Jays sign first-round picks Hoffman, Pentecost

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos talks about the signings of their 2014 first round picks in SP Jeff Hoffman and Catcher Max Pentecost, and what’s next for the young prospects.

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays still have some draft pool money to play with, provided they are willing to pay a tax on their overage, after signing first-round draft picks Jeff Hoffman and Max Pentecost to their full slot value allotments Wednesday.

Pentecost, the catcher chosen at No. 11, settled for $2,888,300 while Hoffman, the hard-throwing right-hander selected at No. 9 who recently underwent Tommy John surgery, received $3,080,800.

There had been speculation the Blue Jays might get a deeper discount on Hoffman because of the injury, but his drop down the draft chart already provided that, general manager Alex Anthopoulos explained.

“I could say that we tried (to go under slot),” he said. “We’re trying to do the best for the club, they’re trying do the best for themselves and their clients. At the same time you’re also trying to be fair, I’m not trying to sound naïve but there is a part of that, and with a guy like Hoffman, it was pretty apparent and obvious to everyone that he probably would have gone we felt pretty strongly in the top four picks.

“You look at what the slot money would have been there ($4.6-$7.9 million), and he slid to our pick because of what happened, we felt the actual discount was built in at that point because of what he could have gotten.”

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays also reached agreements with right-hander Juan Meza and shortstop Kevin Vicuna as the international free agency period opened Wednesday, sources confirmed to Sportsnet. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweeted that Meza’s deal was worth $1.6 million. The Blue Jays have $2.85 million in international spending room.

Meanwhile, the agreements with Hoffman and Pentecost mean the Blue Jays have now spent $9,194,700 of their $9,458,500 allotment for picks from the first 10 rounds, although they will lose $192,400 in pool space if they fail to sign seventh-rounder Zach Zehner.

Until that plays out, they have $71,400 in unused pool spending and they can exceed their total allotment by up to five percent without sacrificing a draft pick, provided the Blue Jays are willing to pay a 75 percent tax on any overage.

That gives them just under $473,000 more, and combined with the $100,000 limit on picks after the 10th round, they have roughly $640,000 to offer some of the high-schoolers selected in 11th-round or later.

“We’ll certainly take a shot at them,” Anthopoulos said.

Prime candidates on that front, according to one industry source, are left-hander Jake Latz, taken in the 11th round, Canadian right-hander Zach Pop, a 23rd-rounder, and a pair of catchers, Mike Papierski (16th round) and Drew Lugbauer (21st round).

The signing deadline is July 18.

Pentecost, who led Kennesaw State to an NCAA Super Regional appearance, is getting into game shape right now in Dunedin, Fla., and once his passport is ready, he’s expected to join the short-season A Vancouver Canadians.

The Blue Jays are hopeful he can move up the ladder quickly and have him tentatively slated to finish the year at double-A New Hampshire.

Hoffman, who struck out 72 batters in 67.1 innings for East Carolina before his May 14 surgery, will continue his throwing program in Dunedin but won’t see any real action until he’s 12 months post-op, per Blue Jays policy.

“I don’t see that changing,” Anthopoulos said. “We came up with that when we had B.J. Ryan here, he came back at 10 or 11 months and he ended up having a setback after. We just decided to adjust and delay things a little bit.”

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