By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO -- On Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays selected high school infielder Jordan Groshans as the 12th overall pick in the first round of 2018's Major League Draft.
A 6-foot-4 product of Magnolia, Texas, the right-handed hitting Groshans checks in as MLB Pipeline's 31st top prospect in this year's draft and has been assigned an overall scouting grade of 50 on the league-ran prospecting website.
In the past, the Blue Jays have utilized a method that dictates the selecting of top talent over a strategy that looks to address specific organizational needs.
Monday's play for a high school shortstop would certainly appear to fit that plan given the fact that Toronto's minor league system is currently stacked with high-ceiling middle infield talent such as Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and last year's first-rounder Logan Warmoth to name only a few.
"Coming into the night, Jordan was somebody that we had certainly had targeted as a player that we had hoped to have the opportunity to add to the organization," said Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting Steve Sanders via phone conference on Monday.
Although selecting a position player out of high school can be viewed as a precarious endeavor, the Blue Jays are confident in their decision.
"College players and high school players bring different things to the table," admitted Sanders on Monday. "Obviously being a little bit younger (means) not having the experience of playing at the collegiate level. While there's some risk associated with that, we certainly feel good about taking Jordan, and the trajectory that we feel he's going to be on from here on out."
"Both on and off the field, Jordan represents a lot of the things we look for in a player," added Sanders. "His ability on the field is undeniable, both offensively and defensively he brings tools to the table, and (he's) somebody that we believe has potential to be a middle of the lineup hitter at the Major League Level."
Outside of some already refined skills, Groshans' overall dedication to developing his game is something that the Blue Jays' front office has watched closely since making him a potential target last summer.
"He's worked very, very hard over the last year plus, to make improvement not only his swing but also his defensive work," said Sanders. "He's put a lot of work into his body to get bigger and stronger and faster, and we think he has the attributes that will not only make him a great player, but also a great teammate."
Though many industry pundits believe he will inevitably transition from short to third, the Blue Jays' current plan is to afford him an opportunity to stick as a middle infielder. One who has the potential to develop into a plus bat at the major league level.
"We just feel that Jordan has a lot of the attributes we look for, both in his swing, his combination of contact, power and plate discipline, his feel and approach in the box. He's able to drive the ball to all fields and we're confident that his offensive ability will certainly translate with wood at the next level," said Sanders.
Although his slot value checks in at a value of $4,200,900, Groshans' selection isn't exactly a sure thing for Toronto. You see, his brother Jaxx is the current catcher at the University of Kansas, and the younger Groshans has already signed a letter of commitment to join that same program next fall.
Still, the Blue Jays feel as if they are in a good spot to make something happen with their newest first-rounder.
"We're certainly confident that we will be able to work something out and have Jordan join the organization," said Sanders "But his college commitment is certainly something we were aware of going into the draft."
Of the Blue Jays' 71 first-round draft picks dating back to high school shortstop Tom Goffena in 1977, the club has selected 12 outfielders, 21 infielders, 4 catchers and 34 pitchers.
Only one of the Blue Jays' first-round selections has gone on to win a World Series title with the club. Best remembered for his pivotal home run off Jeff Reardon in Game 2 of the '92 Series, that player was Ed Sprague (selected 25th overall in 1988).
Thirty-eight of the 71 draft picks have been selected out of high school, while 33 have come out of college programs.
Currently, the Blue Jays have failed to sign only three of their first-round draft picks. Those players (James Paxton, Tyler Beede, and Phil Bickford) all came during a five-year span (2009-2013).
Below is a comprehensive list of the Blue Jays' first-round draft picks from the last 10 years.
- David Cooper (17th overall, 2008)
- Chad Jenkins (20th overall, 2009)
- James Paxton (37th overall, 2009)
- Deck McGuire (11th overall, 2010)
- Aaron Sanchez (34th overall, 2010)
- Noah Syndergaard (38th overall, 2010)
- Asher Wojciechowski (41st overall, 2010)
- Tyler Beede (21st overall, 2011)
- Jacob Anderson (35th overall, 2011)
- Joe Musgrove (36th overall, 2011)
- Dwight Smith Jr. (53rd overall, 2011)
- Kevin Comer (57th overall, 2011)
- D.J. Davis (17th overall, 2012)
- Marcus Stroman (22nd overall, 2012)
- Matt Smoral (50th overall, 2012)
- Mitch Nay (58th overall, 2012)
- Tyler Gonzales (60th overall, 2012)
- Phil Bickford (10th overall, 2013)
- Jeff Hoffman (9th overall, 2014)
- Max Pentecost (11th overall, 2014)
- Jon Harris (29th overall, 2015)
- T.J. Zeuch (21st overall, 2016)
- Logan Warmoth (22nd overall, 2017)
- Nate Pearson (28th overall, 2017)
- Jordan Groshans (12th overall, 2018)
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