Blue Jays excited to have two first-round picks in draft

In 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays selected 6-foot-7 right-hander T.J. Zeuch with their first-round pick in the MLB Draft. This marked the third consecutive year the Blue Jays picked a collegiate right-hander with their top pick. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

In 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays selected 6-foot-7 right-hander T.J. Zeuch with their first-round pick in the MLB Draft. This marked the third consecutive year the Blue Jays picked a collegiate right-hander with their top pick. Photo Credit: Jay Blue

By Andrew Hendriks

Canadian Baseball Network

The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft will get underway on Monday in New Jersey, but before team area scout Mike Tidck and former All-Star outfielder Lloyd Moseby see to the formalities of contacting the Toronto Blue Jays' coveted selections on live TV, the club's front office executives will have to put the finishing touches on their draft strategy ahead of this year's proceedings.

As a result of Edwin Encarnacion’s free agent departure in the off-season, Toronto will receive not one, but two picks during this year’s first round. Although a second selection affords Toronto some additional flexibility with regards to their first-round choice(s), it hasn’t affected the team’s overall plan.

“We’re certainly excited about the opportunity to pick twice in the first round,“ said Steve Sanders, the Blue Jays director of amateur scouting via phone conference on Thursday. 

“It doesn’t change the way we go about things or the way we prepare. It allows us to be a little bit more flexible but it also requires us to be even more diligent in our preparations. Like any year, we have to be ready for what the draft presents us.”

Those preparations include having the ability to effectively adjust their boards based off of what other organizations do ahead of them. Assigned both the 22nd and 28th first-round slots, the Blue Jays will be one of the last 10 clubs to make their initial selection.

Echoing a similar strategy to one they have utilized heavily in the past, the Blue Jays will remain focused on obtaining the best talent available each time their name is called in Secaucus, N.J., next week.

“Following through on our process and taking players that align with our values is important but from a talent standpoint, I don’t think we set out to target any individual type of player,” explained Sanders. “Our hope is to put ourselves in a position that we’re prepared to take the best player available to us and somebody that we hope is going to impact the Blue Jays on the Major League level.”

Having drawn feedback from their many scouts over the last few months, Sanders feels as if this year’s talent pool is evenly stacked with both high school and college talent.

“Coming into the year, it felt like the depth of this draft was in some college arms and in some high school bats. As the year has progressed, this feels like a pretty balanced draft, a pretty balanced talent base as far as both high school and college.“

Hired by the Blue Jays last September after serving under the team’s current VP of baseball operations Ben Cherington for parts of six years prior to his departure from the Boston Red Sox in 2015, Monday’s proceedings will mark Sanders' first draft as a director of amateur scouting. It will also be his first run through with the Blue Jays.

Needless to say, Monday’s 7:00 p.m. E.T. kickoff has been something that the Los Angeles native has looked forward to since joining the organization last fall.

“I couldn’t be more excited for next week,” explained Sanders, who was in the Red Sox control room for six separate drafts prior to joining the Blue Jays. “It’s an excitement that really hasn’t stopped since I arrived in Toronto.”

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Andrew Hendriks

Born in southern Ontario during the late 1980's, Hendriks had a front row seat to watch the Blue Jays reach the pinnacle in '92/'93 as a child, an experience that only bolstered this Canadian's love for the "American Game." Having played since before his memory allows access too, his passion for Baseball grew over years of emulating his heroes on the local sandlots, memorizing the backs of chewing gum scented cards and travelling across North America to experience as many aspects of the game as possible. In 2009, Hendriks began volunteering at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as a Weekend Tour Guide. By 2010, he was hired on to help curate for the museum & Instruct the fundamentals of the game along side such legends as Tony Fernandez, Roberto Alomar and Jim Fanning during the Hall's annual Kids On Deck program. Following the 2011 season, Hendriks began blogging and co-hosting a weekly podcast for www.BackInBlue.ca, a Blue Jays themed website ran by fans, for fans. Looking to continue connecting with baseball fans across the country, Hendriks is excited to join such a strong team at the Canadian Baseball Network and looks forward to chipping in.