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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blue Jays drafting in the Anthopoulos era

Given the talk about the state of the franchise after the Santana nonsense, here’s another article pointing out some recent failures by the Blue Jays, this time in the draft.

The Blue Jays need to draft and develop talent successfully to drive winning at the major league level.  Alex Anthopoulos adopted this as a core belief and when he was hired as general manager he focused on improving the Jays drafting and player development.  How successful has this new approach been? AA has been on the job for just four years, which is too early to fully judge his drafts, but we can make some observations.

When Alex Anthopoulos was hired as general manager of the Blue Jays in 2009 he announced an increased focus on scouting and that included a rebuild of the amateur scouting department.  Jeff Blair, in his book Full Count, says one of AA’s first moves was to increase the size of the amateur scouting ranks from 28 to 54.  Today the website of the Blue Jays lists 23 US amateur scouts, 6 cross-checkers, two Canadian scouts and 12 international scouts.  I emailed the Jays Director of Amateur Scouting, Brian Parker, about the department size and he responded “I believe we still have the most full-time area scouts of any club in baseball.  I know the philosophy that Alex started back then of having smaller areas is something that we still believe in and follow with our current staff.   I truly believe it gives us an advantage.”

Paul D(uda) Posted: March 13, 2014 at 08:12 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, draft

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   1. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4670786)
Subjectively, it seems like the author is being pretty quick to write guys off as potential contributors. He says, for example, that it's "very doubtful" that Dwight Smith Jr. will ever reach the majors.

Smith wasn't very good in rookie ball, but as a 20-year-old in the MWL last year he improved to a .284/.365/.388 batting line with a 25/5 SB/CS rate, and he's able to at least fake it in center field. It's certainly not an impact season, but there's nothing about that performance that should rule him out as a possible future contributor so early in his career.
   2. Rally Posted: March 13, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4670804)
Seeing that name makes me think back to Dwight Sr. He was awesome in 1989 (as was Jerome Walton) and it looked like the Cubs had 2/3 of an outfield set for a decade. Neither one ever did anything else interesting in the big leagues.

Smith was a bit old for a rookie (25) and you could discount his .324 rookie season due to a .359 babip. But he did hit 337/415/542 with 60 steals in AA just two years earlier. So people like me who paid attention to their Baseball America magazines with stat lines 3 weeks behind when we got our grubby hands on them thought Smith had some real ability.

Looking up his minor league page, I see he was also a Blue Jay draftee in the January phase, didn't sign, and then signed with the Cubs after being redrafted in June.
   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4670829)
The Jays ineptitude with the draft goes back a long way prior to Anthopolous. Since (and including) the 2004 draft, they have only drafted three players (Romero, Janssen and Lind) that have managed at least 5 WAR, and none with 10. Their 2003 draft was decent, producing Aaron Hill (24.9), Shaun Marcum (13.4) and Ryan Roberts (5.8), but they you have to go all the way back to 1999 before there's another player with 5 or more WAR.

If there's been a team with more pathetic draft results since 2000 I'd like to see it.
   4. FrankM Posted: March 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4670839)
It's way too early to evaluate those drafts.
   5. Paul d mobile Posted: March 13, 2014 at 11:13 AM (#4670879)
I wonder if it's a drafting problem or a development problem.
   6. Matthew E Posted: March 13, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4670889)
I wonder if it's a drafting problem or a development problem.
I suggest both. I'm no expert, but the impression I get is that their drafts are decent or good... or at least they would be if they'd sign their top draft picks. But then what happens? They don't develop. And if they do develop to the point of making the majors, they quickly deteriorate and maybe save themselves and maybe don't. Been like this for years.
   7. snowles Posted: March 13, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4671029)
Yeah I definitely think it's a development issue. I was just thinking back to the Halladay trade, which seemed like a pretty good return 4 years ago. 4 years later and none of the players involved have yet to contribute positive WAR; in fact, they have combined for negative WAR, and that includes Wallace and Gose. D'Arnaud or Drabek are going to have pretty good careers from here on just to match Roy's 2010, let alone the rest of his career, and one's a player at the roughest position with a long injury list, and the other is made of glass and has been pretty terrible when not hurt.

Guess we'll see what happens with the players traded for Dickey and the Marlins.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: March 13, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4671083)
A draft that produces 44 WAR is outstanding, not decent. Obviously there will be lots of examples of better ones although most of those will be driven by the drafting of a single star player.

And it's easy. Since 2004, the Cubs have drafted two players who have hit the 5 WAR mark -- Josh Donadlson (who did it for the A's) and the fearsome Darwin Barney (who did it with the shift). The 2005 draft produced .5 WAR, the 2010 draft has yet to have a player make the majors. Cashner may eventually hit the 5 WAR mark and of course Theo's recent drafts have gone well so far.
   9. tgg33 Posted: March 14, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4671658)
Player identification certainly hasn't been the problem. It's been getting these guys to sign.

They didn't sign their first rounder last year (Bickford) or 2011 (Beede). Speaking of Beede, he and LSU's Aaron Nola go at it in Nashville tonight. Nola was also an unsigned pick in 2011. Both are projected top 15 overall picks this year. Also in that 2011 draft who they failed to sign: Luke Weaver, ace of Florida State...

You can have 100 amateur scouts if you want. Still gotta get guys to sign.

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