2016 Draft Report Card: Toronto Blue Jays
BEST PURE HITTER: OF Josh Palacios (4) has natural rhythm, timing at the plate and a track record of hitting. It’s doubtful Toronto would have been able to wait so long to draft him had he not broken his left wrist on April 7 playing for Auburn. SS Bo Bichette (2) has good strike zone awareness and shows the ability to make adjustments with two strikes.
BEST POWER HITTER: Bichette has an unorthodox swing but isn’t afraid to let the bat fly, producing plus raw power that played in his pro debut. Toronto will try to keep him at shortstop as long as possible, but he could end up at second or third base.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Palacios and OF J.B. Woodman (2) shared time in center field and right after signing; both have a chance to be above-average center fielders, and Woodman’s arm makes him a potentially above-average right fielder as well.
BEST FASTBALL: RHP T.J. Zeuch (1) rode his fastball into the first round. It sits in the 92-94 mph range and plays up with sinking life down in the zone. RHP Kyle Weatherly (8) has touched 95 mph and has the best velocity in the class.
BEST SECONDARY PITCH: RHP Zach Jackson (3) has a hard breaking ball, a tight 12-to-6 curve thrown with power that has 70-grade potential on the 20-80 scouting scale.
BEST PRO DEBUT: Bichette ranked second in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in RBIs (36) even though he missed a month with appendicitis; he hit .427/.451/.732 in just 82 at-bats. 1B/3B Bradley Jones (18) led the Rookie-level Appalachian League in home runs (16) and slugging (.578) while hitting .291. Palacios hit .330/.397/.426 in three stops, spending most of his time at short-season Vancouver.
BEST ATHLETE: Palacios has baseball athleticism, while Young is twitchier, faster and a bit more explosive. OF D.J. Daniels (6) has power and speed befitting his three-sport high school background and James Madison football scholarship offer.
MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Bichette’s dad Dante hit 274 home runs in 14 big league seasons; older brother Dante Jr. played Double-A in the Yankees’ system the last two years. 2B Cavan Biggio (5) is the son of Hall of Famer Craig. LHP Luke Gillingham (37) is one of Navy’s most decorated pitchers ever and is stationed in his native San Diego, assigned to the USS Stockdale, a guided missile destroyer.
CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Jackson’s path in a bullpen role will depend on his ability to throw strikes. LHP Kirby Snead (10) could move faster with a three-pitch mix and left-on-left experience out of Florida’s bullpen.
BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Young stands out. LHP Travis Hosterman (11), who got a $400,000 bonus, is further away but has projection in his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame and three pitches with potential.
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THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: RHP Chris Lincoln (13) has a clean arm and projectable 6-foot-4, 175-pound frame, but the Jays couldn’t sign him away from UC Santa Barbara.