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Blue Jays Scouting Director Weighs in on MLB Draft

August 10th, 2017 at 4:05 PM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

Riley Adams/milb.com photo

    Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting Steve Sanders moved to Toronto last fall after being named to the job following six years with the Red Sox, but with the duties that come with running the department charged with selecting players in the annual June draft, he admits that he hasn’t seen a lot of the city just yet.

    We caught up with Sanders in Chicago, where he was waiting on a flight to Tampa.  The Under Armour Showcase, an annual gathering of the top draft-eligible high school players that takes place at Wrigley Field, had just wrapped up.  The East Coast Pro Showcase was on tap next for Florida, followed by the Area Code Games in California the week after.

   The Blue Jays’ drafting philosophy had undergone a change under the leadership of President Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins from the days of Alex Anthopolous, which was evident last year.  Up to 2015, the Blue Jays had been willing to roll the dice on draft day, selecting players with high upside, but often with accompanying high risk.  The high school pitcher, perhaps the riskiest commodity in the market, was the Blue Jays preference, as well as athletes in non-traditional baseball places.  In 2016, the club went with a more conservative approach, selecting college players with five of their first six picks, which may have been an effort to re-stock the system in response to the prospect dealing Anthopoulos did in his final year at the Blue Jays helm.

  Approaching the draft, the goal for Blue Jays scouts, says Sanders, is “a complete understanding of the player on and off the field….his strengths, weaknesses, and make-up.”  Players are evaluated not just for their tools, but for their aptitutde, and coachability, and as Sanders says, “how their values align with our organization’s.”

   Working with the Blue Jays High Performance Department on evaluating players, Sanders says the club is always, “working to find new ways to gather and evaluate information more efficiently.” For obvious reasons, he wouldn’t divulge what some of the team’s methods were, but it was well known that the Red Sox, his former employer, used neuroscience to help evaluate potential draftees.   Angus Mugford, who heads up the High Performance group, said just before the draft that his role was to create “a good physical and mental fundamental makeup of as many players as possible,” with the mental component being a huge factor.  Make up has become a huge focus of the Blue Jays’ evaluaton of prospects – Director of Player Development Gil Kim calls it “the sixth tool.”  With talent levels being so even across a wide spectrum of players, it’s often traits like grit and resilience that separate the prospects from the suspects. Sanders added that the Blue Jays’ Area Scouts take …

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Tags: Colton Laws, Hagen Danner, Kevin Smith, Logan Warmoth, Mark Shapiro, Nate Pearson, Riley Adams, Steve Sanders

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