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Here's Part II of the Jays' minor league pitching register. Enjoy!

Luis Leal
Buzz Factor: 6
People have forgotten about this guy, but he took his turn every day in the Jays' rotation for nearly 3 1/2 years. When you look at his stats, the first thing that strikes you is the workload: Leal pitched nearly 250 innings at age 25. The second thing you see is his low K/IP ratio. While the general opinion at the time was that Leal didn't train hard enough to stay in the majors, my belief now is that he had marginal stuff. And when he lost a little of his stuff after throwing so many innings, he was doomed. I still miss the days when the Jays' rotation was so stable that you could buy tickets for a game two months away and have a good idea who was going to pitch that day. Nearly became a Red Sox: according to the 1985 media guide, he went to Boston's rookie camp in 1977 but decided to return home. He also didn't start playing baseball until he was 15; he was originally a soccer player.
231980Syracuse-AAA653.27161611010233176on shuttle: up twice, down twice

Al Leiter
Buzz Factor: 7
Blister Boy wasn't really a Jays prospect, but he did spend some time in Syracuse. Jays fans have always blasted Leiter for bailing out on the Jays after they spent years nurturing him - but, hey, if you want loyalty, get a dog.
211990Syracuse-AAA384.621514785946869aim for the 5-sided white thing
231992Syracuse-AAA893.862727163.1159964108missed 1991 with elbow pain

Doug Linton
Buzz Factor: 4
Not considered a top-ranked prospect when coming up through the Jays' chain. Did well in Knoxville, but stalled out in Syracuse. Wound up being a so-called quadruple-A pitcher: his K/IP ratio in AAA suggests that he didn't have major league stuff. Born in the same city as Dave Stieb (Santa Ana, California).
251991Syracuse-AAA10125.013026161.218121569310 HB
261992Syracuse-AAA12103.692525170.2176177012612 WP

Brandon Lyon
Buzz Factor: 5
Like one of those suborbital rockets they used to test in the 1960's: he ascended quickly into the stratosphere, and then just as quickly came down. Reduced pitching to its essence: throw it over the plate, and hope they don't hit it. In retrospect, the Jays may have been deluding themselves a bit: his numbers in AA and AAA weren't that good. In particular, the home run totals are a warning sign.
212001Syracuse-AAA533.69111168.16871053also 11 starts in Tor

Bob MacDonald
Buzz Factor: 3
Was briefly a minor-league closer - which, as you should know by now, is usually the kiss of death for a career. By the time Ol' MacDonald reached Syracuse, he wasn't even closing - he was just picking up garbage innings here and there. He got good enough at it that the Jays let him do it in Toronto for a while. A career that was as dull as ditchwater, but, hey, lots of people don't make it to the major leagues, and he did. From his numbers, it's obvious that he was a ground-ball pitcher.
241989Knoxville-AA353.294306352023589 SV
251990Knoxville-AA121.8936057372295415 SV
251990Syracuse-AAA025.40908.141962 saves, 2 losses in 9 G

Dustin McGowan
Buzz Factor: 8 (and may go up)
He walks among us. From the looks of his 2003 numbers, he's the real thing. Note that he only allowed one home run. Finding his control rapidly: he had 49 walks in 67 innings at Auburn in 2001, and 59 walks in 148.1 innings at Charleston in 2002. H/IP a bit of a concern, but as somebody else pointed out, it's better than average for the Eastern League.

Paul Menhart
Buzz Factor: 5
Odd collection of numbers in his 1992 season: he had 38 walks, but 12 wild pitches and 11 hit batters. How do you do that? He graduated from Robert E. Fitch High School in Groton, Connecticut. That's not especially relevant; I just like writing "Robert E. Fitch." K/IP ratios were good in the low minors, but not so good here - this suggests a pitcher who just isn't quite good enough to make it, and that's what Menhart became. Oh, and by the way, I did a web search on "Robert E. Fitch", and I couldn't find anything that told me who he was.

