For the first time during the Alex Anthopoulos regime, the Blue Jays won't have any extra picks during the upcoming First-Year Player Draft.
Toronto was well-known in previous years for manipulating the free-agent system to stockpile compensatory picks in the opening rounds. In each of the past three years, the club had at least four extra selections at their disponsal.
The recent Collective Bargaining Agreement changed all of that and made it much harder to gather additional picks. The Blue Jays' strategy essentially came to an end last year, when they had three compensatory picks between the first and second rounds following the departures of several free agents.
The lack of extra selections will hamper Toronto's overall haul, but the one benefit this year is that the club is set to pick in the top 10. The Blue Jays have the 10th overall spot, which is the highest they've possessed since left-hander Ricky Romero was taken sixth overall in 2005.
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
It's rather fitting that the Blue Jays will move into a new era of the Draft with a different face calling the shots. Ottawa native Andrew Tinnish spent each of the past three years working under Anthopoulos as the director of amateur scouting. He was promoted to assistant general manager after last year's Draft and, while he still does a lot of work with Triple-A Buffalo, he is no longer directly responsible for Toronto's picks.
Those duties now belong to Brian Parker, who originally joined the Blue Jays in 2009. Just like so many other members of the Blue Jays' front office, he has ties to the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals after holding the titles of assistant director of scouting and director of baseball operations with that organization.
Parker's main responsibility will be restocking the Blue Jays' farm system after the club dealt away a large portion of its top prospects during the past 12 months in an effort to improve the big league ballclub.
Through trades with the Astros, Marlins and Mets, nine of the top 20 Blue Jays prospects from 2012 as ranked by MLB.com now play for other organizations. They include: catcher Travis d'Arnaud (Mets), right-hander Noah Syndergaard (Mets), southpaw Justin Nicolino (Marlins), outfielder Jake Marisnick (Marlins), shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (Marlins), right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (Astros), catcher Carlos Perez (Astros), right-hander Kevin Comer (Astros) and righy Joe Musgrove (Astros).
A new wave of talent has stepped in to at least start the process of filling the gaps, but there is still plenty of work left to be done. The task becomes more challenging considering the Blue Jays will have to make do with just one pick in each round.
Parker's job will be to get the most out of each of those selections, but in reality the Blue Jays won't know for at least a few years how just successful he was.
In about 50 words:
The Blue Jays have never been a team to shy away from taking a risk or two during the Draft. Their emphasis is on acquiring high-ceiling talent, and whether it's taking a player who is considered a tough sign or someone whose skills are still raw, Toronto won't be scared off from making the move.
Toronto was one of the few teams last year to find a loophole in the recent CBA when it came to the First-Year Player Draft. The club selected a series of players in rounds 4-10 that don't have much of a future in baseball, and as a result signed for the minimum.
These included 10th rounder Alex Azor, who told MLB.com after the Draft that he informed the Blue Jays he would have "signed for a hot dog." The point of essentially throwing away picks in rounds 4-10 was designed to allow the Blue Jays to pass the savings onto other top picks who were considered tough signs.
There will be less of a need for Toronto to follow a similar strategy this year. With no additional picks between the first and second rounds, the Blue Jays don't need to free up as much cash under the allotted pool to get players under contract. If a tough sign ends up dropping in the Draft, the Blue Jays will still likely be aggressive, but the overall strategy is expected to change at least somewhat.
First-round buzz: The Blue Jays have their eyes on a pair of high school prospects, according to MLB.com expert Jonathan Mayo. The club has expressed interested in left-hander/outfielder Trey Ball of New Castle (Ind.) High School and catcher Reese McGuire from Kentwood (Wash.) High School.
It's possible that both players could be off the board by the 10th selection, which would send the Blue Jays in another direction. Outfielder Austin Meadows of Grayson High School in Georgia is a strong candidate, while shortstop J.P. Crawford from Lakewood High School in California is another reported target.
Money Matters: Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Blue Jays have a total of $6,398,000 (USD) to spend on this year's picks, which ranks 17th overall. The average suggested price for each pick in the first 10 rounds works out to $639,820, while the top allotment goes to the 10th overall pick, which has a suggested slot of $2,921,400.
Shopping list: It should come as no surprise that the Blue Jays will take the best players available regardless of the position, but there is still a clear need away from the mound. Eight of the Blue Jays' top 10 prospects as ranked by MLB.com are pitchers.
But that doesn't mean the Blue Jays will shy away from taking more hard-throwing pitchers if the timing is right. There are needs in pretty much every area following last year's eventful offseason, which gutted part of the farm system in order to make a run at having a competitive team in the Major Leagues.
Trend watch: During the past two years, the Blue Jays have used the vast majority of their picks on pitchers. In 2011, 12 of the club's first 15 selections were pitchers, compared to just two outfielders and one infielder. The trend wasn't quite as prominent last year, but the Blue Jays still selected four hurlers in their top seven picks.
Toronto also has a clear preference for tall, athletic pitchers who project to have more durability than some of their smaller counterparts. With the exception of last year's first rounder, Marcus Stroman, all of the team's pitcher selections in the early rounds have been at least 6-foot-1.
• Recent Draft History •
Most of Toronto's depth can be found in the lower levels of the Minors, but there are a handful of prospects that will be ready relatively soon. Outfielder Anthony Gose has already made the jump to the big leagues but likely will continue his development at Triple-A once Rajai Davis returns from the disabled list.
Left-hander Sean Nolin made one spot start for the Blue Jays this season but could be ready for an increased role later this year. The former sixth-round pick of the 2010 Draft has been tabbed by Anthopoulos as a potential impact arm.
Stroman likely will become the next Blue Jays prospect to make his Major League debut. He was selected in the first round of last year's Draft but was a seasoned college pitcher for Duke and shouldn't require much more time in the Minors. He has been tabbed as having the ability to become a dominant late-inning reliever, but so far the Blue Jays have been using him as a starter.
Other prospects on the rise include right-hander John Stilson and the club's best Minor League pitcher Aaron Sanchez, who is considered by many experts to be one of the top young arms in the Minors.
Jose Bautista is one of the best hitters in the game today, but it wasn't that long ago when he was overlooked by pretty much every team in the big leagues. Bautista, who attended Chipola Junior College in Florida, wasn't taken until the 20th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft.
Despite the low slot, Bautista would eventually be selected to the Futures Game as a member of the Pirates organization in 2005, and he became a Double-A All-Star later that same year. The rest, of course, is history, as Bautista got off to a slow start in his Major League career before breaking out with 54 home runs in 2010.
In the Show
The Blue Jays have developed several of the marquee players on their current 25-man roster. J.P. Arencibia, Adam Lind, Brett Cecil and Casey Janssen were all selected by former general manager J.P. Ricciardi and now hold prominent spots on the roster.
Anthopoulos is now in his fourth season as the club's GM. Several of his top picks were used as trade bait this offseason in an attempt to bolster the Blue Jays chances at competing, while the rest are still biding their time in the Minors. Left-handers Aaron Loup and prospect Nolin are a couple of Anthopoulos' picks who are currently on the 40-man roster.
Blue Jays' recent top picks
2012: D.J. Davis, OF, Class A Vancouver
2011: Tyler Beede, RHP, Did not sign
2010: Deck McGuire, RHP, Double-A New Hampshire
2009: Chad Jenkins, RHP, Double-A New Hampshire
2008: David Cooper, 1B, Free agent