By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
The Blue Jays opened Day 3 of the draft by selecting 5-foot-9 Missouri State centre fielder Hunter Steinmetz. The junior hit .300/.418/.439 with eight stolen bases, hitting 12 doubles, two triples and three home runs in league play, earning himself a second-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honour. He also hit .288/.365/.447 with seven doubles, a triple and four home runs and league-leading 17 stolen bases in the Cape Cod League in 2017 suggesting that he has a good feel for a wooden bat. Known mostly for his defence, Steinmetz gives the Blue Jays their first true center fielder in the 2018 draft.
I reached out to Hunter and he wants to let the fans know that he's "just excited for the opportunity to play for an organization like the Blue Jays and can't wait to get started!"
In the 12th round, the Blue Jays selected Iowa Hawkeye lefty Nick Allgeyer. Baseball America had the 6-foot-3 pitcher ranked as the No. 457 draft prospect, noting that he's been "Mr. Reliable for Iowa," working at least six innings in his last 14 starts and giving up more than three earned runs once. He throws 88-92 mph and has a slider and a big, slow curveball with a "potentially average changeup." BA likes his control and varying his speeds to the plate. Allgeyer made 15 starts and had a 2.41 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 97 innings with 95 strikeouts and 28 walks in his junior year (although technically his fourth year: he redshirted his third year recovering from Tommy John surgery). He was named to the All-Big Ten First Team in 2018.
In the 13th round, the Blue Jays selected pitcher Brad Wilson, a junior out of Ohio Dominican University. Wilson stands 6-foot-1 and is listed at 260 pounds on the Ohio Dominican Panthers website and had a 2.52 ERA and 61 strikeouts over 39 1/3 innings and nine saves as a reliever. He started in his first two seasons and had solid numbers there but really exploded, posting a 13.96 K/9 rate while walking only seven batters and giving up 28 hits as a closer.
The Jays went with another third baseman in the 14th round of the draft, selecting junior Johnny Aiello who stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 215 pounds. Aiello was ranked the #182 prospect by Baseball America who noted that he had a strong season in the Cape Cod League in 2017, hitting .306 with three doubles and a home run in 62 at bats. He hit .231/.346/.389 for Wake Forest in 2018, hitting five doubles, a triple and nine home runs, falling way back after a .328/.417/.643 season in 2017, blasting 17 doubles and 20 home runs in his sophomore season. Aiello didn't strike out that much more in 2018 than he did in 2017 so there doesn't appear to be a drop off there. He's considered to have above-average power but BA wrote that "he had trouble consistently getting to it in 2018, and his high strikeout rate could prohibit him from hitting for contact at the next level." He is, however, rated well for his defence and arm.
In round 15, the Blue Jays selected sophomore righty Troy Watson from Gunter, Texas. Watson threw 34 innings for the University of Northern Colorado with a 2.91 ERA with nine walks and 24 strikeouts. Troy missed a month and a half of his season because of ulnar neuritis in his elbow but he got stronger as the season went on, tossing eight innings and giving up one earned run in his final start (a loss) against CSU Bakersfield on May 13.
The Blue Jays selected righty Josh Hiatt out of the University of North Carolina in the 16th round of the draft. A redshirt sophomore who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs in a 175 pounds, Hiatt tossed 46 innings with a 2.94 ERA and 49 strikeouts with 17 walks despite missing time after he was suspended by the team for "conduct detrimental to the team." Hiatt was a first-team All-American from both Baseball America and the NCBWA. Hiatt was ranked the No. 481 prospect by Baseball America who noted that when he didn't make the team in his freshman year (getting redshirted) with an upper-80s fastball, he came back with a slider and "what was already an outstanding changeup." UNC found that both the slider and changeup registered higher spin rates than big league averages and "complemented each other with movement in near opposite directions." The fastball now reaches 88-91 mph and can touch 93 mph and Hiatt was frequently used for multi-inning appearances and BA believes that he has "the arsenal and command to at least merit a look as a starter at the next level."
In round 17, the Blue Jays went with another college pitcher, selected Austin Havekost, a 6-foot-3, righthanded redshirt sophomore from Kent State. A reliever, he threw 22 innings in 2018, posting a 2.86 ERA and 0.64 WHIP, striking out 30 while walking only three batters all season. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 95 (according to Baseball America who ranked him as the No. 496 draft prospect) and uses a split-change and a slider and "pounds the strike zone with both offspeed offerings and pitches with above-average control." For more on the personal side, his Kent State profile tells us that he enjoys fishing and hunting, lists his mom as the person he most admires and is creeped out by snakes. He would also like to visit Omaha but I'm guessing that's more from the point of view of a participant in the College World Series than as a tourist.
In the 18th round, the Blue Jays selected the player who probably has the best name so far in the draft: righthanded pitcher Fitz Stadler from Arizona State. Stadler's 2018 numbers don't stand out as he was mostly a reliever with a 5.96 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 18 walks over 22 2/3 innings. Stadler is the tallest player selected by the Blue Jays thus far, standing at 6-foot-9 and weighing in at 233 pounds. The junior was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 32nd round in 2015 before deciding to play in college and his two brothers Walker and Sully both played collegiate baseball at Indiana University. He also pitched in the Cape Cod League in 2017, posting a 3.72 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 19 1/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking seven.
19th-round pick Adrian Ramos will be 20 in a couple of weeks and he got an early birthday present from the Blue Jays, selecting him out of Miami Dade College, making him the first player coming out of a junior college selected by the Blue Jays in 2018. The outfielder hit .331/.470/.419 with 25 stolen bases this season, hitting 10 doubles and two triples. He's signed to play at Southeastern University next year but could very well sign with the Blue Jays.
In the 20th round, the Jays selected shortstop Vinny Capra, a senior out of the University of Richmond. Capra was selected to the All-Atlantic 10 Second Team twice (in 2017 and 2018) and was one of the club's four captains in 2018 as a senior. Capra led the club in hits, batting average, runs, home runs and RBI, hitting .327/.435/.485 with 13 doubles, two triples and five home runs, stealing nine bases in 11 tries. He attended Eastern Florida State College before transferring to Richmond, and calls Melbourne, Florida home.
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The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available!