TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays and first-round pick Jon Harris are believed to be nearing agreement on a deal that will pay the Missouri State right-hander the No. 29 spot’s assigned value of $1,944,800, according to multiple industry sources.
The settlement of terms may very well be followed by the signings of other players chosen in the first 10 rounds of the draft by amateur scouting director Brian Parker, who has a signing bonus pool of only $5,411,000 to work with.
That made signability an important factor for the Blue Jays, and limited their ability to try and manoeuvre around the spending limits the way they have in past years. Before the draft started, Parker said in an interview that with the seventh-smallest pool, "you really need to bear down and make sure you’re getting the right player – but you’re also getting him at the right price."
After selecting Harris, Parker said, "we’re comfortable with where everything is with him and his advisers."
Harris was projected by some as a top-10 pick and the Blue Jays were thrilled that he slid to them. He sounded eager and ready to get going during a conference call with media Monday night, saying, "Toronto’s going to be a great fit for me, it’s going to be a new home for me and I’m going to do what I can to wear the Toronto blue proudly."
Harris throws from a high three-quarter arm-slot and features a fastball that sits 92-94, with an above average slider, a changeup and a curveball. Area scout Dallas Black plus several other evaluators were able to follow him right to the end of his season.
While there’s some polish to his game, Harris readily admits he still has some "quirks" to work on. He wants to improve his command to both edges of the plate, build on his confidence and add a few pounds.
Some believe he has the potential to advance very quickly through the system.
Harris and high school right-hander Brady Singer were the Blue Jays’ picks on the opening day of the draft, while on Day 2 they added four more pitchers, including righty Justin Maese, who has touched 96 mph but usually sits 88-92, during rounds 3-10.
One notable pick is Canisius senior third baseman Connor Panas of Toronto in the ninth round, who’s likely to sign for less than the 272nd overall pick’s assigned value of $159,300.
Any savings can be used to try and overpay someone who’s slipped beyond the 10th round, when any bonus in excess of $100,000 counts against a team’s pool.
Teams that spend beyond their limit are hit with a tax on any overage that begins at 75 per cent tax and grows to 100 per cent and can include the forfeiture of future picks.