Blue Jays 2015 third-round pick Justin Maese started his young career brilliantly in 2015, and his upside arm already has him cracking our top-10 prospects
Hon. Mentions Part 1 Hon. Mentions Part 2 #30: Freddy Rodriguez
#29: Evan Smith #28: Deiferson Barreto #27: Chad Girodo
#26: Roemon Fields #25: Rodrigo Orozco #24: Reggie Pruitt
#23: Joe Biagini #22: Carl Wise #21: Tom Robson#20: Matt Dean
#19: Andy Burns #18: Guadalupe Chavez #17: Ryan Borucki
#16: Jose Espada #15: Dan Jansen #14: Dwight Smith Jr. #13: D.J. Davis
#12: Mitch Nay #11: Angel Perdomo #10: Clinton Hollon #9: Max Pentecost
The right-handed Justin Maese represents another classic Alex Anthopoulos draft choice from his final season at the helm. A young, athletic, long, and projectable starting pitcher with plus fastball velocity and a high longterm ceiling.
After shooting up draft boards late out of Ysleta High School in Texas where he also played quarterback, the Blue Jays grabbed Maese in the third round. While he remains a very green prospect with several years of development ahead of him, step one went very smoothly.
Name: Justin Maese
Position: SP Age: 19
Height: 6’3” Age: 190 lbs.
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 2015 Draft, 3rd round
Maese made his Blue Jays debut in the Gulf Coast League this past season, making four starts and four relief appearances for a total of 35.2 innings pitched.
It’s an admittedly small sample to draw from, but with a 5-0 record and a 1.01 ERA, there’s ample reason for optimism.
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Maese walked six batters over that span and struck out 19, though his raw stuff should allow him to develop a higher strikeout rate as he matures and refines his control. He also forced ground ball outs at an above-average clip, something that the Blue Jays will hope to see more of in 2016.
The consistency of his velocity will be key to his development, as well, which is something questioned in his MLB.com prospect profile. “Though Maese can reach the mid 90s, he doesn’t maintain that velocity and often works at 88-92 mph with his fastball. His slider flashes potential as a second plus pitch, but he threw it too much as an amateur and it often devolved into a softer slurve.”
His changeup also has significant room for growth, but again, these aren’t uncommon issues for a pitcher that’s turned 19 over the past offseason. With his mechanical maturation will also come physical maturation, something that should aid in his velocity finding a balance.
The beauty of Maese remains his age, though, and the time that Toronto has to work with going forward. It would be ideal to see him throw some innings with the Lansing Lugnuts in 2016, but at this stage, his mechanics and peripherals should take priority over raw stats like his ERA.