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Blue Jays sign first pair of 2014 draftees

Blue Jays sign first pair of 2014 draftees

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have signed a pair of their picks from the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. The team came to terms with catcher Matt Morgan and right-hander Justin Shafer, marking the first signings of Toronto's 2014 Draft class.

Morgan was the team's fourth-round selection out of Thorsby High School in Alabama.

The 6-foot-2 catcher is considered defensive-minded and possesses an above-average throwing arm. According to his MLB.com scouting report, he's also received high marks for his leadership skills and competitiveness.

The 18-year-old had a commitment to Alabama prior to signing with the Blue Jays.

"This is a guy we're really excited about," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said. "I know we took [Max] Pentecost in the first round, but this is a high school kid that we're very excited about -- and just him still being there in the fourth round is something that we didn't anticipate. And the fact we'd already taken a catcher, it didn't dissuade us because we like the talent."

Morgan was ranked as the No. 126 prospect in the Draft by MLB.com. During his senior season, he hit .520 with five home runs and 24 RBIs. He was a member of the Alabama Sports Writers' Association All-Star Team in 2012 and '13. He's a gap-to-gap hitter, with the potential to add some power as he matures.

Parker said Morgan has the potential to be a balanced, two-way player.

"It's a pretty good bat, it's got some strength," Parker said. "I saw it this spring. This is a guy, we had him to our pre-Draft workout in Atlanta last month, and it's a kid we think has a chance to be a two-way guy. He can really help defensively, right now. This is a guy, long term, that's going to be a legit two-way player."

The team's other signee -- Shafer -- is a junior at the University of Florida, where he doubled as a pitcher and an infielder. The Blue Jays took him for his potential on the mound, though.

The 21-year-old was selected in the eighth round and will transition to a full-time pitching role.

Shafer is coming off a difficult season with the Gators, in which he posted a 4.17 ERA over 36 2/3 innings. He struck out 27 and walked seven in 18 appearances, which included two starts.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder throws in the low 90s and possesses a slider that could lead to some future success on the mound. The hope is that a full-time transition to pitching will help him succeed at the next level.

"He's a guy we like and who's really come on in the second half of the year," said Parker. "And we think once you take the position player out of him and he's a pitcher, you'll get more upside out of him."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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