Jays have to wait until No. 20

BOB ELLIOTT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

For the first time in their 33-year history the Blue Jays have the 20th over-all pick in the amateur draft.

The three-day, talent re-stocking of 30 franchises which begins with the first three rounds televised by the Major League Network, beginning at 6 p.m. Former Cy Young award winner Pat Hentgen represents the Jays in Secaucus, N.J.

After the round 1, the draft switches to conference call, resumes with round four Wednesday and the process continues Thursday until the 50th and final round.

The closest the Jays came to having the 20th pick over-all in North America was when they chose shortstop Eddie Zosky of Fresno State 19th over all in 1989 and when they selected lefty John Cerutti of Amherst College 21st over-all in 1981.

They will be looking for someone more like Cerutti, who won 49 games and pitched 229 games in the majors, than Zosky, an earlier, worse version of Russ Adams as a first rounder. The Jays thought Zosky would be their every day shortstop. He played 44 games in the majors, making eight starts.

Lefty James Paxton, of Ladner, B.C. from the University of Kentucky will be the first Canadian chosen. He could go late in the first round, perhaps to the New York Yankees, who won’t be startled by the fact Scott Boras is his advisor.

Newmarket lefty Jake Eliopoulos of the Brantford Red Sox and the Canadian National Junior team will be the top high school player selected.

This draft Jays scouting director Jon Lalonde says he is “looking for the best player available.” Some clubs have a college arm or high school position player as a mandate.

The Jays have exploded all areas leading to the draft watching:

College pitchers -- right-handers Drew Storen, Stanford; Chad Jenkins, Kennesaw State, Kyle Heckathorn, Kennesaw; left-handers Andrew Oliver, Oklahoma State and Paxton, who Lalonde has seen pitch.

College position players: outfielder A.J. Pollock, Notre Dame, catcher Tony Sanchez, Boston College and Tim Wheeler, Sacramento State.

High school pitchers: lefty Chad James of Yukon, Oak., who is looking for a $1.75 Million US signing bonus.

High school position player: outfielder Everett Williams, Austin, Tx.

That’s a lot of names, but picking 20th -- long after San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg and his 103 m.p.h. fastball go to the Washington Nationals first over all, is new territory and Lalonde was playing phone tag trying to figure out who was going where Monday afternoon.

It could unfold that the answer is Pollock of Hebron, Conn. He was dominant in the Cape Cod League, hitting .377 in 2008 and won the MVP award. He hit .365 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs this spring at Notre Dame, leading the Fighting Irish with 69 runs scored and stole 21 bases.

Assistant GM Tony LaCava, national cross checkers Mike Mangan, Bob Fontaine and Tommy Tanous, along with scouting advisor Smoke Laval, former LSU and Nicholls State coach and Canadian director of scouting Kevin Briand, have been huddling with Lalonde.

They have been meeting on the 300 level in the Jays draft war room, the Founder’s Club arranging and re-arranging the draft board.

Guelph outfielder Josh Garton of Volunteer State College, outfielder Adam Nelubowich, of Stony Plain, Alta. and the Vauxhall Academy, his Vauxhall teammate righty Steven Inch of Edmonton, Kitchener lefty Mitch Clarke of the Intercounty Terriers and Parksville Royals righty Paul Barton of Qualicum Beach, B.C. are expected to be selected on Wednesday.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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