The Blue Jays had two first-round picks in tonight’s draft. They were slotted at #22, and against at #28 with their compensation pick for Edwin Encarnacion. The Jays made a safe investment in their infield with #22, before adding a right-hander who throws heat at #28.
The Jays selected shortstop Logan Warmoth with their first pick. Warmoth has played shortstop at the University of North Carolina for the past three seasons. His defence is his main asset, though his bat has shown signs of improvement every season. Warmoth slashed .336/.404/.554 in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. He is considered a safe pick, as he does not have any standout tool, but projects well across the board.
Minor League Ball writes:
Warmoth is listed at 6-0, 180 or 190 depending on the source. A switch-hitter in high school, he hits exclusively from the right side now and has made it work. Coming into college he was respected for above-average speed and general athleticism, but critiqued for lack of power and strength. He’s addressed those concerns, as with maturity he’s able to drive the ball for distance much more often now even without massive changes in his swing and general approach.
The power surge began last spring, continued with wooden bats at Cape Cod, and has accelerated in 2017. While he’s still not expected to be a big home run hitter, he’ll hit his share of doubles and has sufficient strength to earn the respect of pitchers. Controlling the strike zone and getting on base are also strengths, and he’s very adept at using his speed on the bases.
The most intriguing part of Warmoth’s game is the general lack of existing weaknesses. While he doesn’t possess any obvious plus tools, he’s average or better in every facet of the game, and is considered to be one of the safer bets to reach the big leagues in this draft. The ceiling isn’t too high, but there’s plenty to love here with Warmoth.
On defense, he features above-average range, hands, and instincts at shortstop and is far more reliable than most defenders his age
The Jays used their second first-round pick to add Nate Pearson. This is an interesting choice, as it is unclear how Pearson projects. He has been excellent as a starter for Central Florida Junior College this season, as he has a 1.56 ERA over 81 innings. Recently, Pearson has lit up the radar gun, as he has been able to throw 100+ MPH.
Pearson has a screw in his elbow, which hasn’t led to problems yet, but could in the future. The potential injury concern, combined with his velocity, suggests that he could flourish as a reliever.
Baseball America writes:
While seeing triple digits pop up on a radar gun has almost become old hat in baseball’s golden age of velocity, it’s still extremely rare for an amateur player. In a given year, there might be one or two players who can push past 99 mph, and they’re usually one-inning relievers. Since Pearson tickled 100, he’s been impossible to ignore. And he’s still just scratching the surface of what he could become.
Pearson doesn’t throw 100 mph regularly; very few pitchers do. He’s been able to pace himself and comfortably pitch at 93-94 mph for most of his outings. As he gets close to coming out of the game, Pearson can reach back and hit 97 or 98 in the late innings. He’s also shown the ability to control his fastball, a trait he’s had since his days at Bishop McLaughlin.
Minor League Ball adds:
He doesn’t just offer heat: on the right day he also has a quality curveball, slider, and change-up mixture. His control is remarkably good for a young power pitcher and his mechanics have been much more consistent this year, enhancing all aspects of his game.
Reports on his breaking stuff are mixed: both the curveball and change-up draw grades between 45 and 60 depending on what day you see him. When his off-speed pitches are in sync he looks like a number two starter but they aren’t always in sync; of course that’s hardly unusual for a 20-year-old pitcher.