Blue Jays Draft Report
Prepare for a prepster
TORONTO--There were a couple of reasons the Blue Jays departed from their usual practice of recent years by taking a high school player--lefthanded-hitting outfielder Travis Snider
of Mill Creek, Wash.--with their first-round pick.
With the 14th pick overall, they have a hefty 18-year-old, listed by the Blue Jays at 6-foot, 230 pounds, who was considered one of the top high school hitters available. But the Blue Jays have been known as a team that favored college players since J.P. Ricciardi
took over as general manager more than four years ago.
"In looking at the players available in this draft, we really were not sold on the overall talent at the college level in terms of players that would be available when the 14th pick came around," scouting director Jon Lalonde
said. "That was a big part of it. The second part of it is that we feel our system is reaching the point that we have enough quality young players that have reached the higher levels in terms of Double-A and Triple-A that we can afford maybe to take a younger player who takes a little longer to develop."
Last year, Snider impressed the Blue Jays at a showcase event in Long Beach that involved some of the top high school players.
"To me, he was far and away the best hitter at that event," Lalonde said. "He really stood out."
Snider is the first high school player drafted in the first round by the Blue Jays since outfielder Miguel Negron
, now in the Cubs system, was taken in 2000 when Gord Ash
He is the ninth outfielder selected by the Blue Jays with their first-round pick, joining current Toronto stars Vernon Wells
(the fifth pick overall in 1997) and Alexis Rios
(the 19th pick overall in 1999).
Snider led Jackson High to a 27-0 record and the state championship this year. He had a school-record 11 home runs and 45 RBIs.
"We really think he's a very advanced high school hitter," Lalonde said. "We believe he has a chance to hit and to hit for some power, especially down the road. He has a very good approach at the plate. He's patient at the plate and will take pitches. Defensively, he's a much better athlete than you might guess from the type of body he has. He's a very strong, very physical young man. He runs much better than you'd expect. He has plenty of arm."
Lalonde is reluctant to compare drafted players to current major leaguers but did say that Snider reminds him off outfielder Jonny Gomes
of the Devil Rays in the way he plays the game.
"He plays like a linebacker," Lalonde said.
Indeed, Snider played linebacker and running back for Jackson's football team before suffering a broken ankle in his sophomore season.
Lalonde said the organization is not concerned that weight might become a problem. "He's such a hard worker," he said. "We already saw a very significant change this spring . . . He lost some weight, trimmed up."
Snider has had discussions with Arizona State but sounds eager to play professional baseball. He would be slated for Rookie-level Pulaski when he signs.
"I'm very excited to get my career started and get going as quickly as possible," Snider said. "It's going to be a good night of celebration and I look forward to getting out there tomorrow and getting ready for the minor league season to start."
Snider is represented by Joe Urbon
, the agent for Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay
and lefthander David Purcey
, who is at Triple-A Syracuse and was a first-round pick two years ago.JAYS CHATTER
• The Blue Jays lost their second- and third-round picks through the signing of free agents B.J. Ryan
and A.J. Burnett
, so they had to wait for the fourth round and the 120th pick before making their next selection, righthander Brandon Magee