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With the 20th overall pick, the Blue Jays could select… Slade Caldwell?

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Photo credit:MLB.com
Ryley Delaney
25 days ago
The 2024 Major League Baseball draft is quickly approaching.
On July 14, the Toronto Blue Jays will step up to the podium with the 20th-overall pick for the second consecutive season. It won’t be the only time they head to the podium that day, as they’ll also have the 59th-overall pick in the second round. On July 15, they’ll pick 95th, 125th, 136th (compensation pick for Matt Chapman), and 158th.
For the first 10 rounds, or 11 picks, the Blue Jays will have a signing bonus of $8,897,000 to sign all 11 players. On day three of the draft, players picked in rounds 11 to 20 can sign up to $150,000 before cutting into the bonus pool.
Let’s take a look at a prep position player who is an interesting prospect.

Slade Caldwell’s bio

Slade Caldwell is an 18-year-old, left-handed batting outfielder who is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s 22nd overall prospect. The 5’9”, 182 lb outfielder attended Valley View High School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and is committed to the University of Mississippi.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Blue Jays drafted a player from the state of Arkansas, as they selected Jace Bohrofen in the sixth-round of the 2023 draft out of the University of Arkansas. Since taking charge, the Mark Shapiro/Ross Atkins regime has made five picks from the state, including Ty Tice in 2017, as well as Connor Eller, Zach Jackson, and Dominic Taccolini, all in 2016, with the latter not signing.
However, it’s been a hot minute since the last time the franchise selected a prep player from the school. They selected right-handed pitcher Robert Ennis in 2001 as well as catcher Cody Clark in 2000, but were unable to sign either of them.
The last time they drafted a prep position player who actually signed was Andrew Shatley in 1994. He spent four seasons in the organization before being released.

Slade Caldwell’s tools

Back to Caldwell, though. MLB Pipeline notes that his hitting ability is “advanced”, as well as having a “mature approach”. His hit tool is above average, as he hits line drives to all fielders, rarely striking out with a good swing.
The power isn’t exactly there given his 5’9”, 182 lb frame, but Pipeline’s report notes that he could hit “15 or more” home runs a season thanks to impressive bat speed. Defensively, he has a fringe arm that works in centre field, but has plus speed that makes him a menace on the base paths and allows him to range in centre field. 
It’s also worth noting that Caldwell has had a pretty major injury in his past, as he broke his fibula in 2023, but seems to have recovered well.

Slade Caldwell’s grades

As always, let’s take a look at Caldwell’s grades according to MLB Pipeline.
ToolGrade
Hit55
Power45
Run65
Arm45
Field60
Overall50
While the power is a concern, the hit tool is nice paired with good defence in centrefield.

Will the Blue Jays select Slade Caldwell

If the Blue Jays were to select Slade Caldwell, it would mark the second consecutive season where they’ve selected a prep position player.
I’m not necessarily opposed to it, of course. One of the weakest positions in the farm system is outfield, and while it’s improved in recent years, there are three outfield positions to draft for.
However, it’s my belief that going down the college route in the first round is the ideal decision for the Blue Jays this draft.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.

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