Jun 19, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays Rotation for tomorrow

With the 2014 trade deadline  approaching and Jays dropping like flies on the field, many fans have advocated for GM Alex Anthopoulos to sell off their minor league assets in attempt to win this season through acquiring a big league arm such as David Price or Jeff Samardzija.

The problem with that should be obvious: sacrificing tomorrow for a chance at today. The Jays farm system is quite promising, featuring several quality arms with the potential of blossoming into one of the premier pitching rotations in the major leagues. Here’s a look at what the Jays rotation could feature a couple years down the road if they hold onto the prospects currently in their system.

Drew Hutchison

2012 21 TOR AL 5 3 .625 4.60 59 31 30 8 20 49 92 4.48 1.347 9.1 1.2 3.1 7.5
2014 23 TOR AL 5 5 .500 3.86 81 37 37 10 27 73 106 3.91 1.251 8.4 1.0 2.8 7.6
2 Yrs 10 8 .556 4.16 140 68 67 18 47 122 100 4.14 1.290 8.7 1.1 2.9 7.6
162 Game Avg. 13 10 .556 4.16 183 89 88 24 61 160 100 4.14 1.290 8.7 1.1 2.9 7.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/23/2014.

I don’t think most people need to read this to realize that Hutchison has some serious potential to be a solid starter in the Jays rotation. Hutchison is in his second season with the big club, the first of which after having his career sidelined by Tommy John Surgery in 2012. Hutchison has always demonstrated a high level of pitchability, commanding a fastball that can both cut and sink which makes his slider and change-up all the more lethal. Hitters have only managed a 0.186 batting average when Hutchison throws his slider and change-up.

Marcus Stroman

2014 23 TOR AL 3 2 .600 5.14 28.0 38 17 16 3 6 23 80 3.69 1.571 12.2 1.0 1.9 7.4
1 Yr 3 2 .600 5.14 28.0 38 17 16 3 6 23 80 3.69 1.571 12.2 1.0 1.9 7.4
162 Game Avg. 16 10 .600 5.14 146 199 89 84 16 31 120 80 3.69 1.571 12.2 1.0 1.9 7.4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/23/2014.

Stroman is a pitcher who’s excited me since his draft day. The 23-year-old was promoted this season to the bullpen where he struggled to say the least. In his time as a reliever, he posted a 12.79 ERA and was optioned back to the minors after 6.1 IP until a position opened in the rotation where could utilize his full arsenal. He was promoted from Buffalo and has, for the most part, excelled since. Working in the rotation, he has posted a 2.91 ERA commanding his fastball and cut-fastball along with a downright filthy slider which has held opponents to a .158 batting average. Stroman’s achille’s heel is that he stands at 5 foot 9, leading most scouts to believe he cannot survive as a big league starter because of the precedent set for short pitchers pitching out of the bullpen. If he can remain in the rotation, Stroman could be a good number three or an excellent number four in the foreseeable future.

Aaron Sanchez 

Year Age Tm Lev Aff W L ERA IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9
2012 19 Lansing A TOR 8 5 2.49 90.1 64 25 3 51 97 1.273 6.4 0.3 5.1 9.7
2013 20 Dunedin A+ TOR 4 5 3.34 86.1 63 32 4 40 75 1.193 6.6 0.4 4.2 7.8
2014 21 2 Teams AA-AAA TOR 3 5 4.08 75.0 62 34 3 48 63 1.467 7.4 0.4 5.8 7.6
2014 21 New Hampshire AA TOR 3 4 3.82 66.0 52 28 2 40 57 1.394 7.1 0.3 5.5 7.8
2014 21 Buffalo AAA TOR 0 1 6.00 9.0 10 6 1 8 6 2.000 10.0 1.0 8.0 6.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/23/2014.

Sanchez is a pitcher who could quite possibly be the best in the rotation. The problem is, he hasn’t demonstrated that this season. Sanchez was ranked in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects for 2014 at #32 and for good reason. The 21-year-old is a hard throwing right-hander who has good stuff but has been unable to command his pitches effectively at the pro level. His BB/9 this season between AA and AAA is a whopping 5.8 suggesting he isn’t quite ready to face much more patient hitters at the major league level. His tall delivery leads him to leave the ball up so if he is able to hone in on his delivery and throw strikes, he could be the Jays most effective weapon.

Daniel Norris

2013 20 2 Teams A-A+ TOR 2 7 3.97 90.2 85 46 40 6 46 100 4 1.445 8.4 0.6 4.6 9.9
2013 20 Lansing A TOR 1 7 4.20 85.2 84 46 40 6 44 99 4 1.494 8.8 0.6 4.6 10.4
2013 20 Dunedin A+ TOR 1 0 0.00 5.0 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 0.600 1.8 0.0 3.6 1.8
2014 21 2 Teams A+-AA TOR 6 0 1.62 72.0 54 15 13 2 19 85 1 1.014 6.8 0.2 2.4 10.6
2014 21 Dunedin A+ TOR 6 0 1.22 66.1 50 11 9 0 18 76 0 1.025 6.8 0.0 2.4 10.3
2014 21 New Hampshire AA TOR 0 0 6.35 5.2 4 4 4 2 1 9 1 0.882 6.4 3.2 1.6 14.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/23/2014.

