With numerous mock drafts being released regarding the 2020 MLB draft, the Toronto Blue Jays sit with the 5th overall pick and could potentially draft a starting pitcher. The big question on everyone’s minds: which pitcher will they draft?
After another rebuilding season, the Blue Jays limped to the end of the 2019 season with a 67-95 record, good enough for second last in the division (sorry Baltimore).
While winning only 67 games is not the greatest achievement in the organization’s history, there were 4 teams that finished worst than the Blue Jays in 2019 and now the team will draft 5th overall in the upcoming draft.
This year the amateur draft will be interesting, given there will only be five rounds and very limited high school and college baseball being played in 2020. This means teams and scouts across the league will have to be careful with their selections given no players could boost their draft stock with a strong season just before the draft.
That being said, the top two spots are almost a lock with Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson and Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin, with Detroit taking their pick at #1 and Baltimore taking whoever is left out of the two.
The next three picks are where the draft gets interesting.
At #3 and #4 overall will be Miami and Kansas City, and there are a few pitchers who could easily slide in and be selected by either team, as well as the potential for 1 or 2 position players to go off the board as well.
There really is no indication as to who the Marlins or Royals are leaning towards in this year’s draft and their selection could really tilt the Toronto Blue Jays draft board depending on who is available when the organization steps up at #5.
Adam Wells of Bleacher Report and Mason McRae of Prospects365 have the Blue Jays selecting Georgia right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock, with Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com leaning towards position player Zac Veen out of Spruce Creek High School in Florida.
Emerson Hancock is one of the top arms in the draft and has an impressive record after competing in a tough SEC these past three years. In 2019, he pitched 90.1 innings in 14 games while throwing to an impressive 8-3 record with a 1.99 ERA and 97 strikeouts.
Hancock has a complete 4 pitch repertoire with great command in and around the plate. His slider is by far is best-offspeed pitch, with swing and miss movement that pairs well with his plus command. His fastball has reached 99 MPH before, but all four of his pitches will leave the batter second-guessing what could easily be sending him back tot he dugout.
There are a few other options the Blue Jays could select if the previous 4 teams decide to leave some top arms on the draft board.
Asa Lacy of Texas A&M University is another intriguing pitching option if he happens to be available at #5.
An impressive 2019 saw Lacy’s draft value skyrocket, as the 6’4 left-hander has a power fastball that mixes well with 3 different plus offspeed pitchers. He would finish the season with an 8-4 record and a 2.13 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 88.2 innings pitched.
Even in a limited 2020 season, Lacy was throwing well to the tune of a 0.75 ERA in 24.0 innings with 46 strikeouts and 8 walks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports across the world.
There is a good chance that Lacy will most likely be taken prior to the Blue Jays stepping up to the podium, but if he does somehow squeak into the 5th spot, I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization selects the workhorse from Texas.
Another intriguing option is Max Meyer, a pitcher from the University of Minnesota. The right-hander was dominant in 2019, with a 5-3 record with 76.2 innings pitched, 2.11 ERA, and 87 strikeouts.
Meyer has an absolutely devastating slider, with fantastic swing and miss movement which when paired to his 94-96 MPH fastball, keeps hitters on their toes throughout the entire game. He has also been praised for his clean and repeatable delivery, which quells many doubters who question his ability to start at a higher level.
Most mock drafts have Meyer going later in the draft around the 7th to 10th spot, but the Blue Jays have been known to go their own way when selecting in the amateur draft.
The Blue Jays could also find themselves selecting various other pitchers such as Louisville’s Reid Detmers, Refugio (TX) Jared Kelley, and Jesuit (OR) Mick Abel, but I am leaning towards either Lacy, Hancock or Meyer being in a Blue Jays uniform by the end of day 1 of the draft (if they’re still on the board).
To make matters even more complicated, the Blue Jays will enter the 2020 amateur draft with a new scouting director at the helm in Shane Ferrell. With the Blue Jays selecting so high in the draft with a new captain at the helm, it will be imperative that Ferell makes use of every pick he has considering there are only 5 rounds to work with (no pressure).
One thing to consider is that the Blue Jays have been very repetitive in their draft process over the past five years, selecting college-level pitchers in the first round except for shortstop Jordan Groshans (high school) in 2018 and Logan Warmoth in 2017 (Warmoth was in college when drafted and the Blue Jays also selected JUCO product Nate Pearson in the first round in 2017).
That’s not to say the Blue Jays will follow that path, but given the 2020 draft will be quite different when compared to previous drafts, I doubt the Blue Jays will go outside their comfort zone with limited draft picks and such a high selection.