Blue Jays Pitching Prospect Update, Week 3: Francisco Rios is heating up
This weekly series will feature Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospects and provide weekly updates on whose stock is rising, and whose is falling at all minor-league levels.
After a Week 2 absence (I, unlike senior editor Keegan Matheson, am not a robot), the almost-weekly pitching prospect update is back on track, with a lot of catching up to do.
Lansing Lugnuts, Class-A
There’s a ton of excitement in Michigan as a plethora of young arms are starting to establish what kind of professional pitchers they are going to be. Three Lugnuts starters are off to strong starts, but two others are trending in the wrong direction, and the bullpen is showing it has upside.
Sean Reid-Foley (2-1, 1.93 ERA)
Reid-Foley continued his dominant start to the season by tossing five innings of one-run ball on last week with seven strikeouts. He gave up just two hits and two walks. The most promising statistic for Reid-Foley is the decline in walks allowed. In his first 10.2 innings this year, he allowed eight batters to reach via the free pass. Since then, he has only issued two walks in eight innings over his last two starts, with 12 strikeouts to go along with it.
With so many young Blue Jays arms leaving the organization last season, Reid-Foley has become one of the teams most valuable young assets and he is pitching like a top prospect would. Earlier today, however, Reid-Foley was placed on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury.
Francisco Rios (0-0, 1.47 ERA)
Rios has been nothing short of spectacular to start the year in Lansing. In four starts, his line is crazy-good and he continues to improve every time he takes the mound. He has 28 Ks in 18.1 innings with just five walks and three earned runs. Here is how his game logs look so far and why you should be paying attention to see how Rios does when he starts in Wisconsin on Sunday.
04/11 – 3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
04/15 – 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
04/20 – 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
04/26 – 5.2, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Angel Perdomo (2-0, 2.04 ERA)
Perdomo rounds out the trio of Lugnuts starters who are consistently putting up big numbers. After starting the year in the bullpen, it only took one impressive game in the long relief role for the Dominican Republic native to crack the rotation. His last two starts have been huge. In 10 innings pitched, Perdomo has allowed one earned run on four hits. He has walked four batters and has racked up a whopping 16 strikeouts.
Josh DeGraaf (2-0, 1.26 ERA)
After an average 2015 season in Vancouver, DeGraaf joined the Lugnuts as a 23-year-old in a long relief role. He is exceeded expectations so far and last years 31st round pick has thrown 4.1 perfect innings in his last two outings with five strikeouts. Having retired the last 12 batters he has faced in relief is impressive, he is worth keeping an eye on for the time being.
Colton Turner (3 SV, 0.00 ERA)
The Lugnuts closer was drafted in the 21st round back in 2012, but has been good enough to catch my attention this year. Turner has pitched eight scoreless innings of relief so far, and while Roberto Osuna‘s closing job is safe, it is good to see the 25-year-old handling the pressure of finishing games. This will be Turner’s third season in Lansing (he missed all of 2014 after Tommy John surgery), so it’s now or never if he wants to start making his way up the ranks.
Ryan Cook (0-3, 4.98 ERA)
Cook has failed to follow up his six innings of one hit, shutout ball from two weeks ago. Instead, the 22-year-old has lost his last three starts and in 13.2 innings in those games, Cook surrendered 11 earned runs on 22 hits. He will look to get back on track and prove he was not just a literal one-hit wonder against the Minnesota Twins’ affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernals next week.
Jon Harris (0-0, 5.79 ERA)
After getting blown out in his first two starts, Harris was placed on the temporary inactive list on April 18. The Lugnuts did not announce why Harris was placed on the list, but he was activated earlier today. The 2015 1st round draft pick was blown up in his Lansing debut and could not get out of the first inning, but turned the page in his next start by tossing four innings with no earned runs. His return date remains unclear at this point.
Dunedin Blue Jays, Advanced-A
Conner Greene (1-2, 3.51 ERA)
While he remains Dunedin’s most consistent starter, Greene has stumbled as of late. He was hit hard by the Tampa Yankees in his last start, giving up five earned runs in 5.2 innings. He has just one strikeout to compliment ten hits and three walks in what was a forgettable night for Greene. He still holds a sub-4 ERA, but Greene’s numbers have not met expectations so far this year. Of course it’s early — he’s made just five starts — so we will see how he handles next week against the last place Brevard County Manatees next week.
Ryan Borucki (1-2, 12.00 ERA)
As the old saying goes, things have certainly gone from bad to worse for the 2012 15th round draft pick. After getting hammered for eight runs in his season debut, Borucki’s last two starts have been just as ugly. He failed to make it into the fourth inning in either of them. He combined for 5.2 innings pitched, allowing 13 hits and four walks, and 12 earned runs. Ouch. Perhaps the most revealing statistic is the five home runs given up in those innings, including four home runs in just 2.2 IP in his last start.
Tom Robson (1-2, 6.48 ERA)
Our 21st-ranked prospect to begin the year has stumbled into his first season in Dunedin. Control issues are hurting Robson as he has walked 22 batters and hit three others in 16.2 innings so far. His 2.34 WHIP is alarming, but there is still time to right the ship. Robson did not have this issue last season, so perhaps he has a few mechanical issues he needs to wire out to get back on track.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A
Shane Dawson (1-1, 2.40 ERA)
The Canadian righty continued to pitch well over the last two weeks in AA. He has not given up a run in two of his three starts this season and has given up just one long ball so far. He has walked a combined seven batters in his last two starts and will need to slow down the free passes if he wants to continue to avoid the big inning, which he has done a good job of so far this year. Dawson is currently on the 7-day DL.
Murphy Smith (1-0, 0.71 ERA)
Smith has come out of the bullpen six times this season and has lasted at least two innings in all his appearances. While the 28-year-old may not be considered a “prospect” anymore, his one earned run in 12.2 innings with 17 strikeouts has made it worth keeping an eye on him next week.