Wil Browning is not your prototypical prospect, however, a strong showing this spring may see Browning emerge as a viable option for the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen.
Browning has never been drafted signing as a free agent at the conclusion of his collegiate career at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The 28-year old right-hander is still hopeful to one day pitch in the major leagues and finally, with five minor league seasons under his belt, that may become a reality for the native of Mississippi.
Browning spent last season with double-A (New Hampshire) albeit for one appearance with the Buffalo Bisons late in the season. The 6’3″ hurler dominated opposing batters in 46 appearances with the Fisher Cats posting a 1.94 earned run average along with a 1.070 WHIP while fanning 61 in 51 innings on the bump.
The reliever closed out the last nine games of the season down the stretch with the Fisher Cats striking out 26 batters in his final 14 innings of work.
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The caveat for Browning is he has absolutely decimated right-handed hitters throughout his minor league career.
2016: RHB hit .156 with 47 strikeouts in 132 plate appearances.
2015: RHB hit .121 with 49 strikeouts in 139 plate appearances.
2014: RHB hit .181 with 55 strikeouts in 149 plate appearances.
2013: RHB hit .144 with 61 strikeouts in 161 plate appearances.
2012: RHB hit .095 with 29 strikeouts in 69 plate appearances.
Browning would feature as a righty-specialist because his numbers drastically jump when facing left-handed hitters. Last season lefties feasted on Browning at a .306 clip in 81 plate appearances.
As you can see in the video Browning comes from a 3/4 side-arm angle which is very deceptive to a right-handed hitter. Righties struggle picking up the ball and its flight path out of the hand of Browning. The same cannot be said for left-handed hitters who have a clear shot of the ball as it enters the hitting zone toward them which makes for good hitting.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the last few remaining spots in the Blue Jays bullpen, Browning could turn some heads with a dominant spring. If the hurler doesn’t make the trip north with the big club, look for him to start in triple-A (Buffalo) and be a mid-season call-up when John Gibbons requires reinforcements.