2015 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects: #18 John Stilson


It’s that time of year, where the team here at Jays Journal once again discusses the Top 20 prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays system. This year, we took a mixed approach to our rankings. Not only did we take a ranking from each member of our writing staff, but we also figured in the rankings from other publications as well, including MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Minor League Ball.

Basically, we wanted to create the most all-inclusive Blue Jays prospect ranking out there.

At #18 we have pitcher John Stilson.

Name: John Stilson
Position: Pitcher/Relief
Date of Birth: July 28, 1990
Acquired: Drafted 2011, third-round by the Toronto Blue Jays
Height/Weight: 6’3″/205 Ibs
Throws: Right

  • Previously ranked #18 on the 2014 Jays Journal prospect list
  • 2011 Golden Spikes Watch list
  • 2011 Louisville Slugger 1st Team Preseason All-American.
  • 2011 Baseball America 2nd Team Preseason All-American

Stats and analysis

In a year where the Jays were plagued with a brutal bullpen, John Stilson was presented with the opportunity of pitching his way into the big league bullpen. Unfortunately for Stilson, 2014 will be remembered as the year he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum. What’s even more unfortunate for him is that this was the year the Jays were forced to make a decision on whether or not to place him on their 40-man roster, safeguarding him from the rule 5 draft.

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Given his unorthodox delivery and injury history the brass elected to leave him off the roster, testing the waters on the 24 year-old’s future. Luckily, no club bit on the project pitcher, giving Stilson the chance to become a future threat in the Blue Jays bullpen. The good news is, Stilson seems to think he’s ready to go.

That said, not all of 2014 was a disaster for Stilson. In 37 innings at Triple-A Buffalo, Stilson performed to an impressive 3.18 ERA recording 8.5 SO/9 innings. Unfortunately, Stilson wasn’t able to surpass his innings total from the 2013 season and thus was unable to regain his control, resulting in a ungodly 1.618 WHIP.

Outlook and ETA

Basically, with Stilson, the sky is the limit and the floor is the core of the earth. In last year’s prospect report my colleague Michael Wray wrote about how, given the Jays already micro-thin bullpen, Stilson would likely be given a chance in the bigs. For the aforementioned reasons, he wasn’t able to fulfill that prophecy but with a repaired arm and a flip of the old calendar, he might this year.

Stilson’s biggest obstacle going forward will be his ability to remain consistent with his arsenal and velocity. His arsenal features a fastball, changeup, slider and curveball with the fastball-changeup combination representing the bulk of his pitches. While the slider and curveball manifest some swing-and-miss potential, both are considered to be below average offerings.

If Stilson can stay healthy and continue his dominance with the two offerings it’s likely Jays fans will see him at some point this season. Of course it wouldn’t hurt to him to mix in another off-speed pitch just to bluff that he actually has something.

Stay tuned Jays fans, this one could be here sooner than you think.