John Stilson: Buffalo Bisons reliever


2014 was a banner year for the Blue Jays arms making it to Toronto, but one arm never made it. An arm that should have been the first to make it. That prospect was 24 year old RHP John Stilson. Stilson tore the labrum in his pitching arm on June 24th, placed on the Disabled list on June 26th, and had successful surgery in August. It is possible that Stilson will no longer be a Blue Jays prospect, because it is possible that he will be left be unprotected in the next years Rule V draft.

Not sure if this tweet was meant for the long road to recovery that he was faced with, but I like to believe it was. This is the same shoulder that he Stilson suffered in college and caused him to fall to the 3rd round of the 2011 Amateur Draft. In 2012, John elected for rehab over surgery, but it looks like the damage this time around required surgery.

With any luck John Stilson will have a speedy recovery. Not just so he can fulfill his potential of developing into a power arm at the back end of the bullpen, but so that he can lead functional lifestyle. So this tweet is very encouraging.

According to a Shi Davidi tweet, the road to recovery is expected to be 6-8 months, which puts Stilson on track for spring training or April/May. It appears that John is making good progress so far.

So now its time to look at how everything went prior to his injury. Going into the season, John Stilson was rated 17th on the 2014 Blue Jays Prospect Watch and 18th on our list at Jays Journal. According to Gregor Chrisholm,, Stilson opened some eyes in spring training,

"“Stilson, he’s been on the radar. He’s a third-round pick, he’s one of our better relief prospects; we like him a lot,” Anthopoulos said when asked if there have been any surprises early in camp. “I think he’s had a good camp so far.”"

Stilson started the 2014 season off slowly with some control issues in April (7 BB vs 4K) and it resulted in the ball leaving the yard (2HR). May and June were much better and was on the cusp of getting his first taste of Major League ball. Opponents hit .203/.288/.203 off Stilson in May versus .421/.511/.579 in April. After April, Stilson allowed 2 extra base hits in 17 appearances, those two extra base hits came in his last two appearances. So maybe that had to do with his injury.

Stilson was equally as good against LHB (.268/.354/.393) versus RHB (.275/.359/.288) and stranded batter at a rate of 79.0 LOB%.  Stilson produced a FIP of 3.92 and GO/AO of 0.92. What is most impressive is Stilson’s ability to limit hard hit balls, which only happened 2.5% of the time.

John continued to produce above average strikeout K% (20.4%), but he had also struggled with his command and walked batters at a awful rate of 11.5 BB%. Let’s hope that his command improves after getting his shoulder fixed because I really want to see this kind of  stuff in Toronto next year and for years to come. Get better soon John.

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Previous 2014 Player Profiles

Ryan Schimpf