A look back at Blue Jays’ first three first-round picks

Jay Schroeder, the Toronto Blue Jays’ 1979 first-round pick, stretches with coach Jimy Williams at Blue Jays spring training in Dunedin, Fla., in 1981. Photo: Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Public Library

July 6, 2022

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

The Toronto Blue Jays have had their share of outstanding first-round picks, but they have also had their share of busts.

For every Shawn Green (Blue Jays’ 1991 first rounder), Chris Carpenter (1993), Roy Halladay (1995) and Vernon Wells (1997), there has been a Garry Harris (1980), Greg David (1985) or Earl Sanders (1986).

But this is a Canadian baseball history blog where I try to treat all draft picks equally, and this week, I wanted to take a look back at the first three first-round picks in Blue Jays history.

Tom Goffena visited the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 with his wife, Karen. Photo: Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame

1977 – Tom Goffena, Shortstop (25th overall)

Goffena was a promising high school shortstop in his hometown of Sidney, Ohio when the Blue Jays selected him 25th overall in the 1977 draft – making the first pick in franchise history.

“I was just tickled to death to get drafted,” Goffena told me in a 2008 interview. “My dad, myself and a couple of friends were just sitting around waiting to get a phone call from somebody – or hoping to get a phone call from somebody.”

He was elated when that phone call came from the Blue Jays.

“I was more than happy to be drafted by Toronto. At that time, Toronto had just started out. You’re not looking in the long run. You’re thinking, ‘Heck, I can get up to the big leagues a lot quicker,’” he said.

Goffena received a signing bonus of $38,000 and joined the Blue Jays’ low-A affiliate in Utica. With a young slugger named Jesse Barfield as one of his road roommates, he hit a respectable .255 in his first pro season, earning a promotion to class-A Dunedin the following campaign.

But in 1978 he suffered a serious back injury that cut his season short. After an extensive rehab program, he returned to Dunedin in 1979, but was still experiencing back pain and he noticed that he had lost significant speed. He underwent back surgery that year and when he returned the following spring he suffered a hamstring injury and felt he could no longer compete at an elite level and asked for his release.

He returned to Sidney, Ohio, where he served as a golf pro for a short stint, before spending 32 years working for the Shelby County Highway Department as a road and bridge supervisor. Sadly, he passed away on June 11, 2020 after a decade-long battle with colon cancer.

1978 – Lloyd Moseby, Outfielder (2nd overall)

Moseby grew up in Oakland, Calif., and was selected second in the 1978 MLB draft, right after the Braves chose Bob Horner.

“I was drafted out of [Oakland] high school in ’78 and the Blue Jays started in ’77, so I had zero knowledge about the Toronto Blue Jays,” said Moseby during his Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction conference call in February 2018.

“But I wasn’t disappointed. I was just happy to get drafted, but I didn’t know who the Toronto Blue Jays were . . . But that quickly changed when I went to Medicine Hat, Alberta [where the Blue Jays’ Rookie ball affiliate was located] and met one of the owners Bill Yuill, who embraced me. And from that point on, I’ve been a Canadian and I’ve loved it.”

After receiving a $55,000 signing bonus, the left-handed hitting outfielder quickly climbed through the club’s ranks to make his big league debut on May 24, 1980.

Moseby would become the Blue Jays’ starting centre fielder for the bulk of the next 10 seasons. His breakout major league campaign came in 1983 when he batted .315, socked 18 home runs, 31 doubles, seven triples and swiped 27 bases. He also topped American League centre fielders with 11 assists. For his efforts, he became the first Blue Jays’ outfielder to win a Silver Slugger Award and was named the team’s Player of the Year.

For an encore, Moseby belted 18 home runs, led the American League in triples (15) and registered 39 stolen bases in 1984. His 7.3 WAR that season was second among AL position players to Cal Ripken Jr.

Teaming with Barfield and George Bell in what was considered the best outfield in the majors, Moseby posted back-to-back 20-home run, 30-stolen base seasons in 1986 and 1987.

In his 10 seasons with the Blue Jays, Moseby also played a key role on two division-winning clubs (1985, 1989) and ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in several statistical categories, including first in stolen bases (255) and second in triples (60).

Following his playing career, Moseby served as a coach for the Blue Jays’ Short-Season class-A St. Catharines Stompers and the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, before becoming the Blue Jays’ first base coach in 1998 and 1999. Since 2009, he has worked in an ambassador’s role with the club, representing the team in charitable events and serving as an instructor with the Blue Jays Baseball Academy across the country.

Jay Schroeder with the Blue Jays.

1979 – Jay Schroeder, Catcher (3rd overall)

Schroeder was a star quarterback and catcher at Pacific Palisades High School when the Blue Jays took a flier on him with their third overall pick in the 1979 MLB draft. About to turn 18, Schroeder initially refused to sign with the Blue Jays, despite the club offering what the Los Angeles Times reported to be “a three-year, major league contract for six figures.”

“I told every (baseball) scout that approached me, there were 18 or 20, that I had signed with UCLA and it wouldn’t be in their best interest to draft me,” Schroeder told the Los Angeles Times for their June 30, 1979 edition. “I was very surprised to be picked that high. I figured I’d go on about sixth round.

“Toronto expressed the most interest, so I knew they would pick me. When I explained to them about UCLA, they told me they’d change my mind. They figured when I saw their offer I’d jump and sign. They were wrong. I want to see what I can do in football.”

Schroeder planned to continue to play baseball and football and wanted to go to UCLA for a full year (1979-80) and then report to the Blue Jays’ minor league team in the summer. On June 30, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Blue Jays had balked at this request because they didn’t want to invest in a player who could be injured playing football. However, the team relented the next day and Schroeder signed a minor league deal that included a reported $135,000 signing bonus (the highest of any first round pick that year) from the Blue Jays. The agreement allowed him to go to UCLA and then report to the Blue Jays’ Rookie Ball club in Medicine Hat in 1980.

Drafted as a catcher, Schroeder was converted into an outfielder during his first pro season. He’d bat .234 with two home runs and 21 RBIs in 52 games, but demonstrated good patience at the plate with 45 walks.

Schroeder returned to UCLA in the off-season where he continued to quarterback their football team. In 1981, he was assigned to the Blue Jays’ class-A affiliate in Florence, where he split time between third base and the outfield, batting .204 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs and 81 walks in 131 games.

He’d spend his next two summers in class-A Kinston and belt a career-high 15 home runs in 1982, before his batting average dipped to .206 in 1983. Following that campaign, he decided to hang up his baseball spikes and focus on a full-time football career.

Selected by Washington in the third round of the 1984 NFL draft, Schroeder became the club’s starting quarterback in 1985 and would lead them to a championship in Super Bowl XXII.

After three seasons with Washington, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Raiders where he served as their starting pivot for parts of five seasons before completing his career with the Cincinnati Bengals (1993) and Arizona Cardinals (1994).

In recent years, he has worked as a football coach at various high schools in California and Utah. He has also done broadcast work, while doubling as an ambassador for the Las Vegas Raiders.

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