Toronto Blue Jays 2015 MLB Draft Rounds 11-15
by Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
We continue our draft coverage with rounds 11-15. The Jays selected a projectible high school righty, a high school shortstop, a junior college center fielder, a college catcher and a big righty who finished his junior year. Let’s meet them.
Round 11 of the 2015 draft featured the Blue Jays selecting 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher Marrick Crouse from Dana Hills HS in California. There is video of Crouse that features the young righty throwing a fastball in the high 80s and touching 90 and 91 mph and throwing a high-70s curve. The curve features some nice downwards break and he was also throwing a low-80s slider with sharp movement. The biggest thing that I took away from the video of Crouse was that his control was not very good at all. The slider was frequently in the dirt and the fastball was all over the place. Still, he’s a projectible pitcher who, if he adds some velo and finds command, could be a solid arm in the organization.
Crouse is committed to the University of San Francisco and had a 1.63 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings in his senior year. A report says that he was projected as third-to-sixth rounder but fell, likely because of signability issues.
In round 12, the Blue Jays selected center fielder D.J. McKnight, a 5-foot-10 center fielder out of Tallahassee College. Looking over McKnight’s collegiate record, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of home run power there with a .322/.422/.444 slash line this season with only one home run and one stolen base. Those numbers are actually down from his 2013/14 totals in which he hit .366 with five home runs.
McKnight, from Madison, Florida, was studying criminal justice and hoped to work for the DEA but will likely get a chance to play professional baseball first. I would expect him to sign fairly quickly despite a commitment to Valdosta State University.
In the 13th round, the Blue Jays selected a high school shortstop, Daniel Perry, out of Lassen High School in Susanville, Calif. The University of Iowa commit is 6-foot-2 and appears to be able to get some good loft on his swing but it’s hard to get a good read on his bat speed. Likewise his arm strength. While Perry appears to have decent footwork at short stop, he’s seen with a hitch getting the ball out of his glove on several occasions and might need to work defensively as a pro or in college.
In the 14th round, the Blue Jays selected catcher Ryan Hissey out of the College of William and Mary. The owner of one of the better Twitter handles out there (@hisseyfit18), Hissey just finished his junior season in college after a very strong athletic career. The well-spoken young man is six feet tall and 180 pounds and holds a career .292/.378/.458 lifetime slashline in college with 17 home runs. He was on the Johnny Bench Award Watch List (for the best collegiate catcher) and was an All-CAA for the Division I WIlliam and Mary in his sophomore year. Hissey wrote “Excited to be a member of the @BlueJays” on Twitter, which could very well indicate that he plans on signing.
Right-handed pitcher Jackson McClelland out of Pepperdine University in California was the Blue Jays’ 15th round pick. McLelland is a big (6-foot-5) junior who throws a fastball in the low-90s (sitting around 92) with a curveball that has some nice break to it, both horizontally and vertically. His fastball appears to have some arm-side run to it as well. While he appeared to use a third pitch in the video we saw, it was hard to classify but it had the velocity of either a slider or a changeup.
The 20-year-old from Beaumont, Calif. was drafted once before, by the Pirates in the 35th round of the 2012 draft and comes with a career 2.83 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 80 walks and 144 strikeouts in 226 innings at Pepperdine, spending his last two seasons as a full-time starter. He was named an All-WCC second team player in 2015 as the team’s Friday starter.
Round 21 brought the Jays their first lefty of the draft, college red-shirt junior Taylor Saucedo out of NAIA Tennessee Wesleyan. One of two Bulldogs selected in the draft, Saucedo played in his second year at the four-year college after playing for two seasons at Tacoma Junior College. The 6-foot-5, 190 pound, Maple Valley, Washington native started nine of his 16 appearances this year, throwing 59 2/3 innings with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP with 32 walks and 59 strikeouts.
Nick Sinay, an outfielder from the University of Buffalo, became the Blue Jays’ 22nd round pick. Sinay was an All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) team member and the All-MAC Defensive team member, hitting .326 with 39 stolen bases, setting the UB record in stolen bases with 72 in his three years. Known for his speed (called “unbelievably fast” by D1Baseball.com), the Marcellus, New York native stands 5-foot-10 and weighs either 175 pounds or 190 pounds, depending on where you’re getting your information. Sinay isn’t known for his power (he has a 0.51 ISO over three seasons of NCAA action), but he has a career OBP of .446. If the Blue Jays are looking to draft players with intangibles, this may be a pick in that category: Sinay fractured a vertibrae in his lower back in the eighth grade and doctors were concerned that any stress could do further damage and rest and physiotherapy were prescribed. He managed to recover and went on to be a high school baseball star and has had a distinguished college career.
In the 23rd round, the Blue Jays selected Juandy Mendoza, a second-year, junior college player out of Otero JC in Colorado. The 20-year-old right-handed-hitting shortstop hit .277/.373/.382 this season with 13 stolen bases. With a commitment to NCAA Division II University of Southern Indiana, the Miami native could head back to college to improve his draft stock or sign with the Blue Jays and start his pro career.
