The Most Impressive Draft Haul of 2007
A number of teams had the benefit of multiple draft picks in the first two rounds (plus the supplemental first round) of the 2007 draft, including the Texas Rangers (six picks), Toronto Blue Jays (seven picks), San Diego Padres (eight picks), and San Francisco Giants (six picks). With apologies to all the rest, the Blue Jays have had the greatest success (so far) with the extra picks:
The club's college-centric approach is well known around baseball so it was a bit of a surprise (and a relief from fans’ perspectives) to see the club take a risk or two with some raw, but toolsy, players - as well as some prep position players.
First round (16th overall)
2007: .230/.332/.321 | 165 | 38 | 3 | 13.2% | 28.5% | .304 (Gulf Coast League) 2008: .272/.349/.420 | 169 | 46 | 1 | 10.6% | 25.4% | .360 (Midwest League)
Kevin Ahrens has not been flashy this season but he’s been consistent and his teammates say he has the “it” quality to be a star. The switch hitter has hit .262 against southpaws and .276 against right-handers. He has only one homer, but the Midwest League is perhaps the toughest full-season league to homer in. Ahrens does have 14 doubles and four triples. Defensively, he has made a smooth transition from shortstop to third base.
First round (21st overall)
2007: .254/.298/.377 | 228 | 58 | 3 | 5.8% | 24.6% | .325 (New York Penn League) 2008: .312/.337/.527 | 186 | 58 | 8 | 3.6% | 18.8% | .350 (Florida State League)
J.P. Arencibia has been the hottest hitter in the system and has batted .422 in his last 10 games with 19 hits, three homers and 18 RBI. The right-handed batter is hitting only .210 against left-handers. The catcher has also shown improved defensive skills, which should put to rest any talk of moving him off the position.
Supplemental first round (38th overall)
2007: 1.27 | 49.2 | 36 | 10.15 | 1.99 | 0.18 | .204 | 2.05 (New York Penn League) 2008: 1.74 | 10.1 | 6 | 9.58 | 1.74 | 0.87 | .171 | 2.91 (Florida State League) 2008: 4.63 | 23.1 | 21 | 8.87 | 3.86 | 0.77 | .242 | 3.76 (Eastern League)
The Jays organization has been aggressive with promotions this season for top picks, including 2006 first rounder Travis Snider (who is now at Double-A at the age of 20) and Brett Cecil. The left-hander was slowed this spring by a wonky shoulder and he still is on a restrictive pitch count. Regardless, he dominated High-A ball (after skipping a level to begin the year) and was going well at Double-A before back-to-back poor outings in late May. He should join Shaun Marcum, David Bush and Casey Janssen as college relievers that the Jays have successfully converted to starters.
Supplemental first round (45th overall)
2007: .187/.274/.241 | 166 | 31 | 2 | 10.8% | 26.5% | .242 (Gulf Coast League) 2008: .248/.365/.383 | 141 | 35 | 2 | 15.6% | 34.0% | .363 (Midwest League)
Justin Jackson was considered raw coming out of high school, but his father Chuck Jackson played in the majors, so he has been around the game all his life. He hit .323 in April but has slumped to .190 in May and also missed time with an injury, which may have contributed to his struggles. Jackson has shown the makings of a solid leadoff hitter, if he can tone down the strikeouts (34 percent), as he has scored 37 runs in 40 games and has stolen eight bases in nine tries. He has also played outstanding defence at shortstop.
Supplemental first round (56th overall)
2007: Did Not Play 2008: 8.69 | 29.0 | 36 | 4.66 | 5.90 | 0.93 | .306 | 5.79 (Midwest League)
Trystan Magnuson, a college senior, was the biggest reach of the first few rounds for the Jays and the Canadian might have been a signability pick. He was a closer at Louisville and the Jays have been working him as a starter. He has allowed 16 runs in his last three appearances, spanning seven innings, because of poor control. For a college senior, he is still very raw.
Second round (85th overall)
2007: .246/.340/.437 | 183 | 45 | 10 | 12.4% | 21.9% | .263 (Gulf Coast League) 2008: .250/.328/.378 | 164 | 41 | 1 | 10.4% | 23.2% | .320 (Midwest League)
John Tolisano was considered an advanced high school player and he led the Rookie League with 10 homers during his debut season. Homers are much harder to come by in the Midwest League but Tolisano has not let that phase him, as he has been consistent all season. His power can be seen in the five triples that he has so far. The switch hitter is batting .225 against lefties and .258 against righties.
Second round (88th overall)
2007: .216/.303/.284 | 176 | 38 | 1 | 11.1% | 35.2% | .327 (Gulf Coast League) 2008: .289/.373/.289 | 45 | 13 | 0 | 11.8% | 28.9% | .406 (Midwest League)
Eric Eiland was the rawest of the Jays top picks and he struggled in his debut. He was recently recalled from Extended Spring Training and has been busy showing that he belongs with the rest of the top 2007 draft picks. He has five extra base hits among his 13 hits and has gone four-for-four in stolen base attempts. The left-handed batter is hitting only .167 against southpaws.
Toronto also received good value from some later picks in RHP Alan Farina (third round), LHP Brad Mills (fourth round), LHP Marc Rzepczynski (fifth round), RHP Randy Boone (seventh round). If not for depth issues, all four pitchers would be in High-A ball right now, rather than A-ball.
In 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers possess the greatest number of draft picks in the early rounds of the draft - six picks in the first two rounds. The New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins have four each. It will be interesting to see which organization makes the most of its extra selections.
Be sure to check back all next week for our ongoing pre-draft coverage. Also, check us out on Draft Day, June 5, as we blog live during the draft. We’ll also provide post-draft coverage.