Jose Mesa
Buzz Factor: 3
You may have forgotten, but Mesa's career started in the Blue Jays organization. He was part of the package that landed Mike Flanagan. 762 games and 249 saves later, he's still around. As a Jay farmhand, he didn't look like much - just another young pitcher with control troubles and a pocket full of dreams. In eight starts in class-AA, he averaged five innings a start - and had a shutout.

Jeff Musselman
Buzz Factor: 5
Looked really good in the minors, but suffered an arm injury in 1988, and never really got his stuff back, if his K/IP is any indication.
231986Knoxville-AA512.837741.133025383.03 ERA at Ventura, 24 GS

Jose Nunez
Buzz Factor: 6
A Rule V draftee in 1987, he once fanned 11 Kansas City Royals in a single start. I recall him as being even more of a pure thrower than Escobar - he had a sharp breaking curve and an outstanding fastball. Was on the DL three separate times in 1988. I'm not sure, but I seem to recall his being a head case - that might explain why he was traded for the immortal Paul Kilgus, despite having good minor league numbers in 1989.
251989Syracuse-AAA11112.214012134.1116--5512218 unearned runs

Ken Robinson
Buzz Factor: 4
Short, right-handed pitcher, which is a type of player scouts don't like. Picked up on waivers by Kansas City in spring training, 1996, and then reacquired on waivers two months later. Missed all of 1998 due to shoulder surgery, after being waived again by the Jays and signing with Arizona, and died in Tucson in a car accident just as spring training 1999 was about to start.
251995Syracuse-AAA533.2238050.1376126121G with Toronto
271997Syracuse-AAA772.56560814463696unhittable; 17 SV

Alex Sanchez
Buzz Factor: 8
At one time, Sanchez was considered the best pitching prospect in the Jays' system. He had great stuff, but never could harness it. A first-round draft pick; at the time he was drafted, he held UCLA records for wins and strikeouts in a season. A big winner in his early minor-league years: after three years, his won-lost record was 37-18. Great pitching prospects flame out all the time, of course: remember Mo Sanford? Roger Salkeld? Scott Ruffcorn?
221988Knoxville-AA1252.532424149.1100874166amazing H/IP ratio; RHW winner
231989Syracuse-AAA1373.132827169.2125147414111 WP; 10.03 ERA in Tor
241990Syracuse-AAA595.712222112111157965he has tasted fear!

Dave Shipanoff
Buzz Factor: 3
Minor league closer, good stuff but no command, yadda yadda yadda. You've heard all this before. From Edmonton, Alberta.
231983Knoxville-AA633.36610705335173incoming! RHW winner
231983Syracuse-AAA013.278011101817"wild thing"

Mark Sievert
Buzz Factor: 2
Good enough to make the 1997 media guide (and, hence, the 40-man roster), but I have no memory of him whatsoever. Had great control in 1995, but his walks shot up in 1996. Big winner; before getting stomped in Syracuse, his won-lost record was 32-15. Hurt his elbow in 1997, and dropped off the radar screen after that.

Steve Sinclair
Buzz Factor: 3
Generic lefthanded relief pitcher, looked passable in his brief time in a Toronto uniform. 28th round draft pick; born in Victoria, B.C. Started his major league career with 7 1/3 scoreless innings. It took him seven years to get past A-ball; ouch.

Aaron Small
Buzz Factor: 4
Occasionally mentioned as a possible prospect, but his K/IP ratio suggests otherwise. If a pitcher can't overwhelm minor league batters, major league batters will tee off on his stuff. 22nd round draft pick.
201992Knoxville-AA5125.2727241351521361793.88 ERA at home

Mike Smith
Buzz Factor: 4
Regressed in his second year in Syracuse, and has likely gotten as far as his stuff will take him. Got gonged in 14 appearances with Toronto in 2002, which probably took the wind out of his sails.
232001Tennessee-AA622.4214149380726778 HB
252003Syracuse-AAA895.002621131.114013588911 HB; 16 WP

John Sneed
Buzz Factor: 4
A mountain of a man, at 6'6" and 250, Sneed put up frightening strikeout numbers in the low minors, but had trouble getting over the class-AA hump. I seem to recall that he was traded after the 1999 season, but I don't remember the details.

