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Big news yesterday from New Hampshire as Finn McCool reported that Jamie Vermilyea is headed back to the bullpen with Brandon League replacing him in the rotation. In five AA starts for the Fisher Cats Jamie has a 3.14 ERA, and a perfect game, so why would the Jays move him back to the pen? I was in Binghamton to see New Hampshire last week and had the opportunity to ask Jamie about this and some other questions that were on my mind.

Jamie Vermilyea is a big guy, 6'4", 195 lbs. Jamie appears to be a relaxed, easy-going guy, however Fisher Cat staff members tell me Jamie has a competitive side. Jamie is one of those relievers who like to sprint in from the bullpen, an "adrenaline-junkie" as one person told me. I asked Jamie about his stated preference for relieving. "After throwing that perfect game I don't mind starting too much, but I definitely would rather come out of the pen, but they want me to start now. I am happy to start, happy to relieve." As I mentioned in my trip report Dane Johnson, the Jays minor league pitching instructor, was in town for the series against Binghamton. He watched Jamie pitch on Thursday last week and presumably had a chat with him right after that. I assume the decision to switch roles was made after that visit.

I asked Jamie about how he flew under the radar until the Jays drafted him in the ninth round of the 2003 draft?
"I talked to the local scout when I was in high school but I was not expecting to get drafted. I pretty much walked-on at New Mexico, I could have gone (on a scholarship) to a small division two school in Denver, Colorado but I decided to walk-on in New Mexico". I asked Jamie how he went from a walk-on to having so much success in pro ball? "Back in high school I was just a tall skinny kid who didn't throw too hard so I definitely benefited from going to college. I put on some weight and had good coaching so that helped".

Jamie has shown an aversion to walking hitters. "That has pretty much been my strength, put the ball in the zone. My sinkerball and change-up are my main pitches, try and get those in the zone early and let them put the ball in play". The Jays are working with Jamie to fine tune his mechanics a little bit and trying to improve his slider. I asked Jamie about his slow start this season in Dunedin. "I just got off to a slow start, my control was off, I worked with Rick Langford and that helped me".

Rick Adair says of Jamie, "he is a groundball pitcher, needs to change speeds, may need a cutter to face left-handed hitters. He is a laid back guy but he competes very well". Rick pointed out an interesting fact about Jamie's hot start at AA. "We didn't see him pitch out of the stretch for a couple of weeks".

Dane Johnson says of Jamie: "He is aggressive in the zone with his fastball, he relies on his movement, he has got plus movement he is not going to slop it up there, he has a real smooth motion".

As discussed Jamie relies on his sinker and change-up. Jamie also throws a slider, although it appears to be his third pitch right now. Jamie's fastball/sinker tops out just under 90 and scouts believe his stuff is more suited to the bullpen.
A Chat with Jamie Vermilyea | 27 comments | Create New Account
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_Kevn Pataky - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 09:54 AM EDT (#48154) #
I will be at the game tonight in New Britain. Everywhere I look, they still list Jamie as tonight's starter. I read it in Manchester's Union Leader, it was posted inside New Britain Stadium and within the media insert within the program from last night. Usually, such a switch would make it to the media people at the stadium if it was made so long ago.

Is this a definite thing??
_Ryan Day - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#48155) #
So how many pitchers throw a perfect game and then are out of the rotation a month later?

(Not that I'm saying it's a good or bad decision... just funny.)
Mike Green - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 10:19 AM EDT (#48156) #
If League is moving to the rotation, it would reflect an interesting solution from the Jays minor league development problem to giving young pitchers just the right amount of work. By splitting starting and relieving roles between League and Vermilyea over the course of the season, the Jays will be able to give both 140-150 innings. Right now Vermilyea has pitched 90 and League 67.

I had read a fair bit about Vermilyea's build and stuff, but this is the first piece that captures the dichotomy between his easy-going exterior and his competitiveness. I wonder about him as a possible closer/ace reliever. The demeanor seems to be there. The ability to go 2 innings is clearly there. As is the control. I'm thinking about Jeff Montgomery as a possible role model.

Well done, Gerry.
_Finn McCool - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 10:34 AM EDT (#48157) #
Re: Is this a definite thing??

The news about Brandon League moving to the starting rotation came from Mike Murphy who does the play by play for the Fisher Cats. He heard it directly from Mike Basso the Fisher Cats manager, so it sounds like a definate thing to me.
_Marc - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 10:44 AM EDT (#48158) #
This sounds like a great move for Vermilyea's career. His stuff will be much better suited for the pen in the majors and it is always nice to see pitchers who don't mind being there. I'm sick of average to below-average starters like John Halama and Scott Schoeneweis moaning about being in the pen.

Hopefully League has grasped the need to throw more offspeed pitches, which has been a problem for him as a starter. And developing a reliable third pitch...
_Finn McCool - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:08 AM EDT (#48159) #
I see this as been a good move for both League and Vermilyea. With League you have a guy with too good an arm to be simply be a middle reliever, he needs to start or close. Jamie Vermilyea, thought I have never seen him pitch reminds me of Paul Quantrill, a guy who just pounds the lower half of the strike zone and who will be an invaluable part of some future Jays bullpen
_Finn McCool - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:10 AM EDT (#48160) #
I see this a being. duh!
_Finn McCool - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#48161) #
Since I am incapable of typing I am going to stop now!
_Christopher - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:18 AM EDT (#48162) #
I am happy to start, happy to relieve

This is the kind of thing I like to see. I could see some young guys getting huffy about throwing a perfect game and then being moved to the pen. I get the impression that he just wants to learn and get better and help his team however he can. Easy to root for a kid like this.
_Jordan - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:35 AM EDT (#48163) #
By moving to the pen, Vermilyea probably accelerated his chances of getting to Toronto a lot sooner. He should be ready to start 2005 in Syracuse, and early success there could send him to Toronto within the first couple of months. By moving to the rotation, League gives the Jays another high-ceiling starting prospect.

