The Toronto Blue Jays will pick 21st overall in the 2016 Rule 4 First Year Player draft. After a memorable run to the playoffs in 2015 which was backed by high profile trades which depleted the farm system, the Blue Jays will look to the draft to replenish their assets. Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are at the helm of their first draft in charge of the Blue Jays and have previously stated how important this draft year is for this team and all their resources are being allocated to improve the farm system.
Potential picks for the Blue Jays at No. 21 overall:
Bryan Reynolds OF, Vanderbilt University
Listed at 6′ 2″ and 210 pounds, Reyonds is a switch-hitting outfielder currently at Vanderbilt University. This season he has hit to a line of .335/.462/.615 with 13 home runs and 46 walks. He is an athlete with above-average physical tools, can run, field, and hit for average and power. He is sound defensively and is considered a safe pick in the draft with an accelerated path to the majors. The Blue Jays are looking for college players opposed to high school players and Bryan Reynolds fits the description. His power and speed combination as well as defensive ability, makes him more attractive and quicker to advance in the minors. The Blue Jays could lose free agent, Jose Bautista this offseason and would like to replace him sooner than later with an outfielder who can hit for power and cause havoc on the base paths.
Buddy Reed OF, University of Florida
Listed at 6′ 4″ and also 210 pounds, Reed is a switch-hitter with terrific athleticism and unbelievable raw tools. He is great defensively with speed and arm strength on top of his hitting prowess. Reed is hitting to a line of .303/.403/.462, however has the highest strikeout percentage on the roster. He has power, but has not hit for it consistently in college. His tools and raw talent will get him within the first 30 picks and could be a top-10 pick depending on the team drafting him.
Cal Quantirill RHP, Stanford
Finally a Canadian pick for the Blue Jays. Listed at 6’3″ and 185 pounds, the Port Hope native, son of Paul Quantrill, who pitched in the majors for several years, could be an option for his hometown team. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s and is a heavy pitch with a lot of sink that induces ground balls. He offers a changeup as well, which is his second best pitch with some movement and fade on it. Its velocity compared to his fastball is good and can be a successful out-pitch for him with pro-coaching. He throws a curveball and slider as well but both pitches need more time to develop. They are still considered pitches he can use in his repertoire. Quantrill could have been a top-10 pick but his stock dropped when he had to undergo Tommy John in 2015. He was not healthy enough to pitch for Stanford for the rest of the season which could scare off scouts and teams. The Blue Jays could take him at #21 and could very well be the steal in the draft, with his great college numbers and success.
Connor Jones RHP, Virginia
This right-handed pitcher out of Virginia is listed at 6’3 and 210 pounds offers a four-pitch mix. He throws a 90-94 mph hard, sinking fastball with late downward movement on it. His fastball has a ton of action and is regarded as his best pitch. All his pitches have a ton of movement on them, and he throws a two-seam pitch that really cuts. He also shows off an above-average slider with sweeping action on it and has the potential to be even better. He also throws a changeup which is a solid pitch and can get outs at a higher level. His strikeout rate however is low, but due to his hard sinking fastball, along with the two-seamer that has a lot of action on it which would induce a lot of weak contact and ground balls. Similar to what the Blue Jays have currently with Marcus Stroman.
Zack Collins C, Miami
The big catcher from Miami, Collins is listed at 6’3 225 lbs and absolutely destroys baseballs. Baseball America ranks him at No. 16 and Keith Law at No. 18. His bat is what rates him so high, as in 2016 he is hitting to a line of .372/.549/.628 with 10 home runs in 49 games. He has a good eye at the plate and has walked almost twice as many times as he has struck out. He is a Kyle Schwarber comparison player, due to his size, position and power. His defence would be the only question mark round him as most experts think he might not be a major-league catcher and his future lies somewhere else defensively (as is also the case with Schwarber). Power hitting catchers are tough to find and Collins fits the build to hit 20-plus home runs a season.
Zack Burdi RHP, Louisville
Standing tall at 6’3″, Burdi possesses a power arm that can reach 100mph. He is currently in the Louisville bullpen and has struck out 42 batters in 24IP. In 2015 he had a 0.92 ERA as a closer for Louisville and was deemed an All-American. Besides for his 100 mph fastball, Burdi shows off a three-pitch mix, all which he has a good command off. He could help the Blue Jays and be a closer for the future if Roberto Osuna leans toward becoming a starter.
Robert Tyler, Georgia
A raw, high-upside arm has been Toronto’s memo over the years and this year could be no different. According to Taylor Ward of Scout, his fastball is the best in the draft to go alongside his above-average changeup and nasty breaking ball. Standing at 6’4″ and 226 lbs, the right-hander is a solid prospect that could find himself in the top 10 picks. His fastball touches 99 mph and along with his offside pitches he could be the full package. The only issue arising with Tyler is his command, but with professional coaching that should be no problem to fix. Toronto could potentially steal him at No.21 and be a very good pick for the Jays.
This draft could be a very successful one for the Blue Jays and there are many players out there who could drop to 21 and be the steal of the draft. It is an exciting time of the year for all the players involved and lets hope Toronto can find another Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez.