Back in November, the Toronto Blue Jays added pitchers Jacob Waguespack, Hector Perez, and Yennsy Diaz to the 40-man roster rather than running the risk of losing them in the Rule-5 draft. Here’s a closer look at the young pitchers.
The 25-year-old was acquired by the Blue Jays in the trade that sent Aaron Loup to the Phillies in July. He’s never been regarded as a top prospect and in fact, he signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2015 by the Phillies.
However, his minor league career has been quite solid. Since 2015, he has pitched 326 innings, including 37 starts, with a career ERA (earned run average) of 3.84 along with a fine 8.94 SO/9 and he has only given up 13 home runs in his career.
The only negative number that stands out is his career BB/9 which stands at 3.42, which indicates a bit of a control issue for the 6’6″ right-hander although it isn’t an alarming number, as the average BB/9 by major league pitchers was of 3.2 in 2018.
After the July trade that sent him to the Blue Jays organization, he pitched in seven games (six starts) for the Buffalo Bisons and was inconsistent, pitching to a 5.03 ERA and 2-4 record. However, his 3.49 FIP (fielding independent pitching) and 52.4 GB% (groundball rate) indicate Waguespack was unlucky and pitched reasonably well.
Waguespack will most certainly not be part of the Blue Jays opening day team but could potentially be called up if there is an injury to the pitching staff, and he could have a starting or long relief role with the major league team. The right-hander does not have the best numbers and isn’t the most exciting Blue Jays minor league pitcher, but players that are added to the roster prior to the Rule-5 draft are highly valued by their organization and shouldn’t be disregarded.
The 22-year-old Dominican was acquired in the deal that sent Roberto Osuna to the Astros and is currently ranked as the Blue Jays 11th best prospect. He played with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats for the remainder of the season after the trade and posted solid numbers in six games (five starts) with the Fisher Cats. His 3.86 ERA along with an exciting 11.2 SO/9 and only one home run given up is encouraging.
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Perez has to vastly improve his control. He holds a career 5.3 BB/9, an issue he will have to solve if he wants any chance of being a major league starter. Overall in his career, he has a great 3.20 ERA having played at all levels except Triple-A which is where he could begin the 2019 season.
Perez will more than likely make the jump to the big leagues in 2020, but a 2019 September call-up shouldn’t be ruled out for the talented hurler.
The right-hander has mid-nineties velocity which ranges from 93-99 mph and throws sliders and curveballs. If Perez solves his control issues he could certainly be the best pitching prospect in the organization alongside Nate Pearson, with a bright future in a major league rotation.
Another Dominican prospect, the 22-year-old has not reached Double-A yet but his 2018 numbers were impressive. Between the Dunedin Blue Jays of Class-A+ and the Class-A Lansing Lugnuts, Diaz finished the season with a 10-5 along with an impressive ERA of 3.05 in 147.1 innings pitched.
His 3.2 BB/9 and 7.6 S0/9 have room for improvement, but are acceptable numbers. He also held batters to a .210 batting average between the two levels. He has a career 3.88 ERA and a 23-17 record since his first professional season back in 2015. It’s worth mentioning his ERA in Lansing was 2.08 in 47 innings, which explains his promotion to Dunedin. He’s also has a live arm with a heater that sits between 92-97 mph and his repertoire also includes a changeup and curveball.
Diaz is still relatively far from the big leagues considering he hasn’t reached Double-A yet, but he could climb up fast to the big leagues if he keeps pitching like he did in 2018. He will probably start the year with the Double-A Fisher Cats and although this is pure speculation, 2021 will probably be the year he gets to join the Blue Jays major league team.