Internal Bullpen Options Available to the Blue Jays
Feb 28, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher John Stilson throws against the New York Yankees during the bottom of the eighth inning of a spring training game at George Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Like the two previously mentioned relief pitchers on this list, Stilson is a hard-throwing right-hander from the great state of Texas who spent the majority of the previous season in Buffalo. However, unlike his teammates he was left off the 40-man roster after the season concluded. The Blue Jays certainly took a risk by leaving their former 3rd round pick from 2011 unprotected during the Rule 5 draft, but the move has paid off so far. Stilton was not selected and, after having surgery on his right shoulder to repair a tear in his labrum, he will look to get back on the mound and continue his success this upcoming season.
Stilson’s labrum was also an issue when the club first drafted him, but they made the choice to select him anyways because of how good he is when he is on the mound. The top 20 prospect features a mid-to-high 90s fastball, an above-average changeup, and solid slider that give him a very effective arsenal when combined. His fastball has a lot of tailing action that that produces plenty of ground-balls but he can also dial it up to get strikeouts when he needs to, as evidenced by his career rate of 8.4 K/9. Stilson’s high octane delivery creates some issues with his command, but his career 3.6 BB/9 rate isn’t overly concerning as a reliever and his great stuff should be able to make up for it.
At the age of 24, Stilson is the youngest option available on this list and he may also be the one with the most upside left too. The labrum surgery is a serious concern though and, with recovery time averaging between 6-8 months, there is a chance that he will not be ready in time to make an impression during spring training. If he does make it back in time he could gain some serious attention if he continues to build on his previous success.