The Jays signed 26 year old Lance Broadway to very little fanfare recently, so I decided to take a look at what the Jays may be able to get out of the formerly high-ranking prospect. After all, Lance was ranked as the 2nd best prospect in the Chicago White Sox organization by Baseball America (BA) in 2008, behind only Aaron Poreda, so there has to be some real talent there! BA gave him credit for 4 pitches that he can throw for strikes, and added that he had a plus change up. They also noted the lack of velocity he had, which meant that on days when he couldn’t locate his pitches, Lance could get himself into lots of trouble. Well, it seems like Lance has had problems with location, because the results have not been there ever since that point.
In 2008: 11-7, 24 GS, 145 IP, 101 Ks, 44 BB, 4.66 ERA, 1.448 WHIP
in 2009: 5-9, 19 GS, 100 IP, 56 Ks, 38 BB, 6.17 ERA, 1.560 WHIP (in the minors)
in 2009: 0-1, 16 GP, 30 IP, 18 Ks, 15 BB, 5.87 ERA (in majors as RP)
There really isn’t anything impressive about those stats and it seems like Lance may have put too much pressure on himself to make perfect pitches. However, since being acquired by the Blue Jays Lance has turned it on in the Venezuelan Winter League:
Winter League: 2-2, 6 GS (10 GP), 37 IP, 30 Ks, 17 BB, 2.65 ERA, and hitters are averaging .185 against him.
There definitely should not be too much emphasis placed on winter stats since the talent level differs so much. But for someone like Lance, it’s very encouraging since it means that he must be locating his pitches a lot better than before. So what can the Jays expect from Lance in spring training and beyond? I’m not really sure since so much of his talent depends on him locating his pitches, but if he can build up his mental toughness, the Jays could wind up with a serviceable #4-5 starter. If he can’t locate his pitches as he has to to be effective, he could wind up in a relief role, which would help him a little by not demanding for him to be perfect for more than 1 or 2 innings.
Lance is still very young at 26 and has the chance to regain his form with the Jays, but getting a chance to pitch in the AL East is not exactly what heightens a pitcher’s performance in most cases. I hope for Lance that he keeps things simple and can find his way back into top form in 2010, as the Jays can use every asset possible to get them back to winning 90+ games.