Blue Jays should see parallel value with Matt Boyd, Sean Nolin

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Rookie left-hander Matt Boyd has been optioned back to AAA Buffalo after falling flat on the big stage, creating an easy target for a fan base that is anxious for starting pitching. Boyd’s quick rise through the Blue Jays prospect rankings should not be nullified due to his Major League struggles, however, and the Blue Jays could very well see the rookie take a similar path value-wise to former farmhand Sean Nolin.

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Nolin, who in 2013 ranked well above Boyd’s current slot as the number five prospect in the Blue Jays system according to MLB.com, was rocked in his first trip to the bigs. Sound familiar? In his 2013 debut appearance, Nolin allowed six earned runs on seven hits and a walk, recording just four outs before hopping the next train back to the Minors.

Leading up to his first start with the Blue Jays, Nolin, much like Matt Boyd, had excelled with AA New Hampshire before making a brief pit stop in Buffalo. Let’s quickly compare Nolin and Boyd’s numbers from their surge years.

Sean Nolin: 

 Matt Boyd: 

While their leagues of greatest success are somewhat flipped, there’s no denying that these two lefties earned the opportunity that they ultimately failed to capitalize on. The two are not entirely dissimilar based on their surface-level offerings, either, both featuring a fastball that hovers around 90 MPH with a slider, curveball and changeup. Both Nolin and Boyd project as back-end starters long-term, and both rely on their feel for pitching more than dominant velocity.

In 2014, Nolin faced the challenge that Matt Boyd will soon begin in Buffalo: the re-establishment of his value. Nolin appeared in 17 games for the AAA Bisons that season, going 4-6 with a 3.52 ERA. This is not an unattainable level for Boyd.

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Nolin’s pre-flop value, combined with his continued Minor League success, allowed for the Blue Jays to include him as an important piece of the Josh Donaldson trade this past offseason. His rough Major League entry did absolutely nothing to help his stock, but we should take this as a suggestion that rival GMs will still look at the bigger picture of a prospect.

With Boyd, let’s first realize that this “parallel” value does not mean “equal” value. The parallel lies, instead, in the paths they could take. Boyd is not a fringe top-5 organizational prospect like Nolin once was, and may never be, but if he is able to recapture his Minor League dominance, his value will not plummet to zero like many fear.

Throughout the month of July, you’ll hear the Blue Jays linked to every available star on the market, but in all likelihood, the club will make at least one deal for a mid-level arm or positional player. Those deals are where a prospect like Matt Boyd can become valuable as part of a more pedestrian package. He lacks the star potential that is so coveted in bigger deals, but Boyd has proven to have something. That hasn’t disappeared in the last twelve hours.

Next: Blue Jays option Matt Boyd, DFA Todd Redmond

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