Could Gregory Infante be a surprise in Blue Jays bullpen?


While we have all been focused on the lack of activity by the Toronto Blue Jays in regards to finding relief help, we’ve all lost a bit of focus on what it has created; competition. And while there is an underwhelming pool of candidates in said competition, a few are at the very least intriguing.

One of those with significant intrigue is Greg Infante.

Signed as an amateur free agent by the Chicago White Sox in 2006, Gregory Infante was originally thought to be a top pitching prospect. However, control issues plagued Infante throughout his days with the White Sox and then in the Dodgers organization. He soon found himself in the bullpen, and then on the minor league free agent wire.

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That’s where the Toronto Blue Jays picked him up, inking Infante to a minor league pact prior to the 2014 season.

Starting at Double-A New Hampshire, Gregory Infante seemingly found a way to curb his control issues, dropping from a BB/9 rate of more than 5.0 to a rate of 3.5 in 2014. That lead to a break-out campaign with the Fisher Cats and a late-season promotion to Triple-A Buffalo. Sure, he was almost a year and a half older than his competition in the Eastern League, but it was a significant step forward nonetheless.

In New Hampshire, Infante served as the team’s closer, racking up 22 saves in 23 opportunities. He paired that with a stellar 1.86 ERA, a 1.036 WHIP, a 7.9 K/9 ratio, and a 1.60 GO/AO ratio. He carried that momentum forward with him after getting bumped up to the Bisons, posting a 2.35 ERA, a 2.3 BB/9 mark, and a 11.7 K/9 ratio in Buffalo.

The Blue Jays are hoping that the success Infante enjoyed last season could make him a valuable chip to the Major League club in 2015 and were fortunate enough to get him back on another minor league deal at the end of October. With some holes in the bullpen and no clear-cut winners available to win them, Infante could step into one of those roles with a solid Spring Training.

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If the control issues are indeed behind him, Infante could be exactly what the Blue Jays are looking for. A power right-hander, Infante features a mid-90’s fastball that he can get up to 97 MPH when needed. He also throws a slider, a curve ball, and a change-up, but the Blue Jays would likely ask him to stick to the fastball, slider, change at the Major League level.

Of course, he’ll have competition for that role, with other non-roster invitee Wilton Lopez and out-of-options pitchers like Kyle Drabek. As a non-roster invitee and signed to a minor league deal, the Blue Jays do have the option to start him in Triple-A Buffalo if they so choose, and we’ve seen in the past the team will make that choice as opposed to losing an out-of-options arm.

However, if the Blue Jays truly want to win, they’ll let an open competition determine the best bullpen regardless of options. It’ll be a change of course for the team, but a necessary change.

Next: Russell Wilson and Wins Above Replacement