Blue Jays reach agreement with 10th-rounder
Navy outfielder Azor will begin military service in the fall
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays reached an agreement with 10th-round pick Alex Azor for $1,000, the college senior told MLB.com on Thursday.
Azor, selected out of the United States Naval Academy, will report to Dunedin, Fla., and expects to be assigned to a short-season affiliate until he reports to the military in the fall. His military obligation will prevent him from playing while he serves, and the Blue Jays will place him on the restricted list at that time.
The slot value for Azor's pick was $125,000, so the Blue Jays will save $124,000 on the deal -- money that can be used to sign some of the club's higher picks, such as high schoolers Matt Smoral and Anthony Alford.
Toronto took seven consecutive college seniors from Rounds 4-10, and have already signed a few others, according to Blue Jays amateur scouting director Andrew Tinnish. Sportsnet reported Wednesday that the club had reached an agreement with sixth-rounder Eric Phillips for $5,000, well under the recommended slot of $173,200. This strategy allows the Blue Jays to go over-slot on certain picks and save money against their overall cap.
Azor didn't expect to be taken early because of his unique situation, but he received a call from Toronto in the ninth round and was told he would be selected.
"They asked me if I would like to be a part of the organization," Azor said. "They have been so patient with me and understand my situation. My heart goes out to them."
Blue Jays area scout Matt O'Brien came to his house Wednesday and Azor accepted the deal.
The military requirement is for five years, but Azor is looking into a 24-month program that is available for student athletes who are drafted.
Azor celebrated with his family after he got the call and was eager to strike a deal immediately.
"I told them I'll sign for a hot dog," Azor said.
Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos said Navy players are not overly scouted, but he was aware that some teams were taking a look at Azor.
Kostacopoulos described Azor as an astute hitter with a good approach, and an above-average defensive player who runs the bases extremely well.
"He's really just a good baseball player," Kostacopoulos said. "Good things happen to good people, and that applies in his case.
Azor said he switched his approach and became a smarter player after reading "Moneyball."
"I read 'Moneyball' and read about the walks and the strategy of playing ball," Azor said. "I didn't strike out much, and realized it was because I wasn't getting deep into counts and seeing pitches. Now, I'm more of a student of the game [after reading the book]."
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.