One thing to note is that after the first 10 picks or so, anything can happen. For example, Groshans was selected with the 12th overall pick in 2018, despite him being ranked as the 31st best draft prospect that season.
Since 2016, the draft prospect ranked 60th went 96th (2016), 49th (2017), 81st (2018), 39th (2019), 61st (2020), undrafted (2021). All of this is to say that after a certain point, the draft is a complete crapshoot and teams base their picks off their scouting, instead of MLB Pipeline.
All but two of these picks rank before 60th on MLB Pipeline, but I think the Jays could have interest in all eight of these players. We’ll start with the highest ranked draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
After graduating high school, Justin Campbell was chosen in the 18th round of the 2019 draft by the Houston Astros. Instead of signing for the Astros, he decided to follow his commitment to Oklahoma State.
Now a junior, the 21-year-old right handed pitcher has put up solid numbers this season. In 70.1 innings pitched, he has a 3.20 ERA and a K/9 of 12.8 compared to a BB/9 of 1.9. For his entire college career, he has a 3.04 ERA in 174.2 innings pitched, along with a K/9 of 11.5 and BB/9 of 2.5.
What intrigues me most about the right handed pitcher is the fact that he’s 6’7, and we know the Jays have a track record of signing “large adult sons” (pitchers over 6’5). It’s often the case that 6’7 pitchers struggle to keep their pitch windup consistent, however, Campbell breaks that mold.
Per MLB Pipeline, batters can’t pick up the ball well due to “deceptive mechanics and an unusual approach angle.” As he only sits at 219 lb, there is room to grow, but for now, it may be surprising to know that Campbell only sits at an average of 91 mph with his 4-seamer. However, he can touch 96 mph.
With what he lacks in velocity, he makes up with spin rate and running action (per MLB Pipeline), which leads to soft contact. He also has a nice curveball and changeup that he will throw to both righties and lefties.
According to MLB Pipeline, Campbell has a high floor (much like Hoglund), which likely means he’ll be at worst, the fourth starter.
Below are his grades:
Campbell ranks as MLB Pipeline’s 48th best draft prospect and Baseball America’s 43rd best draft prospect (up from 54th) and for Prospects Live, he ranks 42nd.
Sticking with “large adult sons”, we have the 6 ‘6, 21-year-old Jonathan Cannon. The right-handed pitcher pitches for the University of Georgia and has put together three really good seasons, including a great 2022. I’ve heard he’s had a cannon of an arm.
Although he was eligible to be drafted in last year’s draft, he missed the start of the 2021 season, which led to him being undrafted.
In 52.1 innings pitched this season, Cannon has a 1.55 ERA with a 8.9 K/9 and a very low BB/9 of 0.5. Is the BB/9 a flash in the pan? Nope, as his collegiate career BB/9 stands at a very low 1.3 In fact, his career ERA at college stands at 2.62 in his 127 innings pitched over three seasons.
Although I cannot find data on his batted ball, I’m assuming he is a ground ball pitcher, as he features a pretty good cutter which regularly misses bats according to MLB Pipeline.
His fastball sits between 92-96 mph, with a cutter in the high 80s, as well as a “sharp” low 80s slider. Cannon also occasionally throws a changeup, but MLB Pipeline notes that he’s lost trust in it. At one point, he also had a curveball.
Like Campbell, Cannon keeps his big body in line and is a strike thrower (hence the low BB/9). Apparently, he has also developed an out pitch and has hit his velocity that he has in 2020. MLB Pipeline reckons he’ll be a mid-rotation starter, with a very high floor of a backend starter.
Here are his MLB Pipeline grades:
Cannon ranks as the 52nd best draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Baseball America has him as the 46th best draft prospect in their ranking., while Prospects Live has Cannon as their 65th best draft prospect.
Thomas Harrington is a 20-year-old right handed pitcher for Campbell University. Although he’s not as tall as the other two names that come before him, Harrington stands at 6’2. Unlike the other two names listed above, Campbell is a sophomore, not a junior.
With Campbell University in 2022, he has pitched 65 innings and has a 1.25 ERA, along with a K/9 of 12.9 and a BB/9 of 1.7. Throughout his entire collegiate career, he has a 2.43 ERA with a BB/0 of 2.6 and a K/9 of 10.7 in 140.2 innings pitched.
He’s quickly rising up draft boards as his pitches and strike throwing has really propelled him to great success in 2022. His heater sits anywhere between 90-96 mph, but has quite a lot of movement. According to MLB Pipeline, Harrington’s best pitch is a mid-80s changeup, which results in a lot of swing and misses.
Furthermore, if he continues to use his plus slider, it’s possible he will jump even higher on most draft boards.
There’s a lot more room to grow as he only stands in at 6’2, 185 lb, meaning he could add more velocity as he continues to add more muscle. Like Campbell and Cannon, he has a high floor and it’s possible he can become a mid rotation starter.
Here’s his grades:
He ranks as MLB Pipeline’s 53rd best draft prospect and Baseball America’s 47th best draft prospect, while Prospects Live has him as the 54th best available draft prospect.
Originally, I had placed Ryan Clifford here, but I think Clark Elliot is the better player.
The 21-year-old outfielder has spent three seasons with the University of Michigan and really broke out in 2022. In 189 plate appearances, he’s slashing .365/.471/.603 with seven home runs. As you may know, one thing I look for in a prospect is the BB% compared to their K%.
In 2022, Elliot struck out 15.9% of the time while walking 14.8% of the time so far, showing that he has great discipline at the plate. In fact, throughout his three college seasons, plus one Cap Cod League season, he has a 17.9% K% and a 15.4% BB%, which are solid numbers.
