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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