Blue Jays: Conner Greene expected in AAA by mid-summer


One of the Blue Jays top pitching prospects, right-hander Conner Greene, is expected to begin 2016 at the AA level before hitting AAA mid-summer

Toronto Blue Jays director of minor league operations Charlie Wilson tipped the club’s hand on their plans for top prospect Conner Greene when speaking with reporters in Buffalo on Wednesday.

Greene is expected to open the season at AA New Hampshire where he finished the 2015 season. In five starts with the FisherCats, the six-foot-three right-hander averaged 5.0 innings per start with an ERA of 4.65.

For the cumulative season, combining his double-A time with stops in Dunedin and Lansing, Greene threw 132.1 innings for a 12-7 record and 3.54 ERA. It’s a great baseline for Green to grow from, though after pitching 59.1 minor league innings in 2014, another significant jump towards the 200.0 innings benchmark may be unrealistic.

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Green has the potential to be a power arm that sits close to the mid-90s with a changeup that will continue to develop from his fastball staying down in the zone. His curveball, however, needs some work, which will be one of his primary marching orders beginning this spring.

This is, of course, depending on how well Greene performs at the double-A level through the early months of the season. His career minor league BB/9 of 2.9 should play well if he can keep the control stable, especially with his high-potential strikeout tool. He’s also done well to keep the ball in the park, allowing just 10 home runs in 222.1 career innings.

As Wilner’s tweet above also notes, the Bisons rotation is expected to open with Scott Copeland, Scott Diamond, Brad Penny and Wade LeBlanc. Still-to-come depth pieces and Toronto’s current non-MLB should be plenty to fill that fifth spot and beyond. Drew Hutchison could drop down into the picture, as well, should Aaron Sanchez or Jesse Chavez win the fifth big league job.

While Greene is still on the outside looking in as a prospect, stranger things have happened than Greene sneaking into a bullpen spot late in the year like Sanchez did in 2014.