The 2011 Amateur Draft still has a chance to produce major leaguer talent for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018 and beyond
Minor league baseball players develop at their own pace. There are no magic formulas that will make every 21-yr-old drafted become a major league talent after four minor league seasons. Scouts spend months or years courting these young men. The harsh truth is only a small percentage will ever get a taste of playing for a major league team.
It is for this reason that a draft which took place 6 seasons ago still has a chance to provide the Blue Jays with major league talent next season or even in 2019.
The 2011 Draft landed the Blue Jays several players who were used to make bigger deals. These deals helped Toronto break the 20-year playoff drought. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, revisiting Toronto’s 21st overall pick along with the 4 compensation picks between 35 and 57.
Remember Tyler Beede? Toronto fans were pissed when he went unsigned. Beede is currently in the San Francisco Giants system playing for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats and has yet to make his major league debut.
The Blue Jays used their compensation picks on OF Jacob Anderson (released), RHP Joe Musgrove (JA Happ trade, playing with Houston Astros), Dwight Smith Jr. (more on him later), and Kevin Comer (JA Happ trade, Triple-A RP in Astros system).
Outside of the 1st round, including the compensation 1A round, the Blue Jays did very well in the 2011 Draft. The Blue Jays grabbed LHP Daniel Norris in the 2nd round. Norris was a top pitching prospect in Toronto’s system for a few seasons before being included in a trade deadline deal with the Detroit Tigers for David Price. Toronto also grabbed RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski, who spent 2016 as a member of the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats but who has not thrown a pitch in 2017.
Late Round Surprise
While Norris has struggled with health issues which have not allowed him to solidify himself as major league pitcher, 32nd round pick CF Kevin Pillar has. Pillar hit his way to the majors, never showing up on any of the major top prospect lists. Pillar has established himself as an everyday major league center fielder and should be around for many years to come.
There were some notable unsigned picks, covered at the end, but after Pillar and Norris, the 2011 Draft looked as though it would no longer be bearing fruit for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Not So Fast
In 2017, Blue Jays fans got a glimpse of OF Dwight Smith Jr. DSJ has put together a very solid MiLB career and is putting the finishing touches on a very productive 2017 with the Buffalo Bisons. RHP Taylor Cole (22nd round) made his major league debut in long relief but was placed on the disabled list the next day with a fractured toe and was released 4 days later. Cole dominated the lower minors, leading the Florida State League in strike outs in 2014 but struggled to take the next step in Double-A in 2015 and 2016.
Dwight Smith Jr. is a solid all-around baseball player. After two seasons in Double-A where he batted .265 with 22 home runs and 118 RBI, Smith is batting .273 with 8 HR and 40 RBI for the Bisons in 2017.
Stilson and Berti have some injury issues which have slowed their development; however, both players have proven they can be productive when healthy. When healthy, Stilson owns a record of 2-5 with a 3.19ERA, striking out 51 batters over 53.2 IP between Double-A (5IP) and Triple-A (48.2IP) in 2017. Berti has dealt with lingering concussion issues this season but has stolen 23 bases in 59 games. He has struggled to get the batting average up but has shown good extra base power.
Christian Lopes is an under-the-radar prospect. He doesn’t post flashy numbers but has put together back-to-back quality seasons in Double-A (’16) and Triple-A (’17). Lopes has a chance to play for the Blue Jays in 2018 after posting a .270 BA with 24 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, and stealing 16 bases in Buffalo. He also posted a solid .351 OBP in 86 games.
In New Hampshire, on the Double-A Fisher Cats have OF Derrick Loveless (27th round), RHP Tom Robson (4th round), and Matt Dean (13th round) on the roster. Loveless has spent the past two seasons between Advanced-A Dunedin and Double-A providing outfield depth. Robson struggled as a starter but has looked very good out of the bullpen this year before landing on the DL. Matt Dean was expected to develop into a corner infielder with a big bat; unfortunately, Dean has struggled to consistently barrel up the ball.
RHP Anthony DeSclafani was included in the trade with the Miami Marlins 2012 blockbuster deal. He was traded to Cincinnati and will be part of their rotation for years to come.
LHP David Rollins, also part of the JA Happ trade with Houston, has bounced around in recent years.
RHP Brady Dragmire, was traded to Pittsburgh for cash in 2016. Texas claimed him from the Pirates but released him in June of this year. He is now pitching for the Harrisburg Senators, the Washington Nationals Triple-A team.
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