2011 MLB Draft Rewind: Top 12 Signed Toronto Blue Jays Draft Prospects
The 2011 draft, by all accounts, was a success for GM Alex Anthopoulos and Director of Amateur Scouting Andrew Tinnish. The Jays managed to sign 11 of their top 13 draft picks, and managed to sign three very tough signs in Dwight Smith Jr., Daniel Norris and Kevin Comer.
The Jays however did not sign first-round pick, Tyler Beede. As a result, the Jays will receive the 22nd overall selection in next year's draft as compensation, along with their regular first-round pick, which may be close to that 22nd pick.
Beede not signing didn't hurt the Jays feelings because in all honesty, the Jays are stacked at pitching. I can rhyme of 10 legitimate starters in the minors already, so Beede not signing isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.
In the end, the Jays signed 35 of their 55 draft picks, and like I said, only Beede out of the top 10 remained unsigned.
In this article, I'm going to take you through the top 12 players the Jays signed at this year's draft.
12. Pitcher Tom Robson
Tom Robson is a good four-pitch pitcher with a good fastball that reaches 90 mph, a good curveball, change-up and slider.
Does his stuff really project as a top 100 pick? That remains to be seen. He may have been taken a tad higher than I expected him to go, but that doesn't make his pick a flop.
Robson has above-average command of all of his pitches, and he pitches with tenacity and conviction. Robson is very polished for a high-school pitcher, having a fastball that touches 90-92 mph.
He also features a two-seam cut fastball that dives in to righties and falls away from lefties. Robson also has a standard curveball and change-up.
In his coming-out party, Robson pitched very well against a stacked Cuban team at the World Juniors twice and really didn't pitch afraid. In his first outing, he pitched six scoreless innings.
However, in the Bronze Medal game, he pitched 6.1 IP but was rocked for seven hits and four earned runs as Cuba defeated Canada for the Bronze Medal.
Robson projects more as a No. 3 to 5 starter in the majors. His stuff isn't extraordinary, but he locates and pitches well.
MLB Comparison: Jon Garland
11. Outfielder Eric Arce
Arce's baseball career was somewhat in question because he was arrested and faced jail time of seven years if convicted. The charge you may ask? Kissing his girlfriend in public.
According to reports, he and his teammate at the time, Kyle Simmons, were caught kissing a pair of girls, aged 14 and 15, in a truck and were caught by the cops.
Both Simmons and Arce were 18 years old, so they were charged with lewd battery as a result, Arce was also charged with lewd molestation. The girls at the time said everything was consensual and that the boys weren't doing something wrong.
The charges were eventually dropped.
Arce is currently hitting .266 with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays and leads the GCL in home runs, OPS and walks. Sound a little like Jose Bautista? Arce's favorite player, oddly enough, is Jose Bautista.
As well as homers and walks, Arce ranks in the top 10 of many other offensive categories such as on-base percentage, runs batted in, total bases and slugging percentage. (All Stats and Statistical positions in GCL as of Aug.19, 2011)
Eric is a good outfielder and a former catcher, having caught fellow Jays prospect Drew Hutchinson at Lakeland High in Florida a year or two prior. Arce has the ability to develop into a pro outfielder with plus power.
One of Central Florida's best hitters ever, Arce's eye at the plate is what really could make him a legitimate baseball prospect down the road. His work ethic and dedication to the game are said to be his greatest assets.
MLB Comparison: Jose Bautista from the left side
10. Infielder Jorge Vega-Rosado, a.k.a. Chino Vega
Vega-Rosado doesn't project to be a very powerful infielder, but in time, he should be able to power out 10-15 home runs a season.
What he has that is special, though, is an innate ability to run the bases. He currently has 22 stolen bases in 26 attempts, good for an 85% steal percentage. In comparison, Rajai Davis' 33 stolen bases have come with a 75 percent success rate.
