History suggests talent will be available to Blue Jays with picks 22, 28

The Astros selected Craig Biggio with the 22nd overall pick of the 1987 draft. Two decades later, he collected his 3,000th hit as a member of the Astros (Fred Jewell/AP)

When the MLB draft begins next Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays will be one of just three teams selecting twice in the first round.

Because Edwin Encarnacion signed with Cleveland last off-season, the Blue Jays obtain a compensation pick this year, as well as an expanded draft budget. They join the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs as clubs with multiple top selections.

Impact talent will undoubtedly be available when the Blue Jays pick 22nd and 28th overall. Here’s a closer look at the successes and failures of teams picking in those spots over the years.

Best 22nd overall picks in MLB history

Rafael Palmeiro, 1985 Cubs

With 569 career home runs, 3,020 hits and four all-star selections, Palmeiro’s arguably the most successful 22nd pick of all-time. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they weren’t the ones to benefit from most of his production.

Craig Biggio, 1987 Astros

Two decades after Houston selected Biggio in the first round, he collected his 3,000th hit in an Astros uniform. The catcher-turned-second baseman made seven all-star teams and won four Gold Gloves on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Chet Lemon, 1972 Athletics

The Athletics drafted Lemon, only to trade him and see him emerge as a big-league difference-maker with the White Sox and Tigers. The three-time all-star was a member of the 1984 Tigers team that won it all.

Other Notable Picks at 22
• The Red Sox selected all-star lefty Brust Hurst 22nd overall in 1976.
• The Expos drafted Terry Francona 22nd in 1980.
• The Orioles landed Jayson Werth with this pick in 1997.

Blue Jays’ 22nd overall picks

The Blue Jays have had the 22nd overall pick twice before, and each time it has paid some dividends. They selected Steve Karsay in 1990 before trading him to Oakland for Rickey Henderson midway through the 1993 season. Henderson wasn’t at his best in Toronto, but this pick still allowed the Blue Jays to acquire a Hall of Famer during a World Series year.

Marcus Stroman, the 22nd overall pick in 2012, looks like a savvy selection with a 3.25 ERA in four seasons at the MLB level.

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

Best 28th overall picks in MLB history

Lee Smith, 1975 Cubs

Smith ranks third all-time with 478 saves after an 18-year MLB career that included seven all-star berths. He pitched in 1,022 career games for eight different teams, posting a 3.03 ERA.

Charles Johnson, 1992 Marlins

Before the Marlins even played their first game they made Johnson a highly-touted first-round pick. He’d live up to the hype, making two all-star teams, winning four Gold Gloves and playing on the 1997 Marlins team that won the World Series.

Colby Rasmus, 2005 Cardinals

While some might suggest Rasmus hasn’t lived up to his potential, he’s the third-best player ever selected 28th overall if you go by his 19 career wins above replacement. Now 30, Rasmus has an .864 OPS as a member of the Rays.

Other Notable Picks at 28
• The Twins selected Ben Revere with this pick in 2007.
• The Yankees chose Gerrit Cole 28th in 2008, but he went to college at UCLA instead.
• The Braves selected well-regarded Canadian pitching prospect Mike Soroka 28th in 2015.

Blue Jays’ 28th overall picks

The Blue Jays’ most successful pick from the 28th spot was Kevin Witt, a 1994 selection who played in all of 20 career games with Toronto. Witt’s competition, Tim Thompson (1978) and Ken Kinnard (1980) never played at MLB level, setting the bar low for everyone else.

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