Blue Jays unveil new strategy on Day 2
TORONTO — The Blue Jays started Day 2 of the Draft by selecting right-hander Chase DeJong in the second round at No. 81 overall on Tuesday afternoon.
DeJong, a two-way player from Wilson Woodrow High School in Long Beach, Calif., had a 1.08 ERA and batted .400 for his high school team this season. Last year, he was named the 2011 Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Co-Pitcher of the Year after going 10-2 with a 1.00 ERA and 98 strikeouts.
He represented the United States at the COPABE Pan Am 18U Junior Championship in Cartagena, Colombia last fall and pitched the last inning in the United States’ championship win over Canada.
DeJong has a three-pitch mix, with a fastball that touches 94-mph, which he can consistently throw at 92, a curveball that flashes plus, and a refined changeup that his 18U USA pitching coach, Jim Lawler, describes as his “strikeout pitch.”
He was ranked as the No. 78 prospect heading into the Draft by MLB.com. Despite his previous commitment to USC, DeJong has informed MLB.com that he expects to sign with the Blue Jays.
DeJong was considered a tough sign going into the Draft but wants to go pro and appears as though he is already near a deal with the Blue Jays. He expects to get first round-type money.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a Blue Jay, 95 percent sure,” DeJong said. “They will pay overslot for me. … [I’ll] be treated as a first rounder compensation pick financially.”
DeJong said he is very excited to be drafted by Toronto and is ready to get his pro career underway.
“It was an amazing feeling and something I have wanted since Little League,” he said. “I was at a loss for words and was hugging everyone around me.”
DeJong was watching the draft live online and missed the call from Blue Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish because he was celebrating with his family. He was with his mom, his two brothers, their girlfriends, his uncle and cousin.
His cousin Jordan DeJong used to play in the Blue Jays organization, so Toronto already has a special place in the hearts of the DeJong family.
DeJong believes he is developing a true three-pitch arsenal that should set him up well as a starter. He knew it was time to get a better feel for his secondary offerings as opposing hitters became more mature. The third pitch he mastered was the changeup, which Lawler described as a “split-chanegup that just goes and dives, it’s outstanding.”
“I really didn’t like the fact that a hitter stepping into the box had a 50-50 chance of knowing what was coming,” DeJong said. “So developing that third pitch, it’s a 33 percent chance that the hitter is going to get it right. It helps me.”
Lawler is fully confident in the abilities of DeJong.
“This guy is going to do it,” Lawler said. “He has the size and the length. Why he will make it is his maturity level. He was always asking questions of what he should do to a hitter. [Ask] How to pitch to guys. He seems like a 21-year-old.
“If he decides to go to Minor League ball, he’s ready.”
Lawler said DeJong isn’t a player who tries to light up the radar gun, which is what is most impressive. Lawler believes most kids his age try to throw as hard as possible, but DeJong was able to impress scouts even more so by being a pitcher opposed to a thrower.
Being a professional ballplayer is something DeJong has always wanted and Lawler believes he has the right makeup for it.
“You want him in the dugout,” Lawler said. “He’s a baseball guy, who wants to talk the game. He has his act together.”
Blue Jays select CF Anthony Alford in third round
The Blue Jays selected a player many believe to be a first-round talent in Anthony Alford during the third round, No. 112 overall, of the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.
Potential signability issues may have scared some teams off from Alford, who has committed to the University of Southern Mississippi on a football scholarship and will play baseball their as well, if he doesn’t sign.
Alford, who considers football his number one sport, told teams not to draft him because he intends to stay at school and has already started taking classes, but will listen to see what the Blue Jays present to him.
“They were talking to me in the first round, but I was up front with them,” Alford said. “I didn’t think they were going to take me that early. Right now, I want to enjoy it. I was excited, but I’m not going to make any quick decisions. I’m going to think about it for a while.”
At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Alford is said to be toolsy, a plus runner and was ranked as MLB.com’s No. 56 Draft prospect. He is said to have as much upside as anyone in the draft.
Alford’s high school coach, Larry Watkins, raved about his ability. Watkins described Alford as someone with exceptional instincts on the bases and a strong arm from center. He believes Alford is one of the best kids he has ever coached and said the Blue Jays scouted him hard all season long.
“He’s strong, a very gifted kid,” Watkins said. “He works hard, works hard in the weight room. He is very coachable and makes the adjustments. For a pitcher, it is tough to get him twice. He plays the game like it is supposed to be played.”
Blue Jays select RHP Tucker Donahue in fourth round
With its third pick of the day, Toronto selected right-hander Tucker Donahue from Stetson University in the fourth round at No. 145 overall.
Donahue, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 38th round in 2011, was 2-1 with a 5.20 ERA over 27 2/3 innings of relief this season.
Blue Jays select LHP Brad Delatte in fifth round
The Blue Jays selected left-hander Brad Delatte from Nicholls State University with their fifth-round pick, at No. 175 overall.
In 34 2/3 innings of relief, Delatte went 0-2 with a 2.86 ERA and struck out 35 while walking 18.
Blue Jays select 3B Eric Phillips in sixth round
In the sixth round, at No. 205 overall, the Blue Jays selected third baseman Eric Phillips from Georgia Southern University.
Phillips, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, holds the school record for career hits and batted a team-best .391 with five homers, 54 RBIs and a 1.022 OPS this season.
Blue Jays select OF Ian Parmley in seventh round
Toronto selected outfielder Ian Parmley from Liberty University, Virginia, in the seventh round at No. 235 overall.
Parmley hit .312 with 30 stolen bases in 34 attempts for the Liberty Flames this season.
Blue Jays select C Tucker Frawley in eighth round
Toronto selected catcher Tucker Frawley from Coastal Carlona in the eighth round.
Frawley is a college senior, who was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division I baseball first team. He was the 2012 Big South Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and graduated with a grade point average of 3.94.
Blue Jays select 1B Jordan Leyland in ninth round
The Blue Jays selected Jordan Leyland from Azusa Pacific University in the ninth round on Tuesday.
He hit .419, with 22 home runs, 74 RBIs and a .802 slugging percentage.
Blue Jays select CF Alex Azor in 10th round
Toronto picked center fielder Alex Azor from US Naval Academy in the 10th round, 325th overall.
Azor earned All-Patriot League first team honors for the second time in his career and led the league with 28 hits in conference games and his .364 batting average was the third highest.
He commitment to the Navy could pose some complications.
The Blue Jays concluded Day 2 by going back to the high-school route for their final five picks.
In order, Toronto chose outfielder Grant Heyman, left-hander Ryan Kellogg, catcher John Silviano and lefties Zakery Wasilewski and Ryan Borucki.
Kellogg was the first Canadian selected by the Blue Jays and was considered to be the top Canadian heading into the Draft. He was an integral part of the Canadian Junior National Team, which lost to DeJong and the U.S. team at Colombia, and many felt he would go higher in the Draft.
Signability issues likely dropped Kellogg in the Draft, as he’s committed to Arizona State University.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound left-hander was named the ESPN Wide World of Sports Junior National Team MVP for his efforts at the Junior Championship. He has a fastball that sits in the high-80s and uses a changeup as his out-pitch.
In total, Toronto used the first two days to draft nine pitchers, five outfielders, two catchers, two third basemen, and a first baseman. Of the 19 selections, 11 were high schoolers.
– Chris Toman