Blue Jays left-handed relief pitching prospect Chad Girodo is the number 27 prospect on our top-30 Blue Jays prospects of 2016. Girodo comes in just ahead of second baseman Deiferson Barreto at 28, pitcher Evan Smith at 29 and outfielder Freddy Rodriguez at 30. We also profiled ten other talented Blue Jays prospects that just missed the cut which you can find in two parts here and here.
Since being drafted in the 9th round of the 2013 MLB draft, the sidewinder has seen success at every stop he’s made in the minor leagues, and could push for some time on the Blue Jays Major League roster in 2016.
Name: Chad Girodo
Position: RP Age: 24
Height: 6’1 Weight: 195
Acquired: 9th Round, 2013 Draft
As soon as Girodo signed after being selected in the 2013 draft, he reported to Lansing and immediately found success. There was never any question about his role as a prospect. He was drafted as a reliever, and will always be destined for a bullpen role. His sidearm delivery from the left side gives him the opportunity to potentially be a successful LOOGY in the Blue Jays bullpen, but he will have a difficult time establishing himself as anything more unless he develops a way to perform better against right-handed hitters.
In his first taste of professional baseball, Girodo posted solid numbers in Lansing through 23.2 IP. His 4.18 ERA was inflated, but his 1.94 FIP gives a better idea of how his career started out. He was old for the level, but his 9.13 K/9 and 1.90 BB/9 showed glimpses of a reliever that would be able to move quickly through the system.
The 2014 season saw Girodo land in Dunedin for the duration of the season. He put together another strong campaign, throwing 76.2 IP while notching 3 saves. His 9.51 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, and 0.23 HR/9 led to a promising 2.47 ERA and 2.52 FIP. However, digging deeper into his numbers led to some flaws in his game.
He was downright nasty against left-handed hitters in 2014, striking out 48 hitters in 31.2 IP (13.85 K/9), and posted a 1.17 ERA against them. His ERA against righties was solid at 3.00, but his strikeout rate plummeted to 6.6 K/9 and WHIP rose to 1.22. As an over-ager in high-A, the mediocre numbers against righties cemented his status as a LOOGY.
Girodo’s 2015 season saw him make some strides towards being a more complete reliever. He returned to Dunedin and his splits saw some improvement. His utter dominance against lefties continued, throwing 8.2 innings against them without giving up a run, issuing 1 H, 2 BB, and striking out 16.
He showed positive signs against righties, albeit while repeating a level, as he posted a 1.93 ERA through 18.2 IP while striking out 16.
He moved up to AA partway through the year, and he dominated the level. Girodo threw 29 innings before he was eventually called up to AAA at the end of the year, and posted a 0.69 ERA and 1.89 FIP. A large part of his success was his ability to throw strikes and limit walks, as evidence by his 0.62 BB/9 at the level. Once again, his success was led by his dominance against lefties; he only allowed 4 baserunners and struck out 12 through 13 IP. It’s clear he gives up far more hard contact against righties, giving up 22 hits against them, and can’t miss as many bats, as he struckout 11 in 16 IP.
He moved up to AAA at the end of year, only pitching 4 innings with a 6.75 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, though it’s far too small of a sample to make any conclusions. He’ll most likely be returning to Buffalo, and that’s where you’ll get a better idea of his potential future in the Jays pen.
Girodo obviously has a very limited ceiling, and that’s of a shutdown LOOGY at the major league level. He’s had success at every single level he’s pitched at, posting solid ERA’s and FIP’s throughout. However, he’s typically been an over-aged prospect and his success has been dependent upon success against lefties.
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His chances of reaching the MLB next year are fairly good. His career path strikes awfully similarly to Aaron Loup, but Loup was able to develop into a guy who is adept at getting righties out while being able to shut down lefties, allowing him to put together some productive seasons. Loup imploded this past year, but he deserves another chance, barring injury or a major meltdown in spring training.
Along with Pat Venditte, Girodo will most likely provide Loup with some competition for the second left-handed reliever role in the Blue Jays bullpen. At this point, I’d say it’s safe to say that Girodo will end up in Buffalo to start the year, but he’s likely to receive a call-up at some point in the season.
His performance in Buffalo will shine some more light on his potential, but there’s a good chance he develops into a Major League LOOGY. His side-arm delivery, change of speed out of the pen, and his success against lefties can be of value, but unless he develops a way to have better success against righties in AAA and the MLB, his contributions will be very much limited.
Not every prospect can provide huge value to the major league club, but Girodo offers a relatively safe chance to be a reliable option against lefties and could very well fit into the Blue Jays bullpen plans at some point in 2016 and beyond.