Toronto targets youth in compensation round
Blue Jays draft two pitchers, third baseman to cap off Day 1
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays completed their first day at the Draft by taking three high schoolers -- including two pitchers -- in the compensation round on Monday night.
Toronto's first pick in the compensatory section went to left-hander Matthew Smoral at No. 50 overall. Third baseman Mitch Nay was then selected at No. 58 and was quickly followed by right-hander Tyler Gonzales at No. 60.
The most intriguing of the three is Smoral, who was projected to go relatively early in the first round until a stress fracture in his right foot ended his season in April. He reportedly has the ability to throw in the low 90s with an impressive sinking changeup.
"He's poised on the mound and goes right after hitters, but he will have to improve that breaking ball if he wants to be a starter at the next level," MLB.com columnist Jonathan Mayo wrote in his scouting report. "If he can sharpen that slider, he does have the other tools to pitch in that role. The team that takes him will be banking on his very high ceiling, though not being seen for the rest of the spring is sure to hurt his stock."
Last season as a junior at Solon High School in Ohio, Smoral went 4-1 with an ERA under 2.00. The 18-year-old also participated in the Perfect Game All-American Classic and was named to the All-Sun East Spring team. He has a commitment to play at the University of North Carolina next season and could be considered a tough pitcher to sign.
Nay, who has a commitment to play at Arizona State University, hit .495 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs with a 1.071 slugging percentage last season for Hamilton High School in Arizona. He took part in the 2011 Area Code Games and was named an ESPNHS All-American.
Gonzales has the ability to throw in the mid-90s, with a slider that has potential but still needs to be refined. The same could be said for his overall command on the mound, and he also could be considered a tough sign because of his commitment to the University of Texas.
"Gonzales is more thrower than pitcher, but guys who can throw as hard as he can will always generate interest," Mayo wrote.
"Also a shortstop who could potentially play and pitch at the University of Texas, most think he should pitch as a professional. That might be because he has a potentially plus fastball, one he's cranked up to 96 mph in the past."
The Blue Jays received the three picks as compensation following the departures of Jose Molina, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco via free agency during the offseason.