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Jays alter philosophy, take H.S. arms Day 1

Jays alter philosophy, take H.S. arms Day 1

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have altered their philosophy about prep pitching under general manager Alex Anthopoulos. Toronto no longer shys away from high school arms early on in the First-Year Player Draft.

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The Blue Jays put that approach on full display on Monday, when the club added a pair of high school right-handers -- Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard -- in the supplemental round on Day 1 of the Draft.

"We're open-minded to any player," Andrew Tinnish, the Blue Jays' director of amateur scouting, said prior to the Draft. "We're basically going to line our board up based on ability and take the best players available, regardless of whether it's a college shortstop or a high school right-handed pitcher.

"From our perspective, we don't want to pass on talent."

Under previous general manager J.P. Ricciardi, the Blue Jays leaned heavily toward collegiate arms in the Draft. On Monday, Toronto used the 11th overall selection on Georgia Tech pitcher Deck McGuire and the 41st pick on Asher Wojciechowski of The Citadel, showing that college arms still hold value.

Sandwiched in between those two selections were Sanchez (34th overall) and Syndergaard (38th overall), though. Those picks can be attributed to Toronto's shift in Draft philosophy, but Tinnish also pointed out that this year's crop of players included some talented prep stars. The signing deadline for all draftees this year is August 16.

"Every year has its strengths and weaknesses," Tinnish said. "This year, for me, I think it's pitching heavy, especially at the high school level."

Sanchez -- a 17-year-old out of Barstow High School in California -- has a commitment to the University of Oregon that could potentially play a role in his signability. That did not stop the Blue Jays from selecting the young right-hander, though, especially considering his repertoire.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Sanchez has a fastball that hits around 93 mph and has some natural sink to it. He also features a curveball and an occasional changeup. Sanchez -- an AFLAC All-American -- was ranked 59th overall in the pre-Draft rankings by Baseball America.

The Blue Jays earned the right to select Sanchez with the 34th pick, as compensation for shortstop Marco Scutaro signing with the Red Sox as a free agent in the offseason. Toronto will also receive a second-round pick (80th overall) as additional compensation for Scutaro.

Toronto received the 38th pick in this June's Draft as compensation for failing to sign left-hander James Paxton, after picking him 37th overall in the Draft a year ago. This time around, the Jays used the pick on Syndergaard.

Syndergaard, 17, is a product of Legacy High School in Texas. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander finished 7-3 with a 1.42 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 59 innings this season. Syndergaard was not among Baseball America's top 200 prospects heading into the Draft.

If that sounds risky, that is fine with the Blue Jays.

"The way we look at," Tinnish said, "we'll take a risk on a player that we feel has a chance to be a star."

Jordan Bastian 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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