Jays plan to be aggressive with early picks

The Toronto Blue Jays will make seven of the first 78 selections in this week's annual draft of high schoolers and collegians, second only to division rival Tampa Bay.

You can bet the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays will dominate the early rounds of this year's annual draft of high schoolers and collegians.

Well, at least when it comes to the number of selections.

The Rays will announce a major league-record 12 names in the first two rounds in Secaucus. N.J. The 50-round, three-day draft will wrap up Wednesday.

Toronto will make seven of the first 78 selections — second only to Tampa Bay.

In Monday night's first round, the Blue Jays selected right-handed high school pitcher Tyler Beede with the 21st pick. Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos took righty Deck McGuire in the 2010 draft with the 11th overall selection and used six of the team's first eight selections on pitchers. In 2009, Toronto nabbed righ-hander Chad Jenkins at No. 20.

Anthopoulos favours high-ceiling, middle infield talent, having doled out a $4 million US signing bonus to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in 2010 and $1.5 million for fifth-round pick Dickie Joe Thon.

"I think Alex's goal is to build a sustainable winner, and it's not about getting a guy that moves quickly or necessarily that super high-ceiling guy," Blue Jays director of scouting Andrew Tinnish told mlb.com. "It's about that best available player."

Intriguing prospect

In his pre-draft blog, CBCSports.ca blogger Kevin Glew writes that Anthopoulos has yet to uncover a second baseman that could replace Aaron Hill, whose contract status at the end of this season remains up in the air. However, the GM passed on Kolten Wong, the top-ranked keystone sacker in the draft, who went 22nd overall to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The five-foot-nine University of Hawaii product is an on-base machine that laces line drives all over the field. His .341 batting average in the pitching dominant Cape Cod League last summer opened the eyes of scouts.

Toronto made four supplemental first-round picks — first baseman Jacob Anderson out of Chino, Calif., at No. 35, right-hander Joe Musgrove of El Cajon, Calif., at No. 46, outfielder Dwight Smith Jr., of Peachtree City, Ga., at No. 53 and right-hander Kevin Comer of Tabernacle, N.J. at No. 57. All are high school players and were the Jays' compensation picks after relief pitchers Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs and catchers Miguel Olivo and John Buck departed as free agents.

"I think we're in a position to be competitive and go after players we want to get," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Andrew Tinnish told mlb.com.

"When Alex [Anthopoulos] gave me the job, he told me to go out and be aggressive. That's kind of the philosophy that I [took] into my coverage last year and also this year."