Draft Report: Matt Morgan, High School Catcher

The Blue Jays continued to restock their Minor League system with catchers by taking Matt Morgan in the fourth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday afternoon.

Morgan became the second catcher drafted by Toronto in the early rounds after the club used the 11th overall pick on Max Pentecost. It has been a glaring area of need after Travis d'Arnaud, J.P. Arencibia, Yan Gomes and Carlos Perez departed the organization for various reasons over the past two years.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

The biggest concern with young catchers is often whether they'll actually be able to remain behind the plate. That doesn't appear to be an issue with Morgan, who has received some rave reviews for his ability to handle a pitching staff.

"This is a guy we're really excited about," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said. "I know we took Pentecost in the first round, but this is a high school kid that we're very excited about and just him still being there in the fourth round is something that we didn't anticipate. And the fact we'd already taken a catcher, it didn't dissuade us because we like the talent."

The defensive-minded catcher possesses a lot of athleticism and has an above-average throwing arm. According to the MLB.com scouting report, he also has received high marks for his leadership skills and competitiveness.

The 18-year-old has a commitment to Alabama, and just like all high schoolers, he'll need to be convinced to sign a professional contract. The recommended slot value for the No. 114 pick is $458,000, and the Blue Jays have a total bonus pool of $9,458,500 to work from.

Even if the Blue Jays convince Morgan to sign, this is the type of talent that will take multiple years to develop. High school catchers often take a long time to work through the system because it's arguably the toughest position to master. A perfect example can be found in d'Arnaud, who was taken out of high school in 2007 but didn't make his Major League debut until 2013.

Morgan was ranked as the No. 126 prospect in the Draft by MLB.com. There are some question marks about his bat, but there's a belief that he will be able to develop additional power in the next couple of years. For now, he's more of a gap-to-gap hitter. He becomes the first Alabama high school catcher to be taken in the first five rounds since Craig Brazell in 1998.

During his senior season at Thorsby High School, Morgan hit .520 with five homers and 24 RBIs. He was a member of the Alabama Sports Writers' Association All-Star Team in 2012 and '13. This year's recipients have not been announced.

"It's a pretty good bat, it's got some strength," Parker said. "I saw it this spring. This is a guy, we had him to our pre-Draft workout in Atlanta last month, and it's a kid we think has a chance to be a two-way guy. He can really help defensively right now. This is a guy long term that's going to be a legit two-way player."

Blue Jays nab high school lefty Wells in third round

Draft 2014: Blue Jays draft LHP Nick Wells No. 83

The Blue Jays continued their recent trend of taking young high school arms with a lot of upside by using their third-round pick on left-hander Nick Wells.

Wells was taken with the 83rd overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft. He has a commitment to the College of Charleston, but the Blue Jays will attempt to use the recommended slot value of $661,800 as motivation to turn pro.

The product of Gainesville, Va., didn't crack MLB.com's Top 200 prospects in advance of the Draft, but Baseball America had him ranked at No. 119. His fastball saw a large increase in velocity over the past year and he consistently throws in the low 90s.

"He's already shown a plus curveball," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said. "It's a young, projectable lefty that's flashing an above-average breaking ball."

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Wells is coming off a season in which he posted a 1.06 ERA in 53 innings. He struck out 102 over that span and had six complete games with a pair of no-hitters. During his final outing of the season, he struck out the final 14 batters he faced in a 4-0 victory over South County. In 2013, he went 7-2 with a 0.45 ERA, four complete games and 72 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.

2014 Draft Central

The 6-foot-5 left-hander has been on Major League Baseball's radar for the past couple of years but his stock really increased this season. Wells added approximately seven mph on his fastball and credited an intense workout routine with fellow high schooler and soon to be college wrestler Justus Weaver as the main reason why.

"You have to work hard to get where you want to be," Wells recently told the Washington Post. "People said if I work hard, all this could happen. There were days I didn't want to come out to lift, but Justus Weaver has done a number for me."

In addition to the impressive fastball, Wells also throws an above-average curveball and a changeup that is still a work in progress. He's added approximately 40 pounds to his overall weight in the past year and has really started to grow into the type of frame that most scouts love to see in a starting pitcher.

The big question will be Wells' willingness to sign a pro contract. The Blue Jays have never shied away from taking players that have strong commitments to a college and this move is a continuation of that trend. Wells likely could have gone earlier in the Draft, but there are a lot of question marks about whether he's willing to turn pro.

Toronto does appear to have some flexibility within its total bonus pool of $9,458,500, which ranks fourth in the Draft. No. 9 pick Jeff Hoffman recently underwent Tommy John surgery and it's possible he'll sign a below-slot deal. The same could be said for college catcher Max Pentecost, who likely wouldn't want to re-enter the Draft next year as a senior.

Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

If the Blue Jays are able to save a little bit of money on their first two picks, the extra money could then be allocated to Wells or second-round pick Sean Reid-Foley.

"He's a guy who, hopefully, I think in the next couple days we can get something done with," Parker said. "With some of these guys, hopefully, we can move quickly and get some things done."

Blue Jays select Bearden High School star Thomas

Draft Report: Lane Thomas

The Blue Jays added a power-hitting outfielder to their system by taking high school prospect Lane Thomas in the fifth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday afternoon.

The 18-year-old recently finished up his senior season at Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tenn., where he hit .376, with 44 doubles, nine triples, 36 home runs, 123 RBIs and 177 runs scored over the course of four seasons.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Thomas' power has been on the rise as he continues to grow into his 6-foot-1 frame. He hit 17 of those 36 home runs in 2014 and also showed a lot of patience at the plate with 53 walks as a senior.

"This is another guy we really like, a high school outfielder -- he's played some shortstop, and center field -- and this is another kid with great makeup and athleticism and we like the bat," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said. "It's kind of the common theme with some of these guys. Another great makeup kid we're very excited about."

Thomas spent most of his time in high school playing center field, but the Blue Jays listed him as a right fielder. With his type of power and overall skill set, he's the type of player who would project to become a corner outfielder with an above-average bat.

According to the MLB.com scouting report, Thomas has a quick bat and an advanced approach at the plate. He has above-average speed in the outfield and good instincts on the basepaths, which should translate to an ability to steal bases at the Major League level.

Thomas wasn't ranked in MLB.com's Top 200 prospects prior to the Draft, but he's someone who has been on the big league radar for the past couple of years. He was part of the gold-medal winning USA U18 team at least year's World Cup in Taiwan.

The USA national program has garnered a strong reputation and has helped develop players such as Mike Trout, Billy Butler, Michael Cuddyer, Jeff Francoeur and Shawn Green.

Thomas currently has a commitment to attend Tennessee in the fall. The recommended slot value of his pick at No. 144 is $343,000, and the Blue Jays have a bonus pool of $9,458,500 to work from in the first 10 rounds.

"His first practice as a freshman he already had a level of confidence and maturity most players don't have," Bearden coach Jack Tate told the Knoxville News Sentinel last year.

"[Thomas] is one of the best players I've ever seen in Knoxville. ... He's a sure-fire pro prospect, no question. He has all the tools."

College lefty Huffman drafted by Toronto in Round 6

The Blue Jays added another starting pitcher to their system by selecting left-hander Grayson Huffman in the sixth round of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday afternoon.

The 19-year-old attended Grayson County College in Denison, Texas, this season and went 6-0 with a 3.75 ERA while striking out 74 over the course of 62 1/3 innings. In high school, he posted a 2.69 ERA in 26 innings as a senior in Texas.

Huffman throws in the low 90s and also has a curveball and changeup in his repertoire. According to MLB.com's Jim Callis, he projects as a potential fourth or fifth starter at the big league level.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

The Grayson County College program has produced a handful of big league players over the years, including John Lackey, Andy LaRoche and former Blue Jays reliever Danny Darwin.

The school was recently upset in the NJCAA Region V Tournament. The No. 6 seed lost to Midland College in a game where Huffman surrendered a three-run homer in the fourth inning en route to a 10-9 loss.

The recommended slot value for the No. 174 pick is $256,800, and the Blue Jays have a total bonus pool of $9,458,500 to spend in the first 10 rounds. It would appear as though Huffman could be a relatively easy sign, and any money saved at this spot could be then reallocated to pitcher Sean Reid-Foley (No. 49) or left-hander Nick Wells (No. 83), who are both considered tough signs.

Blue Jays use seventh-round pick on outfielder Zehner

The Blue Jays selected college senior Zack Zehner with their seventh-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Friday afternoon.

Zehner has yet to hit for a lot of power, but there's a possibility that could change in the coming years. He stands at 6-foot-4, weighs 215 pounds and has the body type that a lot of scouts are fond of even if the power production hasn't materialized quite yet.

The 21-year-old outfielder hit .319 with a .376 on-base percentage and an .809 OPS in 47 games for the Cal Poly Mustangs this season. Last year, he had a team-leading .358 average for Santa Barbara City College, which ranked third in the Western State Conference's North Division.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

"Cal Poly was one of the best teams in the country, they go to the Top 10 almost every year, and we actually scouted him last summer pretty hard," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said.

"He was in the Northwoods League, and he was coming out of a [junior college] last year. We tried to sign him last summer as an undrafted kid and he didn't sign. He wanted to go back to school, and we were able to follow him this spring and were able to get him in the seventh round this year."

