With their second pick in the June 2018 MLB Entry Draft, the Toronto Blue Jays select Griffin Conine from Duke University.
Unlike the slightly off-the-board selection of high school SS/3B Jordan Groshans last night, the Blue Jays returned to their recent lust for bloodlines in baseball late Monday night, selecting Griffin Conine in the second round, 52nd overall. Conine comes as a much more advanced college bat from current Blue Jay Marcus Stroman’s alma mater of Duke University.
This pick represents more of what Blue Jays fans expected from this draft, with many of the high school arms representing signability issues and loads of college bats available for the plucking from picks 30-60. After two years at Duke, Conine projects like a solid corner outfielder who should have no trouble hitting as a professional. While he wasn’t great in 2018 with Duke (though he improved later in the season), he had plenty of success in 2017, and adapted well to the all-wood Cape Cod League, where he led the short-lived season with nine home runs.
Conine is going to hit, and he’s going to hit for some power, as well. He has a quick lefty swing through the zone and tends to barrel the ball well, but there’s still a lot of movement in his mechanics, and his strikeout rate is pretty high for a college bat. You won’t hear much on his speed or glove in the outfield, but don’t worry. Conine can mash, and he pregamed his draft selection today in style:
.@BlueJays draft Duke's Griffin Conine. Son of Jeff Conine. He hit two homers today to help send the Blue Devils to supers.
He's got massive power. Por ejemplo: pic.twitter.com/15YytrzfMd
— Michael Lananna (@mlananna) June 5, 2018
Aside from a few tweaks, the Blue Jays will likely let it ride with Conine for the most part, like they have with other MLB bloodline mega dudes in Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
This video from Baseball America, taken at last year’s Cape Cod League All-Star Game, exhibits Conine’s sweet lefty swing shows off some of that potentially big in-game power.
His success will hinge on harnessing his hit and power tools, which sometimes went in opposite directions for him this Spring, with Fangraphs stating in their overview:
- “The son of Jeff Conine posts huge exit velos and performed well on the Cape last summer, but is out of sorts this spring, selling out for power and not making much contact. He’ll still go day one due to track record, tools, and pedigree.”
Christopher Crawford, of NBC Sports/Rotoworld, agrees:
Griffin Conine could be excellent value for the Blue Jays. Had some issues this spring, but when he's at his best showed a chance to hit for average and power. Just a matter of getting that version as a professional consistently.
— Christopher Crawford (@Crawford_MILB) June 5, 2018
So there’s a lot to like with Conine right away, and unlike Groshans, he’ll be a much more visible player in the Blue Jays system this summer, as he’ll very likely sign and get right into it. He also seems to be a relatively personable athlete as well, as seen in this video from Northwoods League in 2016:
Griffin should be a quick rise in the Blue Jays system. As of right now, Anthony Alford remains the team’s top OF prospect, but there are few others that stand out, and Conine should find himself in the team’s Top 10-15 prospects should he sign and find even reasonable success in professional ball this summer. He’ll likely head out to either Bluefield or Vancouver, but seeing him start in Low-A (full-season) Lansing in 2018 shouldn’t surprise anyone, and a spot in Dunedin by the end of 2019 seems about right, before some final seasoning in Double-and-Triple-A in 2020.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.