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Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2016

The Blue Jays have five top 100 picks in this years draft

This will allow the team to bolster their farm system once again. Therefore, in this article, we’ll be looking at every top 100 pick since the Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro regime took over.

Originally, this was going to be just a single article, but I’ll be doing a deep dive on every single player mentioned here. In today’s edition, we’ll be looking at the Shapkins first draft with the Jays, the 2016 draft.

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Here they picked a college arm, a player with an interesting trade tree, and an all-star calibre shortstop.

T.J Zeuch:

Chosen with the 21st pick, T.J Zeuch didn’t live up to expectations.

The large righty was drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh and has put up “meh” numbers throughout his time in the minors. In 466.1 innings pitched, he has posted a 3.99 ERA across all levels.

T.J Zeuch is a ground ball pitcher through and through. In those 466.1 innings pitched, he only has a K/9 of 6.8, well below the average for a pitcher. Looking at his Fangraphs page, you see a lot of 50% ground ball rates throughout each level.

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Now, if you want to talk about his best minor league season, it was back in 2018 with Toronto’s Double A team, where he posted a 3.08 ERA and 3.61 FIP in 120 innings pitched. He put up solid results afterwards, including a 4.03 ERA and 4.59 FIP with Buffalo last season, but 2018 is the season where Zeuch looked like a potential big leaguer.

In 2019 he was promoted to the majors, where he posted a 4.76 ERA and 4.05 FIP in 22.2 innings pitched. He had a rather successful spell in the COVID shortened 2020, where he posted a 1.59 ERA and 4.87 FIP in 11.1 innings pitched.

He also pitched for the Blue Jays in 2021 where he posted a 6.60 ERA and 9.10 FIP in 15 innings, before being sent back down to Buffalo.

On the 25th of July, 2021, Zeuch was traded to the Cardinals for cash considerations, as he was DFA’ed. In 38.1 innings pitched with the Cardinals’ Triple A team, he posted a 4.93 ERA and 4.82 FIP in 2021.

Zeuch had a tough start to his 2022 season, where he posted a 11.64 ERA and 7.32 FIP. He was released by the organization on May 26th and promptly signed with the Cincinnati Reds organization.

Will the soon to be 27-year-old ever reach the minors again? Hopefully, but he needs to start pitching better.

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J.B Woodman:

Chosen with the 57th overall pick, J.B Woodman had a short professional career.

Only playing three seasons, Woodman posted a .258/.340/.396 slash line in 942 plate appearances across three levels, none in the upper minors. He hit 17 homers, but hasn’t played since 2018.

However, trading Woodman has led to the Jays acquiring Trent Thornton, so let’s look into that.

On December 1st, 2017, the Blue Jays sent Woodman to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for 2016 All-star Aledmys Diaz. The utility position player only played one season for the Jays, posting a .263/.303/.453 slash line, with 18 homers (a career high) and a 102 wRC+. Overall, this was a pretty damn good trade.

The Jays were not good in 2018 and would be even worse in 2019, so they sent Diaz to the Houston Astros in exchange for everyone’s favourite stopper, Trent Thornton. Thornton has only allowed two inherited runners to score out of 17, not a high leverage reliever, but good at what he does.

Swinging back to Woodman, a quick look at his Twitter tells me that his Alma Mater, Mississippi, just won the College World Series, so that’s cool. I hope he’s doing well.

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Bo Bichette:

You know who Bo Bichette is. He was an all-star in 2021 (and could be in 2022). He’s the Jays current shortstop. He was chosen with the 66th overall in 2016 and his signing bonus was a measly $1,100,000.

However, Bo declined Toronto’s original offer of $978,600 and nearly went to Arizona State University, until about a minute before the team had to lock in their pick. They settled on the final offer of $1,100,000 and the rest was history.

Furthermore, the Jays promised not to mess with Bichette’s swing (you know, the incredibly violent one). Here is a quote from an article Sportsnet wrote on him.

“[Bichette] wanted to join a club that wouldn’t look to change what had gotten him to that point. ‘I know there are some organizations that would not be very happy with the way that I hit,’ Bichette says. ‘ I think the Blue Jays are just willing to let you be yourself.’”

That extra $121,400 was one of the best decisions that this front office has ever made, as Bichette has truly become one of the best shortstops in the league.

Great pick.

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What to make of the 2016 draft:

This was a pretty good draft by the Jays. Anytime you can get a future all-star in the second round, you’re doing something right. Not just that, but they turned their other second rounder into a reliever that is currently impacting the organization.

Unfortunately, Zeuch did not pan out, but missing one player isn’t the end of the world.

This was the same draft that the Blue Jays drafted Cavan Biggio, Josh Winckowski, Josh Palacios, Chavez Young, Kirby Snead and Shea Langeliers, so they did a hell of a job at the 2016 draft.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. As I write this outro, I’ve already started the 2017 and 2018 articles, so expect those to go up soon.


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