The best of the young arms are finally making their way to the upper tiers of the system. David Bush is in Toronto and looks like he's there to stay. New Hampshire now features a lights-out rotation of Josh Banks, Francisco Rosario and Brandon League, all of whom conceivably could be Skychiefs next year. And that doesn't include Dustin McGowan, who should be back pitching no later than the end of 2005. Way cool.
Mike Green - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:45 AM EDT (#48164) #
Finn, Vermilyea has had the ability to strike out batters at a very good rate, at least in the low minors. As you can see, Paul Quantrill never had that ability. We'll see if Jamie can carry that ability forward. A pitcher who strikes out 6 per 9 innings, walks 2 per 9 and give up relatively few homers is much more valuable than your average middle reliever.
_Kevin Pataky - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#48165) #
Just chatted with Mike Murphy online - he said the decision was made at 6 pm last night to swap the two - and Brandon is definitely starting tonight.
_Finn McCool - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 11:59 AM EDT (#48166) #
I hope Jamie Vermilyea can do better than Paul Quantrill becuase Quantrill is a pretty good pitcher. I remember him from his days as a bluejay and more steady more reliable pitcher you could not ask for, you aways wanted Quantrill in the 7 or 8 inning with the game on the line, and he very rarely disappointed
_Kevin Pataky - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#48167) #
During last night's Yankee game, they were talking about how much JP liked Brandon League and how he wants to pull him straight up to the Majors - skipping Triple-A. He doesn't want to upset the balance and drive towards the playoffs for New Hampshire though, and doesn't want to promote League to Syracuse because the team there is so bad. So at the minimum, look for a September callup to Toronto for League.
_MatO - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 12:07 PM EDT (#48168) #
League would have to be added to the 40 man which he would have had to be after the season anyway. JP has been reluctant to call up a lot of players on September 1 in the past maybe for service time reasons. This year he may be less reluctant as he needs to examine his options in the bullpen before the offseason.
_Ducey - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#48169) #
Kevin, far be for me to question the Jays on moving up League but I would find that a curious decision, especially after the Peterson mess. Why not move him to AAA, let him start for 1/2 a year and let him build his confidence? He is still pretty young and the Jays are not going anywhere this year.
_Kevin Pataky - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#48170) #
Hey, Ducey - I am just the messenger. What you say is completely valid. I'm just telling you what the announcers were talking about on the tube.
_Ducey - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 12:27 PM EDT (#48171) #
Kevin, I am not questioning you, just the decision, if and when it is made. Sorry if it came across otherwise.
_Kevin Pataky - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#48172) #
I hear ya Ducey. So in order to promote League after the EL playoffs in September - someone like say Nakamura - who looks like he can't handle it at the Major League level - has to come off. Not a total loss there - and since League's season is over at that point anyway, it would give him the opportunity to still pitch ...
Pistol - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#48173) #
During last night's Yankee game, they were talking about how much JP liked Brandon League and how he wants to pull him straight up to the Majors - skipping Triple-A.

Maybe I misheard it (as I wasn't paying full attention) but I thought I heard Ken Singleton say that it was Tosca that wanted League in Toronto.

I suspect that if JP wanted League in Toronto he'd be there.
robertdudek - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#48174) #
The roster is currently at 39, so putting League on might not necessitate taking someone else off.
_MatO - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 02:17 PM EDT (#48175) #
How did it get to 39? In the last month Peterson, Bush, Frederick and Douglass have been added to the 40 man. Pond was designated and Estallela was put on the 60 day DL. I'm missing a lot here.
_JohnnyS99 - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 02:21 PM EDT (#48176) #
There is no need to rush League, he was put in the bullpen due to his lack of sucess as a starter. He should be at least a year away. Lets see how he does after another attempt as a starter. A starter who throws as hard as he does is much needed, with Rosario not close to ready and Mcgowan missing all of 2005 possibly.
_Kevin Pataky - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 02:37 PM EDT (#48177) #
When Singleton was talking about League they were focusing on JP in his suite - on the phone. Maybe I misheard what Ken was saying, but then again, maybe not. I know they were talking about the organization liking what League has done this year, the EL pennant race, the fact that Syracuse isn't a positive environment to promote to right now, while all the while they were showing Ricchardi. Maybe I just ass-umed...
robertdudek - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#48178) #
Kershner was outrighted; Hentgen retired and Adams was traded
_MatO - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#48179) #
Mike Green - Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 10:15 PM EDT (#48180) #
Tonight, Vermilyea took over at the 7th inning stretch with New Hampshire leading 6-5 and threw 3 scoreless innings for the save, allowing 2 hits and 0 walks with 3 strikeouts. Now, that's what I call a hard save.
A Chat with Jamie Vermilyea | 27 comments | Create New Account
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