Alex Anthopoulos has done marvelous things in Toronto but he's not just the General Manager that found a suitable trade partner for Roy Halladay; nor is he the GM that found a couple of suckers to take on Alex Rios and Vernon Wells. Upon his ascension to the GM position, Anthopoulos revamped the Blue Jays scouting department and quickly became the GM destined to draft talent over experience. AA increased the Jays' area scouting staff to twenty-five, while providing the funds for five regional cross-checkers. Anthopoulos was destined to draft high-ceiling kids, and somehow, this happened in just two years:
Drafted/Signed: 1st Round, 2010, HS
Baseball Prospectus: 93rd Overall
Minor League Ball: 67th Overall
There's something downright amazing about a 6'5, 200lb, 20-year old that can hit the high-90s with projectible secondary pitches.
Drafted/Signed: 2nd Round, 2011, HS
Baseball Prospectus: 54th Overall
Baseball America: 91st Overall
Minor League Ball: 70th Overall
A steal of a deal in the second round, Norris is yet another high-schooler with huge upside. He sits in the low-to-mid 90s from the left-side.
Drafted/Signed: 2nd Round, 2010, HS
Minor League Ball: 68th Overall
Another lefty, Nicolino shows quite a bit of polish and pitchability. At 6'3"/160, he's got room to fill out and should advance quickly. Could end up being a very good middle-of-the-rotation lefty.
Drafted/Signed: 15th Round, 2009, HS
Minor League Ball: 73rd Overall
The fourth high school arm, Hutchinson has really out-pitched all expectations. Another quality middle-of-the-rotation arm with the kind of polish you'd never expect from a high school draftee.
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental, 2010, HS
And again with the High School arms. Sanchez didn't have a great debut, but the high-ceiling arm is still apparently attached to his body. Has a solid fastball that should only improve and a curve-ball that projects out pretty well.
Drafted/Signed: 1st Round, 2010, College
Minor League Ball: 80th Overall
It's a college arm! I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised to see McGuire log some innings in Toronto this year as he's fairly close to where he needs to be. McGuire projects as a solid piece in any rotation. Gets good movement on the fastball and shows the ability to pitch.
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental, 2010, College
Two College arms in a row! Asher still has quite a bit of upside but lost velocity and suffered through a whole lotta awful as the Jays attempted to change his delivery. Wojciechowski will fit nicely in the back end of the rotation or as a power arm out of the pen.
Drafted/Signed: 2011, Supplemental, HS
Yah, so he's 6'5"/230 at 19-years old. He's got great velocity and a good breaking ball.
Drafted/Signed: 1st Round, 2011, HS
Thank God for Miguel Olivo, amirite? Comer was clocked around 95mph and was one of a handful of Blue Jays first round draft picks in 2011. It was a big risk by AA, but it paid off. I'm pretty excited by the kid.
Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2010
The Jays gave Cardona $2.8M and if his pro-debut was any indication, they made the right choice. He's got all sorts of room to fill out and add velocity. Great fastball, great curve-ball, and a whole lotta upside.
Drafted/Signed: 2nd Round, 2011, College
Stilson has a great fastball and a terrific change-up with a couple breaking balls. Could be a reliever or a starter, and the injury concerns seem to be behind him. Personally, I'd be very surprised if Stilson wasn't at least given the chance to start games for his first pro season, but the idea of him as our closer does give me a half-chub.
Drafted/Signed: 2011, Mexico
Marco Paddy, now with the White Sox, absolutely loved the nephew of former big-leaguer Antonio Osuna. Roberto Osuna is probably still years away from the show, but the Blue Jays' commitment to nabbing high-priced international free agents should be commended.
Drafted/Signed: 2nd Round, 2011, HS
Sits in the low-to-mid 90s comfortably and flashes a pretty darn good curve-ball. Looked good in a very brief stint in Rookie Ball in 2011: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1BB, 6K, 0ER.
It's probably optimistic to expect all of these high-ceiling young arms to make it to the show, but if even one or two hit their ceiling, AA's draft approach has succeeded. What surprises me the most is just how quickly the Blue Jays stockpiled quality young arms. These players weren't acquired through trade and were all drafted or signed during the brief Anthopoulos era. In just two MLB Amateur Player Drafts, Anthopoulos has established depth that maybe only the Mariners can match.
Quite frankly, even without the likes of Marisnick, D'Arnaud and Gose, the Blue Jays system would probably still be classified as a top-10 organization. It's definitely tough to see Marco Paddy's departure, but the system and network out scouts remain strong.
So, I guess, that's exactly how this happened.