06/03/2003 8:44 PM ET
Blue Jays select 14 pitchers
TORONTO -- One exhausting day of the First-Year Player Draft is done, and the
Blue Jays spent six hours sorting through and picking pitching prospects.
Fourteen of Toronto's 20 picks were spent on pitchers, with an overwhelming
amount coming from the college ranks.
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Breaking that down, 11 pitchers came from four-year universities, one from
community college and two from high school. That's consistent with the
organizational philosophy, which dictates that college players are better bets
to develop than high school kids. The same theory applies to position players --
of the six prospects selected by Toronto, all of them went to four-year
Aaron Hill, a shortstop from Louisiana State, heads that list. Hill, the
Southeastern Conference's Player of the Year, was the 13th overall pick in the
From there, the Jays aimed all of their efforts toward the men on the mound.
Seven of their next eight choices were pitchers, and all of them had one thing
in common: control of the strike zone.
Toronto's decision-makers wanted pitchers
who could strike batters out without walking many, and that shines through in
Josh Banks, a right-hander from Florida International, personifies that trend.
The second-rounder started his season off with 30 consecutive scoreless innings,
and he finished with an 8-2 record and a 3.50 ERA. Those stats may look
ordinary, but his peripherals were off the charts. Banks struck out 114 batters,
which led the Sun Belt, and walked only 25.
The third-round pick, Shaun Marcum, sports many of the same abilities. A former
shortstop, Marcum pitched well as a closer at Southwest Missouri State. Through
41 innings of work, he posted a 1.98 ERA with 13 saves. He also struck out 52
batters with just 12 walks, an impressive dichotomy. The Jays went back to that
well five rounds later, picking Chad Mulholland from the same school.
Mulholland, a starter, went 10-3 with a 2.73 ERA. He generally works in the high
80s, but that didn't stop him from striking out 108 batters.
In the fourth and fifth rounds, the Jays grabbed another pair of starting
pitchers. The fourth pick was Kurt Isenberg, a two-way player who struggled
on the mound this season. The southpaw will pitch as a professional, though,
and Toronto seems certain that he will iron out the flaws in his game.
pick was Justin James, a sturdy 6-foot-3 right-hander. James, an aggressive
pitcher, struck out 92 batters and walked only 26 in his final season at
Finally, in the sixth round, Toronto targeted a position player. Chris Snavely played the infield and outfield at Ohio
State. He hit .360 as a sophomore -- earning second-team All-Big 10 honors --
but obliterated those numbers this year.
Snavely hit just .335, but look at the
rest of his statistics: He posted a .483 on-base percentage and a .675 slugging
percentage. Snavely has all the tools -- now the Jays just need to harness them.
The next three selections were all pitchers, with Daniel Core and James
Vermilyea joining the fold. Core posted some impressive numbers at Florida
Atlantic: He went 10-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 106 innings.
In the 10th round, the Jays snagged a player with two discernible skills: speed
and the ability to hit for a high average. Jayce Tingler doesn't hit for much
power, but he did rack up a .395 batting average at Missouri. The center fielder
also showed a knack for drawing walks and stealing bases, which gives him the
ideal leadoff hitter's skill set.
After that, Toronto went right back to drafting pitchers, four in a row, to be
precise. The blue birds got Thomas Mastny fron Furman and Jayson Rodriguez from
a community college before going an unorthodox route. Two hurlers came from
service acadamies -- Matt Foster from Navy and Jeremy Harper from Virginia
Foster's best pitch is his changeup, which he used with
devastating effect with Navy. The Jays were just looking for a few good arms,
and they didn't especially care where they came from.
From there, Toronto tried to wrap up an interesting day. Vito Chiaravallot, a
first baseman from Richmond, was selected in the 15th round. Joseph Reiman, a
catcher, was the next pick, followed by Jordy Templett in the 17th round. Ryan
Roberts, a third baseman, came after that.
Roberts put up some big numbers at
the University of Texas at Arlington: He batted .422 with 16 home runs, posting
a .514 on-base percentage and a slugging mark over .700.
Finally, the Jays closed out the day with two high school pitchers. The latter,
Brad Depoy, may end up going to college.
Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the
approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.