Outfielder Reggie Pruitt was the Blue Jays 24th round pick but the high school outfielder appears to be unlikely to sign with the Blue Jays. The 6-foot 18 year old was one of the top recruits out of Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia and has already committed to a top-flight baseball program at Vanderbilt and is expected to be a very tough sign. With outstanding speed, the center fielder has some tremendous tools despite a swing that has earned some criticism for its mechanics.
The Jays took another high schooler in the 25th round, this time it was a right-handed pitcher, Ryan Feltner, out of Walsh Jesuit High School in Cayahoga Fall, Ohio. The 6-foot-4 righty appears to have a projectible frame (at just 185 pounds) and was named the 2015 Gatorade Ohio Baseball Player of the Year. Feltner has a commitment to Ohio State and is reported to have a low-90s fastball with a slider and curveball. He had a 1.28 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings at Walsh Jesuit and now has a big decision to make. Feltner committed to OSU early on (as a sophomore) when he didn’t think that he’d be drafted; he’s been quoted as saying “The Blue Jays have kind of been there from the start . . . They told me to take my time with my decision and that there is no rush,” so don’t look for Feltner to sign quickly.
The Blue Jays picked up a few position players with only one pitcher in the mix. All of the selections in rounds 26-30 featured players out of four-year colleges.
The Blue Jays selected a first baseman/designated hitter with their 26th round pick in junior Gabe Clark. At 6-feet and 220 pounds, he’s got a big build coming from a very strong program in Oregon State (which also gave the Blue Jays Matt Boyd). At first glance, the 20-year-old doesn’t appear to be a prototypical power-hitting DH. In his sophomore year, he hit .280/.374/.376 in 157 at bats, slugging only 10 doubles, a triple and one home run. In only thirty games this season, he showed more power with seven home runs, but only came to the plate 98 times. Reports indicate that he missed at least 17 games including five at the beginning of the season for “violating unspecified team rules” and 12 more later in the season thanks to his tendency to strike out. The Riverside, California native probably has a lot left to prove and could very well improve his draft stock if he returns to college for one more year.
The Blue Jays went back to the position player well in the 27th round, selecting outfielder Jake Thomas from Binghamton University. The senior is another gap-hitting, speed oriented outfielder without a lot of home run power (although there is some pop there). He compiled an excellent series of stats with a .322/.453/.470 slash line and stole 26 bases in his four years of college. Thomas earned an America East Conference Player of the Week award earlier in the season after an excellent start to the season in which he went 6-for-13 with a triple and a home run. Thomas also leads Binghamton all time in career on-base percentage and walks and has been one of the university’s best offensive players to grace its field. As a college senior, Thomas is almost assured of signing and he has been quoted as saying that he is “honored to be a part of the Toronto Blue Jays organization.”
28th round: Another first baseman for the Blue Jays in Levi Scott, a 6-foot-5 senior from the University of Texas - Arlington. Scott came to Arlington after two years at Howard Junior College where he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 21st round of the 2013 draft. Again, Scott doesn’t have the numbers that you might expect from a man his size but he did hit .327/.374/.493 in his senior season with the UT Arlington Mavericks. His 14 doubles and seven home runs are fairly solid but for a player like Scott to really move up in the pros, he’ll need to leverage his large frame and hit more home runs.
The Blue Jays selected their first pitcher in this group of picks with Kyle Davis out of USC in the 29th round. The junior is 21 and hails from Garden Grove California where was a standout as an infielder and a pitcher. Coming to USC, he pitched as a freshman with a 5.48 ERA in 22 appearances. He improved tremendously in his sophomore year, earning nine saves and pitching a complete game (with 14 strikeouts) in his only start of the season. He had a WHIP of 1.01 and struck out 57 in 56 1/3 innings. He regressed in his junior year, pitching in 20 games and logging 53 1/3 innings despite making five starts. He struck out 45 and walked 18 with a 4.05 ERA and 1.43 WHIP as a full-time closer. The 6-foot righty was apparently hampered by injuries but took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of one of the NCAA Regionals and had a complete-game shutout against Stanford early in the season.
The 30th round was the Blue Jays got their best-named draft pick of the season in Earl Burl III. Burl is certainly signing with the Blue Jays after he finished his degree in Business Administration from Alcorn State University in Mississippi. Burl was only really a regular in his final season but had a great year, hitting .298/.398/.481 with 20 stolen bases, eight doubles, five triples and five home runs. Characterized as a hard worker, Burl “spent countless hours working out, hitting, running, and whatever else it took to improve my baseball skills.” I’m interested to follow Burl’s career as he puts his law school plans on hold to play baseball as a pro.
In Rounds 31-35, the Blue Jays focused in on college players and took three pitchers (including two lefties) in this group.
The Blue Jays took right-handed pitcher Josh DeGraaf out of an NAIA school, Taylor University. The senior graduated with a 3.92 GPA, earning Capital One Academic All-American of the Year honours for both his academic and athletic excellence. On the field, he led the pitching staff with a 1.80 ERA, logging 75 innings and allowing batters to hit just .218 off of him. He struck out 81 and walked only 11, capping his collegiate career in style. At 6-foot-4, DeGraaf is a tall, slender righty who became the first player to be drafted out of Taylor since 2009. DeGraaf hails from Illinois and has signed and has been touted for his intelligence, graduating with a degree in psychology and looking towards grad school. Taylor said in an interview that he throws consistently around 90-91 mph but some of that velocity had only come fairly recently. He also throws a slider and a changeup and, by his own admission, throws them all for strikes.