Paul Spoljaric
Buzz Factor: 6
His minor league numbers suggest a thrower rather than a pitcher: high walk totals, high strikeout totals and, at AAA, high home run totals. Like many prospects, got 95% of the way there, but never did gain control of his arsenal. (Do Canadians feel more pressure when wearing a Toronto uniform? Discuss.) Opened the 1994 season with the big club, but got absolutely stomped in two outings: 10 hits, 9 walks and 3 home runs in 2 1/3 innings. Ouch.
221993Knoxville-AA412.287743.130122513-0, 1.38 ERA in Dunedin
221993Syracuse-AAA875.29181895.197145288lots o' big flies
251996Syracuse-AAA303.2717022202624one month on DL; 28G in Tor

Dave Stieb
Buzz Factor: 9
Started only 19 games in the minors, and went 12-2. Only gave up one home run as a minor leaguer. Was only a fifth-round selection in the amateur draft, surprisingly enough. Here's a depressing thought: Stieb's son, Andrew, is now 21. I feel old.
211979Syracuse-AAA522.13775139014204 complete games

Todd Stottlemyre
Buzz Factor: 9
Okay, let's be fair here. Toddles has had a pretty good major league career, when all is said and done. He has pitched in 372 major league games, and has won 138 of them. He has earned roughly $53 million (US) playing baseball. He has appeared in ten postseason series, starting a total of nine games. (Okay, he has only won three of them - but, hey, postseason games are usually close.) Not many pitchers achieve this much in the game. Now that I've finished being fair, it's time to be unfair: at virtually no time in Stottlemyre's long and distinguished career was he actually any good. As I recall, his problem was a fastball that was as straight as a string. Best moment in a Jays' uniform - starting, and pitching well in, the first game of the 1989 showdown series against Baltimore, on the Friday of the final weekend of the season.
221987Syracuse-AAA11134.443434186.21891487143RHW winner

Corey Thurman
Buzz Factor: 5
What happened to him? He got clobbered in a couple of major league starts, and has now dropped straight off the radar screen. Presumably, the Jays saw something they didn't like. His minor league numbers don't suggest stardom, anyway. Perhaps J.P. was giving him one last look just to check on him, as he did with Joe Lawrence.

Mike Timlin
Buzz Factor: 5
A rarity: a minor-league closer who made good. As a starter, Timlin was homer-prone, surrendering 19 big flies in 151 innings at Myrtle Beach. When he moved into the bullpen, he stopped giving up home runs: he allowed two in 1990, one in 1991, and one in 1992. Zipped through the minors: made it to Toronto after only 17 games in double-A. Had 30 saves in 1990: 22 with Dunedin, and 8 with Knoxville.

Josh Towers
Buzz Factor: 5
I'd be delighted to be proved wrong, but at this point, Towers looks like the next incarnation of Brandon Lyon: not much stuff, throws strikes, challenges the hitters, boom, repeat. The 2003 media guide lists his hobbies as music and playing cards (hey, those are some of my hobbies too).

Ricky Trlicek
Buzz Factor: 4
Converted to the bullpen in 1991, becoming a dreaded Minor League Closer. These guys normally don't do much in the majors, and Trlicek was no exception. When you compare his K/IP ratio in Knoxville to that in Syracuse, you can tell that he didn't have the Right Stuff. In his last year as a starter, in Dunedin in 1990, he had 22 wild pitches.

