So the 2011 MLB Draft has come and gone and the Blue Jays have drafted a number of new prospects.
Over the years the Jays have traded away draft picks and prospects, who have later popped up in the majors on opposing teams. Fans have cringed and grumbled over the way Blue Jays management have handled prospects and draft picks. With the exception of a couple over the last while (Arencibia, Snider, Romero, Hill), the Blue Jays team hasn’t appeared to be built from the draft but rather a series of (occasionally ill-advised) trades. I know this is common for a lot of teams, but given that the Blue Jays have acquired some less than stellar players, and cannot afford the top players in the league, I as a fan cannot help but hope they draft and cultivate some young talent (like the Tampa Bay Rays did).
Toronto had a number of picks in the 2011 draft, thanks to a number of compensation picks received for players that were lost to other teams during the off-season. I haven’t found a list yet of all of their draft picks, but I would assume there was somewhere around 20 or 30 picks for the Jays.
I have read some stats, tweets and articles on the Blue Jays 2011 draft choices and I can’t help but wonder if they made the best decisions.
Now I know next to nothing of the players that they drafted, but on the surface it appears possible that some of their draft picks could have been made for the wrong reasons.
Toronto Blue Jays, as everyone knows, are the only remaining Canadian MLB team. Due to that fact, the Blue Jays seem to have this unspoken mandate to support and foster baseball and baseball talent across Canada. In the U.S. each team is only responsible for its city, at most its state. The Canadian team though, especially since Canadian prospects are often forgotten about, is responsible for recognizing an entire nation of prospects (not that there is an alarming number of MLB caliber Canadians, comparatively speaking).
In the 2011 draft 18 different teams drafted at least 1 Canadian prospect. A couple of teams drafted 3, a couple more drafted 2, and a number more drafted only 1. The Blue Jays lead the way though, drafting 8 Canadians.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Canadian team signing Canadian talent. I am like all the other Canadians who love seeing a Canadian dawn the Jays uniform and wish all the Canadians would gather in Toronto and make a run for the pennant. I can’t help but wonder though if it was the right decision to draft 8 Canadians, or if it was done out of a sense of duty.
It is entirely possible that one or more of those players could become the next Matt Stairs, Erik Bedard (Mariners), Jason Bay (Mets) or a Russell Martin (Damn Yankees), but it is equally (if not more) possible that they will never see life past the minors.
So I wonder, did the Blue Jays draft these players out of a sense of duty and national pride for the country that calls the Jays their own? Or did they draft them because they were the best potential players left to be drafted? I am all for supporting the Canadian kids, someone needs to take notice of them, but did we miss out on some great talent, because the Toronto team felt required to draft some homegrown players?
This thinking extends to two other draft picks, neither are Canadians, but both are tied to the Jays team. But John Farrell and Don Wakamastu’s sons were drafted by the Blue Jays in the late rounds of the 2011 draft. Again I can’t help but wonder if they were drafted because they were the best players left who were available, or if they were drafted out of a sense of duty to and respect for the current Jays’ Manager and Bench Coach. I am sure these kids are talented and deserve to be drafted, but were the Jays just being polite and considerate to their new coaching staff?
Then again this could be a good move. The Canadian kids probably grew up dreaming of playing for the Toronto Blue Jays (or Montreal Expos) and playing for a team in their own country. Maybe these kids will be more determined to stay in the Toronto system and not search for trades should they make it to the big leagues, or even before. They may want to bring a championship back to Canada for the first time in nearly 2 (or by the time they get called up 3) decades. Maybe the same can be said for the sons of the Farrell and Wakamatsu, but then again, who knows how long the current coaching regime will stay in power.
So while it is possible these Canadian kids will be superstars and the American kids who were also drafted will refuse to sign, I can’t help but wonder if the picks that brought 8 Canadians and 2 coaches sons, were a little less strategic and little more “Canadian” (polite/respectful).