© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/07/11 1:10 AM ET

Blue Jays take hard-throwing Beede at No. 21

KANSAS CITY -- The Blue Jays decided to take a calculated risk with their first pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

The club opted to select right-hander Tyler Beede with the No. 21 overall pick on Monday even though the 18-year-old has committed to play at Vanderbilt University next year.

The Blue Jays are well aware of Beede's current situation but decided to stick with their approach of selecting the best available talent.

"We lined up our board based on ability," director of amateur scouting Andrew Tinnish said. "When it came our turn to pick at 21, he was the first name on the board. That was our plan all along, to take the players who are there based on their ability.

"As far as him committed to Vanderbilt, I think he is pretty excited about the opportunity of playing professional baseball. Only time will tell if we sign him, but we feel pretty confident."

Beede is a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder from Auburn, Mass. His fastball ranges from 86-93 mph and he possesses an above-average curveball and changeup.

"I've seen it change from last summer to now," Tinnish said of Beede's curve. "Last summer he was more of a three-quarter-slot guy, and when we came and saw him in the spring, he raised his slot to high three-quarter, a more traditional curveball slot.

"Certainly it still needs some work, but he has good rotation and depth, can throw it for strikes. ... I think, down the road, it has a chance to be a real good pitch for him."

Tinnish saw Beede pitch six times, while general manager Alex Anthopoulos also watched him in person. Tinnish estimated that someone from the organization was in attendance for all but one of his starts this season.

Toronto has until Aug. 15 to sign Beede to a contract. If the sides are unable to agree to terms, then the Blue Jays will be granted the No. 21 pick in next year's Draft.

Minnesota was faced with a similar situation last year with the 21st overall pick, but the team convinced Alex Wimmers to sign for $1.332 million instead of attending Ohio State.

During a conference call with reporters on Monday night, Tinnish remained non-committal but did sound confident the Blue Jays will be able to work out a deal.

"The commitment to Vanderbilt -- certainly it's a quality institution, it's a quality program -- but I know what this kid's dreams and goals are," Tinnish said, "and that's to pitch in the big leagues.

"I feel like this is the best route for him is to sign with us and get his pro career started and I believe he feels the same way. We need to work through those details over the coming days and weeks."

Beede is the son of former professional baseball player Walter Beede, who was selected in the 13th round of the 1981 Draft. Walter reportedly provided his son with the type of elite coaching that taught him how to throw a curveball by the time he was 13.

The big right-hander led his high school team in Auburn, Mass., to a state championship in 2009. He then transferred to the more competitive Lawrence Academy, where he went 14-1 with a 0.80 ERA while striking out 189 in 96 1/3 innings over two seasons.

Beede is the first high school player from Massachusetts to be drafted in the first five rounds since Florida took Jeff Allison in the first round in 2003. That's one indication the area isn't exactly known for producing a lot of elite high school players.

Tinnish acknowledged Beede's local competition wasn't as strong as players from other locations but also added that the young pitcher made the circuits during the summer playing in national tournaments.

"He dominates his competition, and certainly his competition isn't the same as what we would have seen Aaron Sanchez or Noah Syndergaard face last year," Tinnish said. "But I think you're really looking beyond the competition.

"You're looking at command, you're looking at quality strikes, you're looking at the quality of the secondary stuff. You really need to base it on that."

The pick continues a trend for Anthopoulos' scouting department to target big starting pitchers. Last year, the Blue Jays used their first round pick on 6-foot-6 right-hander Deck McGuire.

In total, Toronto used six of its first eight picks in the 2010 Draft on pitchers. All of those hurlers were at least 6-foot-3, as the club appeared to put an emphasis on athleticism and durability.

Tinnish used three of his five picks on Monday night to take right-handed pitchers listed at 6-foot-3 or higher. Joe Musgrove (46th overall pick) is a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder who played for Grossmont High School in California, and Kevin Comer (57th overall pick) is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound starting pitcher from Seneca High School in New Jersey.

Rounding out Day 1 of the Draft, the Blue Jays snagged high school outfielders Jacob Anderson and Dwight Smith Jr. with picks 35 and 53, respectively.

Toronto's 21st overall selection was their third in franchise history. In 2007, the Blue Jays selected catcher J.P. Arencibia. The native of Miami spent four years in the Minor Leagues before becoming Toronto's starting catcher this season.

The Blue Jays also had the 21st selection in 1981 and used the pick on left-hander John Cerutti. Other notable selections in recent memory across the Major Leagues at No. 21 include Jason Varitek, Jake Westbrook and Boof Bonser.

Toronto has a total of seven selections in the first 78 picks of the Draft, second only to Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays received the five extra picks as compensation for losing free agents Scott Downs, Kevin Gregg, John Buck and Miguel Olivo during the offseason.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player.

You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.