though and he thinks that Harris has three 55-grade (slighly above average) pitches in his arsenal while his  curve to has the potential to be at least major-league average if it develops more consistency.

It looks like the Blue Jays really got someone better than expected at the #29 pick. MLB.com had him ranked as the #10 draft prospect while Baseball America had him somewhat lower at #25.

With their second pick, at #56 overall, the Blue Jays went to a high school pitcher who seems like he could be a stretch as a second rounder. With a big increase in velocity (touching 95 mph but sitting in the low-90s), Singer is another big-bodied righty who rose up the draft boards.

Coming from Eustis High School in Florida, where it appears the Blue Jays have their scouting staff covering the high school and college action, Singer has had to do a lot to get noticed with a lot of good pitchers from the state. Some scouts aren’t sold on Singer’s arm angle and delivery which, they believe, has affected his breaking ball’s consistency, and think that he could end up in the bullpen.

Watching some video, I really like his whippy arm action and the ball has some great arm-side run and a little explosiveness to it. The arm angle doesn’t allow him to get fantastic downward angle on it but at 6-foot-5, that probably won’t be his biggest concern.

Friend of the blog, Chris King, has seen Singer and wrote this on Twitter:

Singer to the Jays is gonna be fun. Changes his slots and the CB is making steady progress. Deceptive and works glove-side well

— Chris King (@StatsKing) June 9, 2015

Singer was ranked #83 by MLB.com and #54 by Baseball America while Kiley McDaniel mentioned Singer in a draft chat as a “favorite 2nd round type prospect.”

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Jay Blue

A lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan, Jay Blue started blogging about the Jays when he was living in Berlin, Germany. He founded his own blog, Blue Jays from Away, to write about developments with his home town team, focusing on the Jays' minor league system. When he's not watching baseball, he is usually on the diamond umpiring or he's pursuing his research interests in the field of ethnomusicology.