It’s looking like a no doubter that the Blue Jays got an absolute haul in a return from the Cleveland Indians when they shipped Joe Smith to the Tribe. When I say haul, it’s not in the sense of acquiring a blue chip prospect or two. But when you consider that Joe Smith was only on a one year deal and a free agent at season’s end, to get a potential diamond in the rough in Samad Taylor, and a candidate to be a reliable rotation arm in a year (maybe even in the MLB in 2018) in Thomas Pannone, that would qualify to me, as a haul.
Pannone has put together a nice little minor league career for himself, and it’s no question that when Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro were ready to deal Joe Smith back to Cleveland that they knew they were getting a very nice piece in return in Thomas Pannone.
Pannone is looking like he’ll start 2018 in the Buffalo Bisons rotation with other quality arms like Ryan Borucki and Taylor Guerrieri. Unlike years past, there will be some quality depth in Buffalo knocking on the door for a spot start in 2018, and Pannone could be one of those arms who we see in 2018.
Position: LHP Age: 23
Height: 6’0 Weight: 195 lbs
Throws: Left Bats: Left
Acquired: via trade with Cleveland Indians on July 31st, 2017
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In the Cleveland Indians’ organization during the 2017 season, Pannone was putting himself on the map with a fast start in AA. In five starts, he didn’t allow a single run, had a K/9 of 12.69, and a BB/9 of 2.28. The incredible start to his 2017 season earned him a promotion after those five starts, and the success followed Pannone to AAA Columbus. In 14 starts, he went 6-1, had a 8.85 K/9, 2.30 BB/9, 0.55 HR/9, 2.62 ERA, and 2.92 FIP. It was a strong start to his 2017 season before he was plucked from the organization by the Blue Jays.
Pannone isn’t a hard thrower by any stretch, as he sits at around 88-91 MPH with his fastball, which is likely why he has gone pretty under the radar to this point in his minor league career. The stuff doesn’t blow anyone away, but he has incredible control of his pitches, which helps him navigate up and down an order. He also features a curveball that he can throw pretty consistently for strikes, which is his second best pitch. His third pitch which he uses significantly less and is still working on is his changeup. If Pannone can develop his changeup further, he could become quite the effective starter once he reaches the MLB.
Thomas Pannone has gone under the radar his entire minor league career and has had to prove himself at every stop of his career due to the lack of a plus pitch. He has taken those challenges thrown his way and succeeded at each level. It would appear that he will begin the 2018 season with the Buffalo Bisons and it is possible we see him in a Blue Jays uniform to make a spot-start or two during the season.
Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro knew they were getting a solid arm with the potential to be a mid to back end rotation arm. That’ll play after the 2018 season when J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada leave. Barring something unforeseen, we could see Pannone in the 2019 rotation. For now, he will start in Buffalo and likely see the MLB at some point in 2018.