He’s a line drive hitter, although his power numbers are up for debate amongst scouts. Some believe he could develop into a Michael Brantley type player, while others don’t believe the power is actually there, due to his low slugging percentage in his first two seasons with the Wolverines.
He’ll be able to play all three outfield positions as he has good range and great speed.
Here are his grades, according to MLB Pipeline:
MLB Pipeline ranks Elliot as their 56th best draft prospect, while Baseball America ranks him as their 125th best prospect. Prospects Live have him the highest at 46th.
Sticking with left handed batting outfielders, we have 21-year-old Jacob Melton. The everyday centre fielder has spent the past three seasons with Oregon State and has put up great numbers.
For his collegiate career, he’s slashed .369/.441/.673 with 16 homers, 22 stolen bases (2 caught stealing) and an OPS of 1.114 in 307 plate appearances. In 2022, he’s slashing .336/.444/.699 in 178 plate appearances.
One note that separates him from Elliot is his walk rate and strikeout rate are further separated. This season, Melton has struck out 16.9% of the time while walking 10.7% of the time.
For his collegiate career, he’s struck out 21.2% of the time while only walking 11.1% of the time. These numbers, especially in 2022, are not bad, but it is something to keep note of once he starts his professional career.
MLB Pipeline notes that he has an advanced approach and makes a lot of contact. With the added power in 2022, some scouts believe he could have higher than average power in the bigs.
He also had great speed and has been successful 91.66% of the time when it comes to stealing. It’s likely he could play at all three outfield positions, but he had also been getting innings at first base.
Baseball America notes that sometimes his body gets out of sync and has a tendency to swing on pitches outside the zone. He also has issues with non-fastball pitches, but absolutely mashes fastballs.
Here are his grades according to MLB Pipeline:
MLB Pipeline has Melton as the 57th best draft prospect, while Baseball America has him ranked 71st on their list. Prospects Live have Melton as their 90th best prospect.
The only non-outfield position player on this list, Mikey Romero is also the only high school position player on this list. Unlike the other players mentioned on this list, stats for high schoolers are hard to come by.
Playing at Orange Lutheran in California, Romero has shown impressive contact skills and could be a plus hitter as he ages. Per MLB Pipeline, the 18-year-old shortstop rarely strikes out and has impressive bat speed. Pipeline also notes he may never be a power guy, but as he continues to fill out his 6’1 frame, it may come in due time.
Romero will likely stick at shortstop as he’s a good defender with great instincts. However, if the Jays aren’t drafting for need, Romero doesn’t make sense at the moment as they have Bo Bichette in the MLB, Jordan Groshans in Triple A and Orelvis Martinez in Double A.
Romero is committed to Louisiana State.
Here are his grades according to MLB Pipeline:
MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 58th best draft prospect, while Baseball America ranks him as their 76th best draft prospect available (down from 47th). Furthermore, Prospects Live rank him as their 14th best draft prospect.
Swinging back to our “large adult sons” content, Chase Shores is a 6’8 right-handed pitcher. However, at only 17-years-old, he isn’t quite an adult yet. Like Romero, there aren’t stats available.
Unlike the other two large pitchers on this list, the 17-year-old Shores already reaches 98 mph while sitting 92-94 with his heater. His other pitches are still developing, but there is definitely some promise in those pitches as he continues to gain more experience.
What the other tall pitchers have on this list is experience, and that includes knowing their bodies in their windup. Shores struggles to stay in sync, but that will come with time.
Shores is also committed to Louisiana State and would join Mikey Romero if they decide not to turn pro.
Here is Shores’ grades:
Shores is ranked as the 60th best draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline, 79th best draft prospect according to Baseball America and 99th according to Prospects Live
Lastly, we have 20-year-old outfielder Ryan Cermak. In his collegiate career, he’s slashing .296/.381/.600 with 28 homers in 430 plate appearances.
However, Cermak has broken out this season while playing for Illinois State as he’s slashed .343/.353/.739 in 161 plate appearances. He’s also hit 15 homers and drastically cut down his K%. Four of those homers came in one game, where he hit four in four plate appearances, including a mammoth 470 foot shot.
Last season, he had a K% of 25.1%, this season, it’s at 17.4%. Furthermore, his BB% has risen this season as well, as it’s jumped from 8.4% to 14.3%, a massive increase. If he can continue to take walks, drop the strikeout rate and hit homers like he has done the past two seasons, he may jump up past the 60th overall.
Aside from power, Cermak has crazy speed, getting to first base in 4.1 seconds and winning defensive player of the year for the Missouri Valley Conference in 2021. Realistically, he may not be available when the Jays pick 60th, but if the Jays want to get creative, they can choose him 23rd overall and under slot him.
Oh, and Cermak also pitches occasionally with a fastball that clocks in the mid 90s. However, there are a few knocks against the 20-year-old as one source tells me: “Short track record of success (2022), small school, previous swing and miss, swing can get long/steep”.
Here are his grades according to MLB Pipeline:
He is ranked as the 61st best draft prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Baseball America ranks him as their 105th best draft prospect while Prospects Live has him as their 256th best draft prospect.
Who will they draft:
At this point in the draft, your guess is as good as mine, but my ideal combination is Kumar Rocker in the first round and Ryan Cermak in the second round. However, it’ll be interesting to see what the Jays do come mid July!
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. The Jays are in great shape to bolster their farm system, perhaps even rank in the top 10 by next season. Stay tuned to see who they could select with the 77th pick.