Jays will stay busy early in Draft
Toronto has 10 picks during lottery's first five rounds
TORONTO -- J.P. Ricciardi smiles at the thought of last year's First-Year Player Draft. The trend during his time as Toronto's general manager has been to stick mainly to selecting college players, picking up the occasional high school athlete once the first few rounds were in the books.
So, a lot of people were caught off guard last June, when the Blue Jays used their only pick during the first three rounds on high school outfielder Travis Snider. The standout prep star heard his name called with the 14th overall selection, which instantly made Snider a rarity in terms of Toronto's recent Draft history.
"We shocked the world," Ricciardi said with a laugh.
Prior to selecting Snider out of Jackson High School in Washington, the highest Ricciardi had ever taken a prep athlete came during the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, when right-hander Brian Grant was picked up with the 206th selection. The Jays' GM said the baseball world shouldn't be as surprised if Toronto once again looks to the high school ranks during this year's Draft, which takes place Thursday and Friday at the Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex outside Orlando.
"The way our Major League team is put together, we're in a better position to take kids that are going to take a little longer," Ricciardi said. "Each draft is different. This is not a very dominant college year, so there's more high school players available.
"We're not going to take a college kid, just to take a college kid. We're going to take someone who we think is like Snider last year -- a premier high school player."
MLB.com will broadcast every pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. Video coverage of the remaining rounds on Day 1 will air at MLB.com, with live interviews and analysis from Orlando by Casey Stern, Jonathan Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Dave Rawnsley.
Day 2 of the Draft will get under way at 11:30 a.m. and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com with analysis from Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Allan Simpson. Also this year, fans can follow every pick with MLB.com's live Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player featuring biographical data, statistics, scouting reports and rare scouting video.
The Blue Jays will have plenty of picks to keep them busy on the first day this year. Toronto owns seven selections in just the opening two rounds, including two first-round picks and three sandwich picks between the first and second round. Overall, the Jays will have 10 picks among the opening five rounds.
Due to finishing with the 10th-best record in the Majors last season, the Blue Jays have the 21st pick in each round. In the first round, though, Toronto also owns the 16th selection, which was obtained from the Rangers when Frank Catalanotto signed as as a free agent with Texas this past offseason.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Toronto's three sandwich picks are each consolation for losing pitchers Justin Speier (Angels) and Ted Lilly (Cubs), as well as Catalanotto, to free agency over the winter. The Angels were also required to award the Jays with the 24th pick of the second round as compensation for signing Speier.
Here is a glimpse at Toronto's past three drafts:
Travis Snider, OF, 2006, pick No. 14 -- Snider had little problem adjusting to pro ball in his first season, hitting .325 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs with Pulaski in 2006. His performance netted the Appalachian League Player of the Year honor, as well as the organization's Player of the Year Award for the Rookie League. This season, Snider has hit .350 with three homers and 35 RBIs through 41 games with Class A Lansing.
Ricky Romero, LHP, 2005, pick No. 6 -- Through 35 Minor League starts, Romero has gone 5-9 with a 3.87 ERA. The Cal State-Fullerton product has dealt with a few injuries, including a shoulder issue that sidelined Romero after four starts this season. Romero advanced to Double-A New Hampshire in 2006, and began at the same level this year. The lefty is 0-1 with a 4.42 ERA and 18 strikeouts versus eight walks over 18 1/3 innings for the Fisher Cats.
David Purcey, LHP, 2004, pick No. 16 -- Ricciardi is the first to admit that Toronto may have rushed Purcey last season, when he went 2-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 12 starts with Triple-A Syracuse before being sent back to Double-A New Hampshire. This year, the 6-foot-5 southpaw began the year again at Double-A, where Purcey has shown improvement. Through 10 trips to the mound, he was 3-4 with a 4.17 ERA and 54 strikeouts versus 13 walks over 58 1/3 innings.
Rising fast: Right-hander Michael MacDonald, who was a 15th-round pick in the '04 Draft, earned a swift promotion to Triple-A Syracuse this season after going 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA in five starts at Double-A. Similar to other players picked by Ricciardi, the 25-year-old MacDonald -- a product of the University of Maine -- has climbed the organizational ladder quickly, due in part to pitching at the college level before joining the professional ranks.
Cinderella story: Nobody could've predicted 22-year-old right-hander Jesse Litsch's rapid ascent to the mound for the Jays. Litsch, who selected in the 24th round of the 2004 Draft, got the call straight from Double-A in May to fill in for injured ace Roy Halladay. After going 5-1 with a 0.96 ERA for the Fisher Cats, Litsch held the Orioles to one run over 8 2/3 innings in a win on May 15 with his father in the stands. The outing represented the longest start by a Toronto pitcher in his debut.
In the show: Pitchers Casey Janssen and Litsch, as well as outfielder Adam Lind, were each selected by Toronto during the 2004 Draft and have all had stints with the Jays. Janssen and Lind were both called up to Toronto in 2006 and remain on the big-league club. Litsch made four starts for the Blue Jays in May.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.