Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Promising Starting Pitching Depth Waiting in the Minors

cmarshall
DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 22: (EDITOR'S NOTE: SATURATION HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THIS IMAGE) Ryan Borucki
DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 22: (EDITOR'S NOTE: SATURATION HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THIS IMAGE) Ryan Borucki /
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DUNEDIN, FL – FEBRUARY 22: Ryan Borucki #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait on February 22, 2018 at Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FL – FEBRUARY 22: Ryan Borucki #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses for a portrait on February 22, 2018 at Dunedin Stadium in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Ryan Borucki

Ryan Borucki entered the season with a fair amount of fanfare and hype. In fact, our own minor league specialist, Craig Borden, listed the left-hander as the tenth best prospect in the Blue Jays system.

Borucki has built off of the hype, posting a 5-5 record and 3.14 ERA in 10 starts for the Bisons. The big lefty is more than just his surface results, though. The young pitcher has made significant growth with respect to the type of contact he allows.

In his ten starts for the Bisons, Borucki holds an extreme ground ball rate of 57.1%. As well, he has decreased his fly ball rate to a better 29.4%. Last year, in double-A New Hampshire, he held a ground ball rate of 55.9% and a fly ball rate of 34.7%. While these are not major jumps/drops in rate, it shows that he is learning to produce better contact while playing against better hitters.

Borucki has been excellent at preventing home runs this season. Through 57 1/3 innings pitched, he has allowed a measly 0.47 HR/9. Some may be concerned by his below average HR/FB rate, 6.3%, but the left-hander’s past history proves that this number is mor sustainable than one would initially think. For example, in 20 starts for the Lansing Lugnuts in 2016, the young hurler held a criminally low 1.1% HR/FB rate and unbelievable 0.08 HR/9. Thus it is reasonable to assume that a below average HR/FB rate is sustainable.

The young left-hander is not perfect, or finished developing, by any means. He has struggled with allowing free passes this season. Currently in possession of an 8.1% BB-rate and 2.98 BB/9, he will need to work on his command to earn a spot on a major league roster. As well, he has slightly below average strikeout numbers—a 19.9% K rate and 7.38 K/9—so Borucki should avoid deep counts as much as possible. To pitch his best, he should pound the zone and keep inducing ground balls. This will allow him to avoid deep counts and start to reduce his walk rate.

Promisingly, he has allowed more than one walk just once over his past four starts. The results have been encouraging in these four starts, posting a 1.86 ERA—showing how effective he could be without allowing walks.

Borucki has proven the ability to go deep into games over his past six starts. Over these six appearances, the lefty has pitched at least six complete innings five times—throwing 5 2/3 in the one non-six inning start. As well, he has pitched seven complete innings twice in these six starts. Impressively, he has needed more than 100 pitches just once. Furthermore, he has thrown shut outs in half of the aforementioned starts. In total, the promising young pitcher has posted a 4-2 record, 1.69 ERA, and an average game score of 66.8.

With the hot streak that he is on, the former 15th round pick may get a late call-up to the Major League team this season. Even if he doesn’t make the majors this year, a recently-turned-24-year-old dominating in AAA is never a bad thing for an organization. Personally, I would like to see him join the big club at some point this season. I think it is important to test him this year to see if he could take a rotation spot next year. Of course, this is under the assumption that the Blue Jays trade a starter if they are out of the wildcard race.

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