How often do you see Canadian prospects ranked back-to-back? Another one after #32 Michael Crouse is up in….
#31: Nicholas Purdy
Right Handed Pitcher / 21 years old / 6’5″ 205 lbs
Born: October 2nd 1989, in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
Bats Right Throws Right
High School Team: St. Mary’s Secondary School
College: Hillsborough CC (Junior College)
Drafted: Was drafted twice, once by Mariners (as an outfielder) in the 50th rd of the ’07 draft, and once by the Royals (as a pitcher) in the 36th rd of the ’08 draft. Didn’t sign either time.
Signed: By the Blue Jays as a FA in April of ’10.
- Only 2 years old, he gave his own grandmother a black eye with a plastic ball and bat she had given him as a gift that very day
- Pitched for the Oshawa General shortly in 2009
- He graduated from and spent 4 years in the Ontario Prospect program, an Academy run by Rich and Rob Butler, both of whom spent some time in MLB (Rob was with the Jays when they won the World Series in 1993)
- Nick started out playing shortstop but outgrew the position at a young age
- Started his junior college career late due to the lack of proper paperwork, waiting from Fall to January before starting for the Hillsborough CC club
- His adviser at the time was Rob Rivard of Impact Sports Management
- He didn’t sign and had the lofty expectation to be drafted in the top 3 rounds of the ’09 draft if that were to occur as it did
- Since his season was so short, he continue to play, this time for the Ontario Blue Jays until the Jays saw him pitch in Florida
GCL Blue Jays rankings for Nicholas Purdy:
- 1st in IP with 55
- 2nd in ERA for pitchers with more than 5 starts
- 2nd in hit batters with 6 and 2nd in walks with 16
- 1st in Ks with 50
- 2nd in whip for starter with more than 5 starts
- Video from the 2008 draft can be found here. It’s a great look at his delivery, but his velocity is much higher than the 87-88 range he shows in the video
Extra Information and previous experience:
- Pitched for Hillsborough CC and the Ontario Blue Jays before signing with the Jays.
To say that we should all give this great Canadian kid a break for being new to pitching would be par for the course. He spent the majority of his years growing up playing either shortstop or the outfield, and only recently took up pitching due to his great arm and its potential.
At 6’5″, Nick gets a great angle to the plate on a downward plane and has a ton of arm speed, as you can see in the video above. His fastball has late life, so it’s not just a great heater in terms of speed – clocked as high as 94 MPH – but it also moves well enough to cause hitters problems. Along with that heater, Nick is also armed with a pretty decent – rated good – curve ball that he throws in the mid-70s. Nick’s curve is something that Jeff Gard of Northumberland Today calls a “knuckle-curve”. Finally, he has a work-in-progress change up that isn’t bad as a third pitch but needs some work. All of his pitches come “from a high 3/4 arm slot.”
What I first realized when looking at Nick’s final games of the season was that if we take away his last game, when he walked 6 batters, he only walked 9 over 38.1 IP. That means that he only walked a batter once every 12.7 ABs over that 8 game span. Meanwhile, he struck out 37 hitters over the same span, for a nice 4.11 K/BB ratio. He also only allowed more than 2 ER twice over the same span, although the length of each start was limited to 5 IP or so.
Even more impressive, however, is that Nick held RHB to a .228 average and LHB to a .264 average while maintaining almost identical walk and K rates versus both. It doesn’t seem to matter what side of the plate the hitters Nick faces are manning, he just throws his stuff well against them and is equally effective every time. If he can keep that up as he rises up the ranks, it would make him either an effective starter or even a nice back of the pen option. With his power arm, ability to throw inside without fear, and lack of stamina to this point, it is feasible that the Jays could decide to move him to the pen at some point. If he can’t develop a good enough 3rd pitch, it very well may be the best option for him and the Jays.
Regardless of how you cut, slice, or dice it, Nick’s performance as a “new to pitching” prospect was impressive and almost unexpected by most Jays fans and observers. It remains to be seen how this performance translates to the higher levels of the minors, but I expect that a move to the back end of the pen could be in Nick’s future at some point in his minors career. If, however, he continues to be effective versus both LHB and RHB at higher levels and can develop his change up enough, he could very well be one of the best minors FA signings the Jays have made.
Expected 2011 Team: Vancouver Canadians or/and Lansing Lugnuts
Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: #3 Starter or Closer