At 21, Daniel Norris has the potential to be nothing short of a stud for the Jays especially the way he has pitched thus far in 2014.  Drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft, Norris struggled out of the gate in his professional career. In his first season of pro, Norris struggled with his command resulting in a gaudy 8.44 ERA before he found his form in 2013. Now 2014, Norris’ ceiling can only be described as promising as he has put up a 1.22 ERA splitting time between the Dunedin Blue Jays and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. While he’s still raw, Norris could be a solid number three in an already strong rotation.

Jeff Hoffman

Although Hoffman has yet to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays, most MLB experts including Jim Callis believe he will and when he does, he has the potential to become quite possibly the best pitcher on this list.

Hoffman, as you may know, was drafted in this year’s draft with the 9th pick in the first round despite possessing all of the qualities of a top three pick. Hoffman’s arsenal features a mid-nineties fastball with good run, a nasty 12-6 curveball along with a slider and change-up which both need work before becoming a big leaguer.

If he signs, Hoffman won’t be available to start his career with the Jays until next spring because of his Tommy John surgery which allowed the Jays to steal him with their 9th pick. On the bright side, at least the Jays likely won’t lose a year of his service time to Tommy John again later on in his career.

In sum, the Jays have the potential to assemble one scary rotation if all is left alone come this year’s deadline. Even if a few of these prospects are busts-which could very well happen- there are others in the mix who could develop into at least decent pitchers in the big leagues (Deck McGuire, Sean Nolin).

So come the deadline, I don’t think it would be wise to make huge deals involving the aforementioned prospects unless it’s for a player who isn’t a rental and isn’t past the peak of their career. Sadly, I don’t see too many of those guys on the market.

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Tags: Drew Hutchison Marcus Stroman Toronto Blue Jays

  • bob l.

    don’t forget about osuna who was really moving through the ranks before the tj surgery. a lot of good young pitching to be excited about in the coming years!

    • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

      Definitely… makes me wonder though if maybe the Jays will consider moving one?

      • http://www.jaysjournal.com/ Keegan Matheson

        I was wondering this too. With the jump from Norris, the still-high potential of Sanchez, and our young guys in the bigs, do we have “enough” to make a move that still leaves us with something on the shelves? A bit too close for my comfort, but hey, it’s close enough to tempt a man.

  • Andrew van Laar

    Although most believe he is the best prospect on the list, I would be most open to trading Sanchez at this point. Here is my rationale…

    1) You cannot trade Hutch or Stroman. Hutch looks like a big leauger. I think he will be a very solid #2 SP as soon as next year plus you are opening a hole in the rotation if you trade him. Same for Stroman. Stroman has dominant ‘stuff’ and the mental makeup to overcome any stature issue. So what if he is 5’9. Mugsy Boggs was 5’3 and played in the NBA! Size can be overcome by changing the way you play. It seems that Stroman has done that. He also has a filthy out pitch that Hutch is lacking and I am wondering if he could one day be an ace.

    2) You don’t want to trade Norris because #1 he is progressing very nicely the last couple seasons, #2 his BB numbers have come down while his K numbers have stayed the same which screams amazingness, #3 he’s not the same sexy name as Sanchez. He doesn’t have the prospect rank or the pedigree that makes Sanchez desirable so AA presumably would not be getting the most bang for his player (is that a thing or did I just invent a term???).

    3) Sanchez has not dominated a level since 2012 in Lansing. Each year after that, he has been less then spectacular. His K rate has fallen steadily every year while his BB rate is sky high with no sign of coming down. This does not feel like a stud prospect to me.

    Now saying all this, Sanchez is young (21) and in my opinion he has been rushed though the minors. He should still be at A+ with the expressed need to control his pitches. I don’t care have amazing your stuff is, if you can’t throw it for strikes, you are not going anywhere. We shall see what happens but in my opinion, I would trade Sanchez now over any other the other three ‘stud’ pitching prospects we have.

    • http://jaysjournal.com/ Michael Wray

      Sanchez is a stud prospect without doubt just having a bit of trouble harnessing his control. At 21, it’s not something we should be overly concerned with, he has the stuff to potentially dominate at the major league level and if/when it clicks he’ll be a top 2 starter. That’s why we have to be careful scouting stat lines. His numbers sometimes don’t look like much but watching him it’s not hard to tell why people are excited about him. Lots of guys do very well in the minors but won’t necessarily have the same success against major league hitters. With Sanchez it’s the other way around, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up having more success in the majors than the minors. Control and command come with time (not to mention he’s added about 5 MPH to his fastball since he was drafted) so just stay patient with him. And if he’s holding his own against Triple-A batters, why can’t he learn command in Buffalo while also learning what works and what doesn’t against competition that is as close as it gets to the Show? He might never reach his lofty ceiling but if he does he could really be something special.