Duane Ward
Buzz Factor: 7
In the Atlanta system, Ward had no idea where his pitches were going; he started finding his control when he arrived in Toronto. Was given a controversial late-season start in 1986, in the game in which the Jays were eliminated from post-season contention; some people wondered why Jimy Williams was throwing in the towel when there was still a slim chance of making it to the post-season. Nowadays, people think of Ward and Henke as the indestructible duo, but some may have forgotten that Ward tended to struggle in pressure situations until about 1990 or so.
221986Richmond-AAA113.386634.23402317plate is that-a-way

Jeff Ware
Buzz Factor: 5
At one time, this guy was the highest-rated pitching prospect in the Jays organization. That just shows how empty the farm system was in about 1995 or so. His stuff wasn't bad; he just couldn't harness it, which is the sad story told by thousands of minor leaguers over the years. Originally a first-round draft pick.

David Wells
Buzz Factor: 7
Missed the 1985 season with a left elbow injury, and was brought along gingerly after that; it's rare to see somebody working as a spot starter in the minors who then makes it in the majors. Here's Wells on Jays fans, from his book: "Honest to God, the Toronto fans suck. If a batter makes an out, he gets booed. If a pitcher walks a batter, he gets booed. If the team loses a game, we all get booed... loudly. Even though this underpaid, understaffed, underloved little team is right in the thick of the hunt, right into the last week of 2000, these mouth-breathers in the stands have no idea what we've accomplished. The wool-hat-wankers just boo... relentlessly." We wuv you too, Boomer.
211984Knoxville-AA322.59885958317344.71 ERA in class A

Matt Williams
Buzz Factor: 5
Not the same guy as the one who played third base for the Giants and D'backs. The Jays' best starting pitching prospect between the arrival of Luis Leal and the arrival of Jimmy Key, which unfortunately isn't saying much. Made a couple of emergency starts for the Jays in 1983, and got royally stomped. Former first-round pick (fifth overall). Minor-league pitchers were worked harder in his day: he had 10 complete games in 1982 and six in 1983. Of course, major-league starting pitchers were worked harder too. (I don't have 1984 stats for him, hence the gap.)
221982Knoxville-AA11134.282828193.11731310715131 wild pitches!!

Woody Williams
Buzz Factor: 5
To be fair to Gord Ash and Dave Stewart: while in Toronto, Williams never looked like he was going to become a quality pitcher. He was, after all, a 28th-round draft pick, and he suffered significant injuries in both 1995 and 1996. The only signs of things to come: occasionally, some of his minor-league stops show him with a good K/BB ratio.

Joe Young
Buzz Factor: 3
Mighty Joe, the pride of Fort McMurray, Alberta, was briefly on the Jays' radar screen before his lack of control did him in. Played for Tacoma of the Western Hockey League at the age of 16.
231998Knoxville-AA279.68119405283231to Dunedin, then oblivion
Blue Jays Minor League Register - Pitchers, L-Z | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Coach - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 05:22 PM EST (#80455) #
Do Canadians feel more pressure when wearing a Toronto uniform?

Next time I see Paul Spoljaric and Rob Butler at Christie Pits, I'll ask them. It's probably natural for any athlete to get more pumped when everyone they know is watching, either at the park or on TV. Some will use that extra excitement to their advantage, others might "try too hard," which is almost always counter-productive. Especially rookies, or marginally-talented players, can fall into the latter trap. The national spotlight never bothered Larry Walker as an Expo, and I'm sure he would have thrived in Toronto as well.

Another tremendous achievement here, Dave. We'll have all four parts prominently archived very soon.
_Ryan - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 06:03 PM EST (#80456) #
I'd also be interested to find out how the pressure was for Spoljaric when he was with the Mariners, compared to the Blue Jays, since Seattle was quite a bit closer to his hometown. (Lou Piniella's Bullpen of Horrors at the time probably didn't help any.)