The Blue Jays selected a second baseman in the 32nd round of the draft, picking second baseman Andrew Guillotte from Moss Bluff, Louisiana. The 22 year old went to McNeese State University in Louisiana for his college ball and played as a starter in all four years. While he struggled in his freshman year, he had solid numbers with increasing power over the course of his college career, hitting .284/.348/.349 over the four years with 77 stolen bases. In his senior year, he was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award (recognizing excellence in athletic and academic achievements as well as character) and hit .313/.350/.394 with 14 doubles and two home runs, stealing 21 bases (without getting caught) and striking out only 11 times in 249 at bats.
The Blue Jays selected outfielder Kalik May in the 33rd round of the draft, getting him out of Mississippi Valley State University. Coming to MVSU out of East Central Community College, May made a huge impact with his combination of tools that led to a stellar senior year in 2015, hitting .335/.420/.520 with 11 doubles, five triples and four home runs and 22 stolen bases without getting caught. While he tended to strike out a lot (47 times in 179 at bats), he appears to be able to make excellent contact while taking a healthy number of walks (21 walks in 2015). His head coach, Aaron Stevens, was quoted as saying that May has “no ceiling on his athletic ability.” It will be interested to see how May adjusts to professional ball, considering his size (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and apparent athleticism.
Hunter Barnett, the Blue Jays 34th round pick in the 2015 draft, signed on the dotted line on June 14 and officially became a Blue Jay. Coming out of his junior year at the Division II University of Mount Olive in North Carolina, Barnett was used mostly as a reliever, throwing only 23 1/3 innings this season with a 7.71 ERA, 11 walks and 21 strikeouts. The 6-foot-3, 198 pound lefty will, in all likelihood, remain in the bullpen as a professional.
In the 35th round, the Blue Jays selected senior Stuart Holmes, a 6-foot-2 lefty from Vancleave, Mississippi. Transferring to Nicholls State University out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Holmes had a stellar two-year career at Nicholls, throwing 32 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in his senior year with a 1.11 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, striking out 36 and walking just seven. Named the Southland Conference Reliever of the year, Holmes also appeared on other college baseball watch lists and led the Southland Conference and set a school record with 15 saves. His pitching coach said, “Stuart turned himself into one of the best left-handed relievers in the country this year through hard work and determination.”
In final five rounds of the draft, the Blue Jays selected two catchers, an infielder, an outfielder and a left-handed pitcher.
Kicking off the last group of five picks was outfielder Lance Jones out of Southern University in Lousiana. The 22-year-old senior transferred to Southern from Bossier City Community College after two years and hit .321/.402/.435 in his junior and senior years combined with 15 doubles, three triples and a home run while stealing 26 bases in 209 at bats. Jones stands 6-foot-1 and hails from Benton, Louisiana.
In the 37th round, the Jays picked up Randy Labaut out of Downey High School in California. The lefthanded pitcher was born and raised in Cuba but played in high school at Downey and has committed to the University of Arizona. There’s not much info on Downey but it’s very likely that he’ll head to college in the fall unless the Blue Jays overpay a fair bit.
The Blue Jays selected a fifth-year senior in Josh Reavis. The 6-foot-2 catcher comes from Radford University in Virginia where he played three years as an everyday player. His career stats stand at a .290/.397/.369 slash line with 26 doubles, two triples and five home runs. The big catcher must have some speed as he stole 11 and 10 bases (respectively) in 2014 and 2015. Named to the 2015 NCAA Tournament All-Regional team this year as well as the Big South All-Tournament Team while also earning Big South’s All-Academic honours. He started his career as a walk-on and eventually became the bullpen catcher before becoming a starter for three years. He earned praise from his college coach for his leadership, work ethic and defensive skills.
A special story to the Blue Jays family, the 39th pick was Mattingly Romanin, a senior infielder out of Chicago State University. Romanin is the son of Mal Romanin, the manager of Baseball Information with the Blue Jays. Mattingly played for four years at Chicago State and posted a very solid slash line of .306/.407/.429 with 41 doubles, eight triples and 11 home runs in 732 at bats, earning Second Team All-Western Athletic Conference honors in his last two seasons. Romanin played early this season with the Guelph Royals of the Intercounty Baseball League before being drafted. Romanin has signed and will be joining the Blue Jays’ organization on a short season team soon.
The Blue Jays’ final draft pick was Robert Lucido, a catcher out of Amherst College in Massachusetts. The interesting thing is that Lucido didn’t play baseball in his senior year at Amherst after not being able to find playing time on the team. He continued to train on his own and was going to sign with the K.C. Royals as a free agent until the MLB Commissioner’s Office vetoed that deal because he was still considered a college athlete. Finally, after the college year ended and Lucido continued training at the Baseball Factory in Maryland, he was drafted in the 40th round by the Blue Jays.