    • Kit Cheng

      Go ahead with the trade and we’ll see Alvarez, Noah and Sanchez wearing WS rings before any Yonge Str celebration. AA HAD a plan and he should stays the course.

      • Andrew van Laar

        I don’t want AA to trade anyone on this list. I am saying IF he is going to, I would prefer Sanchez to leave over the others. And I was one of the few who were upset we lost Alvarez to Miami. I knew he was good but everyone is stuck on K numbers and couldn’t see past his low stats on that front.

        • Kit Cheng

          I was with you on Alvarez. Hated both 2013 trade… hate it then, even more now… sigh

          • Andrew van Laar

            I didn’t mind the Marlins trade to be honest. I thought the players we were getting were worth it and we didn’t give up anyone that I cared for too much other than Alvarez. I had apprehension about the Dickey trade, especially because we gave up two blue chip prospects. I thought Dickey was going to be better than he has with TO but still its was tough to see Syndagaard leave.

          • Kit Cheng

            I’d be lying if I said I knew then JJ and Dickey would turned out “not so right”. The issue I have with those trade was (i) knuckler or not, I wouldn’t want to bank my team on a 39 years old arm, (ii) if one look at 90′s Brave, Maddux and Glavine took them to the division title but come play-off, Smoltz was the man. To be successful at play-off, you will need some shut-down arms and I don’t think either of those arms we got from the trade qualify as that while both Alvarez and Syndagaard have a chance to developed into one (or two).

  • Xxx

    Take a look at what Matt Smoral did yesterday. Eight Ks in three innings.

  • JP

    I would not trade any of the top pitching prospects…..would be willing to deal secondary prospects like Sean Nolin, Dwight Smith. I have no problem if AA just goes with what he has. I would, however, try to deal Rasmus for a 2b.

    • bob l.

      agree with you. nolin would not be missed. but stroman, sanchez and norris should be close to untouchable.

  • brad

    It’s all about who you’re getting back. Under pretty much no circumstance should you be trading more than one of these guys, but if the right guy is available, trading a sanchez + mid level guys may be stomachable. Theres really 2 main factors(other than being an awesome front end starting pitcher) that make someone the “right guy”: control/competitive window and cost. Just because the guys mentioned are young, doesn’t mean someone at 27-30 wouldn’t be pitching in their prime within the same competitive window. If you look at a guy like Price or Hamels, they are going to be good pitchers for another 6-7 years…. which means that you aren’t necessarily losing a future rotation mainstay until 7 years from now…. by which time you would hopefully have another guy developed(with more performance from the established guy in the interim). The only other competitive window question is can u lock the guy up that long?…… which leads to the next bit

    Cost! Established pitchers cost a lot….. not really new information lol. Cole Hamels or David Price type folks are guna get 20 mil a season. The RIGHT guy will be locked up long term for maybe 15 mil per year. Established pitchers make more because they are more dependable and don’t experience the pitfalls of young pitching…. you are giving up talent for a guy so u want him to cost a substantial amount less than if he were a free agent as well(if he doesn’t, why trade?)…. 15 mil seems reasonable.

    So yeah, top of the rotation pitcher locked up(or capable of being locked up…. or whose team pays the difference) for about 15 mil per year for the rest of his prime….. other than that, I keep the youngsters and hope they step into Beuhrle and Dickey’s spots

    • bob l.

      cost is the big one for the jays because of there “no more than 4 years” (or is it 3?) for a pitcher. every one of the pitchers being tossed around will want more than that when their deal is up making price and smardzja rentals and hamels for a bit longer.

      • brad

        Absolutely. the whole 4 years thing seems a bit overblown to me though. Signing a guy to 5+ years at 20 mil per season has historically blown up on just about every team that’s ever done it….. but I think that if a guy is cheaper than market value(as I prefaced), the jays would be willing to push their policy in terms of years. Again though, this is assuming they can find someone willing to take a pay cut(or have cash included in the trade). If they could trade for Price and sign him(before concluding the deal) at around 5/$100 and get a whole whack of money from the rays(LOL) or if they could grab a Cole Hamels and get 5 ish mil back per year on his contract, I would trade Sanchez….. I see the shark going where the money is in free agency though and would absolutely not give up prime prospects for a year and a half of him.

        • Kit Cheng

          When we talk about cost, we should not only look at monetary side of it… Looking back, gambling on Darvich, Tanaka and Chapman (which the Jays were heavily linked to) and trading for so called established guys (Dicky, JJ, Buerle) present similar risks while the trade (1) stripped us of our long term assets (prospects) and (2) offer much shorter term benefit (available established guys tends to be closer to twilight of their career). I have not done any study but seems big name FA signing failed as much as being successful. WIth above reasons, I would rather take the hard way, gamble with prospects, international free agents then going the safe way of signing established guys (easier to defend your case to boss?)