06/07/12 12:21 AM ET
Despite injury, Blue Jays high on Smoral
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Smoral was considered to be a first-round talent, but saw his stock drop because he was unable to pitch for the majority of the year.
With his Ohio high school team, Solon, on a spring trip to Myrtle Beach, Smoral and his teammates were enjoying an off-day, when the 6-foot-8 lefty reached down to pick something up and heard a pop -- he instantly knew it was serious.
"It was something that had happened previously," said Smoral's high school coach, Damien Kopkas. "They did the surgery, which was supposed to be more of a preventative surgery to take care of what might have been an existing issue with the structure of his foot."
His rehab is going fine, and the injury isn't expected to plague him in the future, according to Kopkas.
Regardless of the injury, the Blue Jays liked him, and Kopkas knew there was a good chance Toronto would be picking Smoral on Day 1.
"We both fielded a number of calls throughout the year," Kopkas said. "The Blue Jays were one of the teams that were very aggressive in trying to pursue him. I spoke with the Blue Jays multiple times before the season and throughout.
"The Blue Jays were one of the teams that really showed a high level of interest in him. It did not shock me at all when his name was called to go to Toronto."
Blue Jays amatuer scouting director Andrew Tinnish saw enough of Smoral to know what type of talent he has. Tinnish saw him twice last season and walked away impressed.
"He's hard not to like. ... Left-handed pitcher, with good action and a good delivery," Tinnish said. "Great kid, very hard worker. Plus fastball, plus slider.
"You don't find that many left-handers that are that tall with good arm actions, deliveries, good mechanics and the makings of a very good breaking ball."
Kopkas has been the head coach at Solon for the past three years, and says Smoral's size is what jumps out when you see him take the mound. Smoral was a sophomore when Kopkas took over the team, and what he saw was a young pitcher who simply relied on his size and strength. What Kopkas then saw over the years was a player who worked tirelessly to become a true pitcher and work on his balance on the mound.
Smoral has a fastball that can touch 95-mph and sits low-90s, a slider that he can throw in the mid-80s, that Kopkas says has plenty of sink into right-handers, and an above-average changeup that he throws in the low-80s.
Blue Jays tab Canadian Kellogg in 12th round
TORONTO -- The first Canadian the Blue Jays took off the board in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft was left-hander Ryan Kellogg from Whitby, Ont., in the 12th round.
Kellogg was considered to be the top Canadian heading into the Draft, but concerns over whether he would sign likely dropped his stock, as he's committed to attend Arizona State University in the fall.
Once Toronto saw him available in the 12th round, however, it couldn't pass on selecting the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder.
"We like Ryan Kellogg, we're hopeful we can work something out," said Blue Jays amateur scouting director, Andrew Tinnish. "It's very difficult for me at this point to say that we are or aren't going to be able to work something out, because I don't know what type of flexibility we will have. It's too early in the process to be able to say, 'Yeah, we feel like we are going to able to do something,' or 'No, we are not going to be able to do something.' Obviously we see the player that we want to sign, that we have interest in."
Kellogg and the Blue Jays haven't talked numbers yet, but he does have an idea of what his decision will be.
"I'm not sure what the offer is, but at this point, it looks like I'll be going to Arizona," Kellogg said. "That could change, you never know, but at this point I'm leaning toward ASU."
Blue Jays scout Jamie Lehman, who is an area scout for the team and was the Toronto representative who contacted Kellogg, told him to enjoy the day and not worry about trying to strike a deal. Kellogg was alone when he heard the news, and received it from Canadian Junior National teammate Dayton Dawe, who was drafted by the Yankees in the 15th round.
While Kellogg is leaning toward fulfilling his commitment at ASU, he is leaving the door open, and there is no other pro team he would rather play for than Toronto.
"It does mean a little bit more, the fact the Canadian team is trying to build homegrown talent," Kellogg said. "I grew up rooting for the Blue Jays, so possibly having the chance to play there in the future is very appealing to me."
Kellogg started throwing a cutter a month ago, in addition to a curveball, a changeup -- which is his out-pitch -- and a fastball that sits in the upper-80s and has reached as high as 92 mph. He has been an integral part of Canada's junior team over the past few years.
"Another big left-hander, great kid, Canadian kid," Tinnish said. "Certainly we would love for him to be in a Blue Jays uniform sooner than later, but at this point, we have other things to focus on before we can address that."
Encarnacion still not swinging a bat
CHICAGO -- Edwin Encarnacion has yet to begin swinging a bat since injuring his hand on Sunday afternoon against the Red Sox.
Toronto's designated hitter originally set a goal for Tuesday to resume his offensive work, but that timeframe came and went without any progress.
"We didn't even put a bat in his hand today," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "There's still some swelling and [while] the strength in the right hand is improving, it's still not to the point his left is, and we don't want to re-aggravate things and set him back any more. He's the classic case of being day-to-day right now."
Encarnacion suffered the injury when he was hit on the right hand by a fastball from Red Sox starter Daniel Bard. The club initially feared the worst but a series of X-rays and CT scans did not reveal a fracture and he was instead diagnosed with a deep bruise.
The swelling has gone down since the incident on Sunday, but is still present on the backside of the hand.
Encarnacion's hand injury drew some comparisons to the one suffered by third baseman Brett Lawrie last year in Triple-A Las Vegas. Lawrie was initially diagnosed with a bruise, but after the swelling went down it was later revealed a fracture had occurred.
Farrell doesn't believe that will be the case with his starting designated hitter, who is batting .279 with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs in 54 games this season.
""At this point no," Farrell said. "Brett's swelling was almost two or three times the thickness of his normal hand, so we did take every test possible. If it gets to the point where he plateaus and is not really feeling better, we would re-administer those tests, but at this point, everything points to him getting back."