Reviewing the Blue Jays 2020 MLB Draft Selections
The Toronto Blue Jays had one of the better drafts among all thirty teams in baseball. Going into the draft, the sole focus for Toronto was on trying to get college pitchers. For Toronto, they came away from the draft with three college arms. In addition, the organization had a potential All-Star shortstop essentially fall in their lap and added an outfielder/catcher who resembles another name in the AL East. More on all of that later.
According to CBSSPORTS, the Blue Jays received a Grade of A overall. The biggest reason why was because the aforementioned Austin Martin essentially fell to them. Many of the mock drafts had Martin heading to the Baltimore Orioles with the second overall pick. The fact that both the Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals passed on Martin was another shocker. Although, both the Marlins and Royals were focused on adding arms as well.
In addition, Toronto did very well with selecting CJ Van Eyk and Nick Frasso. Both Van Eyk and Frasso are highly viewed in the scouting world and could be two significantly impactful pieces for Toronto later on down the road.
With that being said, here is a more in-depth look at who Toronto selected and how those pieces fit into the bigger, long-term picture for the organization.
1. SS Austin Martin (First Round Pick)
As previously mentioned, Austin Martin was the primary gift for Toronto in this year’s draft. Martin comes with a tremendous amount of upside and has tremendous All-Star potential behind his name as well. Martin is out of Vanderbilt University and was originally a 37th round draft pick for the Cleveland Indians back in 2017. As a freshman at Vanderbilt University, Martin played multiple positions on the team. Rewind to last year and he was primarily used at second base prior to setting up roots at the hot corner. What makes Martin so highly coined in the scouting world though is his overall hitting abilities.
Scouts absolutely rave about Martin’s power and ability to make hard contact with the baseball. More often than not, Martin’s swing is very quick and is able to zone in on the strike zone very well. In addition, scouts note that Martin sprays the ball to all parts of the field which really helped make him attractive to teams like the Blue Jays. When you consider his overall hitting abilities and overall athleticism, there’s a reason for excitement in Toronto. Long term, scouts believe Martin might eventually land at second base.
2. RHP CJ Van Eyk (Second Round Pick)
Right-hander CJ Van Eyk is another tremendous pick for the Toronto Blue Jays. Van Eyk has already reportedly come to terms with the organization and comes with a lot of high praise along with plenty of potential. As a product of Florida State University, Van Eyk turned himself into the university’s ace. However, it wasn’t an easy road getting there for the 21-year old. During his senior year of high school, Van Eyk missed a lot of the season as he dealt with arm soreness, but scouts are not concerned about that right now. Rather, the biggest quality about Van Eyk is his ability to throw a solid three-pitch mix.
Scouts note that Van Eyk is very confident utilizing all three of his pitches. He throws a mid-90’s fastball that is effective on both sides of the plate as well as a plus curveball and a changeup. Of those three pitches, the changeup is a work in progress. Scouts believe that it might wind up being more effective in the future if the righty is able to add more sink to it. Essentially, the potential for Van Eyk is extremely high and it would not be a surprise to see him as Toronto’s number two starter behind number one overall prospect, RHP Nate Pearson in a few years.
3. RHP Trent Palmer (Third Round Pick)
Right-hander Trent Palmer is another selection from this year’s draft who has already come to terms with the Blue Jays. Palmer, who is a product of Jacksonville University, comes with the potential to be a starting pitcher or reliever. The intrigue leading up to the draft was that factor for many scouts. When this season started, he demonstrated a lot of quality arm strength and the ability to be very effective out on the mound. In turn, scouts saw that potential and feel as though Palmer could be a very valuable part of the Blue Jays 26-man roster in the future.
One of the primary reasons why is because the 21-year old righty features a pitch repertoire of three or four pitches. The main selling pitch is Palmer’s fastball which usually sits between 91 and 96 miles per hour with some very good sinking action. In addition, he has the ability to throw a changeup down in the zone, a slider that usually sits between 79 and 83 miles per hour, and a curveball. The curveball is a work in progress, but the slider is an intriguing pitch because it features so much movement. If Palmer is able to maintain his workload, then he could be a very good middle-of-the-rotation option for Toronto. If not, then a late-inning relief role could be in his future.
4. RHP Nick Frasso (Fourth Round Pick)
Besides the aforementioned Austin Martin and CJ Van Eyk, right-hander Nick Frasso was another exciting selection for Toronto. Out of Loyola Marymount University in California, Frasso might have been drafted sooner if it weren’t for an elbow injury. That injury caused enough concern in the scouting world to cause concern for some. Although, Toronto is still very high on Frasso and believes that he still has a tremendous amount of upside in his craft. As a sophomore, Frasso was utilized primarily as the team’s closer. However, once his junior year rolled around, Frasso started two games prior to the season being shut down.
Coming in at six-foot-five-inches and 200 pounds, Frasso is definitely a strike-thrower. Over 8 and 2/3 innings of work this year, Frasso recorded 11 strikeouts. Last year, he recorded 73 strikeouts over 56 and 2/3 innings of work with an overall Opponent Batting Average Against of .154. Of the three pitches that Frasso throws, his four-seamer is especially intriguing as it has been very effective for him throughout college. Scouts note that he usually throws it high in the zone and it features a lot of movement overall. Projecting ahead to the future, if Frasso doesn’t make it as a starting pitcher, then he very well could be the team’s closer of the future in as little as two to potentially three years.
5. OF Zach Britton (Fifth Round Pick)
At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Hold on. Isn’t there already a Zach Britton in the AL East with the New York Yankees?” To answer that, yes there is, but this is an entirely different Zach Britton. This Zach spells his name with an h, while the Yankee Britton spells his name with a k. In all seriousness though, Britton is another player that the Blue Jays have reportedly come to terms with already. Besides being able to play the outfield, Britton has the ability to be a catcher as well.
To start this season, Britton was one of only three players on Louisville University’s baseball team to start each of the 18 games played. Over that span, Britton hit .322 with 19 hits, 12 RBI, and 9 walks. The biggest thing to like about Britton is his overall ability to get on-base and make a difference in the lineup. For example, as a freshman with Louisville, Britton had an on-base percentage (OBP) of .400. Last year during his sophomore season, his OBP sat at .368. Then, at the start of this year, Britton’s OBP was .446. While his overall fielding is below league average, the offense makes up for that weakness. Depending on the needs of the Blue Jays 26-man roster in the future, Britton could be a nice utility option for the organization.
In the end, the Toronto Blue Jays came away from the 2020 MLB Draft with a great group of players. Toronto was poised to head into this season with a lot of excitement surrounding a core group of son’s of former MLB Players including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette. In addition, with a rising farm system and exciting prospects including the aforementioned Nate Pearson and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., there was plenty to be excited for. Now, Toronto is presumably adding to an already strong system and setting themselves up for even more success in the future with these draft selections.
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