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Blue Jays select 14 pitchers
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06/03/2003  8:44 PM ET 
Blue Jays select 14 pitchers
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
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.

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 universities.

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 Draft.

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 their selections.

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.

The other 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 Missouri.

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 Military Institute.

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.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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