Toronto grabs two first-round picks
The Blue Jays used the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft on Texas high school shortstop Kevin Ahrens, and the 21st selection catcher J.P. Arencibia of U. of Tennessee.
Here’s what Baseball America has to say about each player:
Kevin Ahrens, SS/3b
School: Memorial HS, Houston. Class: Sr.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 4/26/88.
Scouting Report: The best high school hitter in another strong year in Texas, Ahrens repeatedly draws comparisons to Chipper Jones. That holds up on several levels, as Ahrens is a switch-hitter with power and a high school shortstop who will have to move to third base at the next level, whether that’s at Texas A&M or in pro ball. More of a gap-to-gap hitter in the past, Ahrens has gotten stronger and started to turn on his power at the World Wood Bat Championship last fall, hitting a game-winning triple in the quarterfinals and a game-winning homer in the semis before his Houston Heat lost in the championship game. He’s proficient from both sides of the plate, with a sound approach and little effort in his swing. The only thing lacking in Ahrens’ game is speed, as he’s a below-average runner. Though he still sees himself as a shortstop, he’ll definitely have to shift to the hot corner, where his plus arm and soft hands will be assets. In a tremendous year for high school third basemen, Ahrens could be a bit of a steal in the late first round or early supplemental first round.
J.P. Arencibia, c/1b
School: Tennessee. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 1/5/86.
Scouting Report: Shortly after Julio Borbon broke his ankle in the preseason, Tennessee’s next best hitter, Arencibia, pulled a muscle in his back and was forced out of the lineup until mid-March. He ranked with Borbon among USA Baseball’s college national team’s top prospects last summer after leading the team with nine home runs in 121 at-bats. Power has long been his calling card. The Miami native tied Alex Rodriguez’ Westminster Christian High career record for home runs with 17 and was drafted by the Mariners in the 17th round in 2004. A potential first-rounder entering the season, Arencibia struggled offensively and behind the plate upon returning to the lineup. He’s an aggressive hitter with plus power to all fields. His swing gets long and he tends to have too much of an uppercut stroke. The verdict is out on whether he’ll stay behind the plate as a pro. His receiving skills are rudimentary at best, and his footwork prevents him from getting off better throws despite solid-average to plus arm strength. His stock has slipped, but he won’t make it out of the second round.