Following on from my shortstop and catcher review last week some posters were asking about pitchers. Today we will look at how the top ranked pitchers in the organization have performed so far in 2017. Has it been a down year as some have suggested? On the field Jon Harris, one of those pitchers, threw seven shutout innings. Vlad Guerrero hit a home run. The Bluefield bats were humming and Logan Warmoth played a game. More details on Wednesdays games are at the bottom of this article.
We will start our pitcher review with the pitchers in the Batters Box top 30 prospects. Also, recall the usual metric, one third of prospects will improve, one third will take a step back and one third will stall. If the Jays prospects do better than that then it would be a good year, worse and its a down year. I will try and render an opinion as to how I see all of these prospects and I will also mention some pitchers who are pushing their way into consideration for the 2017 top 30 list.
#2 Sean Reid-Foley. What you want to see with prospects is a sign of progress. SRF did get off to a slow start but he has improved his ERA and WHIP as the season has progressed. Now you do expect a #2 prospect to pitch well and I think Blue Jay fans should be encouraged with SRF's pitching over the last month or so. Because he is the #2 prospect I will say no change in his prospect status. You could argue that he is better but I don't see a step back argument.
#6 TJ Zeuch. TJ pitched 53 innings before hitting the DL. In those 53 innings he was OK, a 3.23 ERA, less than a K per inning and a somewhat high 1.32 WHIP. On the plus side he is 21 and has very little pro experience so he still has a lot to learn. Because of the injury I would say Zeuch would drop down a new top 30.
#7 Conner Greene. Greene has had an up and down season. Even though he was the seventh ranked prospect there were some doubts over his control. Greene came into spring training trying to throw as hard as he could. That didn't work and it seemed to have continued in April where his strikeouts were good but his innings pitched were low. Greene seems to be trying to change to pitch to more contact. His K's are down and he has been able to go deeper into games but the results are inconsistent. He is still just 22 and he shows signs of putting it together so its another no change for me.
#10 Jon Harris. Harris has been very hittable and he definitely has taken a step back. And then he goes and throws seven shutout innings. Could it be a change for the better?
#11 Justin Maese. Maese is on the DL in Lansing. Pitching in the Midwest League at age 20 is good progress. Maese got off to a slow start but pitched better in May before going on the DL. His strikeouts are up and his WHIP in May was 1.12. You could argue that Maese has taken a step up but I think its another no change for me.
#14 Angel Perdomo. Perdomo is pitching to a 3.07 ERA in high A. Perdomo was always viewed as a project that would take time as he is very tall. This has been a Perdomo type year, too many walks, too many pitches but plenty of strikeouts and in general good pitching. Because of the walks I will say its a stand pat year for Perdomo.
#18 Francisco Rios. Rios has been inconsistent in AA plus he has had a spell on the DL. At this stage he has taken a step back but not a huge one. Many see him as a future reliever in any event so the step back might not be a big one.
#20 Patrick Murphy. Murphy hasn't pitched a whole lot because of various injuries and now he is on the DL again. Murphy is another who had an excellent May, his ERA was 2.23 and his WHIP was 1.02. However he had just 12 strikeouts, and 11 walks, in 32 innings. For the season his K rate is 4.8. That's a red flag and a step back for me.
#22 Ryan Borucki. He got off to a slow start, had a great May and a mixed June. But he has 90 K's in 78 innings and 23 walks for a very good ratio of almost 4:1. Borucki is giving up less than a hit an inning so I think he has been somewhat unlucky today. I say this is an up year for Borucki.
#25 Danny Barnes. Pitching well in the major leagues, up for sure.
#26 Jose Espada. We don't have much of a track record as he was in short season ball. Because of that stand pat for me.
#28 Zach Jackson. Jackson has been promoted from Lansing to Dunedin, has given up less than a hit per inning with a good K rate. He is a reliever and I am between stand pat and improve. Do you expect your #28 prospect to pitch well in Lansing? His walk rate is a little high so I will be conservative and say its a flat year so far for Jackson.
#30 Shane Dawson. Dawson has been disappointing in AA, a step back for sure.
There were 13 pitchers in the top 30 last fall. This year my count has two step forwards, six stand pats and five declines. That looks like a down year for the pitchers but many of the declines are borderline. Harris just pitched a three hitter, Zeuch has been OK for a first year pro, and Rios might just be a reliever in waiting. Overall its probably an average year for pitching, consider it a consolidation year, after last years gains.
Among the non top 30 pitchers the closest to the majors is Chris Rowley who has moved up to AAA and whose first start went well. He would be in a new top 30. Jordan Romano has also had a good year, a 2.63 ERA, 96 K's in 85 innings. He would be in a new top 30. Yenssy Diaz has looked good in Lansing. Plus there are a lot of young pitchers off to a good start in short season ball.
In Wednesdays games, Jon Harris threw a three hitter over seven shutout innings with four K's. It was his best start of the season. Lourdes Gurriel went hitless and made his eighth error, again on a throw. Vlad Jr hit his sixth home run, his only hit. His partner in crime, Bo Bichette went 0-4. Both of them will be heading to the futures game either today or tomorrow. Lansing will have to do without them for a few days. Josh Palacios, who had ten hits over his last three games, sat this one out. Kyle Weatherly pitched seven innings for Vancouver and allowed just two runs. Riley Adams had half of Vancouver's hits with two. Bluefield had the big hitters on Wednesday. Kevin Smith went 3-5. McGregory Contreras hit a three run home run, Ryan Gold had two hits including a two run home run. Ryan Noda and Chavez Young also had a pair of hits each. Logan Warmoth made his pro debut and went 2-3.
3rd star: Kyle Weatherly
2nd star: Ryan Gold
1st star: Jon Harris