The tenth part of my draft preview series focuses on the Toronto Blue Jays and their scouting director Andrew Tinnish. This will be Tinnish’s first draft as a scouting director, so I’ll focus on his one draft as an area scout and his two drafts as assistant scouting director in 2007 and 2008.
Owner: Rogers Communications, bought club in 2000
General Manager: Alex Anthopoulos, first season will be 2010
Scouting Director: Andrew Tinnish, first draft will be 2010
2003 Draft: Area Scout in North Florida and Alabama with Toronto
1. Brian Reed, RHP, Alabama, #800 Overall: Reed was the Jays’ 27th-rounder in 2003, and he represented the earliest pick in Tinnish’s area. He was a college closer with fringe-average stuff, and he had a middle reliever ceiling. He reached AA before leaving the Toronto organization following the 2005 season. Following players selected: Zac Stott, Dwayne Pollok, Toddric Johnson. Signing bonus: Unknown.
Other Notable Selections: None.
2007 Draft: AD of Scouting with Toronto
1. Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial HS (TX), #16 Overall: Ahrens was a solid prep hitter that was accomplished in his high school days. He featured a plus hit tool and above-average raw power, along with projection to be an above-average third baseman. Good pick here. Following players selected: Blake Beavan, Pete Kozma, Joe Savery. Signing bonus: $1,440,000.
2. J.P. Arencibia, C, Tennessee, #21 Overall: Arencibia was a better prospect entering the spring than leaving it. He still had his aggressive style at the plate, and the raw power he was known for was sapped due to a back injury during his junior year. Toronto picked him a bit earlier than most expected, but he had first-round talent. Following players selected: Tim Alderson, Nick Schmidt, Michael Main. Signing bonus: $1,327,500.
3. Brett Cecil, LHP, Maryland, #38 Overall: Cecil climbed draft boards as he matured through college, and a great Cape showing vaulted him into first round consideration. He wasn’t considered a high-ceiling pitcher, but he was expected to impact a rotation in fairly short order. The Blue Jays got a relative steal here. Following players selected: James Adkins, Kellen Kulbacki, Sean Doolittle. Signing bonus: $810,000.
4. Justin Jackson, SS, Roberson HS (NC), #45 Overall: Jackson was a solid athlete with high potential, but he came with his fair share of question marks. Some thought him to be a first-rounder, while others saw him more in the third, and the Blue Jays picked him near the top of that range. Following players selected: Drew Cumberland, Nathan Vineyard, Josh Donaldson. Signing bonus: $675,000.
5. Trystan Magnuson, RHP, Louisville, #56 Overall: Magnuson was an older relief prospect with a relatively modest ceiling for a high draft follow. However, he was affordable, and teams mainly saw him as a second to fifth round prospect. Toronto nabbed him a bit early. Following players selected: Mitch Canham, Jonathan Bachanov, Corey Brown. Signing bonus: $462,500.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Brad Mills (4th), Arizona, $140K bonus; LHP Marc Rzepczynski (5th), UC Riverside, $110K bonus; 2B Brad Emaus (11th), Tulane, $100K bonus
2008 Draft: AD of Scouting with Toronto
1. David Cooper, 1B, California, #17 Overall: Cooper had a solid bat coming out of Cal, and most thought he’d be able to at least adequately handle quality pro pitching. He wasn’t much of an athlete, and that turned some teams off, but this was a solid pick, as Cooper signed for slot quickly. Following players selected: Ike Davis, Andrew Cashner, Josh Fields. Signing bonus: $1,500,000.
2. Kenny Wilson, OF, Sickles HS (FL), #63 Overall: Wilson wasn’t expected to go nearly this higher, fitting more as a fifth to eighth round prospect. However, his plus speed and defense made him an attractive candidate, especially since he signed for an affordable amount fairly quickly. Following players selected: Tyler Stovall, Aaron Shafer, Dennis Raben. Signing bonus: $644,000.
3. Andrew Liebel, RHP, Long Beach State, #95 Overall: Liebel was a college senior who lacked physical projection, but had solid arm strength. He had good command of an average fastball and an offspeed assortment, and he was expected to go in this range as an affordable sign. Following players selected: Craig Kimbrel, Chris Carpenter, Aaron Pribanic. Signing bonus: $340,000.
