Seniors week at Jays draft table

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:06 PM ET

TORONTO - The way one evaluator described the Blue Jays’ approach in this week’s draft:

“I’m not a fantasy draft expert,” he said. “But if you compare the Jays draft to a fantasy draft, it was like the Jays went with the best talent available, then took some flyers on guys who might or might not sign and then got to the fourth round they went seven NCAA seniors in a row.

“That would be like having a baseball draft at the end of spring and selecting some studs like Jose Bautista, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, then some guys coming off — you don’t know when they’ll be back — and then picking bench guys Miguel Cairo, John McDonald, Dewayne Wise, Jayson Nix, Darnell McDonald, Scott Podsednik and Eric Hinske.”

And so it went for Year 1 of the draft under the new Basic Agreement.

“No one is going to know until July 13 how many picks Toronto signs and whether monies from senior picks are left over — but it’s will be fun to watch.”

The Jays’ seven seniors were more than any other club. The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees Texas Rangers were next best with five apiece.

Teams were given set amounts for the pick in the first 10 rounds. Sign the player below the suggested slot and money can be spent on another. Don’t sign the player and the money is lost.

The Houston Astros signed No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa for a bonus of $4.8 million, far under the allowed $7.2 million for the pick.

The Astros can now spend it on another player. Correa is happy or he wouldn’t have signed. The club is happy.

Why the rush on seniors?

Well, they are basically cheaper with little leverage.

One year, Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden made an offer of $2,000 to a senior. The scout thought the player should get more. According to the scout, Bowden replied: “Tell him to take it or go serve breakfast at Denny’s.”

THE AWARD GOES TO ...

The annual Jim Ridley Award, our scout-of-the-year honour, has basically gone to area scouts.

How can we possibly overlook Andrew Tinnish this June?

Tinnish took over as scouting director of the Blue Jays for the 2010 draft and the performance of draftees from that June makes him the winner of our 19th annual honour.

As scouting director, Tinnish selected three high school pitchers — Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino — in his first seven picks.

The trio — signed for a total of $1.99 million in signing bonuses — are a combined 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA at class-A Lansing with a staggering total of 38 walks and 135 strikeouts in 1232/3 innings.

Sanchez, 19, of Barstow, Calif. (drafted 34th overall) is a 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA, Syndergaard, 19, (38th) from Mansfield, Tex., is 3-2, 4.62 and Nicolino, 20, (80th) is 2-0, 1.47.

“Obviously those three stand out,” said Tinnish.

“They weren’t consensus industry guys, but our scouts really liked them.”

An Ottawa native, Tinnish was a star with the Brock University Badgers.

“I’m partial to Canadian guys,” said Tinnish.

“Marcus Knecht stands out as well. I’ve known him since he was 11 years old.”

North York’s Knecht was a third-round pick in 2010 and is at class-A Dunedin.

The award began in 1994 and was re-named after Ridley, the late Jays and Minnesota Twins scout in 2009 after his death.

“I spent time with Rids,” said Tinnish of his early Jays days in 2000.

“He was a solid scout who had a ton of passion. He was relentless and didn’t want to get beat. I remember being a bird dog, Rids had a meeting with all the Ontario bird dogs. By the end of it we had every tournament covered.

“He took it very seriously.”

JIM RIDLEY HONOUR ROLL

Previous scout-of-the-year winners:

YEAR WINNER HOMETOWN TEAM

1994, Bill Scherrer, Buffalo Marlins

1995, Bill MacKenzie, Ottawa Rockies

1996, Tim Harkness, Hampton, Ont. Padres

1997, Ed Heather, Cambridge Blue Jays

1998, Wayne Norton, Port Moody, B.C. Orioles

1999, Walt Jefferies, Paris, Ont. Blue Jays

2000, Claude Pelletier, Ste-Lezare, Que. Mets

2001, Jim Kane, Brampton, Braves

2002, Ken Lenihan Bedford, N.S. MLB

2003, Dick Groch, St. Clair, Mich. Brewers

2004, Jim Ridley, Burlington Twins

2005, Walt Burrows, Brentwood Bay, B.C. MLB

2006, Alex Agostino, Montreal Phillies

2007, Howie Norsetter, Sydney, Australia Twins

2008, Greg Hamilton, Ottawa Baseball Canada

2009, Jim Ridley, Burlington Twins

2010, Jay Lapp, London Brewers

2011, Doug Mathieson, Langley, B.C. Twins


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