Since the signing deadline has passed and it’s now time to take a more in-depth account of exactly what it is the Jays brought into the organization, I will be researching and evaluating each SIGNED pick from the 2011 class for the Jays. It’s a lengthy process, and some of them may take a little longer to bring together due to lack of information, but hopefully we’ll have it all done well before we bring out our “End of 2011 Top 50 Jays Prospects, JJ edition.” Each time a new article is completed, you’ll have access to it on JJ, through Tweet, and can access the entire 2011 class and our write ups on them here.
Below is everything I could gather about the Jays 108th pick, John Stilson.
Introducing Pick #108: John Jacob Stilson
Right-Handed Pitcher / 6’3″ 195 lbs / Texas
Birth Date: 28th of July 1990, 21 years old
College: Texas A&M
Signed for: $500,000
- Son of Tommy and Lorna Stilson from Texarkana, Texas.
- Grew up as, and still is, a huge Cubs fan.
- Played SS in high school, and did so until he went to College.
- Also played football and basketball in high school.
- Has already been drafted once before in 2009 as a SS, by the Twins in the 19th round.
- Majored in Fisheries and Wildlife in College.
- 2009 NJCAA All-American.
- 2010 Big-12 Newcomer of the Year.
- 2010 1st Team All-Big 12.
- 2010 Louisville Slugger 2nd Team All-American.
- 2010 Collegiate Baseball 2nd Team All-American.
- 2011 Louisville Slugger 1st Team Preseason All-American.
- 2011 Baseball America 2nd Team Preseason All-American.
- 2011 Golden Spikes Award Watch List.
- Wants to own a ranch some day and enjoys fishing, hunting, bowling, and golfing.
- Currently rooms with Daniel Norris as part of the GCL staff.
- 2010: 9-1, 10 saves, 0.80 ERA, 79 IP, 51 hits, 23 BB, 114 Ks, 2 HR, .181 avg
- 2011: 5-2, 1 saves, 1 CG, 1.68 ERA, 91.1 IP, 75 hits, 29 BB, 92 Ks, 1 HR, .229 avg
- BA: #23 (before the injury, ahead of Tyler Anderson, Matthew Purke, and Henry Owens)
“It’s impossible not to wonder if the way Stilson has been used in his Texas A&M career played a role in the deterioration of his shoulder. Most jarringly, last year in the Coral Gables Regional, Stilson threw three scoreless innings of relief against Dartmouth—interrupted by an hour-long rain delay—and came back later in the day to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings against Miami. The Aggies rode him hard as a relief ace in 2010—he threw 79 innings over 33 appearances.”
“That’s the best I’ve ever seen in our league, at least for one game. And they said that’s the best they’d ever seen him throw. I’ve been in the conference for a while, and I’ve seen some of the best come through here. I’m talking about Max Scherzer, Joba Chamberlain and any of the guys I coached at Texas. And that’s the best I’ve seen. He will go in the first round.”
To get this kind of response from a coach after only pitching for less than 2 years (at the time) is absolutely phenomenal. He now has 3 seasons of pitching under his belt.
One of the things that makes Stilson so great on the mound is the fact that he’s comfortable throwing 3 pitches in ANY count. He has so much confidence in his best 3 offerings, his 96-99 MPH fastball – change up – and his slider, that hitters have a hard time catching up to his fastball since he doesn’t have to throw it all that often. But, when he does thow it, people mention how impressive it is that he can still get so much movement on the fastball despite it being so fast, making it extremely hard to hit. Even with that dangerous fastball in his arsenal, Stilson still prefers his change up. Meanwhile, his slider is also rated a plus pitch, giving him a great combination of pitches to work with, all at different speeds. Some scouts also note that he works very quickly on the mound, maybe even extremely quickly, which is great for the people playing behind him.
Even with such an impressive arsenal and performance record, Stilson remains aware of the hard road ahead, pointing out the following:
“I feel like I have a long way to go in my development, which is a good thing. What comes about in the Draft will be what it is. I’m trying to focus on my game while taking it one day at a time.”
“I want to play ball for the rest of my life”
“The Jays gave me a chance when most teams wrote me off. They drafted me and I really appreciated it,” Stilson said. “Now I want to go out there and prove the decision they made is right and show everybody what I can really do.”
My thoughts on Stilson are that the Jays will see how the rehab goes, get him examined thoroughly and back up to speed, and will take it from that point. If the coaching staff and doctors agree that he is best served by relieving, he’ll get a chance to become the best closing option the Jays have had in a very long time. Between him and Sam Dyson, the Jays will have some fast-moving pen prospects moving through the system, even if both carry health questions with them. However, there is still a good chance that the Jays will have him start as he makes his way through the minors. That would allow him to sharpen his pitches as a starter, and if he eventually needs to be moved to the pen, it will make him a better reliever with a better arsenal.
There is a chance that Stilson will get injured before ever making it to The Show and wil therefore take a very long time to make it through the minors. But, there’s no predicting that and I’m hoping for his sake and that of the Jays that he remains healthy.
Having said that, I do want to see Stilson come through like lightning and take hold of the closing role in Tom Henke like fashion. The Jays need to stop losing games in the late-innings, and if he and Dyson can provide the Jays with a great boost in the pen, it would resolve some big question marks for the team and could be a big portion of the missing link between a non-playoff Jays team and a playoff Jays team.
It’s a lot of pressure to put on a 3rd rounder, but John Stilson really is that good.
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