The Blue Jays wrapped up their 2017 draft on Wednesday, spending the second half of day three taking a handful of older college pitchers after they picked a few high upside, tough to sign players in rounds 11-25. After the team went after mostly position players in the early rounds, they added plenty of pitchers to the system with their late selections.
As our own Gideon Turk noted in his breakdown of the earlier picks from day three, these players don’t count towards the designated pool of money for the draft unless they sign for more than $100,000. That won’t be much of a hurdle for the older college pitchers selected in these rounds but there are some younger players with college commitments who will probably be tough to sign.
Round 26, Pick #789
OF – DJ Neal – University of South Carolina-Sumter (J2)
6’3″ 201lbs DOB: 01/11/1997
Neal is a converted football player who played wide receiver for the South Carolina Gamecocks before switching to baseball at USC – Sumter. He was drafted in 2015 by the Braves but decided to enroll in college at the time.
— John Manuel (@johnmanuelba) June 14, 2017
Round 27, Pick #819
LHP – Sam Weatherly – Howell HS
6’3″ 175lbs DOB: 05/28/1999
Weatherly was ranked this draft’s 350th best prospect by Baseball America, who had this to say:
“Weatherly has had an up and down spring as he’s battled blisters at times, but scouts are pretty confident that the Clemson signee is going to develop into a solid starting pitcher. Right now Weatherly generally sits 87-89 mph, touching 90 with a curveball that’s not yet flashing above-average or plus. His changeup is a little more advanced than his breaking ball. Weatherly was expected to be a tough sign with a commitment to Clemson, but he’s extremely athletic with a loose, lithe body and a fast arm.”
Round 28, Pick #849
3B – Davis Schneider – Eastern HS
5’10″ 190lbs DOB: 01/26/1999
Baseball America named the Rutgers committee the 463rd best prospect this draft and had the following scouting report:
“Schneider raised eyebrows with an impressive showing at the 2016 WWBA World Championships, where he did damage with his righthanded bat. His pure hitting ability is by far his strongest tool; he shows the ability to hit line drives to the gaps and covers the strike zone well. Schneider’s body type doesn’t fit the prototype for a third baseman at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds.”
Here’s a video of some of Schneider’s exploits with the bat:
Round 29, Pick #879
LHP – Joe DiBenedetto – Nova Southeastern U (SR)
5’9″ 180lbs DOB: 05/25/1995
DiBenedetto attended Seton Hall for two years prior to joining Nova Southeastern, where he worked exclusively as a reliever. Since the transfer he’s been used more frequently as a starter and has racked up 58 strikeouts in 58.2 innings across 17 appearances this season. DiBenedetto made 14 appearances (one start) as a junior in 2016 when the Sharks won the D-II National Championship.
Round 30, Pick #909
C – Reilly Johnson – State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota (J2)
5’9″ 170lbs DOB: 09/26/1996
Johnson slashed .295 / .354 / .392 with one homer and 22 RBI in 181 plate appearances for the Manatees. He’s committed to Florida State University.
Round 31, Pick #939
RHP – Graham Spraker – Quincy U (SR)
6’3″ 200lbs DOB: 03/19/1995
Spraker has delivered a 2.44 ERA in 88.2 innings for the Hawks this season with an 80-30 K-BB ratio. His fastball sits around 91-92 mph but has touched 96 in the recent past. Spraker’s QU teammate David Jacob was picked by the Jays last year in the 32nd round.
Round 32, Pick #969
RHP – Jacob Condra-Bogan – Georgia Southern (5S)
6’3″ 215lbs DOB: 08/30/1994
Condra-Bogan spent four years at Wofford University (he redshirted his freshman year) before joining the Eagles. So far this season, he has compiled a 4.50 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 56.0 innings in 19 appearances, including six starts.
Round 33, Pick #999
LHP – Matthew Gunter – Hawaii Pacific (SR)
6’1″ 190lbs DOB: 02/07/1995
Gunter has posted a sterling 2.08 ERA in 86.1 innings as a starting pitcher this season. He has recorded 102 strikeouts and delivered five games of double digit K’s. Gunter ended his season by allowing just a single run in two consecutive complete games.
Round 34, Pick #1029
RHP – Maverik Buffo – BYU (JR)
6’2″ 200lbs DOB: 09/15/1995
Buffo owns a 6.01 ERA with a 73-34 K-BB ratio in 88.1 innings this season with the Cougars. Unfortunately, his sophomore season was cut short due to an arm injury. He had compiled a 3.63 ERA in 34.2 innings before going down after just 11 games in 2016. Buffo is also the proud owner of an 80 grade name and is believed to have started BYU’s rally hat phenomenon.
Round 35, Pick #1059
CF – Brandon Polizzi – Cal State Dominguez Hills (JR)
5’10″ 170lbs DOB: 03/16/1996
Polizzi led the Toros with a .381 average, starting all 49 games batting out of the leadoff spot while being named First-Team All-CCAA. He slashed .381 / .428 / .442 while picking up 14 steals for the second straight year.
Round 36, Pick #1089
RHP – Jonathan Cheshire – Davenport U (SR)
6’1″ 185lbs DOB: 11/15/1994
Cheshire has compiled 31 saves in his time with the Panthers and has pitched to a 2.60 ERA during his four seasons at DU. Baseball America ranked Cheshire as the 17th best prospect to come out of Michigan in this crop, 12 spots behind fellow Jays pick Sam Weatherly.
Round 37, Pick #1119
RHP – Justin Watts – Southern Indiana (SR)
6’3″ 215lbs DOB: 09/08/1993
Watts spent two years at Northern Kentucky University and a season at Lincoln Trail College before joining the Screaming Eagles for his senior season. It was his best to date, as the right hander delivered a 3.93 ERA with 45 strikeouts and only nine walks in 34.1 innings. He also led the team with seven saves as all but one of his 23 appearances came as a reliever.
Round 38, Pick #1149
LHP – Marcus Reyes – San Diego State (SR)
5’11″ 188lbs DOB: 03/10/1995
Reyes made 26 of his 27 appearances out of the bullpen this season, finishing the year with a 2.96 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 54.2 innings pitched. He was also named to the Mountain West All-Academic team in 2016.
Round 39, Pick #1179
RHP – Ben Fariss – Valencia HS
6’0″ 175lbs DOB: 01/08/1999
Fariss was ranked the 489th best prospect of the class by Baseball America, who had this to say:
“Fariss was a two-way star in high school with a career 1.104 OPS, but most teams prefer him as a pitcher. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound righthander sits 89-90 mph and touches 93 with his fastball, and it plays up with deception out of his low three-quarters arm slot with late armside run. He is experimenting with a firm slider and also has a get-me-over breaking ball. Fariss’ control is wildly inconsistent however, exemplified his 45 walks and 27 hit batters in 78.2 career innings. He is a good athlete so there is an expectation his control will improve in time, but his max-effort delivery still projects him as a reliever. Fariss is committed to UC Santa Barbara, where he is slated to play both ways as a corner outfielder and late-inning bullpen option.”
MLB.com has some video of Fariss taking BP, while FanGraphs has a video showcasing his work on the mound:
Round 40, Pick #1209
OF – Sean Ross – Granite Hills HS
6’0″ 190lbs DOB: 05/05/1998
Ross performed very well in his senior season for Granite Hills, batting .359 with eight homers and 19 RBI in 30 games. He also reached base at a .427 clip and boasted a 1.184 OPS. Ross has committed to San Diego State.
The 2017 MLB Draft is over, but the process isn’t done. In the coming weeks we’ll see whether or not the Jays can sign their picks and bolster and an already growing farm system.