Zehner was named to the All-Western State team for the second consecutive year in 2013 after posting a .455 on-base percentage. The native of San Diego has a chance to develop into a corner outfielder, but there appear to be some question marks about his overall upside.

The recommended slot value for the No. 204 pick is $192,400. He would appear to be a relatively easy sign, and the Blue Jays could look to use some of the savings on pitcher Sean Reid-Foley (No. 49) or left-hander Nick Wells (No. 83), who are both considered tough signs.

That's likely a similar strategy to the one Toronto also took in the sixth round when the club selected junior college left-hander Grayson Huffman. The Blue Jays have a total bonus pool of $9,458,500 to spend in the first 10 rounds, and there are severe penalties if a club surpasses its cap.

Florida pitcher Shafer drafted by Blue Jays in Round 8

In addition to pitching, Justin Shafer played infield at Florida.

Justin Shafer spent his first three seasons at the University of Florida as both a pitcher and an infielder, but if he signs with Toronto, it will mean a full-time transition to the mound.

Shafer, the Blue Jays' eighth-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on Friday, is coming off somewhat of a disappointing season with the Gators, which saw him post a 4.17 ERA over 36 2/3 innings. He struck out 27 and walked seven in 18 appearances, which included two starts.

The 21-year-old throws in the low 90s and possesses a potentially plus slider that could lead to some future success on the mound. The hope is that a full-time transition to pitching will help him succeed at the next level.

That's not a luxury he had at Florida, where the school also needed him to play the infield. There were some glimpses of potential as a position player after Shafer hit .300 with a .345 on-base percentage and 23 extra-base hits as a sophomore. The production dropped as a junior, though, as he hit .211 with two extra-base hits in 95 at-bats.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

The numbers would suggest the Gators also felt the same way about Shafer's future as a pitcher. His games played in the field dropped in 2014 and he threw an additional nine innings. The lack of work on the mound means he's still relatively raw and will need some time to finesse his repertoire.

The recommended slot value for the No. 234 pick is $159,900.

Blue Jays pick Division II 2B Metzler in ninth round

The Blue Jays selected college second baseman Ryan Metzler with their ninth-round pick of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft on Friday.

Metzler hit .365 with four homers, 42 RBIs, 42 runs and 16 stolen bases in 53 games this season for the University of South Carolina Aiken. Last year, he was named to the Daktronics NCAA Division II All-Southeast Region First Team.

The 21-year-old is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. The junior became the sixth college player taken by the Blue Jays in the Draft. He likely should be another relatively easy sign as Toronto continues to maintain some flexibility with its overall bonus pool of $9,458,500.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

The recommended slot value for pick No. 264 is $149,300. Metzler previously attended Siena College before transferring to South Carolina-Aiken prior to the 2013 season.

Metzler had a strong finish to his college season. In April, he picked up player of the week honors in the Peach Belt Conference by going 12-for-17 (.706) in four games. Metzler also was recently named to the NCAA Division II Southeast Region all-tournament team.

The native of Glen Burnie, Md., hit .333 with a double and three RBIs in two games at the regional tournament.

Blue Jays take Canadian righty Romano to close Day 2

Right-hander Jordan Romano became the first Canadian selected by the Blue Jays in this year's Draft when his name was called in the 10th round as the club's last pick of Day 2.

Romano's career began to take off when he transferred to Oral Roberts University prior to the 2014 season. He spent two years as a starter at Connors State College in Oklahoma but found a lot of success this year as a reliever.

The 21-year-old was recently named the relief pitcher of the year for the Southland Conference. He led the league with 12 saves, which also was tied for 13th overall in the NCAA. It was the third-most saves in Oral Roberts' history and the highest total since Justin Ramsey had 13 in 2004.

"We had two scouts see him this year," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker said. "It's a young power arm that has some ability with the breaking ball. Good sized kid, he's 6-foot-6, it's a good athletic arm that has two pitches."

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Romano finished the 2014 season with a 2.66 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings. He didn't allow a home run and limited opposing hitters to a .221 average.

The recommended slot value for the No. 294 pick is $139,400. He was the third Canadian taken in the Draft after outfielder Gareth Morgan went to Seattle (No. 74) and right-hander Brock Dykxhoorn was taken by Houston (No. 166).

Romano is from Markham, Ontario, which is a suburb of Toronto. He went to Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy and was part of the Canadian Junior Team program in 2010.

"We valued him in that area, in that part of the Draft," Parker said. "I think he actually lives near here, so he's not too far down the street. That didn't really play into it. It's something we look at, but we didn't really factor that into taking him. We thought the talent was in that area."