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Toronto Blue Jays Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: LHP Matt Ford (3), not intimidated by the older hitters in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, ranked among the PL’s Top 10 prospects in both performance and potential. He went 4-0, 2.05 with 68 strikeouts in 48 innings. RHP Peyton Lewis (18), who was a fifth-year senior at Creighton this spring, used a low 90s fastball to dominate the short-season New York-Penn League.

Best Athlete: Six-foot-10 RHP Brian Cardwell (4) turned down a basketball scholarship to Tulsa and runs from home to first in 4.3 seconds. OF Alexis Rios (1) is a raw five-tool talent.

Best Hitter: The 17-year-old Rios was not overmatched in the Pioneer League. He makes hard contact consistently and should develop power as he matures.

Best Power: Another 17-year-old, 3B Michael Snyder (2), is a 6-foot-4 lefthanded hitter who projects to have plus power.

Fastest Runner: This Jays’ class has no burners. Rios is a step above-average at 6.75 seconds in the 60-yard-dash, but he may slow down a bit as he gets bigger and stronger.

Best Defensive Player: The Blue Jays best new glove men were signed after the draft. C Kevin Cash and Canadian OF Sean Pearson, who were undrafted college juniors at Florida State and Old Dominion this spring, were signed out of the Cape Cod League. Cash is a converted third baseman who was especially impressive behind the plate in instructional league.

Best Fastball: RHP Charles Kegley (11) signed too late to pitch this summer, but he throws 93-95 mph and received a $515,000 bonus. Lewis and RHP Tim Newman (15) also can touch 95 mph.

Most Intriguing Background: Cardwell, a Righthanded Unit, is a mirror image of Randy Johnson and towering Mariners prospect Ryan Anderson. C/3B Josh Holliday’s (9) brother Matt is a top Rockies prospect, his dad Tom is the baseball coach at Oklahoma State and his uncle Dave is a Rockies national crosschecker.

Closest to the Majors: Holliday will be in a race with his brother, who played at Class A Asheville this season. Ford is just a few months out of high school, but shows exceptional poise and command.

The One That Got Away: The Blue Jays signed virtually everyone they wanted, inking 21 of their first 22 picks. They still have the rights to RHP Brandon Lyon (14), who returned to Dixie (Utah) JC.

Best Non-Draft Sign: Aside from Cash and Pearson, the Blue Jays signed two draft-and-follow picks from 1998 whom they believe have big league potential: 35th-round RHP Cameron Reimers and 38th-round LHP Aaron Dean. Reimers went 1-5, 3.25 at Medicine Hat, while Dean went 4-0, 2.34 at St. Catharines.

Summary: With such an exceptionally young draft class, it will be years before we can truly judge this group. The Jays were the only club to sign their first-round pick, Rios, for less than $1 million but the first impression has been extremely positive.

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