The Blue Jays made their ninth pick of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft a fitting one, selecting Canadian right-handed pitcher Thomas Robson in the fourth round, 139th overall.
Robson was at home with friends watching The Price is Right with the Draft on in the background when the group decided to turn down the volume on the game show for the Blue Jays' fourth-round pick. It turned out to be good timing on Robson's part.
"They picked my name and everyone started jumping up and down and screaming. It was pretty good -- I was pretty excited," Robson said. "The Blue Jays were my favorite team for my whole life. ... I was hoping they would pick me and finally they did."
The 17-year-old was the first Canadian taken in the Draft out of Delta Secondary School in British Columbia.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder works quickly and has impressed scouts with his command and mound presence, especially during his time with Canada's Junior National Team.
He made two starts against a tough Cuban team at last year's World Junior Championship, including a six-inning scoreless performance in the round robin. Cuba won the tournament.
During his time with the National Team, Robson worked closely with team director Greg Hamilton who asked him to back off on his power and try to pitch with more finesse. Robson attributes much of his success to making that transition.
"When I joined the junior national team I kind of just threw as hard as I could and didn't worry about anything else," Robson said. "I realized I couldn't do that and I learned how to throw two other pitches.
"That's when I kind of figured this is going pretty well, so I stuck with it and it has done nothing but good things for me."
Robson features a high-80s to low-90s fastball with late movement and a plus changeup which tails off at the end. Still more than two years from his 20th birthday, many scouts believe Robson can increase his arm strength and ramp his fastball up to the mid-90s as he matures. He also throws a sweeping curveball.
That makeup sounds a lot like a current member of the Blue Jays' rotation whose footsteps Robson would eagerly like to follow -- former first-rounder Ricky Romero.
"He has three pitches that he throws for strikes and I want to be able to do that pretty soon," Robson said of the Blue Jays' ace. "I've got three pitches, but I want to become more consistent with them. Once they become more consistent I can maybe compare myself to Romero."
Robson actually faced the Blue Jays this spring when the Canadian Junior National Team squared off against Toronto in an exhibition game. He gave up three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two in a game the Blue Jays won, 9-0.
Robson is committed to pitch for Central Arizona Community College next season, but is holding out hope he can work out a deal to pitch in his favorite Major League team's Minor League system.
"Obviously I'd rather be playing for the Blue Jays, but if we can't come to terms that's where I'll be going," Robson said of Central Arizona. "Just to get drafted is an accomplishment. ... It was the best day of my life."
Arden Zwelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.