By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
The Toronto Blue Jays have been getting some good mileage out of their second round draft picks over the past several years, getting Hagen Danner in this position in the draft in 2017 (61st overall) while they also drafted J.B. Woodman (traded in the offseason) and Bo Bichette in the second round in 2016. Other standouts from the second round include Sean Reid-Foley (2014), Chase De Jong (2012) and Daniel Norris (2011). The top second-round pick the Jays have ever had (by Baseball Reference WAR) is David Wells who went to the Jays 30th overall in the 1982 draft.
In 2018, the Blue Jays went with another legacy player, selecting outfielder Griffin Conine with the 52nd overall pick. Conine, 20, was ranked No. 50 by MLB.com and No. 49 by Baseball America coming out of Duke University, the same alma mater as Marcus Stroman.
In his three years at Duke, Conine hit .276/.399/.516 showing an excellent eye and solid power, hitting 28 home runs in his final two years (after getting just 73 at bats and hitting 15 doubles and three triples (but no home runs) as a freshman. He also showed a lot of power in the wood-bat Cape Cod League, getting named the league's top prospect with nine home runs and he was named a Second-Team All-ACC twice in a row (2017, 2018).
Conine, the son of former All-Star Jeff Conine who played in the majors for 17 years, rebounded from a rough first half of his junior year and MLB.com says that he's "capable of driving the ball out to all fields thanks to his bat speed and the loft he generates with his left-handed swing." That swing has some explosiveness to it and, at least in the batting practice video I watched, it looks like he swings hard (although it looks more like it's under control during games). He generates a lot of torque through his lover body but his hands appear to take a very short path to the ball while he has a small leg kick. Some scouts are concerned about "his propensity to swing and miss" and MLB.com noted that those fears were realized this year as he seemed to get a little homer happy.
MLB.com grades: Hit: 45/Power: 55/Run: 40/Arm: 55/Field: 50/Overall: 50
Baseball America takes a similar approach, noting his 27.6% strikeout rate up until the time that their report was written and that he "struggled to make contact with offspeed offerings of varying quality, frequently expanding his zone and swinging over the top of pitches below the strike zone." They do note that "when he does hit the ball, he usually hits it hard," citing a 111-mph exit velocity with an 18-degree launch angle from March.
Conine is still 20 and there are several college hitters whom the Jays have drafted with similar profiles. Conine was drafted in 2015 by the Miami Marlins in the 31st round before going to Duke.
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available!