Way back when the Toronto Blue Jays went through the makeover that led to their 2015 playoff appearance, many wondered if the cupboards had been emptied to the point where the long term success of this club had been jeopardized. Heck, I even said that this club would not get into a bidding war for David Price. At the time, there was very little sign that they would be willing to part with all of the fruits of their hard work and patience.
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The future looked so bright with prospects like Jeff Hoffman, Daniel Norris and Miguel Castro. If this season didn’t lead to winning, it would be OK because the future would yield some exciting baseball. But, here we are enjoying some of the most exciting baseball ever seen without the cupboards so full. They aren’t bare, but they are certainly a shadow of their former selves.
But, rather than lament what is not there, we should all take a minute to appreciate what is here and now. And, what is here was on full display in Game 5 of the ALDS. We got to watch Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna carry this team to a big win. It was a display of what the Blue Jays have been able to build and grow. But, it was also a sign of things to come. It was the perfect display of managements efforts over the last few years.
Sanchez (23) was selected in the first round of the 2010 draft with the 34th pick. Stroman (24) was drafted with the 22nd pick overall in 2012. Osuna (20) was signed as a 16 yr old out of Mexico. The argument can be made that this is the first big crop of talent to come from the Alex Anthopoulos years in Toronto. Each of these studs came up through the system and broke onto the scene and established himself in one way or another.
Actually, establishing themselves is a bit of an understatement. Since his legendary return from knee surgery, Stroman has been on a roll. He put forth two solid starts in the ALDS that did not give him a decision, but kept his team well in each game. The club felt so confident in Stroman that they “burned” David Price in Game 4 out of the bullpen. Aside form Marco Estrada, you could say that Stroman’s performances made him look like the Blue Jays’ best pitcher.
Except, that would be difficult to claim when you look at the other two youngsters. Sanchez got into every game in the series totaling 5.1 innings. He only gave up 3 hits. More importantly, he did not give up an earned run. He fired at a 10.1 K/9 rate. He came in throwing gas in the high 90’s and did not get rattled at all. The confidence shown in Sanchez is very interesting with more “veteran” arms in the ‘pen to choose from. Obviously, in tough situations, John Gibbons wants to call on his best. And, he did.
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Osuna was amazing. He got into 4 games for a total of 5.2 innings. He struck out 6 of 17 batters faced. Of course, everyone noted the poise with which he operated. It was like he’d been there his whole life. And, we all know that the truth is, he kind of has. He’s been pitching against grown men from a young age. And, now, here he is becoming a man on the baseball field while mowing through the competition with such electric domination.
When was the last time Blue Jays fans have seen 3 young pitchers come up through the system and contribute at such a high level at the same time? AA has always talked about building a winner. Part of that comes from growing your own talent. These three studs are prime examples of this talent. And, here’s the kicker: they’ll be Blue Jays for a long time. All 3 being so young means that team control is well in hand. Stroman won’t be a free agent until 2021. Same for Sanchez. Osuna’s contract works a little differently and doesn’t have a term listed on Cots Contracts. According to Rotoworld.com, he is on the same timeframe as the others.
For the next 5-6 years, we’ll be witness to the fruits of great scouting and developing as well as the patience and confidence required to stick with young prospects. 2021 will bring some interesting developments, but we should be focused on the here and now. We’ll be watching these kids steamroll through the league for quite a while. How many more big games will we see by then? How many more wins? How many more championships?