By Jay Blue
Blue Jays From Away
Day 2 of the 2015 MLB Draft featured a split of position players and pitchers, more along the lines of what we saw in 2014 than in previous years. With Alex Anthopoulos and Brian Parker, director of amateur scouting taking four pitchers and four position players on Tuesday.
In the third round, the Blue Jays selected a Texas high school pitcher, in 6-foot-3, 185-pounder Justin Maese. Maese was ranked 156th by Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, 134th on Baseball America and 131st by MLB.com. All of this says that the Blue Jays either stretched to get him with their third round, 91st overall pick, or they saw something in him that elevated him beyond other players that they were considering.
Some interesting things popped up on Twitter yesterday including this tweet that reported that the Blue Jays had actually been looking at Maese with their first-round pick. There are, apparently, no anticipated problems with Maese’s signability.
Blue Jays were rumored to take Justin Maese at 29, and he’s excellent value in the third round.
— Chris Crawford (@CrawfordChrisV) June 9, 2015
Justin Maese said he plans on signing with the Toronto Blue Jays who will meet with Maese tonight to get get things settled.
— Felix Chavez (@Fchavezeptimes) June 9, 2015
Scouting reports on him are mixed and have said that, while he threw 93-96 mph at one point in the year, he lost some velocity later on in the season, sitting at 88-92 mph. He is said to have an inconsistent breaking ball and “his delivery involves effort” (from Baseball America). MLB.com believes that he has the “athleticism and frame to remain a starter.”
In the fourth round, the Blue Jays went with a former teammate of 2014 draft pick, Gunnar Heidt, selecting 3B Carl Wise from the College of Charleston. Wise is an interesting player who had been catching a little bit but played most of the year at third base although most reports don’t see him staying at third base. Baseball America seems to think that he has a future behind the plate while MLB.com thinks that he’s a first baseman long term. MLB.com had him ranked 121st in the draft and Baseball America had him at 235.
The big upside on Wise is his power that he showed in college and in the Cape Cod League. Wise hit 25 home runs in three years of college, with a lifetime slugging percentage of .516. In Cape Cod, he hit six home runs but there were concerns that he struck out too much against high calibre pitching.
There isn’t as much info on the Blue Jays’ fifth-round pick, Jose Espada who is a high school pitcher out of Puerto Rico. Baseball America has the 6-foot, 170-pound righty as working in the mid-to-upper 80s and touching 92 with a solid curveball and occasional changeup. Selected as the 152nd player in the draft, Espada was not ranked anywhere before the draft.
In the sixth round, the Jays went back to Florida (the home state of their second round pick) to select high school shortstop J.C. Cardenas. Baseball America likes the switch hitter’s contact ability, his speed and his arm while taking issue with his ability to remain at shortstop.
In the seventh round, the Blue Jays selected a college lefty, Travis Bergen out of Kennesaw State University, the alma mater of last year’s 11th overall pick, Max Pentecost. Bergen is probably not going to be confused with a power pitcher, at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds but he throws in the high 80s and low 90s, topping out around 93 mph. He has an “extreme crossfire delivery” that gets him a lot of movement on his fastball (according to MLB.com) and he has a breaking ball that will need to be refined as MLB.com characterizes it as varying between a “fringy slider in the lower 80s and a promising cutter in the upper 80s.” They also like his changeup but may be a reliever long term. Bergen had a tremendous season in the Cape Cod League last summer, throwing 32 innings with a 2.25 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, striking out 36 and walking only four. It seems to me that Bergen has a pedigree and profile similar to Rob Rasmussen.
The Jays went with University of Florida lefty in Danny Young. Ranked 446th in the draft by Baseball America, Young is thought to be a bullpen arm with a fastball in the high 80s and an average slider. Young has an ERA under 2.50 in college in the last two seasons, spent mostly in the bullpen.
In the ninth round, the Jays selected their first Canadian in Etobicoke native Connor Panas, a corner infielder who went to college at Canisius in Buffalo. Baseball America believes that he is a solid overall player without any real plus tools. The left-handed hitter has fringe power but could be a gap-to-gap hitter who plays a decent third base. He hit .344/.447/.522 over his four-year career at Canisius, hitting 50 doubles, 13 triples and 17 home runs.
The Blue Jays’ final pick on Day 2 of the draft was another Canadian, Owen Spiwak, a catcher out of Odessa College in Texas. Spiwak has some nice size (at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds) and Baseball America doesn’t have much on him, noting that he’s a solid receiver with “a fringe-average arm” with “some strength and gap power.”
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