2013 Top Prospects: #5 Sean Nolin


The third and final lefty in this brief run, number five, unlike number six, on our list does not scream projectability.  However, if this article was written on time, we may have been predicting a 2013 mlb debut which would have been a big win for the organization, considering he was only drafted in 2010.  Of course, as it turns out, Nolin did make his first Blue Jays appearance.  It didn’t go all that well, but if you look through the the rest of the ’10 draft class, he is the first to make the jump (possibly for some time, unless, of course, you are a masochist and are counting Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino).  His ceiling may not be what Jays fans dream of, but with ‘pitching depth’ the buzzwords of this injury ravaged season, the left-hander could prove to be a valuable commodity in the years to come.

Name: Sean Nolin
Position: Left Handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 26/12/1989 (23)
Acquired: 6th Round of 2010 Draft ($175,000 USD)
High School: Seaford High School, New York
College: San Jacinto College, San Jacinto College North, Texas
Height/Weight: 6’5”/235 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L

Awards and Accomplishments:

2010 All-Region XIV (Texas)

2010 NCJAA Division 1 All America Team

3-time All County and All-Long Island Player (High School)

FSL Pitcher of the month April 2012 and mid-season all-star

2012 Statistics and Analysis:

Disregarding his (admittedly pretty good) winning percentage, there was not much to dislike in his third season of pro ball aside from a lat injury which kept his innings pitched below the previous season.  That was the only thing not to improve however, as the New Yorker lowered his ERA, WHIP, and hits per nine while increasing his K/9 and K/BB ratios.  This despite the jump in levels from the Midwest to the Florida State and Eastern Leagues.  After that performance, Nolin, rightly, shot up many prospect lists, reaching ninth on Marc Hulet’s (pre-trade) top 15.  The most telling part of the article was the concluding sentence ‘if he can stay healthy, he could reach the majors by the end of the year.’

Unfortunately, injuries and ineffectiveness at the big league level led to a bit of a rushed promotion and Sean made his big league debut on May 24th.  I’m not going to dwell on the line, needless to say, it was not good.  What is frustrating though, was the fact that the Blue Jays burned one of Nolin’s options for four outs, something Hulet questioned here, four days prior to the call up.  Without the benefit of hindsight, it was rightly viewed as a waste of resources to promote him so early, especially as he’d begun the season on the disabled list.

Scouting Report:

Delivery Mechanics

video courtesy of mlbprospectportal.com

Reading the Hulet article I linked above, he mentioned Nolin’s tendency to let his body get to far forward, ‘causing his arm to drag behind him and messing with his release.’  He also commented on the finishing position, leaving himself too far towards third and out of a decent fielding position.

It’s tough to pick up on those tendencies during the warmup video above as everything is done at about three-quarters speed.  What you can see is a smooth delivery with a 3/4 arm slot.  I think he threw all three of his pitches and all seem to come out at the same release point.  As Hulet noted, he works quickly, which tends to get him out of whack.  If that is the case, the high leg kick probably does him no favours.

Pitch Arsenal Breakdown

Nolin throws a fastball which sits in the low 90’s, hitting mid-90s on occasion and a slow curve in the 72-75 range.  Those are his

May 24, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Sean Nolin (71) delivers a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

most effective pitches per every scouting report I read (again, refer to the Hulet piece).  He is very aggressive with his fastball, looking to get ahead in the count early.  Of course, if he can’t spot it well, which he didn’t in his mlb cup of coffee, then things can go a bit awry.

His changeup is still a work in process, and could be his make or break offering.  A two pitch pitcher is probably in the bullpen.  Develop a consistent third offering and there is potential for a third or fourth starter.


Redundancy alert.  We’re looking at either a left-handed reliever or back-end starter, based on the development of a decent changeup.  Either way, I think Nolin is a major leaguer in the future.

Risk, and ETA

The risk is defined above.  There have also been injury concerns during his pro career, which means he’ll fit in quite well on the Toronto pitching staff.  He’ll be a September call-up this year for sure, although now that he has burned an option, we could possibly see him even sooner based on how the next couple of weeks play out.

Depending on how his major league audition goes, and what the Jays do during the off-season, I think there is a possibility that Nolin will get another year of minor league seasoning as part of a pretty stacked Bisons staff in 2013.