Road to Recovery: John Stilson
The Toronto Blue Jays used their 3rd round pick of the 2011 draft on a 6’3″ right-hander from Texarkana, Texas. That right-hander was John Stilson.
Many scouts had pegged Stilson as first rounder; Unfortunately for Stilson, but fortunately for the Blue Jays, shoulder issues caused many teams to shy away and Stilson saw his draft stock plummet.
Drafted as a starter, Stilson was moved to the bullpen in 2013. As a reliever the Jays were able to be more aggressive with his development. John got his first taste of Triple-A baseball in 2013, after just 2 year of professional baseball.
Stilson had a strong showing in Buffalo that year and was considered a viable minor league candidate to make the major league team in 2014. After starting 2014 with the Bisons, Stilson continued his success at the Triple-A level and looked like he could be a late season to a struggling Toronto Blue Jays bullpen until a torn labrum ended his season on June 24th.
Almost a year later, John Stilson made his triumphant return pitching an inning and third for Toronto’s High-A ball Dunedin Blue Jays. He allowed two runs on three hits, but didn’t issue any walks and struck out 4. Stilson was victimized by a triple and 2 stolen bases, but who cares about his line? Not this guy.
What’s more important is that he is back and throwing strikes. He struck out the 3 of the first 4 batters he faced before running into some trouble. Looks like management liked what they saw because Stilson will be joining the New Hampshire Fisher Cats bullpen. Yet another step closer to re-establishing himself as one of the Blue Jays more promising relief pitchers.
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Although I didn’t see Stilson 2015 début, so I can’t say what his stuff looks like, what his velocity or the crispness of his pitches post-surgery, but here’s what he was throwing before his injury: 98 mph FB, 90 mph slider and change.
He’s profiles as a bit of a flyball pitcher (0.92 GO/AO in 2014), but his ability to strike out batters (8.6 K/9 through 189 minor league innings) should be enough to over come that shortcoming. Like Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez, Stilson control waivers inning to inning. Stilson walked 4.8 BB/9 in 2014 and 3.6 BB/9 for his career.
We will be keeping a close eye on the promising 24 year old as he recovers and as he continues on his road to Toronto.
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