SEACAUCUS, N.J. — The Toronto Blue Jays pegged Jordan Groshans as a player of interest long before this year’s MLB draft.
The team made their interest official Monday night, selecting the high school shortstop with the 12th overall pick.
"It’s a process that takes place over a long period of time," Toronto’s scouting director, Steve Sanders, said on a conference call following the selection.
"We knew early on that Jordan was somebody that we were going to be interested in dating back as far as last summer and even a little bit before that, and he’s somebody we’ve watched closely. As that timeline evolves we’ve had a lot of guys on our staff not only go see him play but spend time with him off the field, getting to know him.
"It’s a long process but one that was certainly very thorough."
Later Monday, Mississauga, Ont., native Noah Naylor became the first Canadian selected in the draft, going 29th overall to the Cleveland Indians. And the Blue Jays selected Duke outfielder Griffin Conine, son of former major leaguer Jeff Conine, with their second-round pick, 52nd overall.
Naylor, an 18-year-old catcher/third baseman with Canada’s junior team and the Ontario Blue Jays, is the younger brother of San Diego Padres prospect Josh Naylor, a first baseman who was drafted 12th overall by Miami in 2015.
The 20-year-old Josh, who’s currently in double-A, was also the first Canadian to be chosen in his draft year.
Noah, a five-foot-11, 190-pound left-handed hitter, was selected out of Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School and is committed to Texas A&M. The signing bonus slot value for the 29th overall pick is US$2.3 million.
He is was the first catcher selected in the first round by the Indians since 1976.
Toronto chose a shortstop in the first round of the draft for a second straight year after picking Logan Warmoth 22nd overall out of the University of North Carolina in 2017.
The 18-year-old Groshans, who was ranked 31st on MLB Pipeline’s top 200 list heading into the first round, also played third base for Magnolia High School in Magnolia, Tex.
Sanders said he feels confident in Groshans’ abilities at shortstop, but that doesn’t mean his position is set in stone. The Blue Jays have a surplus of prospect talent at short, headlined by Bo Bichette, who’s currently in double-A. Warmoth is in high-A.
"Jordan is a shortstop and we certainly plan to give him opportunities to play there," Sanders said. "He’s certainly capable and has the skills to go out and play short. … We’ve seen him play some third base over the summer. Like a lot of guys, that’s probably something that will be played out overtime.
"We’re certainly excited right now to add another impactful high school shortstop to the system."
Groshans’ size — he’s a six-foot-four, 180-pound right-handed hitter — was also something that enticed the Blue Jays.
Sanders anticipates that Groshans will add muscle to his frame over the next few years, which he expects will help him develop offensively.
"Guys’ bodies grow and mature at different rates," Sanders said. "Jordan’s a big kid, certainly for a shortstop, but for being a bigger guy he moves really well. He’s got great body control and I think we’re confident that as an 18-year-old he’s going to add strength and continue to grow as he matures."
"We’ve seen a lot of Jordan as a hitter, not just this spring with his high school season but also dating back to last summer where we got to see him hit with a wood bat against some of the better competition in the country," Sanders added. "We just feel Jordan has a lot of the attributes we look for both in his swing and his combination of contact, power, plate discipline. He’s got a great feel and approach in the box, he’s able to drive the ball to all fields. We’re confident that his offensive ability will translate with wood to the next level."
Groshans is committed to the University of Kansas, where his brother Jaxx plays as a catcher. With a hefty slot value assigned to the 12th overall spot — Toronto can offer him up to $4.2 million –Sanders said the Blue Jays feel confident they can work out a deal.
Duane Ward was the Blue Jays’ representative on the draft floor and announced Conine as Toronto’s second-round pick. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the first-round selections.
Conine batted .273 with a team-high 15 homers and 49 RBI’s through 58 games with Duke this season. He also had 39 walks and 70 strikeouts.