4. Mark Sobolewski, 3B, Miami, #129 Overall: Sobolewski was a tough read, as he only had two seasons at Miami and entered the draft as an eligible sophomore. He flashed plus power and above-average defensive tools, but he struggled with consistency. He was, however, expected to go in the third to sixth round range, in which Toronto picked him. Following players selected: Braeden Schlehuber, Matt Cerda, Steven Hensley. Signing bonus: $243,000.
5. Tyler Pastornicky, SS, Pendleton School (FL), #159 Overall: Pastornicky was a solid prep prospect with an average ceiling, and he was expected to go in the sixth to tenth round range. His bat was understandably raw, but he was lauded for his defensive tools. Following players selected: Jacob Thompson, Justin Bristow, Brett Lorin. Signing bonus: $175,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Eric Thames (7th), Pepperdine, $150K bonus; RHP Danny Farquhar (10th), UL Lafayette, $112,500 bonus
Reading a front office that has gone through transition is probably the hardest thing I do. Putting together a draft preview, which focuses on scouting directors, along with their front office colleagues, means really researching the trends, the budgets, and the history, and I have little to go on here. For that reason, I’ll simply take you through the history of where Andrew Tinnish and the rest of the current Toronto front office has been, and with that information, perhaps we can piece together an idea of where they might go from here. Tinnish himself has an interesting and well-rounded background. At only 30 years old, Tinnish becomes the youngest scouting director in baseball. He joined the Blue Jays as a simple baseball ops assistant, was moved to his area scout job in Alabama and North Florida, and then was moved back into the front office after a single year to be their scouting coordinator. He was promoted for the 2007 season to be the assistant director of scouting, which is a much more influential role. Finally, he was promoted to head the professional scouting department for 2009, and new general manager Alex Anthopoulos hand-picked Tinnish to be his new scouting director in a regime that is going to be placing a much larger emphasis on scouting. This is obviously exciting for me and for Toronto fans, as that’s probably been the most neglected piece of the puzzle in Toronto for a number of years. The most exciting addition is probably former Nationals scouting director Dana Brown, who will be a special assistant to Anthopoulos. Brown has plenty of experience when it comes to scouting, and I’m sure his experience will be felt come June. Since Anthopoulos has taken office, he’s also added tons of amateur scouts, somewhere in the mid-20s by my last count. For a solid summation of the scouts with Toronto, I recommend checking this out, as it gives you a solid sense of how Anthopoulos is shaping their scouting department.
Since it’s precarious to use past draft budgets under a different regime, I’ll just go ahead and dive right now to the picks that Toronto has and the slot amounts they’ll be carrying. They’re still waiting on Rod Barajas to sign with another team, but I’m assuming that he will shortly, and they’ll get the compensation pick for him. So assuming that happens, the Blue Jays will hold picks 11, 34, 38, 41, 61, 69, 80, 93, 113, 126, and every 30 picks after that. All I have to say is that they’ve set themselves up for a strong recovery if they play their cards right this June. Looking at just their picks in the top five rounds, their slots will be right at about $7 million for those picks, assuming that slotting stays the same for this year. I actually expect slots to rise a bit, so it might be more than that. I don’t expect the new scouting regime to sign every single player to slot money. It might be better to mix in a few signable collegiate players who will sign for less than slot, then distribute extra money in later round picks that want more than the low slot money. I’m going to conservatively predict that they spend $8 million total on signing bonuses this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number as high as $10 million, but that might be pushing it. Either way, you will definitely see the Blue Jays start spending real money in the draft this June.
As I said in the opening paragraph, it’s difficult to predict where a new scouting director and general manager will go in a draft. However, I feel it’s important to at least wager a guess at some names they might be considering at this point. My latest mock has them starting their haul with Manny Machado, who would fit there on talent, and he’s also considered signable for a prep, as his Florida International scholarship doesn’t carry a lot of weight. Going beyond that, I had them taking Peter Tago, Jarrett Parker, and Justin Grimm with their supplemental picks in my latest mock, as well. Tago might be a tougher sign with a UCLA scholarship, but he’s someone that has great upside and is from California, a state heavily scouted by the Blue Jays in the past. Parker and Grimm represent solid upsides for college players, and both should receive slot money. Other names to remember are Daniel Tillman, Dixon Anderson, Tyler Holt, Rob Segedin, Cory Vaughn, and Ryan LaMarre, though all those names are purely speculative at this point. However, it’s just a good thing to point out that the Blue Jays are poised to have one of the best 2010 drafts if they execute their strategy correctly, and things are definitely looking up on the drafting and player development side of things.
*Bonus information came from BA.
What do you guys think? What will the Blue Jays do?