Great work, Dave.
_Ben NS - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 06:53 PM EST (#80457) #
Thanks for the read. It was fun to read about guys like Jeff Ware, who I was pumped up about at one time but had completely forgotten since. It's also neat to read about guys who came along before I was born and see what people were saying about them. Thanks again for the stats, Buzz factor and comments.
_Nigel - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 07:01 PM EST (#80458) #
Just some quick anectodal thoughts on Luis Leal. I used to visit the Kingdome whenever Toronto came to town back in the early eighties. The Mariners would have about 6 or 7 thousand fans per game and you could sit just about anywhere. I would regularly sit next to the Jays bullpen. I saw Leal warm up a few times on nights or days right after or before Steib or Clancy would have started. Leal had very good stuff. He could throw his fastball in the low 90's and his slider was good - not as good as Stieb's (whose was?) but of the same quality as Clancy's which was pretty good. By the last time through Seattle he had put on a lot of weight and his stuff was gone. I don't know whether that was a weight issue or an arm problem but he had the stuff to have a longer career than he eventually did.
_bsh - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 07:58 PM EST (#80459) #
Great job. Loved the read.

Interesting fact: Both the Jays and the Leafs have had a 1st round pick named Jeff Ware flame out.
_Donkit R.K. - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 08:53 PM EST (#80460) #
Any Brandon Converys pass through the Jays' organization ? ;-)
_Magpie - Sunday, January 25 2004 @ 10:47 PM EST (#80461) #
This is great! Well done! Some random notes on some of these guys:

Woody Williams - I remember Gaston being a big Woody booster, and I always thought he was nuts. My bad...

Todd Stottlemyre - Remember when he went to work with Dave Duncan and K rate suddenly just jumped? They did something to his delivery too, his motion looked completely different...

Dave Stieb - 242.2 IPT in Toronto at age 22; 288.1 IPT(!!) at age 24. Those were the days...

Alex Sanchez - This was another guy with a straight fastball. Claim to fame - he started the famous comeback against the Red Sox (rallied from a 10-0 deficit.) Well, it's something...

Jeff Musselman - I think Musselman's 1988 arm injury cost him the start of the season; he returned and pitched and pitched rather well as a starter (8-5, 3.18) after a good year in the bullpen in 1987. Came out spring training in the rotation in 1989 - it was Stieb and four finesse lefties (Key, Cerutti, Flanagan) Then Musselman went on the DL with a drinking problem, and never was any good again. A Harvard man, as I recall...

Al Leiter - I remember the consternation when he left - after all we did for him. Irritated me at the time; Leiter spent four years on the DL making what? - the league minimum, basically. All he cost was a roster spot. Helped the Jays win a World Series (actually won a World Series game in fact.) So what's the problem. The same people who complained about Leiter leaving are probably the same ones who were so excited about not resigning Henke after 1992 - hey we got Ward, he's cheaper, he's younger. See ya, Tom. We don't want you back.

Oh, that's karma.
_Ryan - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 10:39 AM EST (#80462) #
Jeff Ware
Buzz Factor: 5
Originally a first-round draft pick.

Around the same time Ware was coming up to the majors, the hockey Maple Leafs drafted another guy named Jeff Ware in the first round. The baseball version had the better career, with the hockey version collecting just one career point.

I think we can now safely conclude that teams should not draft guys named Jeff Ware. :-)
_peteski - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 11:18 AM EST (#80463) #
I seem to remember Pete Munro being somewhat of a prospect.
_Kristian - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 12:27 PM EST (#80464) #
I remember John Sneed from a fantasy draft. Great numbers at Hagerstown and Dunedin then traded to the Phillies I believe. Never did get over the hump at the higher levels.
_Chris - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 03:32 PM EST (#80465) #
The Karsay trade wasn't that bad. The Jays did get back Henderson who helped make it 2 in a row. At that point in time, that's what the Jays used their farm system for as they could afford to trade prospects. Remember, in 1993 the Jays had the highest payroll in baseball.
Dave Till - Monday, January 26 2004 @ 03:59 PM EST (#80466) #
I didn't have a problem with the Karsay-for-Henderson trade: if the Jays hadn't traded for Rickey, he would have gone to a divisional rival. There were several offers on the table for him.
Blue Jays Minor League Register - Pitchers, L-Z | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.