Vega-Rosado currently sits in the top 5 in many offensive categories such as runs, hits and stolen bases. The lone downfall right now is his defense, as he has made plenty of errors down in the GCL to start his pursuit to the major leagues.
MLB Comparison: Poor man's Jose Reyes
9. Shortstop Christian Lopes
Coming into the 2011 draft, many believed that Christian Lopes was the best pure hitting shortstop in the draft. Moreover, they believed Lopes to be the best shortstop in the 2011 draft.
He also came into the 2011 draft as a notable tough sign, but the Jays managed to come to an agreement with the Lopes camp close to the signing deadline on Aug. 15, 2011.
Lopes can spray the ball to all fields. He has the ability to hit the gaps and eventually, one day with more strength and time put towards hitting, will be able to hit for power.
Defensively, Lopes has a strong and accurate arm; however, some question whether he has the range to stick at shortstop. A move to third base may come down the line, but it looks like the Jays will have him at shortstop for the time being.
He could move to second as well, a position the Jays are in desperate need of upgrading, as Aaron Hill has been a shadow of his former self nowadays.
Potentially, Lopes has the ability to become a five-tool player in the majors, exhibiting power, speed, defence, and accurate arm and on-base ability.
MLB Comparison: Craig Biggio and Christian Colon
8. Pitcher Jeremy Gabryszwski
Jeremy Gabryszwski has taken over for Marc Rzepcynzski for hardest last name to spell in the Jays system. Other than a Scrabble-like last name, Gabryszwski is a large pitcher, coming in at 6'4" and 205 pounds.
He features a fastball that touches 91 mph, although I've read some articles that he's now touching 93-95 mph on his fastball. He also has a plus slider and a decent change-up to add to his arsenal.
With a history of elbow troubles, Jeremy may down the road be converted to a late-inning reliever. He doesn't have the stuff and power arm to be a closer, but a nice set-up guy or hold guy down the line could be in Gabryszwski' future.
He's signed by the Jays and has pitched an inning in the GCL, allowing no hits and striking out two.
MLB Comparison: Luke Gregorson
If he puts it together and can maintain his arm for a long stretch and locate his pitches, he projects nicely into a Zack Greinke-like starter.
7. Pitcher Joseph Musgrove
At a towering 6'5" and 230 pounds, Joe Musgrove is massive for a kid his age. Look for this power pitcher to fill out some more and possibly get up to 6'7" and 240 pounds after he finishes growing.
Other than his mammoth size, Musgrove can really pitch as well.
Musgrove's size lends itself perfectly to a workhorse-like pitcher who can easily give a team 200+ innings a season and hopefully get into the seventh inning in nearly every start down the line.
He features a fastball that tops out around 94 mph; however, some scouts have had him as high as 98 mph. He also commands a decent curveball and a change-up that is said to need work. His fastball has some late life to it and is said to be very heavy.
Musgrove is a massive potential pick because if he develops some good secondary stuff, he could be a stud. He should be looking into throwing a slider with some regularity as well down the line.
He has started out his pro career in Florida with the Jays' Gulf Coast League team.
It started out slowly, as he allowed at least a run in his first four appearances, however, in his last 3 starts--a total of 9.0 IP, he has dominated, striking out nine and only allowing two hits with no walks.
MLB Comparison: Aaron Harang
6. Pitcher Kevin Comer
Kevin Comer, along with failed sign first-rounder Tyler Beede, were said to be leaning towards a college career with Vanderbilt instead of opting for the pros.
Beede decided the money the Jays were offering was not enough, however Comer bit at the last minute and the Jays snatched up the 6'4" 210-pound starter from Vanderbilt's clutches.
Comer features a hard 89-92 mph fastball, and your standard four-pitch arsenal, which includes a big curve, slider and a change-up.
He has a very easy delivery, which could mean he could add extra velocity with more instruction and help from the Jays pitching coaches in the minors. With the extra velocity, Comer could be a real guy to watch out for down the road.
Comer's greatest attribute is his control, as he hits the strike zone with great regularity.
