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

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9
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

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9
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

Year Age Tm Lev Aff W L ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9
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

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