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Blue Jays Draft Report Card

By Jim Callis

Best Pro Debut: OF Jeremy Johnson (26) was MVP of the Rookie-level Pioneer League after batting .376-9-58. 1B-3B Ron Davenport (22) batted .345-4-46 for the same Medicine Hat club, while RHP Andy McCulloch (20) led the league with 15 saves.

Best Athlete: OF Morrin Davis (4) or OF Rich Thompson (6). Davis is stronger while Thompson is quicker.

Best Hitter: Johnson not only hit .376, but he also walked (55) nearly twice as often as he struck out (29). The Blue Jays also like the potential of 2B Dominic Rich (2).

Best Raw Power: 3B Nom Siriveaw (9) is a strong British Columbia product with a black belt in karate. Some thought 3B Aaron Sisk’s (7) power wouldn’t translate to wood, but he hit 13 homers at Medicine Hat.

Fastest Runner: Thompson is a flier who can run a 6.4-second 60-yard dash. Speed is OF Miguel Negron’s (1) best tool, but it didn’t warrant his first-round selection.

Best Defensive Player: Raul Tablado (4) was one of the purest shortstops in the draft. He’ll need to get stronger, but he recovered from a .143 start to bat .271 in the second half in the short-season New York-Penn League.

Best Fastball: RHPs Dustin McGowan (1) and Jerrod Payne (10) both can throw 95-96 mph.

Most Intriguing Background: RHP Tracey Thorpe (11) was recruited by Central Florida to play quarterback. LHP Eric Stephenson’s (15) father Earl pitched in the majors, as did SS Rich Brosseau’s (16) father Frank. C Casey Martinez’ (47) dad Buck once manned the same position for Toronto. 2B Jeremy Ridley’s (19) twin brother Shayne was taken by the Orioles, and father Jim recently retired as the Blue Jays’ assistant director of Canadian scouting.

Closest To The Majors: RHP Peter Bauer (2) throws in the low 90s with command of three pitches that’s uncanny for a 6-foot-5 pitcher.

Best Late-Round Pick: Johnson. At 6-foot-5 and 180 pounds, Stephenson is a projectable lefty with a fastball that ranges from 81-90 mph and a plus curveball.

The One Who Got Away: The Blue Jays signed 28 of the first 30 players they took, and they control the rights to Los Angeles Harbor JC RHP Charles Talanoa (14) and Lake City (Fla.) CC RHP Mark Perkins (18). The best player they lost is LHP Chris Neuman (29), who showed good stuff until Tommy John surgery before his senior season of high school. He’s now at Texas.

Assessment: The Jays haven’t had the money they had in the early 1990s, so for the second straight year they spent their first pick on a Puerto Rican outfielder they could sign for less than $1 million. Following their sale to Rogers Communications, the fiscal restraints are gone. As Chris Buckley takes over as scouting director for Tim Wilken, Toronto will be much more aggressive in signing amateur talent.

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