Pipeline Inbox: Blue Jays zeroing in on Toussaint?
Jonathan Mayo responds to fans' questions about baseball's top prospects
With the First-Year Player Draft just a week away, it made sense to dedicate this week's Inbox entirely to the amateur prospect scene.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Let's help get that conversation going with a bevy of Draft-related questions.
Have a question about prospects?
E-mail your query to MLBPipeline.com reporters Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
The Blue Jays seem to be locking in on Touki Toussaint. What is the reward like with him? He makes me nervous, with other players who seem more of a sure thing. Who is on their list for their two early picks? Finally, do you think Toronto native Gareth Morgan falls to their second or third pick?
-- Lucas B., Vermilion, Alberta
Any time a team has two first-round picks, it's going to be interesting. Give that organization two within the top half of the round and people are really going to want to know how it's going to play out. The Blue Jays have picks No. 9 and No. 11, the latter selection coming as a result of not signing their first-round pick in 2013, Phil Bickford.
Toronto has shown an affinity for high school pitching over the past couple of years, and you're right, Touki Toussaint's name has been attached to them for some time now. That obviously is no guarantee that the Florida high schooler goes in either of those slots. That said, I wouldn't be nervous about him. He has a ton of upside, the makings of three above-average pitches and tremendous makeup. Yes, there's some risk to high school pitching, but I'd be careful about wishing for "sure things." They don't always pan out and the return can sometimes be limited even if they make it (I'm a Ricky Romero fan, for instance, but he was a "safe pick" who hasn't exactly provided the return you'd like to see from a No. 6 pick).
Toronto has most often been attached to Toussaint and North Carolina State's Trea Turner, which would be a nice combination of a high-risk, high reward and a college performer with premium speed. As for Gareth Morgan, based on where he's going to be in our re-ranked Top 200 Draft list (coming out Friday, so I can't tell you exactly where he'll be), there's a very good chance he'll be there for consideration with the Jays' pick at No. 49, and possibly at No. 83.
Do you see the Cardinals having a chance at Monte Harrison? Towards the end of the first round, most of the arms will be gone, and even though I hate the "draft on need" strategy, I can't see them taking ANOTHER pitcher in the first round.
-- Jayson K., Springfield, M0.
Sure, they have a chance, though there's a good possibility he'll be off the board by the time the Cards pick at No. 27. In the two mock Drafts we've published here at MLB.com, I had Harrison go No. 28 to the Royals, while Jim Callis had him going No. 24 to the Pirates in his most recent projection. I've got another one coming on Friday, so stay tuned, but it's certainly not unfeasible that the toolsy high school outfielder will be available for St. Louis.
As to your broader point, no team should draft for need, particularly in the first round. And the Cardinals have never been one to do so. But I'll challenge you: Why shouldn't they take another pitcher in the first round? Remember that whole adage that you can never have enough pitching? That's particularly true these days with pitchers needing Tommy John surgery left and right. If the best player on the board at No. 27 is a high school pitcher, the Cardinals should take him. If it takes a prep arm 4-5 years to be ready, chances are the Cardinals will need some more arms by then. And if not, pitching always makes for a fantastic trading chip.
Do you think Jeff Hoffman or Erick Fedde fall all the way to the Red Sox? Have you heard them interested in anyone in particular?
-- Jose P., La.
I think one of them, but not both of them, get to the Red Sox at No. 26, with Fedde the more likely of the two to be there. Some of that is based on where the two Tommy John surgery recipients were on boards pre-injury. Hoffman was a potential No. 1 pick; Fedde was inching his way into the Top 10. If you feel confident in the ability of pitchers returning from that elbow surgery, where you stacked them up earlier is important.
Some of it is financial. If, say, Hoffman believes he should receive a bonus as someone who was a top five pick caliber prospect, some teams will be out of the running immediately, especially with the Draft pool rules. That could drive him down to a team like the Red Sox, who have multiple picks, can be creative with pool money, and might be more willing to over-spend and pay the fee that comes with it. If he or Fedde are willing to take a discount because of the injury, then a lot more teams should be interested, decreasing the chances of them getting to the bottom of the round.
Are there any current players in the Majors who have a similar game to Trea Turner?
-- Sadiq R., Queens, N.Y.
You've struck on one of the biggest question marks surrounding the NC State shortstop. His plus speed makes him very interesting, especially if you think he can stick at short (most seem to). While there have been some questions about his hit tool because of some unusual mechanics at the plate, he's performed, putting some concerns to rest this year by finishing strongly. But he doesn't look like or do it like anyone in the big leagues, at least according to some scouts I spoke to. Having an MLB comparison isn't essential, nor is it necessarily a predictor of success or failure. But being able to see a big league model that compares favorably would likely help ease worries for teams looking at Turner in the top half of the first round.
Do you and Jim Callis have some kind of bet going with the accuracy of your mocks?
-- Chris, Boston
Indeed we do, Chris, indeed we do. It's been on-going for years, in fact, when Jim was still at Baseball America. It's been a very hard-fought battle. I've won some, Jim has returned the favor. Generally, it's been fairly close. Now that we're co-workers, that doesn't mean the competition stops. This year, Jim and I have agreed to wager a contribution to the charity of the winner's choosing based on our final projection that I'm sure both of us will be tweaking until the very last minute on Draft day.