What is going on here?

The jury will be out for awhile on whether or not J.P. Ricciardi & Co. had a successful 2007 MLB draft. But we can say this with certainty right now: some of the top picks taken in that draft are not performing thus far in 2009.

Here’s a look at three of the top four picks …

AhrensRound 1, pick 16 – Kevin Ahrens, 3B

In 63 games at Dunedin this year, Ahrens has batted .221 (51-for-231) with a pair of homers and 23 RBIs. That .221 mark leaves him 69th out of 76 players overall in the Florida State League that have the minimum number of plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. The switch-hitter is batting .213 (39-for-183) against righties, and just .111 in July so far. After going 0-for-14 to start the month, the 20-year-old went 2-for-4 in a 4-3 loss to Lakeland last night.

Round 1, pick 21 – JP Arencibia, C

After posting solid numbers split between Dunedin and New Hampshire last year (.298, 27 HR, 105 RBI), Arencibia has struggled in 2009 at Triple-A Las Vegas. And it’s been a pretty steady struggle … .224 in April, .243 in May and .237 in June. That adds up to a .236 (64-for-271) overall mark along with a .291 on-base percentage. His power numbers are better (eight homers, 41 RBIs), and he was on a mini hot streak to close out the month of June (8-for-20 with four doubles and six RBIs in five games), but he hasn’t played since then and currently finds himself on the good old minor league 7-day DL.

Supplemental round, pick 45 – Justin Jackson, SS

Jackson has yet to find his groove at all in the minors since the Jays made him their fourth selection in the ’07 draft. In 66 games at Dunedin this year, the 20-year-old shortstop is batting .226 (48-for-212) with just 11 extra-base hits. That .226 mark puts him five spots above Ahrens for 64th out of 76 qualified Florida State League hitters. He’s been especially cold over his last 10 games, batting .152 (5-for-33) with 11 strikeouts. That has been a big problem for the youngster over the last two years. He had a whopping 154 strikeouts in 121 games in 2008, and already has 76 in 66 contests this season. 

The other top 4 pick – Brett Cecil – will take the mound for the parent club tonight in the opener of a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles.

The 23-year-old was far from spectacular prior to being called up to the majors – in nine starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, Cecil went 1-5 with a 5.69 ERA. But with a plethora of injuries to starting pitching, the need arose for Cecil to join the Jays’ rotation. Since getting the call, the left-hander is 2-1 with a 6.23 ERA in eight games (seven starts) in the big leagues.

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