Blue Jays Minor League Depth – Starting Pitching

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Sep 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Daniel Norris delivers a pitch against Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Now that all the Top Prospects have been laid out and talked to death lets dive into spring!  As pitchers and catchers get ready to report to Dunedin, FL in the super near future I couldn’t help but think of our roster. I figured this would be an appropriate time to look through the depths of the organization by position. We will go through the Minor League depth at each position and call out possible breakout players, MLB ready talent, bounce backs, minor league reserves, and long shots. This first post we will be about our starting pitching options.

Our starting pitching staff appears to be pretty set this year heading into spring training.  R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Marcus Stroman, and Drew Hutchison appear to be locks.  This will leave one rotation spot open plus the depth to cover for possible injuries.  Here is the look at the list I generated from our organization roster.

MLB Ready Talent

Daniel Norris#1 Top Prospect

At the age of 21 Daniel Norris took off like a rocket this past minor league season.  His incredible talent was able to promote him all the way to the Majors from single A+ in Dunedin, FL.  Throwing a combined 124.1 innings in the minors across all three levels last year he was able to hold hitters to a 2.53 ERA with 163 strike outs.  To give you the whole picture of how incredible his season was he only issuing 43 walks in those innings.  Norris is a pitcher in all sense of the word and he will be in the big leagues shortly showing off his talents.

Aaron Sanchez# 2 Top Prospects

We saw this young flame thrower last year out of the Jays bullpen where he seemed to fit in all too well.  Sanchez got into 24 games at the MLB level last season and in 33 innings he struck out 27.  That’s a great ratio for a reliever but I still think Sanchez is a better fit in our rotation.  The movement on his pitches should make it hard for hitters to square up the baseball even after multiple looks.  As a starter in the minor leagues he was wild last year.  In 100 innings in the minors at various levels he walked 57.  Looking at his major league performance I saw very little control issues so it appears he has figured out the movement on his pitches.

Todd RedmondLast year’s long arm out of the bullpen

Redmond had a very solid year for us out of the pen.  Making his way into 42 games last year he was able to pitch 75 innings.  He was a true work horse which allowed our starting pitching to breath calmly after a bad start to a game.  Holding offenses to a 3.24 ERA helped keep the Jays in ballgames when the starters struggled last season.  If need be Redmond could be used as a starter but I still see him as a reliable arm out of the bullpen.  He has a lot of value as an innings eater in the bullpen when we have so many young starters in our rotation.

Marco EstradaThe new guy

After a rough season last year Estrada is hoping that a change of scenery is the cure.  After having two successful years with the Brewers in 2012 and 2013 Estrada appears to have regressed.  Last year he gave up 29 home runs in 150 innings.  This is a sign to me that he has been elevating the ball to hitters.  In the midst of that his strikeout rate declined which is a result of hitters squaring him up better.  I think Estrada can reinvent himself in a Jays uniform this year because he still has a very low walk rate.  I think if he can keep the ball down and avoid the long ball he will have a solid season for us.  The bigger question is will he get to start for the Jays or is he going to be a reliever.