Profiling the Blue Jays’ First Two Picks: D.J. Davis and Marcus Stroman

DJ Davis

With the 17th pick of the 2012 Amateur Draft, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Stone County High School centrefielder DJ Davis.  The selection of Davis is representative of the Blue Jays draft philosophy:  draft the best player available and not for positional need.  With centrefield prospects Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick ahead of him, it’s clear that the Blue Jays are focused on asset acquisition and not succession planning.  Davis may have the highest ceiling of any player in the draft, yet he also comes with the most risk.  While Davis’ bat is very raw, this left-handed hitter’s best tool is his speed.  Scouts all agree that he currently has an 80 grade speed on the 20-80 scouting scale.

Blue Jays take D.J. Davis. Absolutely CRAZY speed, and he’s not just a slap hitter.

— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) June 5, 2012


Just a tick below. RT @CKFreshness: @Kevin_Goldstein Billy Hamilton speed?

— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) June 5, 2012

For those who don’t know, Billy Hamilton has once-in-a-generation speed on the bathpaths.  He’s a shortstop prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization who has 62 steals this season in only 53 games played!

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Davis’s speed serves him well in the outfield as he has plus-plus range, however, he has a below average arm.  That limits him to centrefield; his defense won’t play in a corner spot with a limp-noodle arm.  While Davis’ speed isn’t an issue, it is his bat that is uncertain:

“(There are) big questions about how prepared he is to hit pro pitching with a wood bat. Davis has a noisy lower half and doesn’t get any loft in his swing, throwing his hands and wrists at the ball and whipping the bat through the zone, an approach that might lead to contact but won’t lead to power.”

“Davis is a great upside play but will likely require a lot of patience as well as some work to calm down his swing.” –

Should Davis be able to put it all together, the Blue Jays outfield of the future could be absolutely electric. A track team Anthony Gose, Jake Marisnick and D.J. Davis patrolling the SkyDome outfield would steal many would-be gap hits.

Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman is being called by many as the “steal of the draft”.  Overlooked by most because of his size (5’8″, 185lbs.), Stroman was actually ranked higher on most pre-draft rankings than D.J. Davis. In fact, Jim Callis of Baseball America called Stroman the “best arm in the draft.”

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Marcus Stroman is a right-handed starting pitcher who features a 95mph fastball (it can touch 97), a wipeout slider described as “vicious,” a changeup and a show-me cutter. The most common comparison bandied about is Tom Gordon, a similarly diminutive pitcher, although a reliever.  And that seems to be the consensus : because of Stroman’s size, scouts generally believe that Stroman profiles as more of a reliever than a starting pitcher.  However, Stroman has proven that he can hold his velocity deep into games and he has the makings of at least two plus pitches – key ingredients for a successful starting pitcher in pro ball.  In fact, he struck out 17 of the 25 hitters he faced in only seven innings in a game this year.

I’ve said it all spring — I would give Stroman the chance to start in pro ball and prove that he can’t do it rather than simply assuming he’ll fail because of a lack of size. Some team will draft him and have him in a big league bullpen before the end of the season. – Keith Law

Therein lies the rub.  Stroman has such an electric arm that he could be an effective bullpen piece this season should be be converted to a reliever.  We all know that Toronto’s bullpen has proven to be shaky at best that season, so the temptation to rush Stroman through the system is palpable.  Will Toronto do it?  Based on Alex Anthopoulos’ track record and long-term view of building a consistently competitive franchise, I’d say it’s highly unlikely – even if Jays fans are clamouring for the next “closer of the future.”

While the draft is notorious for being a crapshoot, one thing is certain:  we know that both these draft picks already look good in blue.

Images courtesy of Perfect Game, Clarion Ledger,  Duke University Baseball, Pinetar Press and

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