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Jays add depth on third day of Draft

Jays add depth on third day of Draft

TORONTO -- The common misconception surrounding Major League Baseball's First Year Player Draft is that after the first few rounds or so, the talent pool becomes a total crapshoot.

This, however, is simply not the case.

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In fact, current Blue Jays top prospect Brett Wallace -- hitting .276 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in 58 games in Triple-A -- was drafted out of high school by the Jays in the 42nd round of the 2005 First Year Player Draft.

What eventually happened, as is the case with many high school prospects drafted in the later rounds, is that Wallace opted to attend college (Arizona State University). After three years playing collegiate baseball, Wallace was once again drafted in 2008, this time 13th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals. The young first baseman received a signing bonus of $1,840,000 from the Cardinals, eventually being dealt to the Blue Jays this offseason.

Many of the high school players drafted in the rounds between 30-50 already have signed letters of intent to attend colleges or universities -- most with full or partial scholarships. Therefore, it makes sense for some of these kids to attend school and take the chance of being drafted again -- higher in some cases -- in three years time. Though, like anything in life, there are no guarantees.

Just like the players being selected, Day 3 also becomes a balancing act for Major League scouts -- managing risk and reward. Scouts will often gamble on a high school talent, hoping that the quick road to professional baseball will be enough to convince them to join the organization. On the flip side, scouts also need to ensure that their Minor League rosters are full, and will select many college seniors due to the ease of signability. Despite their lack of leverage, it is easily within the realm of possibility that one of these late drafted college players could wind up on a big league roster -- Jays reliever Jason Frasor was selected in the 33rd round after four seasons with Southern IIlinois University.

"I think when you get to a later part of a Draft you're really drafting for a couple of reasons," Blue Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon.

"One, certainly player development has needs. We have two short-season clubs that are going to start up in the next couple of weeks and we need to fill those rosters, and at the same time, there are some prospects that are still on the board that maybe we would like to follow throughout the summer."

General manager Alex Anthopoulos, along with Tinnish and the rest of his revamped scouting team, continued their emphasis on pitching first, selecting 11 pitchers between their 31st and 50th picks -- 10 right-handers and one southpaw. Additionally, most of the pitchers the Blue Jays selected would be considered bigger, or more athletic than average. The Blue Jays' ratio of selecting pitchers to position players between Day 1 and Day 2 was 21:9.

"I think one of the things that we focus on, especially [with] pitching, is the ability to start, and how much we value it," Tinnish said. "And I think over the course of a 162-game Major League season, when a starter gets 28-35 starts, you need to be a pretty physical, or certainly athletic to withstand the grind or wear-and-tear of that type of season."

The Jays also took a balanced approach, taking a mixture of raw high school talent (35) and more polished collegiate players (21). With the Blue Jays having deeper pockets than usual in 2010, Tinnish believes they have a realistic shot at signing all their selections.

"I think they're all signable," Tinnish said. "As far as who's a tough sign and who's an easy sign, we'll find that out in the coming days, weeks and possibly even months. But at this point, every player that we selected we feel is signable, and we're going to work hard to try and sign as many guys as we can -- that process starts now."

James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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