Blue Jays take outfielder D.J. Davis with 1st draft pick
Toronto also selected Duke University reliever Marcus Stroman with the 22nd pick
The Toronto Blue Jays opted for speed with their first pick in the 2012 baseball draft Monday, using the 17th overall selection to take outfielder D.J. Davis.
The 18-year-old high schooler out of Wiggins, Miss., was considered by many experts to be the fastest player available and a potential future leadoff hitter.
"One of the goals is to get more athletic or continue to add athletes to the system, athletes with upside," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Andrew Tinnish said on a conference call Monday night. "He's got a chance to hit at the top of the lineup and play in the middle of the field and those are the things that attracted us to him."
Tinnish says the six-foot-one, 180-pound Davis also has excellent range in the outfield and is stronger than his frame would suggest.
"He has more strength than you'd think. The first time I really noticed that was actually when I shook his hand," Tinnish said. "His hands are very big and very strong and I think that's a very good indicator for raw bat speed and power.
"I think you'd be surprised when you see him take some swings how far he can hit the ball at this stage."
Apart from the left-handed hitting Davis, the Jays also had the 22nd pick in the first round and selected Duke University reliever Marcus Stroman.
The 21-year-old right-hander from Medford, N.Y., has drawn comparisons to former major league reliever Tom Gordon.
"Marcus Stroman is one of the best competitors in the draft. He's extremely athletic," Tinnish said. "He's got great makeup and his stuff is very good. He [pitches] anywhere from 91 to 98 [miles per hour]."
Standing 5-9 and weighing 185 pounds, Stroman is smaller than the pitching prospects Toronto has gone after in recent drafts.
But Tinnish says a combination of factors attracted his scouting team to the reliever.
"There are more examples of pitchers who are 6-3 or 6-4 pitching in the big leagues," Tinnish said. "But when we lined him up with the other pitchers that were available, whether they were five foot 10 or six foot six, (Stroman) had the best combination of what we were looking for."
The Blue Jays had three more picks later Monday and chose a trio of high school prospects. The club took six-foot-eight, 220-pound left-hander Matt Smoral with the 50th pick, third baseman Mitch Nay at No. 58 and right-hander Tyler Gonzalez at No. 60.