Up next on our mini-list of prospects that just missed out on making our pre-2011 top 50 list are a pair of southpaws that are at very different points in their careers…
Out of the Top 50 Jays Prospects: Brad Mills
Pitcher / 26 years old / 5’11″ 185 lbs
Born: March 5, 1985 in Mesa, Arizona
Bats: Right Throws: Left
High School: Mountain View H.S. (Mesa, AZ)
College: University of Arizona
Drafted By: The Jays in the 4th round (145th overall) of the 2007 draft
- Majored in civil engineering
- Was actually drafted twice by the Blue Jays
- One of few baseball players with an advanced college degree
- Considered as having the best changeup in the entire Blue Jays organization by Baseball America at the end of 2008
A 22nd round pick by the Jays in 2006, Mills elected to finish school and turned down the offer. After the Jays selected him in the 4th round of the 2007 draft, Mills managed to appear in a short, two-start stint with the Auburn Doubledays that year.
Mills rocketed all the way up Double-A in his first full season in the Jays organization in 2008, where he wound up finishing fifth in the minors with a 1.95 ERA and eighth in strikeouts with 159.
He held his own in Triple-A in 2009, before getting lit up in two big league, interleague starts against the Phillies in June. He was optioned back to Triple-A shortly thereafter and threw eight shutout innings before suffering bruised ribs that sent him to the DL for the rest of the season. He felt like he was a completely different pitcher in those starts, and that he wished the “real” Mills had shown up for them.
This past season, in addition to making 20 starts with Triple-A Vegas for an 8-6 record and a 4.97 ERA (4.36 FIP), he appeared in 7 games for the Blue Jays making three starts, finishing with a 5.64 ERA (4.51 FIP).
Mills boasts a three pitch repertoire consisting of a decent fastball, an above average changeup, and an average 12-6 curveball. His strikeout totals have been fairly decent throughout his career, but primarily due to his unorthodox, “herky-jerky” style delivery and arm speed that confuse hitters.
Mills is far from overpowering, and scouts tend to give him flack for his low 87-90 mph fastball, but he has the ability to get the job done and make adjustments on the mound.
Expected 2011 Team: Triple-A Las Vegas
Top 50 Range if he makes the list in 2012: #40-50
Out of the Top 50 Jays Prospects: Egan Smith
Pitcher / 22 years old / 6’5″ 200 lbs
Born: March 16, 1989 in Pleasant Grove, Utah
Bats: Left Throws: Left
High School: Pleasant Grove H.S.
College: College of Southern Nevada
Drafted By: The Jays in the 7th round (220th overall) of the 2009 draft
- Was committed to Arkansas if he didn’t go pro
- Brother Jordan is a prospect in the Cincinnati Reds’ system
After being drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 35th round of the 2008 draft, Smith decided to hold off on signing and look to improve his draft position the following year.
He certainly did just that, as the Jays drafted him 28 rounds higher than he was in 2008 when they used their 7th round pick on the southpaw. He signed for $110,000, and showcased himself fairly well in 9 starts with the Auburn Doubledays. In those 9 starts, Smith had a 2.56 ERA (2.86 FIP) in 38.2 innings, along with a 2.6 BB/9 and 8.4 K/9, and the kid was just 20 years old.
This past season, Smith pitched two dominant outings with Auburn to start the year before stretching himself out and pitching the rest of the season for Class-A Lansing. He managed 14 starts with the Lugnuts totaling 81.1 innings, where he finished 7-4 with a 4.54 ERA, 2.4 BB/9, and 7.2 K/9.
The interesting thing with Smith’s 2010 season with Lansing is that the numbers portray that he was just the victim of some bad luck defensively from the players behind him. He did give up a fair amount of hits (100 in those 81.1 innings), but his 3.13 FIP was starkly contrasted his ERA.
Smith doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, topping out at around 91 mph, but he still has a lot of room to add weight to his durable 6’5” frame. He’s an underrated lefty that could easily get lost among the bevy of pitching talent the Jays currently have, but he’s worth keeping an eye on next year.
Expected 2011 Team: Class-A Lansing Lugnuts (to start)
Top 50 Range if he makes the list in 2012: #35-45