MLB Comparison: Shaun Marcum
5. Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr.
The son of former Cubs outfielder Dwight Smith, "DJ" Smith is said to have more upside and potential than his father did.
With an advanced approach at the plate, Smith should hit for a high average at the next level. He has some speed, however, not as much as his father did at his age. He should still be able to swipe 10-20 bags a season though.
Heading into the 2011 draft, Smith was widely regarded as a top 40 pick, however the Jays grabbed him at No. 53, using the pick they acquired when they got Miguel Olivo and let him walk shortly after becoming a type B free agent.
Smith played center field in high school, but his lack of true elite speed should see him move to a corner outfield spot.
Dwight has the right mindset and attitude towards the game that should possibly allow him to make a major league impact down the road.
MLB Comparison: Nick Markakis
4. Third Baseman Matt Dean
Another high school bat the Jays took a chance on, Dean has the potential to be one of the steals of the 2011 draft. Drafted in the 13th round, Dean was said to have top two round talent, but he fell due to signability concerns and a commitment to the University of Texas.
Dean's got a great all-around game with power potential. Unlike Aaron Hill, who lost his smooth, short swing, Dean possesses a similar power, smooth, stroke that lends itself perfectly for a quick ascension through the minors. His swing at times does get a tad too long, which leads to plenty of strikeouts.
Dean has a great arm, good defense and projects well for the next level.
He's got a very incomplete game, but his defense, power and arm should get him to the majors one day.
MLB Comparison: Troy Glaus
3. First Base/Outfielder Jacob Anderson
The Jays continued their drafting of hard-sign high-school outfielders as they selected Jacob Anderson out of Chino, Calif. Anderson, who had a verbal commitment to Pepperdine (Eric Thames' alma mater), decided to forgo his college baseball career and opt for the pros, signing a contract with the Jays.
Anderson has plus-power potential but fell in pre-draft rankings because he played the majority of his time at first base out of necessity with his high school team.
Anderson can play the outfield quite well and has some good range. He also possesses a strong arm.
However, Anderson is also said to have above-average defensive ability at first base, which means he could push Adam Lind one day for a roster spot.
He has started out his pro ball career with the Gulf Coast League Jays. In 14 at bats, he has one home run and 4 hits total. His OPS is a cool .983, but given the small sample size, its hard to gauge how he's doing so far.
MLB Comparison: Logan Morrison
2. Closer John Stilson
John Stilson was drafted by the Jays in the third round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He fell mostly due to some arm troubles and concerns about his delivery.
Last season, Stilson was a beast with the Texas A&M Aggies, pitching 79 innings and striking out 114 batters. His ERA was a cool 0.80, while his K/9 was around 13 that year.
This season,Texas A&M moved him to the rotation where he lost some of his success. In 88 innings, he struck out 89 batters and had a 1.59 ERA. Yeah, he was really awful compared to the year before.
All jokes aside, Stilson is a true power pitcher, commanding a 94-98 mph fastball, to go along with a slider and change-up. His slider is his strikeout pitch and really looks to be one of those deadly fastball/slider closers down the road.
He could still be a pretty good No. 2 starter one day for the Jays if they keep him as a starter, but generally, I think Stilson is seen as the club's future closer.
MLB Comparison: Jonathan Papelbon
1. Pitcher Daniel Norris
The Jays took a massive chance by drafting Norris, and it ended up paying off for the Jays. Norris was a top 3 high-school arm out of prep school, and the best left-handed high school starting pitcher of the 2011 draft class.
Norris looks to be a top-two type of starting pitcher with four above-average pitches: a heavy 92 mph fastball to go along with a change-up, slider, and curveball. In time, I expect the curveball to be his go-to strike out pitch at the next level.
His change-up though is his best pitch. It sits at 78-82 mph and has almost 10 mph difference from the fastball.
The Jays stole Norris as late as they got him, as he was projected as a top 5 starter among many scouts and draft analysts.
MLB Comparison: Clayton Kershaw